The set for Squid Game was so precisely designed that it would be difficult to notice every single feature even if you watched the show meticulously.
In a recent interview, the show’s art director (Chae Kyoung Sun) disclosed five of the most important aspects that viewers may have overlooked.
1. The Flowers
Chae Kyoung Sun says she cried the first time she read the script for the gganbu marble game episode, but the set was her favorite to create—even though it took the longest. The flowers in the scene between Kang Sae Byeok (Jung Ho Yeon) and Ji Yeong are one detail that fans may have overlooked (Lee Yoo Mi).
The art director positioned flowerpots behind Sae Byeok and Ji Yeong in the moment, which is a fan favorite. A live flower is in Sae Byeok’s pot, whereas a dead flower is in Ji Young’s. This foreshadows which character will die in the game from the start, which is heartbreaking.
2. The Shape Hierarchy
If you paid great attention during the last episode of Squid Game, you’ll see that the circle, triangular, and square forms utilized throughout the show were derived from the titular squid game’s “board.” They also represent the characters “ㅇ,” ㅈ,” and “ㅁ,” in the Korean title of the show: 오징어 게임. However, you might not have seen another aspect of the shapes.
According to Chae Kyoung Sun, all of the game’s crew is ranked in a hierarchy, which is symbolized by the shapes on their masks. The form with the most vertices (the square) indicates the highest-ranking guards, while the shape with the fewest vertices (the circle) represents the lowest rank.
3. The Meaning of the Colors
Did you know that each of the colors in Squid Game has its own meaning, both separately and in combination?
The green tracksuits, for example, were chosen because they resembled those used in a 1970s Korean political initiative. The Saemaul Movement, which required schoolchildren to wear green tracksuits, was purportedly intended to bring rural communities up to speed with metropolitan life.
The government, on the other hand, was chastised for how the movement stifled and destroyed local culture, customs, and beliefs. The color green can also be found in the dorm hallways of the gaming employees.
Pink was also selected as a primary color. Pink was chosen for its use in fairytales and can be seen in the maze-like halls and giftbox-shaped coffin bows. Pink and green are, of course, opposite each other on the color wheel, representing the show’s juxtaposition. “Green is afraid of pink because it monitors and inhibits green,” says Chae Kyoung Sun.
4. The Lack of Realism
Have you noticed how many of the set designs appeared to be fake?
For example, in the “Red Light, Green Light” game, it appears that little care was placed into the flat wallpaper that lines the arena, tricking no one into thinking the plains and sky are real.
These fake-looking graphics were created on purpose. Chae Kyoung Sun noted that the lack of realism in the sets was employed in the show’s script to induce uncertainty between reality and fiction among the characters. When the players first approach the “Red Light, Green Light” set, for example, the art director comments, “Everything seems phony and artificial, so they’re resisting the notion that people are going to die here.”
According to the art director, the same method was utilized in the marble game. The team used a plainly fabricated sunset background, but added extra elements to the fictitious residences (from milk baskets to porch lighting to genuine weeds) to combine reality with fantasy.
5. The Tug-of-War Road
If you look carefully at the floor as the Squid Game players compete in tug-of-war, you’ll notice that the gray, speckled flooring is designed to imitate a road. To complete the motif, it has yellow center lines and false street lines. Even this, according to Chae Kyoung Sun, has a deeper meaning.
The art director team chose an unconnected roadway for the set since the players are trapped in mounds of debt with no obvious path forward. This symbolizes how the players “have nowhere to go” in their lives, as well as how many of them live on the streets.