A real-life ‘Squid Game’ is being organized in Abu Dhabi

The Korean Cultural Center in the United Arab Emirates is organizing a re-enactment of the games seen in the Netflix series for two teams of 15 participants. Korean Cultural Center, UAE

Fans of the wildly popular “Squid Game” series on Netflix in Abu Dhabi will be given a chance to experience a real-life “Squid Game,” sans the murder and bloodshed. 

The Korean Cultural Center in the United Arab Emirates is organizing a re-enactment of the games seen in the Netflix series for two teams of 15 participants. The event is slated to be held this Tuesday, October 12, in two sessions at the Center’s Abu Dhabi office. 

“Squid Game” premiered on Netflix on September 17 and skyrocketed to the number one spot in the US, according to Netflix’s public rankings. The show is a Korean-language drama about desperate individuals who have found themselves in severe economic difficulty. Seeing no way out, 456 players opt into a series of deadly challenges modeled after Korean childrens’ games in the hope of winning a jackpot prize of $38 million. 

According to the Center’s event page, four out of the six games seen in the Netflix series will be played during the event. These include the “Red Light Green Light” and “Dalgona Candy” challenges, both of which spawned trends on TikTok. Players will also get to try their hand at the “Marbles” and “Ddakji” (paper-flipping) games, also seen in the series. 

Instead of $38 million, however, each winner will be given a customized green tracksuit. Sadly, there’s no prize money. 

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The Center’s games will be held in two-hour, tournament-style sessions, and the eliminated players will get to watch the rest of the games from the sidelines. 

To apply to join the UAE’s version of “Squid Game,” applicants must fill out a form containing three questions that tested them on their basic knowledge of the Netflix show. Thankfully, applicants didn’t have to run the gauntlet of being slapped by a game recruiter multiple times just to get invited to the games. 

Nam Chan-woo, the UAE Korean Cultural Center’s director, told local media outlet Khaleej Times the participants will be dressed in T-shirts bearing the show’s logo, while the event’s staff will don the pink circle, triangle, and square costumes that the show’s guards wore during the show’s death games.

“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,” Nam told Insider.

Nam told Insider that the event was being held to introduce Korean culture and the childhood games they played with the people of the United Arab Emirates.

“The games played in the Netflix series are popular amongst children in Korea, and remind Korean adults of nostalgic childhood memories. But similar traditional games are played by children here in the UAE, too,” Nam said. “I hope the global popularity of ‘Squid Game’ will be an opportunity to spread other aspects of Korean culture too, such as Hangeul (the Korean alphabet), taekwondo, as well as K-dramas and movies.”

In the meantime, “Squid Game” fever continues to sweep the internet and is turning some previously commonplace Korean games and snacks into global trends. Most recently, a maker of Dalgona candies, a toffee snack that was featured in one of the show’s challenges, said he was so swamped with customers that he hasn’t gone home for a week. Outfits seen in the show are also being snapped up in stores, including white slip-on Vans and green retro tracksuits. 


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