The Player 001 Effect

The underlying themes in viral Korean films seem to be ignored in western media, just like how player 001 was in Squid Game.

Chrissy Teigan, an A-list celebrity, recently hosted a luxurious party that was inspired by the popular Netflix TV show, Squid Game. This garnered a lot of controversy, considering that Squid game was a show, critiquing capitalism, about people who were overwhelmed with debt entering a deadly game fully knowing that only one person would get to live and receive 45.6 billion Won, or $38.6 million. Teigan invited many rich celebrities to take part in games such as musical chairs and dunk tanks for prizes such as a flight to Napa Valley or a dinner for two at French Laundry. 

Senior Vivian Park, a Korean student at Troy High School, stated “I saw this [controversy] on Twitter. I definitely think that [Chrissy Teigan] missed the point.” Many netizens have agreed with Vivian’s point, stating that Teigan had been “tone deaf.”

It is incredibly ironic how rich celebrities capitalize off of a show that commended hyper-capitalism and truly showed how devastating it can be for the economically exploited that would rather face a certain death while trying to win money than to continue on living the way that they do. 

Cosmicroux on TikTok, stated “Korea is in a different financial situation than Americans but the themes still heavily apply to any society with economic exploitation.” Although it might be hard to relate to some of the themes in Korean films due to language barriers, classism is a topic that is so deeply integrated in all parts of the world. 

This is not the first time that many westerners have ignored the main lesson of Korean media. An Oscar award winning movie, Parasite, took the world by storm and coincidentally shared a very similar message with Squid Game: the consequences of hyper-capitalism and income inequalities. Parasite was trending everywhere you looked and it was all anyone could talk about. But why was it trending? Was it for the remarkable plotline? Or the breathtaking cinematography? 

Sophomore Simmi Sharma, a member of the THS film club, stated ““[people] like [these films] because they are popular, but I don’t see many people talking about what they’re about.” These films became popularized because of the word of mouth and how fast they became trending on social media. 

With the popularization of Korean media, many Korean films have gone viral. They often contain important underlying messages that westerners tend to ignore. If more people could respect foreign films and reflect on the themes brought up in them, Korean media could get the right recognition that they truly deserve.