At the time of writing, the Writer’s Guild of America is striking in protest at their current pay structures – blaming the rise of streaming services and artificial intelligence. On Wednesday 3 May, many writers picketed the New York offices of Netflix.
Weeks before, speaking at the Netflix Q1 2023 Earnings Call, co-CEO Ted Sarandos claimed the company had plans in the event of a strike: ‘we have a large base of upcoming shows and films from around the world. We could probably serve our members better than most' (via The Hollywood Reporter). It’s easy to guess which international show was at the front of Sarandos’ mind.
Let’s not forget: Hwang Dong-hyuk’s surprise hit Squid Game is not only the most popular non-English show on Netflix, but it’s the platform’s most popular show, full stop. And by quite a margin, too, with audiences watching nearly 300 million more hours of Squid Game than Stranger Things 4.
As such, the nine-part K-drama – pitting the poor and desperate against violent subversions of various kids’ games, designed by super-rich nihilists – is Netflix’s most valuable asset. The series comes after a vast wave of Korean culture extending across the world, inspiring even more K-dramas, of many genres, to find a home on the streamer.
So, the question remains: where the hell is season two? Here’s everything we know.
What’s the Squid Game, season 2, plot?
Despite season one being released in September 2021, scant plot details have dribbled into the press. Long periods have elapsed between small announcements. After season one dropped, eight months passed before a second run was officially confirmed. In a letter published on Netflix Tudum in June 2022, Hwang Dong-hyuk wrote:
‘It took 12 years to bring the first season of Squid Game to life last year. But it took 12 days for Squid Game to become the most popular Netflix series ever.
'As the writer, director, and producer of Squid Game, a huge shout-out to fans around the world. Thank you for watching and loving our show.
'And now, Gi-hun returns.
'The Front Man returns.
'Season 2 is coming.
'The man in the suit with ddakji might be back.
'You’ll also be introduced to Young-hee’s boyfriend, Cheol-su.
'Join us once more for a whole new round.’
Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) is the chief character of Squid Game. He's a gambler and father with outstanding debts, joining the games to win the ₩45.6 billion prize money and solve his financial issues. But at the end of season one, Gi-hun is depressed by his victory – built from the corpses of a few hundred contestants, including his childhood friend Cho Sang-woo (Park Hae-soo).
After resolving his inner conflicts, he looks ready to join his estranged family by boarding a plane to Los Angeles… and then he turns back. He can’t bear the idea that the games will continue unless he does something to stop them.
The Front Man. Photo: Netflix
In an interview with Lee (via British GQ), he claims ‘the main plot of season 2 will be revenge’. Considering the elderly and duplicitous architect Oh Il-nam (Oh Yeong-su) died from his tumour, that revenge will likely be directed toward the Front Man (i.e. the guy in the bumpy, black mask). The latter was revealed to be Hwang In-ho (Lee Byung-hun), brother of the detective Jun-ho (Wi Ha-joon) who investigated the Squid Game compound.
There has been speculation that Jun-ho’s supposed murder by In-ho wasn’t his end. If the former turns out to be alive in season two, Gi-hun would have a good second-in-command on the road to vengeance.
For Vanity Fair, Hwang Dong-hyuk revealed a smidgeon more about the theme of season two: ‘I want to ask the question, “Is true solidarity between humans possible?”’ The intense vagueness is enticing.
Lee Jung-jae as Gi-hun. Photo: Netflix
Who’s in the Squid Game, season 2, cast?
The return of Gi-hun means the return of Lee Jung-jae, who recently directed and starred in his own film: Hunt, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last year. Lee Byung-hun is also coming back as the Front Man / Hwang In-ho.
You wonder if Wi Ha-joon was or is waiting for the phone call to play a resurrected Jun-ho. But Wi might have to cope with his character being one of many thrown onto a genocidal pile.
What’s the Squid Game, season 2, release date?
Hwang has reportedly been eyeing a release date ‘at the end of 2023 or 2024’ (Vanity Fair), but the interview with Lee Jung-jae (cited above) throws some doubt on that prediction. Lee said in February that filming for Squid Game, season 2, would start in the summer and ‘will likely last for about 10 months’, potentially longer given the increased budget.
Given the cultural stranglehold that Squid Game has over the world, you'd better believe fans will wait that long for the playground chaos to restart.
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