Netflix‘s Squid Game has taken the world by storm even though it’s only been a month since the show first launched. Everywhere you go, there’s bound to be someone talking about the viral Korean show. Even the words “squid game” will have non-viewers know exactly what you’re talking about — but the globally beloved show almost had a completely different name!
Netflix executive Kim Min Young (also known as Minyoung Kim) spoke with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss the unprecedented success of Squid Game and its potential for future seasons or media. When asked about any creative decisions that required balancing “cultural authenticity” and “global accessibility,” Kim revealed that the title of the show was debated at first.
Kim explained that the titular squid game, though a real game in Korea, is unlikely to be known by the younger generation. Furthermore, there were concerns about its global appeal.
Squid Game, or ojingeo in Korean, is a real kids’ game here, but not all Koreans actually know it. My generation knows it, but my niece’s generation probably wouldn’t. So, initially, we knew we wanted this show to travel but we were worried the title Squid Game wouldn’t resonate because not many people would get it.
— Kim Min Young
Because of this, the tentative title for the project was Round Six. This more general title refers to the six games played throughout the show, the sixth one being the squid game. However, creator Hwang Dong Hyuk suggested returning to the original title in order to maintain the show’s essence. Kim stated that the “more authentic title” has only helped the show gain popularity, especially among audiences who may not have ever seen a Korean show, and that changing it could have been a “big mistake.”
[…] I think we tend to underestimate the curiosity that a lot of our members and audience have. In trying to make it really easy to understand what the show is, we could have made a big mistake. I’m so glad director Hwang steered us back to Squid Game — it sparks curiosity and captures the story so well.
— Kim Min Young
The discussion around global accessibility and cultural authenticity has only grown with the fame of Squid Game. For example, viewers online have shared their thoughts regarding the “botched” translations in the subtitles. As Squid Game grows into a possible season two, real-life re-enactments, and unexpected fame for its actors, one thing’s for sure: Round Six wouldn’t have hit the same.