‘Squid Game’: Director Explains the Players' Numbers and Comedy Behind Sang-woo’s

‘Squid Game’: Director Explains the Players' Numbers and Comedy Behind Sang-woo’s

May 19, 2022

In Squid Game, 465 players risk it all to win a grand prize that would change their lives. The players are made up of civilians who have hit rock bottom, are in debt, or have no way out of their dark lives. At first glance, the numbers of the K-drama’s main characters are not as important. As Squid Game gained fame, fans noticed the subtle clues connected to their numbers. Squid Game director breaks down his logic behind the players’ numbers.

The players’ numbers in ‘Squid Game’ were hidden clues

The globally popular K-drama has many nuances to showcase a broken capitalist society. A group of unknown, wealthy, and sadistic elite developed the Games out of their pure entertainment. Why? Because they have the means to do so and have no moral compass.

Squid Game also showcased how far humanity is willing to go to survive and their greed to win millions of dollars, no matter the cost. While watching the themes and clues scattered in the drama, fans also noticed the purpose of the main characters’ and players’ numbers in Squid Game.

From the start, the answer to the shocking twist in the finale was there all along. Il-nam is the oldest player who supposedly dies during the marble game. But in the finale, fans learn he is the Game’s creator. One clue was his player number, 001. The number alone was an indicator of who he was and his name.

Fans also saw the correlation with Gi-hun, Player 456. Gi-hun was the last to join the Games but the only one to be compassionate toward Il-nam. His number could also signify his place in life at the bottom. Director Hwang explains how the numbers in Squid Game impact the characters.

Director Hwang explains the meaning behing Gi-hun and Il-nam’s numbers

Speaking with Netflix for FYSEE TV, Hwang was asked why most players in Squid Game were only known by their numbers. The director explains that the main character’s numbers are significant besides Gi-hun’s.

“It’s interesting because some numbers do have meaning, and some just don’t. For example, Gi-hun’s number, 456, it signifies the end and by the end, it means that you know, he is put in the most extreme situations, the most dire of situations and probably the most desperate,” explained Hwang.

When discussing Il-nam, Hwang explains his number and name are connected. Il-nam’s name translates to “one man” or “first man.” It makes sense as he is the creator.

“Because he signed himself up at the very first time, so that’s why we gave him the number one,” said Hwang. The director also explains the comedic twist behind Sang-woo’s name.

Sang-woo’s player number in ‘Squid Game’ can be misinterpreted as a curse word

Gi-hun and Il-nam’s player numbers in Squid Game hold the most significance. But Sang-woo’s also has an explanation. He is player number 218, and Hwang uses episode two as a prime example.

“When they are voting whether they will continue the games or not, you go from the very last number to the lowest number, right? So Sang-woo’s the one that breaks the balance, which is why we gave him the number 218 because it’s right in the middle,” said Hwang.

Sang-woo’s number also has a comical twist for anyone aware of the Korean number system. In Korean, the number is 이백십팔 (i-beak-ship-pal). But for many, “ship-pal” can be mispronounced as a common and one of the worst curse words in Korea. It is equivalent to the F-word.

“And it also kind of signifies the state that he’s in his life outside of the games. So I just put that in for fun,” explained Hwang. The hidden Easter Eggs in Squid Game gives the K-drama a deeper meaning than expected.

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