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The survival drama 'Squid Game' is a big hit for Netflix

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The hit Netflix show "Squid Game" is now considered its biggest original-series launch ever.

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

The South Korean show is a survival thriller about a group of adults in financial despair who are forced to play children's games. The winner gets a massive cash prize.

INSKEEP: And the losers do not make it out alive.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SQUID GAME")

JUNG-JAE LEE: (As Gi-hun Seong, speaking Korean).

(YELLING)

INSKEEP: For example, there's a game of tug of war, and if you're pulled into the middle, you fall to your death.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SQUID GAME")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character, yelling).

SO YUN UM: I have never felt so passionate about a tug of war scene - just the desperation in their face. And you can really feel it. It's just an orchestra of a scene that is just beautifully played out.

INSKEEP: That's So Yun Um, a Korean American filmmaker in Los Angeles and a fellow at the Center for Asian American Media.

UM: One of the beautiful parts about "Squid Game" is how jarring it is. And so it really makes you kind of perk up your ears and pay attention.

MARTINEZ: But some critics argue "Squid Game" is too violent. So Yun Um doesn't see it that way.

UM: I think the violence is there for a reason. You just have to prepare yourself for the absolute worse and then some. But it's worth it.

INSKEEP: When you watch this show, it becomes apparent it's a critique of capitalism. The theme exposes South Korea's debt crisis.

MARTINEZ: Meanwhile, a South Korean internet provider is suing Netflix because too many people watched "Squid Game" and caused major outages.

(SOUNDBITE OF 23'S "PINK SOLDIERS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.