The Netflix survival show Squid Game has taken the world by storm and is being hailed as possibly the streaming platform's "biggest show ever."
Subtitled in over 30 languages and dubbed in 13, the show also became Korea's first program to rank among Netflix's top trending shows in the U.S.
But the class divide thriller almost never came to fruition.
Its creator, Hwang Dong-hyuk, reportedly had to halt writing the script for the popular dystopian drama because he was forced to sell his laptop for $675 in cash.
Dong-hyuk was living with his mother and grandmother at the time when he first conceived the show.
Before Squid Game's global success, Dong-hyuk's script had been rejected for ten years by several studios because it was deemed "too grotesque " and "unrealistic," according to the Journal report.
All that changed when Netflix picked up the show two years ago.
Dong-hyuk credits COVID-19 for the sudden interest as the pandemic highlighted the socioeconomic disparities between the lower and upper class—a concept reminiscent of another critically-acclaimed import from Korea, the Oscar-winning Best Picture, Parasite.
Dong-Hyuk cited the Journal Report, saying:
"The world has changed. All of these points made the story very realistic for people compared to a decade ago."
The nine-part series is about competitors from all walks of life, all of whom are deeply in debt, competing in a series of children's games but with lethal consequences for a chance to win over a $40 million cash prize.
Since the show's release on September 17, Squid Game hit the number 8 spot on Netflix's Top 10 on September 19.
The next day, it climbed to Number 2 and was at Number 1 by its fourth day on Sept. 21.