Spoilers below for season 1 of Squid Game.
Netflix’s massive K-drama hit Squid Game is, at face value, a spin on the Japanese classic Battle Royale. A group of strangers are placed in an enclosure, where they’re forced to kill one another if they hope to claim the carrot dangling before them: money, and lots of it. But unlike in Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, where the fighters are children forced into the arena against their will, Squid Game posits an intriguing morality shift. These participants are adults, and they volunteered.
To be clear, they volunteered for a game. Each of them down on their luck and pining for a life-changing payday—the prize is a $38.5 million check—each contestant is invited to a “survival competition” made up of seemingly innocuous children’s games. Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) is one such unfortunate soul, encouraged to repay his many debts through a “high-stakes” competition. Desperate, he accepts, only to awaken in an eerily nondescript building, surrounded by hundreds of similarly confused contestants. They are rounded up to play a round of “Red Light, Green Light.” They sprint. Those who don’t screech to a halt in time are immediately gunned down.
If this sounds a little less cheery than your average Netflix binge, your instincts are correct. But Squid Game, which had been in development for more than a decade prior to its debut, is the kind of thriller that works because it uses its mind-twisting ethics—after all, what would you do in a fight to the death?—to stir conversation. After its release on September 17, 2021, the K-drama shot to the top of the Netflix charts and become, at the time, the streamer’s most-viewed series in history. We could spend hours dissecting why exactly this show has captured the world’s attention, but it ultimately boils down to Squid Game's remarkable use of its haunted characters. So, naturally, fans are eager to watch them return. Here’s what we know so far.
Will Squid Game get a season 2?
The first season closes with something of a resolution, depending on how you choose to interpret it. Gi-hun has won the Game and is now processing the trauma of what he’s done, only to discover that the old man he befriended during the course of the competition was, in fact, its creator. Alas, betrayal on the grandest scale.
After this man dies, Gi-hun learns the Game is still ongoing—he witnesses a candidate get recruited—and vows to stop it once and for all. We could choose to interpret this as the writers tying a bright bow on the finale, or it’s possible they meant to fuel speculation for a second chapter. Regardless, the show’s creator, Hwang Dong-hyuk, soon addressed the possibility of a season 2 after the show became such a break-out performer.
“I almost feel like you leave us no choice,” he told the Associated Press about whether a second season is due, after obsessed fans across the globe have been clamoring for more. “There’s been so much pressure, so much demand and so much love for a second season.”
“It’s in my head right now,” Hwang added to AP. “I’m in the planning process currently. But I do think it’s too early to say when and how that’s going to happen. So I will promise you this, Gi-hun will be back and he’ll do something for the world.”
Hwang had previously shared that he was so exhausted after making the first season, he wasn’t initially thinking of extending the story. (K-dramas don’t usually go on for multiple seasons.) “I think I do have the obligation to explain it to the fans and I’m thinking about season 2, but at the time, I was so tired after finishing season 1, I couldn’t really think of season 2,” he told IndieWire. “But now that it’s become such a big hit, people would hate me if I don’t make a season 2, so I feel a lot of pressure and think I’d have to.”
Sure enough, in January 2022, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos confirmed during an earnings call that Squid Game season 2 was on its way: “The Squid Game universe has begun,” he said, as reported by Variety.
And then in June 2022, Netflix shared a message from Hwang Dong-Hyuk in which he warned, “A second round is coming.” We’ve been eagerly waiting ever since.
Who will be in the cast?
Now that we know Netflix is cashing in on a sure-to-be-successful season 2, let’s discuss the cast: Lee Jung-jae (Gi-hun), Lee Byung-Hun (The Front Man), Wi Ha-jun (Hwang Jun-ho), and Gong Yoo (The Salesman) will all return. But Netflix also announced new cast members for season 2: Yim Si-Wan, Kang Ha-Neul, Park Sung-Hoon, Yang Dong-Geun will star as new players.
In the final round of casting announcements, Netflix unveiled another set of stars, ranging from Netflix alums to newcomers to industry veterans. They are: Park Gyu-young (Sweet Home), Jo Yu-ri (former member of the band Iz*One), Kang Ae-sim (Be Melodramatic), Lee David (The Fortress), Lee Jin-uk (Sweet Home), Choi Seung-hyun (Tazza: The Hidden Card and Commitment), Roh Jae-won (Missing Yoon), Won Ji-an (D.P.). Further details on their individual roles remain unknown.
Netflix also shared a look at the cast during the table read:
When will season 2 be released?
It's still too early to tell, but Netflix has promised the series will return sometime in 2024.
What would a second season be about?
Per Netflix’s Tudum, the logline for season 2 is as follows: “Squid Game introduces viewers to a group of contestants desperate enough to risk their lives in a mysterious survival game for the promise of a 45.6 billion won cash prize. Season 2 will follow hero Gi-hun as he abandons his plans to go to the United States. Instead, he begins a chase with an important motive.”
That vague allusion to an “important motive” likely indicates Gi-hun’s quest to end the Game, much like Katniss Everdeen’s saga centered around her revolutionary efforts to stop the Hunger Games and restore equity to the districts. What remains unclear is if this noble pursuit would land Gi-hun himself back in the arena, or if Squid Game would pull a Westworld and draw its characters out of the simulation and into the larger dystopian reality. But it does seem there will be another Game—and another prize.
“The philosophies I put in season one all naturally extend to season 2,” Hwang had previously said, per The Hollywood Reporter. “Instead of trying to meet the expectations of viewers, I just thought about the last moment when Gi-hun turned away from boarding the plane, and I thought about what he will do next. There will naturally be a flow of events that will lead all the way to the end of the season. I can’t share any details yet, but you know that Seong Gi-hun has become a totally new person by the end of season one, so season two is going to be about what that new Gi-hun is going to do and how things will unfold with this new kind of character.”
Are there any photos of season 2?
Two new photos feature Gi-hun and the Recruiter, as well as a new character played by Park Gyu-young.
How many seasons will there be in total?
In a recent interview with the Korea Times, Hwang revealed he was envisioning an even longer story arc for Squid Game. “I’m in talks with Netflix over season 2 as well as season 3,” he said. “We will come to a conclusion any time soon.”
This post will be updated.
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