Entertainment

What ‘Squid Game’ Challenges Would Look Like in Other Countries

We asked people: What if “Squid Game” was set in your country?
September 29, 2021, 10:55am
Squid Game Netflix number one horror show children's games culture South Korea your country
What if Netflix’s “Squid Game” was set in your country? Here, a scene from the show is reimagined with the Filipino game tumbang preso. Collage: VICE / Image: Courtesy of Netflix

In the Netflix show Squid Game, adults play children’s games like tug of war and red light, green light, for a chance to win a multimillion-dollar cash prize. Losers, however, are instantly, brutally killed. 

The South Korean survival drama is now the number one series on Netflix around the world. It’s set to become the platform’s biggest non-English language show, and possibly even its biggest show ever, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said at this year’s Code Conference, held earlier this week.  

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Squid Game Netflix number one horror show children's games culture South Korea your country

Photo: YOUNGKYU PARK, Courtesy of Netflix

The show tackles a number of serious issues—chief among them, economic inequality—that spark important conversations. But its clever reimagining of South Korean children’s games also just makes for some really good TV.

The show’s popularity has now led TikTokers around the world to recreate some of its most iconic moments, with local twists.

As Squid Game continues to hook viewers, we asked our readers: What if Squid Game was set in your country? Below are some of the games they think would make for a hellishly good challenge. 

Indonesia

Panjat Pinang 

Traditionally played around the Indonesian Independence Day in August, panjat pinang is a test of determination and teamwork. 

A large circular wheel is affixed to one end of a long pole. From the wheel hangs various prizes, including food, clothing, and even everyday appliances like small rice cookers.

The pole is then positioned vertically with the wheel at the top, and then greased all the way through before teams build human ladders to get one member high enough to pull a prize from the wheel. The pole is usually placed in a field, where the ground is softer and safer for those who would fall, but Squid Game’s organizers probably won’t bother themselves with such precautions. 

Malaysia

Galah Panjang

Also known as runner and tagger, the game is played between two teams of at least two people each.

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The taggers station themselves on parallel horizontal lines on vacant fields, which the runners must try and cross without being tagged.

If the taggers touch a runner, the runner is considered “dead” and out of the game. In Squid Game, of course, the tagged runner might end up literally dead.

Squid Game Netflix number one horror show children's games culture South Korea your country

Photo: YOUNGKYU PARK, Courtesy of Netflix

India

Kabaddi 

The name kabaddi is derived from the Tamil word “kai-pidi,” which means “let’s hold hands.” The game is believed to date back to prehistoric times and is played in India and other parts of South Asia.

The sport is kind of a cross between wrestling, rugby, and tag. It’s played between two teams, each based on one half of a field or court. Players score points by crossing to the opposite side of the court and tagging as many of the opposite team’s members as possible, while continuously chanting “kabaddi, kabaddi, kabaddi,” before running back to safety on their side. In Squid Game, however, the safety probably wouldn’t last very long, and those who run out of breath chanting “kabaddi” would probably run out of breath forever.

Jallikattu

This controversial bull-taming activity might not require much modification to appear on Squid Game, as it often results in major injuries and even deaths.

Jallikattu requires participants to pounce on a raging bull and hold onto its horns as the animal runs amok and tries to shake them off.

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Philippines

Kadang-kadang

A traditional racing game played on bamboo stilts, kadang-kadang requires balance, focus, and agility.

Other versions of the game involve stepping on coconut shells while holding onto strings. Safer, perhaps, but less sensational.

The race is fun to watch, as players laugh their way through their fumbles and stumbles. On Squid Game, though, it probably won’t be so funny.

Tumbang Preso

Tumbang preso, or fallen prisoner, is a children’s game normally played with an empty tin can or large soda bottle and slippers. 

In the game, one player is “it” and all others are hitters. The “it” player guards the empty can while the hitters stand a few feet away, behind a marked line, and try to knock the can over by throwing their flip-flops at it.

To retrieve their footwear, they must cross the line, at which point the “it” player can tag them and transfer the burden of guarding the can. One VICE reader imagined the Squid Game version to be a little riskier—“If you miss the can, you’re dead.” 

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