Netflix Squid Game warning issued by schools

By Tim Hanlon & Max Channon

Schools have started issuing warnings to parents over the violent hit Netflix show Squid Game.

It comes after pupils started asking teachers to stage contests that are in the South Korean programme that has become Netflix's most watched show in 90 countries.

And schools have said that pupils have started playing the game in playgrounds - with reports of children beating up the 'eliminated' players.

The fictional series sees hundreds of debt-ridden contestants take on survival tasks - masked as popular playground games - for a huge cash prize.

The name Squid Games comes from a Korean schoolyard game where children run towards a finish line when "green light" is called out, then freeze if "red light" is shouted - any players caught moving are eliminated.

But, in the Netflix show, players who are caught moving are shot dead.

Now schools are warning parents that the show, and its violent and gruesome scenes, is not suitable viewing for youngsters, reports The Mirror.

One father in London received a letter from his child's school in Ilford, warning that pupils were playing their own version of Squid Game - and that parents could be sanctioned over it.

He tweeted: "Can't believe my kids' school has had to send a letter telling parents that kids are playing their own version of Squid Game and that parents will have sanctions applied if their kids mimic Squid Game. The popularity of this show is next level."

Meanwhile, a school in Kent issued extra lessons on violence and online harm as a response to the show's popularity.

A spokeswoman for Sandown School in Deal said Key Stage 2 teachers have given their pupils extra lessons on online safety and the dangers of watching content that is "not age appropriate".

"We are always updating our advice to the parents and children, it's something we are constantly updating.

"As a response to this show and others we have put on extra lessons about violence and online harms."

Another Deal school, the Goodwin Academy, confirmed its safeguarding team sent a letter to parents regarding age concerns over the content in the series.

On social media, one parent wrote: "We've received 2 school letters (primary/secondary) warning parents about letting kids watch 'Squid Game'.

"I'm starting to think a more general letter about parental responsibility might be more useful. Keep an eye on your kids' media consumption people."

In Belgium, a school reported that its pupils have been playing 'Squid Games' - with children beating up the 'eliminated' players.

John Jolly, CEO of Parentkind, a charity network of PTA fundraisers in the UK, said: "Where there are safeguarding concerns, especially when children younger than the 15 rating are watching the show at home, parents need to exercise judgement as to whether or not it's suitable for their child.

"They should use parental supervision to decide, just as they should when it comes to any entertainment containing adult themes that their child wishes to see.

"Where there are specific worries, we encourage schools to work in partnership with parents as they have done in Kent.

"This will increase parental awareness of the issues and ensure that parents can reinforce the school's values in the home."

The director of Squid Game has said he did not expect the “fever” around the show.

The Korean drama, written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, sees people who are in dire financial straits sent a mysterious invitation to join a game which could win them 45.6 billion South Korean won (around £28 million).

To win the money the 456 contestants must play traditional children’s games such as Red Light, Green Light, with the price for failure being death.

Hwang said: “We did target a global audience from the start, but this fever wasn’t anything I had expected. I mean, who could have?”

Squid Game is on track to become Netflix’s biggest series ever.

The show premiered on September 17 and reached the number one spot in 90 countries in 10 days, the streaming service said.

It has been compared to The Hunger Games, Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror and 2014 Japanese horror film As The Gods Will.

But Hwang, 50, said the former two had not influenced his work on Squid Game, an idea he came up with in 2008.

“When I first came up with the ideas in 2008, I was into the Japanese survival comics – Battle Royale; Liar Game: Reborn; Gambling Apocalypse: Kaiji; to name a few,” he said.

“As I read on, I thought about making the survival genre in Korea. The Japanese game-based comics focused more on the games than its characters. While the games were elaborate and complex, the players were less carefully treated.

“I wanted contrarily to show more of the characters playing simple games. I have watched The Hunger Games and Black Mirror, which did not affect me for this work. I have not watched As The Gods Will. Only later, when I heard that the first game was the same, I looked up that particular scene.”

Key cast members in Squid Game include Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-jun and Jung Ho-yeon.

Having previously spoken about wanting to make Squid Game “distinctly Korean”, Hwang said: “I believe that the characters, their stories and the problems they confront not only reflect the reality and the issues of South Korean society but also those of my own.

“The games and how the players play and react in them is what I used to do with my friends in my childhood. This work contains everything from my 50 years of life – memories, experiences, families and friends; all the characters’ names come from my friends, including Seong Gi-hun (played by Lee Jung-jae).

“Thus, this work is personal and Korean.

“But I was certain that, at the same time, they are similar experiences, memories and feelings that everyone around the world can share. We have all once indulged ourselves in the games and now, all grown up, we are growing weary from the big game of survival.”

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