In a recent interview, Squid Game writer Hwang Dong Hyuk opened up about the inspiration that first brought the story to life 13 years ago—including which characters resemble Donald Trump.
Given the immense popularity of Squid Game around the world, it’s shocking to think the show almost didn’t get made. Hwang Dong Hyuk first came up with the story and theories behind Squid Game in 2008, creating and writing the script around 10 years ago. However, when he pitched it to actors and investors, they all rejected it, telling Hwang the story was “too strange and unrealistic.”
However, it turns out that the plot actually has a more realistic background than those investors once thought. In a recent interview with IndieWire, Hwang Dong Hyuk explained some of the real-life events that inspired his story.
One such situation was the Lehman Brothers crisis. Lehman Brothers was a global financial service and the fourth-largest investment bank in the United States during its heyday. When the firm official went bankrupt in 2008, it triggered a wide-scale economic crisis that rippled across the world. It even affected finances in South Korea; Hwang Dong Hyuk explained, “The Korean economy was badly affected and I was also economically struggling.”
Squid Game was also inspired by the rise of novel technology, from cryptocurrencies that young Koreans “invested all their money into” to the “rise of IT giants like Facebook, Google [and] Naver.” According to Hwang Dong Hyuk, these enterprises have restructured our lives, and though they have brought about innovations, the companies behind them have become very rich in the process.
But that’s not all—as Hwang Dong Hyuk discussed the inspirations that drove him to create Squid Game, he also touched on a figure many will be familiar with: Donald Trump. In fact, there are even characters in the K-Drama that resemble him, say Hwang.
When Donald Trump became President of the United States, Hwang Dong Hyuk says it was “like he’s running a game show, not a country, like giving people horror.” In that sense, the writer says, “I think he kind of resembles one of the VIPs in the Squid Game.”
The VIPs in Squid Game were the masked guests who watched the games unfold from the comfort of their plush viewing rooms. Incredibly rich, the VIPs bet on the game’s players while using human beings as footstools and gorging on alcohol. In comparison, Hwang Dong Hyuk seems to see former President Donald Trump as someone who sat back and observed atrocities with little care.
“After all these issues happened, I thought it was about time that this show goes out into the world,” says Hwang Dong Hyuk, and its likely these troubling parallels that have helped make Squid Game as huge as it is today.