Although the show has garnered significant success, Squid Game creator Hwang Dong-hyuk said that he isn’t rich.
In conversation with The Guardian, Hwang noted that compared to the 4.6 billion won ($36 million) that the winner of the grim and gory series gets, he’s “not that rich” but has “enough.”
“I have enough to put food on the table. And it’s not like Netflix is paying me a bonus. Netflix paid me according to the original contract,” he told the outlet.
At one point, Hwang had to stop writing the script for the Korean series and sold his laptop for $675. He was struggling financially and lived with his mother and grandma at the time, as expressed in The Wall Street Journal.
After Squid Game’s September release, it became Netflix’s most-watched show. The show depicts a group of people down on their luck who compete in a series of violent children’s games to pay off their debts.
The drama has also become a pop culture phenomenon, with protestors wearing show costumes, Youtubers and other groups promising to reenact the games in real life, and new memes and Tiktok trends inspired by the show’s competitions.
Hwang also told IndieWire that the story’s premise is based on the issues in the world, alongside the economic crisis in South Korea. He also noted that studios initially rejected the story, which was originally supposed to be a movie for 10 years, because the “concept was not realistic at the time.”
“It was too bizarre, and people thought it wouldn’t be a money-making film, also because it was violent and there would be some issue with ratings and the target audience would shrink,” Hwang told IndieWire. He also said that 10 years later, Netflix’s distribution is different from films as there are “less restrictions.”
According to leaked statistics gathered by Bloomberg, Netflix predicts the show may generate approximately $900 million in revenue while only costing $21.4 million to produce.
The show has yet to be renewed, and Hwang previously told The Hollywood Reporterthat he was not eager because the stress of filming the first season resulted in his losing six teeth.
However, if Hwang were to do a second season, which he doesn’t have “well-developed plans” for it, he said that he wouldn’t “do it alone,” as said in a report from Variety.
“If I were to do it, I would certainly not do it alone. I’d consider using a writers’ room and would want multiple experienced directors,” he said, in part.