When Hwang Dong-hyuk wrote the script that would become the hit Netflix series “Squid Game,” he had $5 in his bank account.
“I went to withdraw $10 from the ATM machine and was rejected,” the South Korean filmmaker said through an interpreter, telling the origin story of “Squid Game” for a overflowing crowd of Chapman University students.
“I could only dream of entering a contest and winning a fortune, like in a survival game,” he added.
Now his dreams of success are as real as the thunderous applause that greeted him Monday, Feb. 28, when he took the stage at the Folino Theater with four cast members of “Squid Game” for a class. master’s degree at Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media. Arts.
“People didn’t like the script,” Hwang said of his first attempt to sell “Squid Game” in 2009. “But I was determined to see it succeed, like my revenge against all those people.”
Struggling for success was a recurring theme on Monday night, as is often the case at Dodge Master Class Series events, which is its own success story. Dodge, ranked 4th film school in the nation by The Hollywood Reporter and The Wrap, regularly welcomes industry leaders and visionaries to campus who offer ideas and answer student questions.
Other recent masterclasses have featured writer-director Sofia Coppola, actress Halle Berry, and producer and writer David Chase, among others. On March 19, Broadway and film star Ariana DeBose, recently Oscar-nominated for Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” will add the next chapter in the series.
Thanks to the core team behind @Netflixit’s @SquidGame – the wonderful Hwang Dong-hyuk, Lee Jung-jae, Jung Ho-yeon, Park Hae-soo and Anupam Tripathi – for joining me and hundreds of @ChapmanU students for a live recording of @THRit’s @AwardsChatter podcast, publication soon! 🦑 pic.twitter.com/KdMl35E8AH
—Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) March 1, 2022
The cast members are acclaimed as they also adjust to international stardom
The “Squid Game” masterclass was hosted by The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg as he recorded his “Awards Chatter” podcast following the screening of an episode of the drama series. Alongside Hwang, the panelists were actors Lee Jung-jae, Jung Ho-yeon, Park Hae-soo, and Anupam Tripathi.
The night before, Jung and Lee had become the first actors in a non-English language show to win the Screen Actors Guild Awards in their categories.
The successes continue to succeed for “Squid Game”. The drama series about a game that gives indebted participants a chance to get rich if they can survive, has generated gargantuan global buzz to become Netflix’s most popular show. It attracted over 142 million member households in the first four weeks after its release on September 17, 2021.
No one saw that crushing embrace coming — at least no one on the Folino Theater stage.
When he first read the script, Lee admits he was a little confused about the nature of the show. “There were elements of fantasy, but the characters were so realistic,” he said. “I re-read the script and I trusted [Hwang].”
All of the panelists vividly remember the day “Squid Game” debuted on Netflix. Within hours, they were thrust into the global spotlight, and they have been there ever since.
Park has a special memory from the day. He was in hospital with his wife when she gave birth to their son 10 minutes before the show was released.
“We nicknamed him ‘Squid Baby,'” Park said with a smile.
Korean movies and series thrive in the global entertainment market
It’s exciting to be part of a project that so many viewers find exciting, Tripathi said. “I gave my heart and soul to it, and now I’m sitting here talking to you. I’m a student and I’m talking to you, students, and we’re friends.
The entertainment industry has certainly become a common ground for Korean movies and series. Even before “Squid Game,” movies like 2019’s Oscar-winning “Parasite” from Best Director winner Bong Joon-ho opened doors and won fans.
Why has Korean storytelling become so popular around the world?
“Because Koreans are so creative,” Hwang said, drawing loud applause. “We live in a very competitive society, and we are confined [geographically and economically]. Our parents always told us that we had to sell to other countries.
Fans of Hwang’s creativity will be happy to know that there are definitely signs that “Squid Game” is returning for a second season.
“We’ve talked, and we’re almost there. In my mind, it’s kinda official,” Hwang said. “There is a lot of pressure, but I will try to live up to it.”
After a break, Hwang turned to the cast members on stage with him and said, “We are going to do something, right?”
Nods and smiles opened more floodgates for applause.
The “Squid Game” phenomenon is something special, indeed.