Warning: This post contains some spoilers for Squid Game Episode 9, so if you don’t want spoilers, please re-read it after you’ve finished Squid Game.
Koreans will see the final episode of Squid Game with different emotions than non-Koreans.
Koreans would have recognized the fate of the main character Gi-hun and his mother as soon as they saw the title of Episode 9-One Lucky Day. The reason is that the title of this episode is the same as that of a famous Korean short story.
The novel One Lucky Day (Unsu Joeun Nal 운수 좋은 날) is a work by Hyun Jin-geon written in 1924.
The plot is as follows.
The main character is a rickshaw man and his wife has been ill for over a month.
One rainy day, the hero’s wife is not feeling well, so she asks her husband to take a day off today and stay by her side.
But her husband goes to work to earn even a penny more to overcome poverty.
The husband is lucky that day because he constantly has guests.
After work, he wants to go home quickly because he is worried about his sick wife, but on the other hand, it is hard for him to see his sick wife, so he drinks at a pub.
The drunken husband buys Seolleongtang, which his wife usually wants to eat, but can’t because of lack of money, and returns home.
The house is darker and quieter than usual. His wife is already dead.
The husband rubs his face against the face of his deceased wife and mutters.
“I bought Seolleongtang, but why can’t you eat it… Oddly enough, I was lucky today… ”
Note: Seolleongtang is a Korean broth tang (soup) made from ox bones (mostly leg bones), brisket and other cuts. Seasoning is generally done at the table according to personal taste by adding salt, ground black pepper, red pepper, minced garlic, or chopped spring onions. It is a local dish of Seoul.
If you are a Korean, you must have come across this novel at least once in a textbook when you were a student. So, just by looking at the title, you know at once that “his mother must be dead when he returns with the prize money.”
And as you go through the play, you continue to agonize. If I were in the same situation as the hero, would I go back with my money and meet my dead mother? Will I go back empty-handed and spend my last time with my living mother?
The Squid Game has a similar theme to director Bong Joon-ho’s movie Parasite. The debt problem warns us about the growing inequality between the rich and the poor in Korea and the inequality of opportunity.
The number of participants shows this most symbolically. People at the top and bottom of society are represented by numbers 1 and 456, respectively.
In a slightly better situation than the actual situation of number 456, I chose to play the game to the end to receive the prize money.
Which one are you going to choose?