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Squid Games: Fact or Fiction?

Having now been crowned the most-watched show in Netflix history, Squid Games has become a world-wide phenomenon. The series was watched on  111 million screens in its first 28 days of being released, there is no doubt the series has been ground breaking. 

But why is it so popular? It could be suggested that the real horror of the thrilling show is not the gory-games the participants competed in – but the reality of their financial circumstances. 

What is the importance of the show?

Although the cinematography and acting of Squid Games has blown many away – the chilling undertones of participants in debt can arguably be the most important theme. 

The South-Korean show details 456 players who participate in rounds of childhood games, like tug-of-war and marbles – The unique twist? Players either win the games or face instant death. 

The show’s narrative touches upon South Korea’s personal debt crisis, which may resonate to many viewers around the globe. Participants of the games are from varying walks of life, young and old. What makes them similar, is that they are all indebted to their creditors and are tempted by the games’ prize: 45.6 billion Won – which is around 30 million Pounds. 

Does the UK suffer from a similar debt crisis?

In the UK, the average total debt per household is £62,813, including mortgages, in 2021. Viewers of the popular series may not just enjoy the thrilling episodes, but root for the characters by relating to their debt struggles. 

The idea of going to extreme lengths to pay off debt is not uncommon, and the shows extreme depiction of this carries a very realistic undertone. The Financial Conduct Authority have expressed concern for young, furloughed workers turning to new investment opportunities to make extra money. This has included investment in cryptocurrencies, which is a gamble as to whether they can profit off such investments or wonder whether they can turn out to be scams. 

Although this is nowhere near as dangerous as the Squid Games, it shows just how desperate some may be to turn to sources of income that are new and still questionable- like many turning to gambling and betting on sport matches to earn a quick fix of money. As we know, this is not a reliable source of income, and many (like childhood games) gamble for the thrill of winning.

The future of UK debt

Aside from the usual use of loans, mortgages, and loan sharks, new technologies, such as crypto, are more recent ways of handling finances. ‘Buy now, pay later’ schemes are growing in popularity – now available on most online retail sites and more recently available to be used in physical stores. 

The concern for these sites is mostly minimal, if handled sensibly. However, the temptation to rely on these schemes are becoming more popular, as they give many the option to spread out retail costs, adding more and more debt to their outgoings. 

The thrilling Netflix series has gripped millions across the globe; from being the most-watched show in history to the green tracksuit being the go-to Halloween costume of 2021. 

But the real thrilling outcome of the show is the conversations it has struck about viewers own debt issues. Journalists and economists across the globe have pointed out the financial themes the show has raised and encouraged many to reflect upon their own choices when it comes to debt handling. Sometimes, the scariest fictional stories can be the ones we resonate with the most.

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