It turns out that Netflix’s new breakout hit series Squid Game is so popular that it’s literally breaking the Internet in South Korea. Now, one of the country’s biggest service providers is hoping to do something about it in court.
Reuters reports that SK Broadband has filed a lawsuit against Netflix asking the streaming giant to cover the costs of increased network traffic and maintenance brought on largely by people in the country flocking to view content like Squid Game and other Netflix titles.
Netflix reportedly told the outlet that it would reach out to SK Broadband in an effort to settle the matter out of court by reaching a reasonable conclusion. However, it’s hard to envision a solution that doesn’t see Netflix start to shell out significant chunks of money to cover the usage data for its content. Currently, it stands as the country’s second-highest traffic generator behind Google’s YouTube, which also doesn’t pay network usage fees. Meanwhile, similar tech companies with massive content libraries like Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, do in fact pay.
The outlet reports that Netflix’s data traffic, which is handled by SK, jumped 24 times since May of 2018 to 1.2 trillion bits of data processed per second thanks to people rushing to stream content like Squid Game.
Unfortunately for Netflix, despite bringing the hits like Squid Game, the court of public opinion is still breaking in favor of it paying up to the service providers. According to TechCrunch, a court in Seoul ruled against Netflix earlier this year in a case about exactly this. Netflix actually filed suit in 2020 alleging that SK Broadband had no right to ask it to pay more for usage fees arguing that, as a content provider, it was merely fulfilling the demand for content like Squid Game set by users who had already paid for broadband. Whether or not the broadband works has nothing to do with it as a creative content provider. However, the court agreed with SK Broadband that the technicalities of the situation is much more nuanced than all that.
Ironically, the griping over Netflix’s money in South Korea comes in relation to a show like Squid Game. As ScreenRant notes, the show offers a deeply critical opinion of the capitalistic nature of the country, which is often criticized for being one of the wealthiest Asian countries while having perhaps the largest economic disparity between the wealthy and the poor.
Netflix’s Squid Game focuses on a collection of adults who are deeply and profoundly in dire financial straights that they cannot escape. As a result, they find themselves involved in a sinister tournament of children’s games in the hopes of winning the cash to escape their crushing debt.
However, they quickly learn that, while the consequences of winning are financial freedom — the consequences of losing are death. Now, if that’s not one of the most easily recognizable metaphors for late-stage capitalism, then you’re clearly not looking hard enough. Given its message and what the country is going through, it’s no surprise that Squid Game is the number one show in the country and more than 90 others, including the United States where capitalism just so happens to be a hot topic of conversation as well.