Thousands of union workers in Seoul organized a protest to demand better working conditions from the government on Wednesday (21 Oct). However, what caught the eye was a large group of people donning costumes seen in Netflix’s hit-series Squid Game as part of the protests.
The Korea Bureau Chief for Channel News Asia tweeted that some union workers said, like the characters in the popular Korean survival drama, “they too are struggling to make a living”.
According to Insider, about 80,000 members of the South Korean Confederation of Trade Unions in 13 different cities in South Korea went on strike, calling on the nation’s government to impose better working conditions for irregular workers and a minimum wage hike.
In Seoul alone, 27,000 people gathered to protest, prompting local authorities to deploy about 12,000 officers to set up “bus walls” and fences for crowd control, namely in Gwanghwamun Plaza, where most of the rallies took place.
Take a look:
Well, if there’s anyone who clearly understood the point Squid Game was trying to make, they’re definitely the workers in South Korea who went on a general strike yesterday. Solidarity! pic.twitter.com/W8TxLhD0w4
— Philip Jamilla (@pmjamilla) October 21, 2021
Squid game’s anticapitalist message materialised in the general strike in South Korea on October 20th pic.twitter.com/P88dFk9AOg
— Aberdeen Communists (@Abzcommunists) October 20, 2021
Tens of thousands of workers in South Korea went on strike demanding improved working conditions. The workers who took to the streets stated that a large part of the country struggled to survive, as in the ‘Squid Games’ series, due to income inequality. pic.twitter.com/KZ6m2FaU64
— HÜSEYİN AVNİ KEMAL (@HAvni2861) October 21, 2021
As most of us know, Squid Game is not a subtle show either in its politics or plot. There isn’t much to debate, considering how staunchly unsubtle the anti-capitalist messaging is.
In the series, every single player who joins the games is motivated by desperation and drowning in debt. At one point, the poverty-stricken protagonist even has a flashback to the time he was savagely beaten by police officers during a labour strike.
Besides the recent protest, the show managed to strike the nerves of viewers in South Korea as they have used Squid Game as shorthand to discuss joblessness, real estate scandals and even to parody the economic promises of their President Moon Jae-in.