Squid Game Made Nearly $1 Billion For Netflix... But Its Creator Made Almost None Of It

Squid Game Made Nearly $1 Billion For Netflix… But Its Creator Made Almost None Of It

Hwang Dong-hyeok’s contract with the platform included the loss of all his intellectual property rights.

Squid Gamethe most-watched streaming series in the world, won six Emmy Awards, and reportedly grossed $900 million at netflix. After the planetary success of the first season, a second comes to the fore, and a reality show will copy the macabre game of the program (apart from the part “assassination of participants”, Of course). There has never been a debate: the series has undeniably become a revenue machine that Netflix can relish with pleasure.

But what about the one who is behind its creation? With nearly a billion in revenue, Hwang Dong-hyeok must have taken months to count his tickets in the sun by his swimming pool, right? Well… it’s not. According to the Los Angeles Timesthe creator’s contract included the loss of all his intellectual property rights, and certainly no “bonuses” fruitful if successful. Only, after having lived in precariousness for almost ten years, the screenwriter was not refused to sign with the streaming giant.

“I’m not that rich. But I have enough. I have enough to put food on the table. And it’s not like Netflix pays me a bonus. Netflix paid me according to the original contract.”he declared in 2021 to The Guardian.

In January, Netflix revealed that 60% of its audience consumed South Korean films and series. With 56 original productions, the platform has established itself in the country with great financial ambitions, and one thing in mind: in South Korea, working conditions are much more “flexible”. Even abusive.

Just listen to Hwang Dong-hyeok talking about Squid Game to understand the pressure and stress involved in his filming, which initially made him resistant to a sequel. “It was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. I kept coming up with new ideas and reshooting episodes during filming, so the amount of work multiplied.”he explained in 2021. The creator lost six teeth during this period, due to stress, without taking the time to consult a dentist.

“Working conditions on Netflix original productions are exactly the same as others in Korea. (…) There is a staggering amount of unpaid work in the country”also explained Kim Ki-young, president of the Broadcasting Staff Union (which represents the production teams in South Korea) at Los Angeles Times.

With the Hollywood screenwriters’ strike that began in early May, South Korean content is all the more a boon for the platforms.

“We pay fair and highly competitive rates with our K-Content creators and set clear standards for our Korean production partners, who produce all of our shows and movies. These standards meet or exceed Korean law”said the platform in response to the Los Angeles Times.

Season 2 of Squid Game is scheduled for the end of 2024. If Hwang Dong-hyeoka has agreed to dive back into it, we hope at least that he has managed to negotiate a better contract this time around.

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