‘Squid Game’: Season 2 Update and How English Translation Transformed Netflix’s Hottest Show

The South Korea-made horror series has been an unexpected hit but the English language version is controversial.

Netflix sleeper hit horror series Squid Game has the big streaming service scrambling to acquire a second season for the South Korean show. While the viewership has been substantial, there’s already a controversy regarding the show’s English language version—fans insist translations have completely changed the show.

Squid Game—written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk and picked up by Netflix in 2019—is a fictional version of what amounts to a twisted reality TV competition show. Insider describes it well:

The show’s premise involves 456 people who are deeply in debt and have been chosen to compete to win 45.6 million won (about $38.4 million USD) by playing deadly versions of traditional children’s games. 

The games have simple premises but deadly consequences.

For example, the first game is a version of Red Light, Green Light, where players must get to the finish line without being caught moving by the person who is it. If they see you moving, you’re out. In the “Squid Game” version of Red Light, Green Light, characters who are seen moving get shot dead by an oversized doll.

Squid Game has been watched by more than 62 million viewers around the world, and Vulture reports that while there have been no firm decisions regarding “a second season of Squid Game … Netflix’s global TV head Bela Bajaria sounds upbeat about the prospect and suggests that it would depend on [creator Hwang Dong-hyuk’s] schedule and his desires for how to proceed.”

Vulture quotes Bajaria as saying Hwang Dong-hyuk “has a film and other things he’s working on,” and Netflix is “trying to figure out the right structure for him.”

Chances are they’ll get it together, but first they must deal with a controversy that’s arisen regarding the English translation of the original Korean script. TikTok and Twitter Youngmi Mayer went viral after noting the issues with retelling the story to English speakers.

According to Mayer, the translations have negatively transformed the show from the original viewing experience and this happened because “translation work is not respected.”

The bottom line for Netflix and a second season will, in the end, be those 63 million viewers.

Squid Game Season 1 is still on Netflix and you can watch the creepiness unfold over nine episodes on Netflix.com

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Steve Huff

Deputy Digital Editor, Maxim.com