Getting back in the game. Squid Game director Hwang Dong-hyuk has already started thinking about new games and challenges for the players to take on in season 2.
“[Everything is] still confidential. I mean, because we haven’t announced it yet,” he told Us Weekly exclusively at the Time 100 gala on Wednesday, June 8, before confirming that new episodes are, indeed, “coming” sometime soon. (Netflix confirmed that they had renewed the show for a second season in January.) “Gi-hun [played by Lee Jung-jae] will come back and the Front Man will come back. [But] they’ll play new games, more exciting games.”
The new episodes will also introduce plenty of new characters because, as Hwang put it, “I killed all the great characters in the first season so I have to introduce now all new characters.”
The Korean series, which follows 456 players in a fight for their lives — and a life-changing cash reward — after they accepted an ominous invitation to play a series of children’s games, became a massive success when it premiered on Netflix in September 2021. Hwang never predicted that his show would reach such international acclaim and he was equally shocked when it helped earn him a spot on Time‘s 2022 list of the Most Influential 100 people in the world.
“I mean, I never imagined to be on the list in my life,” the screenwriter confessed to Us. “That was a major moment. I called my mom [and exclaimed,] ‘I’m on the list!’”
During a September 2021 press conference in South Korea, Hwang explained that the dystopian thriller series was inspired by his own childhood games. “Squid game was the most physically aggressive childhood game I played in neighborhood alleys as a kid, which is why I also loved it the most,” he said at the time. “In a way, it’s the most symbolic game that reflects today’s competitive society, so I picked it out as the show’s title.”
He also purposefully chose a child-like game to emphasize the life-or-death stakes that the players face in the show. “As a survival game it is entertainment and human drama,” he told Variety that same month. “The games portrayed are extremely simple and easy to understand. That allows viewers to focus on the characters, rather than being distracted by trying to interpret the rules.”
Viewers became so attached to the characters while watching that they’ve even speculated that some of them may return from the dead for upcoming episodes. “I don’t think she might come back,” Jung Ho-yeon, who won a Screen Actors Guild Award for playing Sae-byeok, told Vanity Fair in March. “And also guys, I’m so sorry to say this, but I’m very happy to be dying. … [And] my brother shouldn’t go there to play [either] … I’m gonna say no for that.”
With reporting by Diana Cooper