Illegal streams, bonanza merch: The ‘squid game’ craze hits China | The life


Customers wait in a small shop selling dalgonas, a crunchy candy featured in the Netflix series “Squid Game”, in Shanghai on October 12, 2021. – AFP pic

BEIJING, Oct. 13 – It’s not available in China but Netflix’s global sensation squid game has already built up a huge following in the country, with fans dodging strict internet controls to stream the show and purchase merchandise such as her unique outfits.

The South Korean dystopian thriller has become the most popular Netflix series launch of all time, the streaming giant said yesterday, but is unlikely to pass Chinese censors due to its brutally violent content.

Yet it’s already a hit in cities like Shanghai, where a crowd yesterday formed at a restaurant selling dalgona – the crispy candy sugar featured in one episode – with customers gathering at its squid game-thematic panel for taking pictures.

“People were sending jokes related to the show in group chats when I started watching,” a customer named Li told AFP.

“It’s pretty quick and therefore quite exciting,” the video producer said of the series.

After buying the candies, Li and her friend filmed their attempt at the show’s challenge, where contestants try to cut shapes out of the snack without breaking it.

squid game features a group of society’s most marginalized and indebted people who are forced to participate in a series of children’s games until all but one of the participants are dead. The “winner” receives 38 million US dollars.

As the show became an international hit, ever-nimble Chinese manufacturers rushed to tap into demand, with products – including the hot pink uniforms and bizarre masks worn by anonymous guards – appearing on the platform. online shopping giant Taobao.

Seller Peng Xiuyang told AFP that his sales had soared around 30% thanks to demand for squid game merchandise.

He had never heard of the show when a customer asked him last month if he was selling the masks – a plain black full-covering printed with squares, triangles or circles.

But now, vendors like him and plastics makers in the eastern hub of Yiwu are all rushing to meet the demand from both domestic and international buyers.

“Our customers are those who have seen the series and want to join the trend, he added.

As Halloween approached, scary masks became his most sought-after product.

Illegal distribution

The lack of official availability hasn’t stopped Chinese audiences from finding ways to watch the show, including readily available unofficial streaming or file-sharing sites.

The piracy problem is so widespread that South Korea’s ambassador to China, Jang Ha-sung, recently told a parliamentary audit that he had asked the Chinese authorities to take action.

“Our assessment is that squid gamewhich is gaining popularity around the world, is being illegally distributed to about 60 sites in China,” Jang said, testifying remotely from Beijing.

As fascination with the show swirls among China’s tech-savvy youth, the hashtag squid game got nearly two billion views on social media, and related topics have been trending for weeks.

Users discussed how they would complete the challenges featured in the show and wondered what a Chinese version of squid game would be like.

But one user said: “It’s not like it would pass censorship if we did such a show ourselves…if it was too violent it would just be taken down.”

For now, fans just want to have fun.

A Shanghai customer named Yang said, “I saw (the snack) being sold online, but this is the first time I’ve found it in real life.” —AFP


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