Brimming with suspense, Squid Game is by far the craziest K-drama to grace Netflix in 2021! It’s wickedly entertaining, but only if you can stomach it. With all nine episodes giving us a chock-full of vivid thrills, spectacular sets, and terrific scores, its greatest strength is still its plotting. Amid the gore and dramatic bloodletting, there are important life lessons to gain through excellently contrived stories. Let’s go through 8 of them here.
1. The choices we make today affect our future
The decisions we make not only shape our present, but also seeds our future. Gi-hun, as a lead character, showed a lot of imperfections. Based on his current state in life, it’s obvious that the guy was not always a straight arrow. All his actions in the past came to bite him in the present. His broken marriage, losing his child due to his inability to support her, and the pain of seeing his mom walking out on her much-needed treatment, all took a toll on him. Unfortunately, the wrong calls only led him to even greater danger.
2. Appearances can be deceiving
Most of the time, people are quick to judge others by the way they look. Maybe not out of malice, but simply because of preconceived notions. In the series, Gi-hun was shocked to see that his childhood friend, Sang-woo, also signed up for the game. People in their neighborhood thought that he is a successful businessman, which is why Gi-hun never expected him to be in the same desperate situation as him. Turns out that Sang-woo is embroiled in a lot of problems with the law due to his swimming in debts.
The same is true when we look at social media, and the curated way our friends portray their life. It’s easy for us to envy what they have, not realizing that there’s always more to the picture-perfect stories. The happy couple on your feed may be on the brink of a break-up, or that friend who posts party pictures almost every day may seem that he’s living the life but is only looking for ways to escape it.
3. Gambling never gives you an assurance for a better life
They say that a gambler is nothing but a man who makes his living out of false hope. We can see how Gi-hun struggled with this demon, and probably most of the people involved in the game. It MAY be a way to win a quick buck, but it’s never guaranteed. The more you pitch your dreams to the slimmest of chances, you could end up losing everything.
Gi-hun could’ve used the money his mom gave him to buy his daughter a special meal on her birthday. Or he should’ve bought her a toy directly instead of wasting his dwindling cash on the claw machine. If you look closely, he seems to enjoy the thrill of things that are uncertain.
4. The best time to get insurance is when you don’t need it yet
If gambling means putting what you have on the line, getting insurance means securing your future. Some people still see it as an extra burden especially when it adds to their bills, but when the need for it arises, it may just be too late to act.
Gi-hun also missed that train. In episode 2, he urged his mom to get her diabetic foot treated only to be reminded by her that he stopped paying for the health insurance years ago. His old and frail mother had no choice but to wobble her way out of the hospital because they could not afford it. This reminds us that we shouldn’t wait before things get desperate to invest in insurance.
5. Betrayal comes from the people you trust the most
In a game that preys on people’s desperation, it didn’t come as a surprise that betrayal will fall into the mix. But throughout the game, we see a disturbing pattern of behavior in Sang-woo.
Even though Gi-hun was older than him, he always had this respect for Sang-woo as a childhood friend and as someone who did their neighborhood proud for graduating from a big university. He was happy to work with him so they can help each other out during the games believing that they should survive it together. But Sang-woo had other plans.
All the while Gi-hun thought that he is playing this game with his friend, but at any given time, he can turn against him. In the honeycomb game, Sang-woo deliberately withheld information which placed Gi-hun in a very precarious situation. Of course, he could only keep appearances for so long, because in the end, his selfishness all came to light. He was never there to make friends; he was there to win—even if it meant stepping on people who cared for him.
Gi-hun found a better friend in Ali and Sae-byeok whom he only came to know during the games, more than Sang-wook. The same is true in life, the biggest betrayal can come from the people we hold so dear, which is a sad and relatable realization.
6. Kindness sometimes comes from the people that you least expect
Red Light, Green Light, like the rest of the games in the series, was a white-knuckle watch. But what’s so different about that situation was the players were caught off guard with what’s going on. What they thought was some innocent child play escalated into a bloodbath.
Obviously shaken, we see how it came so close for Gi-hun, if not for Ali’s strong helping hand! He didn’t have to do it, but he did it anyway even if it meant risking his life. In those few seconds, he chose to help a total stranger because he knows that his actions could save a life.
How amazing it could be to find an Ali in this life. Some of you might’ve encountered these kinds of people, who are selfless enough to extend a hand. For us, this is a reminder to always be kind because for all we know we could be the last “lifeline” someone is holding on to.
7. The kindness you show to others will always find a way of coming back to you
You never really know the impact a little kindness can have on someone. Our words and actions towards people may just be the hope and kindness they need. We can see this in the way that Gi-hun treated Il-nam. Even though the old man looked like he never really held the best chances in the games, Gi-hun always made him feel included and that he mattered. Gi-hun’s benevolence also extended to Sae-byeok with whom he didn’t really like at first. But when everything came down to the wire, he made sure that she was safe and never saw her as a competition but a friend. Despite the drama’s dark undertones, it teaches us to be kind to people regardless of how long we’ve known them. It also allows us to connect with other people and build meaningful relationships.
8. Money may be important, but it doesn’t always guarantee happiness
Money was the greatest motivator for all 456 players that they still came back even after knowing the risks at hand. With the huge sum taunting them as it looms over their heads, people were even driven to kill for the bills! But in the end, we realize that money doesn’t always guarantee a happy life.
First, we learned how empty Il-nam’s life was that he would go to great lengths to create this barbaric series of games simply because he had so much money to make use of. His overflowing wealth is not enough to buy contentment in his sunset years, that he wants to relive the simple pleasures of his past. Instead of counting how much money he had acquired, Il-nam longed to experience again the joy of playing with his friends one last time before he died.
Then we see Gi-hun, a heartbroken winner. All the money could not make up for the trauma and loss he incurred. He never walked out of it happy as a clam, but instead, he was devastated coming out of it alone. Even with billions to his name, he chose not to live in luxury, because it was not enough to fill the void after losing his friends and even his mom. Yes, money is important to get through in this life, but it’s the meaningful relationships and experiences you make that can give you profound happiness.