Even a North Korean state website is jumping on the Squid Game bandwagon: On Tuesday, October 12th, the website Arirang Meari shared a piece about the hit South Korean series, praising it for its critiques of capitalism and the “beastly” nature of South Korean society.
The author-less post reads less like a review than an account of what’s made the show so popular (Netflix recently tweeted it’s the most-watched series in its history with 111 million viewers). And indeed, the worldwide success of Squid Game — about debt-ridden contestants competing for a billion dollar prize while trying to stave off a grisly death — does seem related to its allegorical depictions of the brutal realities of global capitalism and the vast income inequality its created.
Running the Arirang Meari post through Google Translate, it states that one reason Squid Game “became popular with viewers was because it dug into the reality of capitalist society and South Korea, where the extreme competition for survival and greed for the weak were rampant.”
Elsewhere it reads: “It is said that [Squid Game] makes people realize the sad reality of the beastly South Korean society in which human beings are driven into extreme competition and their humanity is being wiped out…. It is said to provoke outrage against an unequal society where people are treated like chess players… It is said that the reality of living in a world where people are judged only by money is a curse, and it is said that they are expressing their feelings of horror like hell.”
North Korea, of course, is not exactly a bastion of equality and justice, free of want, suffering and exploitation. Its own autocratic rulers live lavishly while much of the country struggles with poverty, and citizens are currently facing yet another crippling famine amid ostentatious military exhibitions. But, y’know, when it comes to critiquing capitalism’s own shortcomings, fair enough.