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Hotel and outdoor activity vendor plan real-life 'Squid Game' event

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Seen is a scene in Netflix's original series
Seen is a scene in Netflix's original series "Squid Game" where participants play a Korean children's game called "the Mugunghwa flower has bloomed" (known in English as "Red Light, Green Light"). / Courtesy of Netflix

By Lee Hae-rin

A hotel in Gangwon Province and a company that sells tickets to outdoor recreational activities had planned to capitalize on the soaring popularity of the Netflix original series, "Squid Game." But whether the real-life game will be held as planned remains uncertain due to social distancing restrictions.

St. John's Hotel in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, recently announced on its Instagram that it will host a real-life "Squid Game" event on Oct. 24, where the final survivor of a series of children's games wins a prize of 5 million won ($ 4,178).

It said the event was open to people of all ages and not just guests of the hotel. Visitors who make a reservation would receive a business card with the phone number of the game's organizer written on it, just like the one the players of the game in the dystopian series were given. Participants would play four games featured in the series ― "the Mugungwha flower has bloomed" (known in English as "Red Light, Green Light"), tug of war, "ttakji chigi" (paper tile flipping) and the "dalgona (flat sugar candy) challenge" ― in a pine tree forest near the hotel.

According to the Instgram post, those who do not follow the rules or do not show up on the day of the event will be eliminated ― though not literally as in the series ― from the game. Also, the identity of the host who runs the game would be revealed at the end, just like what happened in the Netflix series.

However, the city government of Gangneung issued an administrative order for the hotel not to hold the event, as the event would violate the current social distancing regulations in the province ― under Level 3 scheme where an accommodation facility cannot hold an event and private gathering is allowed for up to eight people only, even when including fully vaccinated people.

Before the city issued the order, the event was already fully booked as of Wednesday, two days after the announcement, a hotel staff member told The Korea Times. The registration fee was 10,000 won for those making reservations in advance and 12,000 won for on-site ticketing.

The hotel staffers said they are discussing whether to cancel the event or change the format within the boundary of the social distancing regulations.

Another real-time "Squid Game" will be held at a camping ground in Wonju, Gangwon Province, over three sessions starting Oct. 16. "Frip," an online activity platform, is inviting participants to put on green uniforms and play games featured in the series. The finalist will receive 45,600 points that can be used for the platform's services, similar to the 45.6 billion won award won by the winner in the series.

Frip said its games will be operated with a limited number of people so as not to violate social distancing guidelines.

According to Netflix, Wednesday, "Squid Game" has been viewed by 111 million households worldwide since its release on Sept. 17. It became the most-viewed original series in 30 days, beating out "Bridgerton," which was viewed by 88 million in its first month.

Lee Hae-rin


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