Squid Game in Real World
Shown above is a poster of a real-life “Squid Game,” which was initially set to take place on Oct. 24. But the authorities banned the event due to the violation of social distancing regulations. Photo courtesy of St. John’s Hotel

South Korean authority blocks a real-life Squid Game

A real-life “Squid Game” was scheduled to take place later this month at St. John’s Hotel in Gangneung, roughly 140 miles east of Seoul. But the authority blocked it due to concerns over the COVID-19 spread.

The Gangneung city authority said on Oct. 15 that it banned such a gathering.

“In case there is a COVID-19 patient, so many people will run risks of being infected. The social distancing regulations should be strictly complied with,” Gangneung city official Choi Byung-gyu said.

Just like the popular Netflix original series “Squid Game,” St. John’s Hotel was scheduled to host a similar event on Oct. 24 composed of four rounds of childhood games, including the “dalgona candy challenge.”

It is a challenge of cutting out the embossed shape from a dalgona paper-thin sugar candy. The carving game is depicted in episode 3 of Squid Game, which has swept global Netflix charts since its premiere on Sept. 17.

The nine-episode show, directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, hit the No. 1 in the global charts late last month and has remained at the top rankings for the past few weeks.

In particular, the thriller became the first South Korean series to top the podium in the United States.

On Oct. 10, St. John’s Hotel started to receive the application for the game. The eventual winner out of 500 participants was supposed to win 5 million won ($4,200) on Oct. 24.

Unlike the Netflix drama, however, the contestants in Gangneung would not have to risk their lives even if they lose.

In just two days after the announcement, the event was fully booked as more than 1,000 people applied.

The hotel said that it would decide whether to cancel the event or delay it in line with the new social distancing regulations.

The country plans to ease COVID-19-related regulations next month as the rate of fully vaccinated people is expected to reach 70 percent late this month.

However, observers are concerned about the negative aftermaths of such games in the real world.

“Amid the virus pandemic, people are seemingly trying to find a different source of pleasure as they are not allowed to do many things,” Prof. Seo Yong-gu at Sookmyung Women’s University said.

“The real-world Squid Game appears to be a good idea to attract people’s attention. But I worry that such attempts may have some bad side effects.”


Kevin Chung studied literature in Seoul. He is interested in various areas. He can be reached at jumphigher55@aol.com or 82-2-6956-6698.