What is the meaning of the mysterious “circle – triangle – square” symbols in Squid Game?

Many observant viewers have noticed that the three symbols of circle – triangle – square, the number 456, … often appear throughout the series. Do they carry any special meaning? 

Immediately after its release, Squid Game has quickly become a hit among viewers around the world. The drama climbed to the 2nd place in Netflix global trending, and is also the first Korean drama to reach No.1 on Netflix US.

Squid Game’s plot is about a survival game of 456 players who are “living on the edge” while carrying huge debts that cannot be repaid. They are the losers in real life, invited to participate in the game to become the winner with a tempting reward of 45.6 billion won (about 38.7 million USD). On the contrary, those who fail in any game have to pay the price with their own lives.

Squid Game was prepared and produced by director Hwang Dong-hyuk many years ago. The series is heavily invested in script, cast, graphic design, soundtrack, lighting,… and especially the subtly meaningful details.

Are the 3 “circle – triangle – square” symbols inspired by PlayStation?

The first detail that sparks the most discussion and curiosity is the 3 symbols of “circle – triangle – square”.  These three symbols appear many times throughout the drama. Some speculations suggest that Squid Game was inspired by PlayStation (the icons on the device’s controller).

However, in fact, there is no connection between Squid Game and PlayStation. The news site The Focus published an analysis that the 3 “circle – triangle – square” symbols in the series represent the three letters of the Korean alphabet.

Specifically, the letter O is the circle, the letter J is the triangle, and the letter M is the square. When combining these 3 letters, we get OJM, that reads as Ojingeo Geim(오징어 게임) – short for “Squid Game” in Korean, a traditional game in Korea.

This explanation completely makes sense, because, right from episode 1, the director has suggested viewers about the origin of the three symbols through the squid game scene in childhood memories. However, not everyone notices the opening scene.

Squid game is a children’s game in Korea. The name is based on the drawing on the field that resembles a squid. The rules of the game are also very simple: there are two teams, offense and defence. One team attacks and the other team defends to prevent the opponent from reaching the final destination. The player who touches the line or steps on the line first is the winner. This is also the last game in the series Squid Game to determine the final survivor and owner of 45.6 billion won.

What about other hidden clues?

Not only causing curiosity about the 3 symbols, but throughout Squid Game, the director also inserts a lot of hidden clues that only when finishing the series, the most observant viewers will discover.

The first clue is the red and blue cards that appear from the first minutes of the series. When Seong Gi Hun meets a stranger with a suitcase of money and two red and blue cards, he picks the red card. There is a theory that if Seong Gi Hun chooses the blue card, he will become one of Squid Game’s workers – the masked one in red jackets, instead of becoming a player.

Second, the number 001 is the beginning and 456 is the end. If you have watched Squid Game, you can easily see that the two important links are the old man and the male lead with their numbers representing the  beginning and end. Moreover, 456 is the number sequence of the prize (45.6 billion won), and also symbolizes the will: effort (number 4) – adventure, challenge (number 5) – balance and  responsibility (number 6).  Everything resembles the current situation of the male lead, as well as what he does after finishing the game. In addition, it is also a metaphor of Gi Hun‘s conflicting personality in the past and present.

If the Squid Game players pay attention, they can notice that the games are already printed on the wall.  However, due to the arrangement of the beds and how their eyes are glued to the money, they fail to realize this.

In Squid Game, every time a player is eliminated, the workers then bring an iconic box with a bow tie that looks like a present. This implies that the fewer people with the chance to win, the larger the amount of money they get to receive.

Finally, some viewers notice the way each character’s story begins and ends the same way. For example, the male lead has a difficult life before entering the game, after winning, his life doesn’t get any better.

Sources: yan

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