South Korea’s dystopian drama Squid Game has become Netflix’s biggest series launch with 111 million people watching the show within its first four weeks.
Mixing social allegory and extreme violence, Squid Game features characters from South Korea’s most marginalised fringes, including an Indian migrant and a North Korean defector, playing traditional children’s games to win 45.6 billion won (€33 million). The losers of each game are killed.
“Squid Game has officially reached 111 million fans – making it our biggest series launch ever,” Netflix tweeted on Tuesday.
The juxtaposition of children’s pastimes and their fatal consequences, with slick production and lavish set design, has indeed won over huge audiences around the world, with the series hovering at the top of the charts on Netflix in over 80 countries.
The record was previously held by a series of a completely different genre, “Bridgerton”, recounting the sentimental intrigues of good British society in the early 19th century, which was viewed by 82 million accounts in the four weeks following its launch at the end of December 2019.
The figures published by Netflix, which count all accounts watching an episode for at least two minutes, are not subject to third-party verification, unlike audience measurements for traditional television.
The Squid Game phenomenon is the latest manifestation of South Korea’s growing influence on the global cultural scene, following the K-pop sensation BTS and “Parasite”, the Palme d’Or winner at Cannes and the first non-English language film to win the Best Picture Oscar.
The Korean wave is not likely to subside immediately: in February, Netflix announced a plan to invest $500 million (€432 million) this year alone in series and films produced in South Korea.
This Korean success also reinforces Netflix’s strategy of producing more international and foreign-language content. The streaming giant’s third-biggest success is the made-in-France series “Lupin”, with French star Omar Sy playing the famous gentleman thief.