South Korean workers wear ‘Squid Game’ outfits during protest for better work conditions

South Korean workers wear ‘Squid Game’ outfits during protest for better work conditions

South Korean workers are utilising the worldwide popularity of Squid Game by wearing costumes from the show to shine attention on a protest for better working conditions.

Strikes took place on Wednesday in 13 cities across the country, with 80,000 members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) taking to the streets, The Straits Times reported.

The protests went ahead despite current Covid restrictions within South Korea which only allow for one-person protests under current social distancing measures in Seoul and the surrounding areas.

Squid Game follows 456 financially struggling people who are invited to take part in a deadly game of survival which includes challenges revolving around an old Korean children’s game - all in the hopes of winning the life-changing cash prize of ₩45.6 billion (£28m).

While this is a fictitious story, the sad reality is that several union workers, who dressed up in the bright guard costumes from the series, told Channel News Asia, that just like the show’s characters, “they too are struggling to make a living.”

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“About 80 youth union members dressed up in costumes that parody the Squid Game, which bitterly satirises the bare face of our society,” KCTU said in a statement.

For Lee Chang-keun, a former employee of South Korea’s Ssangyong Motors, the financial hardship portrayed in the show hit close to home.

Earlier this month, he told ABC News: “Some scenes were very hard to watch.”

Lee’s financial difficulties and depression were caused by Ssangyong Motors laying off Lee and 2,600 other employees in 2009. But Lee is not alone, as he describes a number of suicides among co-workers and family members who were also facing financial struggles.

“In ‘Squid Game,’ you see characters scrambling to survive after being laid off at work, struggling to operate fried chicken diners or working as ‘daeri’ drivers. That reminded me of my co-workers who died.”

Meanwhile, President Moon Jae-in’s office at the Blue House called the protests “a disappointing result,” CBS News reported.

“Considering that we’ve come to a relatively stabilized Covid situation, while the whole nation is preparing for daily recovery with one mind and heart, we hoped the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions would refrain from going on strike on a grand scale, but it turned out to be a disappointing result,” a Blue House spokesperson said on Thursday.

As a result of breaking Covid restriction, Seoul city has filed a complaint against the group with the police for staging illegal protests, the local government told Reuters.

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