If there's one person who's currently enjoying the global success of Squid Game, that would be the drama's creator, Hwang Dong Hyuk. In the past three weeks, Netflix viewers have been watching the psychological thriller and it might just be its most popular show to date, beating multiple Hollywood titles. Now if you think director Dong Hyuk's life is all rainbows and unicorns, think again—he once had to sell his laptop and stop writing the drama's script.
The 50-year-old director came up with Squid Game's plot in 2008, after reading a comic book about a number of people who joined an outrageous game. Since he wanted it to be Korean in all sense, he incorporated classic Korean childhood games in the story. The twist? Those who lose in the games will end up dying. Ironic, right?
Just when he was already visualizing the characters for the drama, director Dong Hyuk had to stop writing the script and sell his laptop for $675 (around P34,000). At this point, he was also in debt—so imagine how hard it was for him to continue the story. And oh, he was also living with his mom and grandmother during this time. IDK about you, but his life kinda reminds me of Gi Hoon's in Squid Game.
The drama was initially planned as a feature film and when he presented its screenplay to production companies, director Dong Hyuk's idea was rejected. They thought it was peculiar, too brutal, and unrealistic. Fast forward to 2018, Netflix welcomed the concept, allowed him to fully express his thoughts, and eventually turn it into a nine-episode series.
But even after his idea was accepted by Netflix, director Dong Hyuk was still under pressure. He knew that gambling on this drama will either be a hit or a miss, and the stress was real. In an exclusive interview with The Korea Times, he shared what the experience was like: "Each night before filming, I would always think about ways to make the scenes better and revise the scripts. The level of stress that I was under was a full 100 percent, which hit me hard. I've always considered every work as a challenge, but this piece had a much higher risk, so I put all my effort into making it a good one."
Now that Squid Game has been labeled a gamechanger not just in South Korea but also around the world, director Dong Hyuk still can't believe that the drama *really* became a hit: "The production crew and I would joke about our series starting a dalgona craze, like how Netflix's Kingdom did with the gat—a traditional Korean hat—but I'm astounded that it actually happened."
One important life lesson we learned from him: With perseverance, nothing is impossible. Congratulations, director Dong Hyuk!
You can watch episodes of Squid Game on Netflix.
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