UAE: Real-life 'Squid Game' comes to Abu Dhabi, without the violence

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Abu Dhabi - Get ready to play Red Light, Green Light; Dalgona game; and odd-or-even


Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Sun 10 Oct 2021, 7:09 PM

Last updated: Sun 10 Oct 2021, 8:07 PM

Want to play the Squid Game in real life? The Korean Cultural Centre (KCC) in the UAE Capital is making it possible for fans of the hit Netflix show to try their luck at children’s games — but without facing the deadly consequences depicted in the series.

Nam Chan-woo, director of the KCC, told Khaleej Times that 338 people have already signed up for the games, which are scheduled to take place on Tuesday evening.

Also read:

>> Five reasons why show is a huge success

>> Squid Game: South Korea's latest cultural phenomenon

The Korean drama, written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, has topped Netflix’s global viewership charts, the company’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos revealed last week. The nine-episode show follows the story of 456 cash-strapped contestants who are risking their lives for a tempting cash prize.

Since its release, the Squid Game fever has gripped viewers worldwide, including those in the UAE. Memes and videos have flooded social events, and some have organised wholesome events to bring its thrills to life.

Squid Game player attires have also become one of the most searched Halloween costumes this year. In Ajman, Dot Cafe is serving cappuccino with a side of a Dalgona (honeycomb) candy, which was used in the second round of the games in the series.

Nam said: “The games seem a bit brutal in the series to maximise the dramatic element. However, all the games in the show are popular ones played by Korean children from past to present.”

He said that through the upcoming event, the centre hopes more people in the UAE would learn about Korean culture.

“Just as K-Pop gained worldwide popularity through YouTube in the 2010s, I think platforms such as Netflix would be a channel for the global spread of Korean video content such as dramas and movies.”

How will the KCC games be played?

Chan-woo said the games would be played by two groups consisting of 15 pre-selected participants. Two rounds will be organised from 5.30pm to 9.15pm on Tuesday.

Participants will wear uniforms — Squid Game logo T-shirts — during the event, and the staff will be donning the circle, triangle and square costumes worn by the guards in the show.

The whole game will be tournament-based and players who lost will be able to watch the game separately without being ‘eliminated’.

Guide to the games

>> Red Light, Green Light

It is a popular childhood game in Korea.

“I played it a lot during my childhood days,” said Nam. “In Korean, we say ‘The roses of Sharon have blossomed’ instead of Green Light and Red Light. The person whose movement is detected is eliminated.”

The KCC will shoot sponge guns — instead of actual firearms — at participants who move. Winners can move on to the next game.

>> Glass stepping stones

KCC will do floor stepping stones instead, but it will be run in the same way it was done in the show.

>> Honeycomb toffee game (Dalgona game)

“After school, on your way back home, you will see a dalgona maker in front of your school. Korean children paid Dh1 or Dh2 (10 to 20 years ago) and maybe Dh5-10 (now) for one game. They would gather with their friends and try to take out the shapes marked. If you get the shape without any breaks, you will get one more for free,” said Nam.

>> Marble game

Two players will be paired to play a game with marbles, and those who exhausted all their beads will be eliminated. The KCC will hold even-or-odd matches. The dealer will hold either a number of marbles in their fist, and the player would need to guess if it’s even or odd.

>> Ttakji

The players hold the ttakji, and whoever flips over the other’s piece first will be the winner.

“This is a traditional Korean game, and we have played the ttakji with friends and family during the holidays such as New Year’s Day or Thanksgiving Day. Koreans used to make ttakji with old calendars because they are usually hard enough to make a durable ttakji,” said Nam.

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