South Korean Workers Strike While Wearing Squid Game Costumes

By Jason Collins | 3 weeks ago

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It would seem that public protests have many faces. First, we had Guy Fawkes masks inspired by the 2005 film V for Vendetta, which served to relay a simple message carried through the film – that people shouldn’t be afraid of their government; Governments should be afraid of their people. Then we had Salvador Dali masks, inspired by Netflix’s mega-hit Money Heist (La Casa De Papel),which stood as a symbol of resistance and national pride. And now, we have Squid Game – costumes that include hot pink jumpsuits paired with black fencer masks. Oddly enough, they seem to sport PlayStation symbols on the faces (the two aren’t actually connected in any way).

However, unlike the motives represented by Guy Fawkes and Salvador Dali masks, Squid Game costumes convey a less noble message. Those wearing the said outfit in the television series, are in fact murderous guards and not the series’ heroic protagonists. With that in mind, more than 27,000 people gathered in the Korean capital on Wednesday, demanding that the government improve workers’ rights and increase the country’s minimum wage. Union workers who attended the protests dressed as Squid Game guards, as reported by The Gamer, were signaling that they feel under the same pressure as the characters from the TV show, barely earning enough to make a living.

But the news is much larger than that. Approximately 80,000 members of the South Korean Confederation of Trade Unions went on a strike across 13 different cities in South Korea, calling on the government to impose better working conditions for minimum wage workers. More than 27,000 people gathered to protests in Seoul alone, with a significant number of protesters donning the aforementioned menacing costumes. This prompted local authorities to deploy some 12,000 police officers, who have set up bus walls and fences for crowd control in Gwanghwamun Plaza, where the rallies took place.

But why would those gathering for a noble cause, such as better working conditions for minimum wage workers, dress in such a menacing way? In union workers’ defense, green tracksuits with random numbers worn by the good guys in Squid Game aren’t as striking. But could the aforementioned costumes signal the protesters’ willingness to escalate things further if their demands aren’t met? It could also be because the striking workers feel that — just as the largely faceless workers of the game are depicted — they are being treated as mindless drones. Whatever the case, with thousands of protests going on around the world, Korean union workers certainly got the media’s attention thanks to hot pink jumpsuits.

For those who, for whatever reason, haven’t seen Squid Game, Netflix’s television show was watched by 111 million households in the first month, making it the biggest launch for a Netflix show ever. Squid Game made it to the top in the Netflix charts in 90 different countries, including South Korea. The show centers around a group of people, ridden by debt, who are invited to play children’s games to win money. But as always, there’s a catch – those that fail get killed on the spot. It would seem that the theme feels much too relatable to South Korean Squid Game viewers.