Squid Game creator and director by Hwang Dong-hyuk reveals that in its alternate ending, Seong Gi-hun boarded the plane instead of coming back.
The creator of Squid Game has revealed the alternate ending for the show’s first season. Netflix’s latest hit debuted back in September 2021 and quickly became a fan favorite, climbing the charts and becoming the streaming giant’s number one original series. Inspired by South Korea’s penchant for game shows, Squid Game is about a deadly survival competition wherein the final survivor wins a massive amount of money.
Created and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, the series actually focuses on several players. However, its primary protagonist is Seong Gi-hun/No. 456 (Lee Jung-jae). A divorced chauffeur with a gambling problem, he was recruited to play the games by the salesman (Gong Yoo). Initially hesitant to sign up, he eventually changes his mind as he’s faced with his impoverished reality. To make matters worse, his ex-wife also gears up to bring their daughter to the United States, and without any money, he might never be able to see her again. Gi-hun emerges as Squid Game’s winner, pocketing 45.6 billion won — more than enough for him to start a new life abroad. But, at the very last moment, before he boarded the plane, he turned back with a determined look on his face.
The idea is that Gi-hun goes after the VIPs who run Squid Game, which effectively sets up its now-confirmed second season. Hwang tells EW, however, that they actually went back-and-forth with how they wanted to cap off the show. Aside from what actually happened on the screen, there’s a version of the ending where Gi-hun boarded the plane and left South Korea. In the end, they didn’t feel it was right for the message they were trying to send. Read Hwang’s quote below:
“We actually wrestled between two different scenarios for the ending. There was one, the other alternate ending, where Gi-hun would get on the plane and leave. And then there was of course the one where he would turn back and walk towards the camera. We constantly asked ourselves, is it really right for Gi-hun to make the decision to leave and go see his family, to pursue his own happiness? Is that the right way for us to really propose the question or the message that we wanted to convey through the series?”
“We came to the conclusion that the question that we wanted to propose cannot be done if he left on the plane,” Hwang says. “The question that we want to answer — why has the world come to what it is now? — can only be answered or can only be proposed if Gi-hun turned back and walked towards the camera. So that’s how we ended up with that ending in the finale.”
Aside from its narrative implications, ending Squid Game the way it did offers Netflix the narrative jump it needs for the show’s second season. If Gi-hun decided to leave, it would’ve been trickier to continue the show’s narrative without a clear jumping point. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have other alternatives. If anything, Gi-hun could’ve boarded the plane, shifting the focus on Squid Game season 2 to the Front Man’s (Lee Byung-hun) narrative. Instead of tackling a story in the present time, it could tackle Hwang In-ho’s road to winning the Squid Game in 2015. From there, it could finally be revealed why he decided to join the game as a facilitator and not be enraged by what he went through all for the entertainment of the wealthy VIPs.
Now that Squid Game season 2 is officially a go at Netflix, it’s more than likely that it will focus on Gi-hun seeking revenge for himself and all the lives lost during the survival competition. It’s worth noting that he now has the financial capability to mobilize people as part of his plan to take down the horrible VIPs. The question is, after he accomplishes his personal mission (if he does), would he still be able to go back to his normal life and just enjoy his prize money peacefully?