Image source: Netflix
The opening notes of Johann Strauss II’s “The Blue Danube” will forever keep me on the edge of my seat thanks to Netflix’s nail-biting Korean drama, Squid game. Minutes after the first episode begins, hundreds of players flood the arena of a remote experimentation center, where they are tricked into participating in a series of children’s life or death games for a prize. in cash of 45.6 billion won (approximately $ 38 million). Violent and grotesque, each match tests the strength of the players, challenging them to stake their lives to pay off their large financial debts.
At the heart of each episode is the story of Seong Gi-hun, aka Player 456, a driver struggling with a gambling problem who hopes to win the competition to pay for his mother’s medical bills and be closer to his daughter. Amidst death and emotional destruction, one of the biggest changes Gi-hun has made in the series is the impromptu decision to dye his hair an unusual fiery red, leaving viewers in awe of the significance. of her new hairstyle. But a closer look at its history reveals a powerful double meaning behind the new look.
At the start of the competition, Gi-hun and the other players face off in a fatal game of Red Light, Green Light, in which he barely makes it out alive. As the challenges progress, the games get more difficult, taking a heavy physical, emotional and mental toll on everyone involved. With tensions high, alliances crack and players resort to lying, cheating, and literally stabbing themselves in the back to get what they came for.
Image source: Netflix
“I imagined myself being him and I was like, ‘What color would you never choose for dyeing your hair?'”
Against all odds, Gi-hun is the only player who manages to make it out of the competition alive. Devastated by his experience, he returns home to find his mother dead and daughter gone. With everything he fought for out of reach, Gi-hun leaves his fully charged competition bank card intact for a year, growing a shaggy beard and mustache and living just like before the games. After a frightening encounter with Oh Il-nam, the man behind the games, Gi-hun is able to fully deal with his grief and keeps his promises to help Song’s little brother Sae-byeok and Cho Sang-woo’s mother. , giving them half of its prize money.
It was around this time that Gi-hun did his big hair transformation, which director Hwang Dong-hyuk explained in an interview with Zapzee is a reflection of his inner rage. “I thought about it intuitively, thinking about how Gi-hun should change his hair in a barbershop,” he said. “I imagined myself being him and I was like, ‘What color would you never choose to dye your hair?’ Then I came to the conclusion that Gi-hun would never dye his hair red. [most unexpected] thing to do for him. So I chose the color and thought it really showed her inner anger. “
Considering that red hair dye was a huge trend over the summer, you don’t really have to have a heartbreaking life experience to incorporate color into your look. But for Gi-hun, the move was completely unexpected and serves as a powerful symbol of the rage that burns within him after being subjected to such brutal torture.
In the final moments of the series, Gi-hun, ready to move to America to be with his daughter and start a new life, is unable to leave after seeing another man being recruited for the annual Squid Game competition. Realizing that the games will only end if someone tries to stop them, he misses his flight and stays in South Korea. Gi-hun’s fate seems pretty open-ended by the end of the series, but it’s clear that the game has definitely sunk its claws into him, and even if he’s won, there’s never really a way out. In this case, the “red light” – aka his hair – signifies his inability to move forward after all he’s been through.
We still don’t know if a second season of Squid game is on the horizon, but if there is, we hope Gi-hun – red hair or not – will return to put an end to the games for good.