With K-pop leading the way, South Korean art and culture have become incredibly popular worldwide in recent years. Netflix, for at least the plast year has acquired dozens of South Korean dramas, some of which are just getting started. squid game represents another milestone – a step away from niche with a big, bubbly K-drama breakout that everyone is watching or at least talking about.
Of course, we’ve had our runs at things like this — deadly matches that usually (but not always) involve young people — in the United States: The hunger Games, the maze runner, Saw, and the divergent series to some extent. While these movies and shows are often violent and often brutal, there’s a bit of humanity at the heart of the concept: yes, we do terrible things to each other, but it’s the systems built around us that force impossible choices.
Please note that, at least since 2000 battle royale, the game of death has been a wildly popular genre, so there are plenty of great examples out there that just aren’t easily available to American viewers. That said, here are some movies and shows that represent the breadth of the “let’s bring people together and make them fight for prizes” genre.