A number that makes you dizzy: more than a billion hours of the South Korean production “Squid Game” have been watched worldwide on Netflix. Posted on September 17, 2021, it has become the biggest series on the platform. We discover hundreds of people in debt competing to the death, over schoolyard games, in order to win a sum worth 32 million euros. This Sunday, April 3, the creator of this fiction, Hwang Dong-hyuk, was present in Cannes (Alpes-Maritimes) to address the screenwriters invited by the Canneséries festival.
The opportunity for the 50-year-old to come back to the genesis of this success. “I first wrote Squid Game like a film for the cinema in 2009. But at that time, in South Korea, nobody wanted it, I couldn’t find any funders, they found the scenario too violent, unrealistic, even absurd, he says. -he. It took me a year to write it, but I had to put it aside. »
“It was only after having made three other films that I brought out this project in 2018. Netflix had just arrived in my country and a colleague suggested that I make a series of it. It took me six months to rewrite the screenplay, he insists. It was very difficult, four or five times I called my producer to tell him that I would never be able to finish. Finally, I got out of it. »
“I even lost my teeth! »
As Hwang Dong-hyuk wrote it all by himself, this process was particularly trying: “I even lost my teeth! “Especially since it was his first series and he is not a fan of the genre, he had to research the format for a long time. “Today, my favorite series, the only one I watched in full, is Breaking Bad. »
Returning to the birth of his characters, the screenwriter and director explains that the hero Seong Gi-hun (played by Lee Jung-jae), a broke father addicted to betting and gambling, and his childhood friend Cho Sang- woo, who shone in the world of finance before being guilty of embezzlement, represent two sides of himself.
“They grew up in the same neighborhood as me. At school, I was like the second, rather intelligent. Then, at university, I got a little lost, like the first one. I started drinking a lot, betting on horse races…” he recalls.
“When I wrote the screenplay for the film, I no longer had a circle, I was very angry with the system, a bit in the same situation as him, he observes. At the time of writing the series, I had made more money from my films, so I tried to add an even more entertaining dimension to the whole thing. »
A new film, “KO Club”, in preparation
The visual universe of the fiction, very colorful, is partly inspired by the casinos of Las Vegas. ” I love this city ! admits Hwang Dong-hyuk. There are a lot of fake sets, fake skies painted on the ceilings and I recreated that for the different games in the series. »
As for the costumes of the guards and the participants, he swears that he did not copy “Casa de Papel”, another great success from Netflix. “The players’ green tracksuits are reminiscent of those at my primary school. And for the combinations of the supervisors, they are not red, but dark pink! It was the color that contrasted the most with green, and it was the only garment that covered them from head to toe. »
Asked about the end of “Squid Game” (attention spoiler !), he emphasizes the fact that for him, Seong Gi-hun was always the one who had to win. “He is an ordinary man, neither very intelligent nor very strong. By making him a winner, it gives hope. »
And he confirms that a season 2 will arrive on Netflix. “But I don’t know when, to tell you the truth, I only wrote three pages…” He is also working on a new film called “KO Club” for “Killing Old Men Club”: “It’s about killing the elderly in the future”, he slips. A particularly intriguing description.