Decoding the hidden language and signs of ‘Squid Game’ for non-Koreans

2 months ago 18

So you just finished watching “Squid Game,” the global sensation that has become the most watched show on Netflix. Or maybe you’re binge-watching it now.

If you’re not a native Korean speaker, or you watched the dubbed version, you may have missed a few important things that could enrich your viewing experience. We are here to share the Easter eggs that non-Koreans may have missed.

Warning: This story contains spoilers!

What does Han Min-yeo’s name have to do with her personality? What’s the deal with Sang-woo attending Seoul National University? There is symbolism attached to many names in the show that give greater texture and context to the characters and plotlines. We unpacked some of them for you in the video below.

Store names and character names hold truth and deeper meaning in Netflix's “Squid Game.” (Allie Caren, Michelle Lee/The Washington Post)

Expressions lost in translation

There are expressions and nuances that can get lost in translation in Squid Game for an American audience, because they are unique to Korean culture and society and difficult to capture in English captions or dubbed audio.

Some concepts in the show are easily recognizable for those who grew up in Korea, but may not be so obvious to others. Understanding these nuances may help you see the characters’ experiences in a new light.

There are some words and phrases that are easy for non-native speakers to miss while watching Netflix's “Squid Game.” (Allie Caren, Michelle Lee/TWP)

Long before the honeycomb challenge became a viral TikTok trend, the candy was a popular street snack for South Korean kids in the 1970s. The candy, known as “dalgona” or “ppopgi,” has deep roots in South Korean history. In recent years, it has gone through many transformations to reach a global audience. Let’s take a quick look at its long history.

Dalgona is both a sweet treat and a game that precedes Netflix's “Squid Game.” It has deep roots that date back to the post-war days during the 1970s. (Allie Caren, Michelle Lee/The Washington Post)

Grace Moon in Seoul contributed to this report.

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