It’s the first South Korean drama to top the US TV charts and its core message is ‘can I ever repay this debt?’

Squid Game, a Netflix series made in Korea by Hwang Dong-hyuk, was released on 17 September and within 10 days was the platform’s highest ranking show in 90 countries. It’s the first time a Korean drama has ever been at the top of the US charts; 95% of the viewers are outside Korea, capsizing the idea that the younger generation won’t read subtitles. I managed to kid myself the other day that my 12-year-old daughter had watched so many episodes in a single session she was effectively reading a book.

The premise: 456 people are catastrophically in debt, and they’re competing for untold riches in a series of feats that are sometimes whimsical, sometimes terrifying, usually both. They might have to carve round a honeycomb shape with a pin, or stay stock still while a giant robot shouts “red light” at them. Two downsides – if you lose, you get shot in the head. And there can be only one winner.

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