A screengrab from the Netflix original series Squid Game

Tech & Media

Squid Game Reminds Me How Far Parents Could Go To Protect Their Kids

Oct 26, 2021

munghwa Kkoci Pieot Seumnida


munghwa Kkoci Pieot Seumnida

This is the chant I heard coming down the stairs.

“That's not, it can't be … she's only nine, there is no way.”

munghwa Kkoci Pieot Seumnida

I descended the last step to witness my daughter with her back to me singing this song. As soon as she heard me hit the floor, she turned and fired her finger guns.

“Got you!”

Yep, she sure did.

“Did you like it?” she asked. “I organized the squid game at school.”

I shuddered.

Are your kids asking if they can watch Squid Game — CBC Kids News breaks it down, since the show is not rated for kids.

Squid Game

For anyone that doesn't know, “the squid game” (also known as Squid Game) is an extremely popular Netflix show that gained notoriety for its simplicity and brutality. I liken it to The Hunger Games meets Saw.

In it, a person I can only describe as the worst father in the world decides to risk his life so that his daughter won’t move with his ex-wife to the United States. (And to pay back a staggering debt, which is another reality the show offers: a glimpse into South Korea's personal debt crisis.)

I know why many of you would have an understanding of this show, but how my daughter saw this reference is beyond me.

But part of me suspects Roblox. Why she memorized the song in Korean is just beyond my understanding.

Adapting to Real Life

At school, her “squid game” was taking form.

She mixed up red and blue paper in a bag and had everyone choose a colour.

Anyone who chose red was a guard, and those who chose blue were the players. Once parts were decided, she sat in the middle of the field and pretended she was a motion-detecting robot.

I am sure her playground supervisor was thrilled. (Or huddled in the corner hugging their knees.)

As silly and predictable as the show is, I have to give the writers credit because it’s compelling, colourful and stylish. 

A Parenting Plot

As I said, Seong gui-Hun is the worst father in TV history. He's also the show's protagonist.

Even with his obvious flaws, he is willing to put his life on the line in order to have the means to provide for his daughter and pull himself out of the kind of debt most families never escape

At the root of these decisions seems, to me, to be a powerful thought: children are sacred.

"But like the main character in Squid Game, the needs of a parent can at times overtake the needs of a child."

I have to think that even the gruffest and toughest drug dealer or shadiest, corrupt CEO knows that children are worth protecting. Not every parent or person will think this way, but I have to hope that most do.

Because our future is in the hands of our children.

But like the main character in Squid Game, the needs of a parent can at times overtake the needs of a child.

Parents As Protectors

As a parent, I find myself constantly questioning my involvement in my daughter's life.

I keep asking if I’ve gone too far, or if I’ve done enough.

What I always come back to is this: I told my daughter before that her only task is to outlive me, a stake I find non-negotiable.

And I take this rule pretty seriously.

Regardless of who or what infringes, or even appears to have infringed or might even attempt to infringe upon this rule, they will 100 per cent face consequences from me.

"I know that life just happens, and some things cannot be foreseen."

If a boulder is rolling down a hill, I will do what I can to make sure it doesn’t hit me or my family.

Similarly, if someone tries to hurt, maim or murder anyone I love, I will protect until one of us perishes.

And should disease befall our home, I will learn everything about it and dutifully work to obliterate it.

I know that life just happens, and some things cannot be foreseen. But what I’m saying is that I will always work hard to ensure the safety of those I love.

For many of the debtors in Squid Game, this is the spirit motivating their decisions to risk their own lives for one potentially lucrative windfall.

Brianna Bell watched a show for teens about sex, called About Sex. After giving it a go, she believes she'd happily show it to her little ones when they get older.

Proceed To The Next Game

But would I play?

In my atheistic, somewhat delusional mind, I look at the concept of right and wrong in a somewhat controversial way.

In contrast to my faith-loving brothers and sisters, I do not actually believe that the concepts of “good” and “evil” exist in a classical, static formulation.

That is to say I do not believe that there is a universal “good” or a universal “evil” (if anyone cares I take sides with Nietzsche on the subject).

In our house, absolute good and evil does not really exist. The morality of your action is based entirely on the circumstances.

Even then it is only really considered relevant compared to what someone else might have done.

So yes, I would play. In this truly remarkable scenario, I could find the motivation to pull someone to their death to save my daughter, and I’d probably sleep well knowing that I was able to provide her with a life.

"No one wants to view themselves as a thief or a killer, and I don't think affirming that you would do anything to protect your child makes you either."

But the circumstances would have to be that extreme. Impossible, even.

However, like many parents I'm sure, there is an impulse to say never say never. Stand on guard.

If you’re hungry, would you steal a loaf of bread? If you’re faced with an impossible situation, could you kill to save yourself?

Yes, these are extremes, but I see them as extremes that aren’t unlike questions parents face all the time. Which is: how do I give my kid a life? Which obstacles are ones that can be overcome? Am I ready for a crisis?

No one wants to view themselves as a thief or a killer, and I don't think affirming that you would do anything to protect your child makes you either. But I think parents who say they wouldn’t grab an apple off a street-side display, or throw a person through a pane of glass to protect their kid, are probably lying just a little bit.

Of course you don’t want to. I certainly wouldn’t want to.

I’m just saying I could.

Article Author Quentin Janes
Quentin Janes

Quentin Janes is a writer whose influences include Raymond Kurtzweil, Steven Pinker, Noam Chomsky, Niall Ferguson, Jeremy Rifkin and Martin Luther King Jr — among countless others. He is a putterer, a tinkerer and a fixer of broken things. From bad grades to bad dogs to toilets, kids or drywall, he says he can fix it all.