Squid Game spoilers follow.
Towards the later half of 2021, you had to be hiding under a rock to miss out on the absolute phenomenon that was Netflix's Korean series, Squid Game.
The to-the-death battle of wits captured the imagination of the entire world – and finally brought to some people's attention the stream of amazing Korean content that's available to subscribers worldwide.
As insanely popular as the show has become, it's hard to believe that we nearly missed out on Squid Game altogether.
In an interview with , the creator Hwang Dong-hyuk revealed that the premise was initially rejected.
In 2009, the show's creator attempted to pitch it as a feature film but was knocked back.
"People were telling me that it's too unrealistic," Hwang said. The project was labelled absurd: a film about debt and poverty leading people to make drastically life-threatening choices during a time when the real world was experiencing a global financial crisis does seem very close to home.
Hwang Dong-hyuk put the script away and concentrated on other projects including directing the acclaimed The Crucible, Miss Granny and The Fortress.
Thankfully he didn't give up on Squid Game and revisited the script in 2018. "It was a very strange experience," he explained, "because what seemed so unrealistic at the time didn't feel as unrealistic any more."
Few shows have had the massive cultural impact of Squid Game, with creepy giant 'Red Light, Green Light' dolls popping up all over the world, and even numerous recreations of the games being played by superfans (without the added side of death).
The distinctive pink guard uniforms and green competitor tracksuits became so popular around Halloween that .
Park Hae-soo (Cho Sang-woo, Player 218) is proud of his work on the show, and the impact it had on pop culture (via ). "The fact that we created a uniquely Korean story, with a very Korean subject matter, with all Korean creators – the crew, the staff, and the wonderful cast."
"The fact that something we prepared for a long time and showcased to the world in the Korean language and filled with Korean culture, the fact that this was loved by so many around the world and so many people related to it, that was something I'm really proud of."
So, will we find out what's happening next to Gi-hun following his experiences within the games? Here's everything you need to know.
Squid Game season 2 potential release date: When will it air?
"On your marks. Set. Greenlight." Get your green trackies ready, because Squid Game has officially been given the go-ahead for a second season – unsurprising, given its popularity and viewing success.
And Hwang Dong-hyuk is ready to go with a season two outline. "I have a treatment of a whole season two episode with new games and new characters," he told . "I like it. I think it's good. It's better than what I expected."
The good news – announced by Netflix via Twitter on June 12, 2022 – was accompanied by a teaser video. Fans just about lost their minds demanding the return of some of their favourites, despite their bloody demises.
"Won't be tuning in unless [Kang Sae-byeok] rises from the dead," said one fan. Pretty hard to survive a slashed throat but we're here for the passion.
More realistic speculation over who may return was also rife with some predicting Wi Ha-joon may return as detective Hwang Jun-ho. We know, we know, he 'died', but as one Twitter user pointed out, we didn't actually see a body.
Hwang Dong-hyuk was kind enough to confirm the return of two season one alums. Our favourite gambler turned survivor Seong Gi-Hun (Lee Jung-jae) will be back for more games and blood. Literally because when last we saw him he had fallen for the bait and signed himself up for a second round of the squid games!
Lee Byung-hun will reprise his role as Hwang In-ho, aka The Front Man. We doubt he will be carrying much remorse over killing his brother Hwang Jun-ho. He seems like a pretty cold and heartless person, but will he face retribution? Can't wait to find out.
Of his Squid Game journey, Hwang Dong-hyuk said:
"It took 12 years to bring the first season of Squid Game to life last year but it took 12 days for Squid Game to become the most popular Netflix series ever.
"As the writer, director and producer of Squid Game, a huge shout out to the fans around the world. Thank you for watching and loving our show."
Currently there is no official release date for Squid Game season two – but it is at least on the way.
However we wouldn't advise you to get too excited. During the same interview with Vanity Fair Hwang Dong-hyuk opened up about the second season's progress, estimating that the second instalment of the bloody suspense thriller will hit the streaming services no earlier than the end of 2023 or more likely 2024.
As of May 2022, Hwang disclosed that he only has about three pages' worth of ideas that he will magic up into a script but has confirmed there will be more games ahead. "Humanity is going to be put to a test through those games once again."
When asked if the second season would contain some of the same thematic preoccupations, Hwang Dong-hyuk answered:
"I want to ask the question, 'Is true solidarity between humans possible?'"
In November 2021, Hwang Dong-hyuk confirmed that new episodes were commissioned, with the new game fans having to play being the waiting game. (See what we did? We made a game pun. So proud.)
He told : "There's been so much pressure, so much demand and so much love for a second season. So I almost feel like you leave us no choice! But I will say there will indeed be a second season. It's in my head right now. I'm in the planning process currently.
"But I do think it's too early to say when and how that's going to happen. So I will promise you this…(in English) Gi-Hun will come back, and he will do something for the world."
Not only that, but it looks like there could even be a season three being planned already as well.
In December 2021, Hwang told Korean broadcaster KBS (via ): "I'm in talks with Netflix over season two as well as season three. We will come to a conclusion any time soon."
However, don't expect an official release date any time soon, as the first season took two years to make.
"It took me six months to write and rewrite the first two episodes,” Hwang told . "Then I consulted verbally with friends, and picked up clues for improvements through my own pitching and from their responses."
Speaking to on the red carpet at 2022’s PGA Awards ceremony, Hwang Dong-hyuk confirmed that he's still very early in the creative process for season two.
"There will be more great games, that’s all I can say," Hwang said. "I'm just still brainstorming and collecting the ideas for season two. I haven't even started with the writing yet."
Could fan favourite characters such as Kang Sae-byeok (Hoyeon) return, despite being killed off in season one? Hwang added, "I'll try something to bring them back to season two."
"Let's say maybe [Kang Sae-byeok] has a twin sister, you'll see," he joked.
Squid Game season 2 cast: Who's in it?
Considering the nature of the Squid Game itself, don't expect too many familiar faces in the upcoming season two.
Out of the first season's 456 competitors, all of them but one died.
But the one person we know we can count on to come back is Seong Gi-hun who, after making it out of the game alive, found himself tempted back in after seeing someone else recruited for the mega-millions life/death game.
Alongside Lee, the rest of the cast is basically up for debate, with pretty much everyone having met their maker.
The announcement of its second season did confirm the The Front Man will be back, while also teasing the return of the man in the suit with the ddjaki. It also hinted the debut of Young-hee's boyfriend Cheol-su may be possible but made no confirmation.
Previous players – including actors Park Hae-soo, Oh Yeong-su and Hoyeon – could potentially make a comeback, but only at best in flashbacks as Gi-hun takes on the games once again, remembering his fallen friends.
One other important name that fans would be keen to see return is Gong Yoo, the Korean icon who's most recognisable to international audiences as the star of Train To Busan.
Not only was Gong's high-profile cameo a highlight for fans, but it also sets up the possibility of a return for his character. After all, he must surely be out there somewhere, still recruiting new participants to die in the game, so it wouldn't be hard to bring Gong's character back in season two (hopefully with more scenes this time around).
Marvel star Tony Leung has set the rumour mill churning by appearing in a photograph with Squid Game director Hwang Dong-hyuk – as well as teasing fans with some show-specific captions.
During his time at the 27th Busan International Film Festival, Leung had also commented on how he may like to do Korean dramas (via ).
Elsewhere, let's just hope any returning VIPs do a better job this time though. Back when season one dropped, many fans criticised the Western cast's acting while playing the evil, decadent men who watch these games unfold from behind the scenes.
John D Michaels, the actor who plays VIP One, defended his work in an interview with where he discussed why English-language scenes might come across as unnatural in Korean shows.
"I think the first thing to dispel is this myth that they just pick us up off the street," he said. "It's different for every show, but non-Korean performers often act with dialogue that is translated by a non-native – sometimes even by Google Translate – so it can sound unnatural.
"And often we don't have the scripts for the rest of the show. We are only given our scenes, so we have no idea of the tone. If I was editing a Russian actor speaking Russian, I wouldn't have any idea if he was saying his lines correctly or if his intonation was natural.
"There might be two takes," he continues. "One of them could be perfect, the other wooden. If I'm editing it, the wooden one might move faster or cut more smoothly or the continuity might be better, so I'd just go with that."
Squid Game season 2 plot: What will happen?
At the end of Squid Game's first season, Gi-hun has managed to beat the game against all odds. But the game's not over yet. Following the death of the Squid Game's creator, Gi-hun discovers that the competition is still going with new recruits.
Given all this, it would be easy to continue the story with Gi-hun centre stage again, doing all he can to stop the game, just as he vows to do in those last moments.
And it looks like that's the route season two is going down.
"I have no idea what will happen or the scale of it, but the only thing [director Hwang] did tell me was that Seong Gi-hun is going to be in the show again, and he's going to be playing in the arena again," actor Lee Jung-jae told .
However, it's hard to imagine how Gi-hun could possibly defeat the game's creators, even with his newfound wealth.
One complication is the impossibility of his ever sneaking into anywhere undetected with that mop of flame-red hair. Gi-hun dyed his naturally black hair bright red in the final episode for unspecified reasons. While you might think it's not that important, Hwang Dong-hyuk disagrees: "[It] represents that he will never be able to go back to his old self. It is also a sign of his rage," he told .
However, in his aforementioned chat with The AP, creator Hwang Dong-hyuk has now confirmed that "Gi-Hun will come back, and he will do something for the world".
He later compared it to a conflict worthy of Star Wars, and said: "I would think that in the second season, what he has learned from the games and his experience in the first season, they will all be put to use in a more active manner.
"And at the same time, as for the Front Man [Lee Byung-hun] who was also a past winner but became a Front Man, it's like Darth Vader. Some end up Jedi and some become Darth Vader, right?"
"I'm not really in the right place to be discussing season two in an official setting, but if there were to be a season two, in the first season that we saw Gi-hun is a character whose humanity is shown through or exposed in certain situations," Hwang said via translator during a virtual SAG panel (via EW).
"In other words, his humanity is shown through a very passive manner. But I would think that in the second season, what he has learned from the games and his experience in the first season, they will all be put to use in a more active manner."
Talking to , he also revealed that there was an alternate version of the first season cliffhanger ending that wasn't used – one that could have definitively ended Gi-Hun's story right there.
"We actually wrestled with two different scenarios for the ending," he said. "There was one, the other alternate ending, where Gi-Hun would get on the plane and leave. And then there was of course the one where he would turn back and walk towards the camera.
"We constantly asked ourselves, is it really right for Gi-hun to make the decision to leave and go see his family, to pursue his own happiness? Is that the right way for us to really propose the question or the message that we wanted to convey through the series?"
The ending that was used does leave the door wide open for Gi-Hun to return for a second season, but if Hwang ends up changing his mind on that front, there's still plenty of other ways for Squid Game to continue in season two without him.
notes that these Squid Games aren't just based in Korea, so given the international scope of this project, it's entirely possible that a second season could take place somewhere else entirely. However, the problem with that is this show is a Korean production, which would make it hard to suddenly up sticks and move everything to a new country.
"I wanted to write a story that was an allegory or fable about modern capitalist society, something that depicts an extreme competition, somewhat like the extreme competition of life. But I wanted it to use the kind of characters we've all met in real life," Hwang told Variety.
He expanded on it in an interview with , saying: "We're just all focused on winning. I wanted to take a break and think about who makes the system, and what we're moving towards."
Given that capitalism is kind of a big topic, you'd think there would be more for Hwang to explore.
Actor Wi Ha-Jun, who plays officer Hwang Jun-ho, told : "I'm dying to know what happened to him [ie Jun-ho]. I want him to return alive, find his brother and ask him tons of questions. As a brother, I would ask him sincerely as a detective, I want to explore the overall secrets behind the game as well.
"I really hope to see Jun-ho come back alive and explore all these questions, I hope to see a more brotherly-love side of their relationship as well."
The police character was a great means of opening up the "back end" of the games to the audience, so hopefully Hwang Dong-hyuk will find a way to keep the other Hwang alive and investigate the origin of the games, or at least his brother's part in it.
Not least the big plot hole that the Front Man's involvement seemed to generate: if his brother was a former winner of the Squid Game tournament, how did no one in his family notice that he'd suddenly become very rich?
And why did Jun-ho find his disappearance mysterious this time around if he didn't a few years back, when his brother was busy winning the games?
Of course the pressure will be on the cast to deliver a second season that thrills as much as the first. Let’s hope they deal with it a little better than they initially did the runaway success of the show.
Jung Ho-yeon (Kang Sae-byeok) told , "I couldn't follow the speed of the growth of the Squid Game success because since COVID, I think everything is faster and even online, it happens just so quick. It was hard to follow.
"I lost six pounds in a week when it became successful. I couldn't eat – it wasn't stress, I just didn't know this feeling. 'What's going on out there, who am I?' I was kind of losing myself.
"Now, I feel very comfortable with the Squid Game team, so I can slowly get used to this success with people. But when I was at home by myself watching this growth, I was like, 'What?'"
Lee Jung-jae (Seong Gi-hun) concurred. "I agree with Ho-yeon, I don't know how to deal with this. I don't know what this is. Even though I have [more acting] experience.
"Even in Korea, it was very popular and the show was getting a lot of responses from people that they really enjoyed it. It was very successful in Korea."
At least Lee Jung-jae was happy about how season one ended (via ).
"I was so glad that Gi-hun changed his mind after running into another victim playing 'ddakji' [the Korean children's game played by the contestants when they were first recruited by the Salesman] at a train station and became determined to prevent further damage to more victims."
And the ending points to a clear direction for season two. "If Gi-hun can do something for the world, I'll be very proud of him indeed,” Jung-jae said.
This cryptic tease is actually pretty exciting – and points to a clear season two arc for the character. Let's hope we're all very proud of him when the final credits start scrolling (though don't expect it to be neatly wrapped up – we can't imagine that even Netflix would want one of its biggest hits to end on the second season).
Squid Game season 2 trailer: When can I watch it?
Unfortunately, as far as we're aware, filming hasn't even commenced yet on the new season, so a release date is a long way off.
As a result, there's no trailer either.
However, while Squid Game has put us off gambling for life, if we had to bet money on when new footage will arrive, late 2022 seems like a potentially safe bet.
Keep checking in and we'll let you know as soon as we know more.
Squid Game is now available to watch on Netflix.