Since its launch on Netflix, Squid Game has become the platform’s most popular original series ever and somewhat taken over the internet. But during the course of the series’ nine episodes, American fans could not help but notice poor acting in parts of the show.
The acting criticism was mostly contained to those who portrayed the “VIPs,” rich and powerful men who watch and wager on the players competing in the games. The VIPs, who speak English, were criticized for amateur-ish acting and shallow dialogue, such as making a ’69’ joke while betting on what player would win.
A Reddit user who claims they’re Korean explained on the Squid Game subreddit why the VIP acting and dialogue was so bad to American fans.
“First of all, which most of you can relate, there aren’t a lot of good white actors in Korea. They were only in one episode, so maybe producers didn’t want to spend much money for decent white actors. They might be amateurs since they weren’t paid a lot. And their dialogue (the 69 joke) might be written by Korean, so it might seem awkward,” the user said. “But the real reason is that we can’t tell the difference very well between good and bad acting when they’re speaking foreign language. I mean, I also thought they were bad, but not THAT bad. I didn’t get why you guys were hating their performance. We can’t tell the subtle difference in english pronunciation and delivery. Maybe the producer thought ‘yup, that’d be fine’ even after seeing their bad acting.”
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The user also said that Korean acting in American movies can be poor, such as Black Panther, which featured a scene in which a Korean American woman’s pronunciation was so bad that it became a meme in South Korea.
The reason for the VIPs’ bad acting has not been confirmed by the writer and director Hwang Dong-hyuk, but it is not much of a stretch to believe the lack of availability of good white actors and not knowing what a good English-speaking actor would sound like could have played a factor in the casting choices. Even with the bad acting, the show has been incredibly successful, which may show that it did not actually matter what actors were cast to play the VIPs.
If you still have not seen Squid Game, you can do so via Netflix.