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Korean Movies

5 Financial Lessons From Netflix’s Korean film “Squid Game”


Squid Game is the most popular TV show of all time. One of the main themes of the show is money, as the contenders in a deadly tournament compete for a prize of $38 million. What all the 456 players share is that they are completely cash-strapped and in utterly dire-straits debt wise. What they don’t know before signing up for the game, is that they are literally putting their lives on the line to compete for the money. This show, along with many other lessons, shows us how pathological gambling can become and how important it is to manage finances well.

Gambling With Their Lives

Netflix Korean Film Squid Game is a film that has been gaining attention for its depiction of the relationship between gambling and mental health issues. The film follows the story of Seong Gi Hun, a middle-aged man who seems like a complete loser. He is very much in debt to the mob and constantly gambling any money he gets his hands on.

Opposite him, we see his childhood friend, Cho Sang Woo, with whom he went to school, a successful businessman on the surface. As it turns out, his friend is also a gambler, except he gambled with millions of dollars of his client’s money in the stock market. Both of them are in debt they have no way of getting out of, and this sets the premises of the story.

Everyone who got into the game absolutely needed the money to move anyway forward in life. Just a few characters we see were wronged by bad people, and thus in a terrible financial situation. Every other person in the tournament brought it on themselves: they made bad decisions with their money, and that’s how they got there. Once the tournament begins, we see that the price they are going to pay for their bad money decisions in life will result in their actual death in the games.

Aside from raising the important issue of gambling addiction, the Netflix film Squid Game teaches us five financial lessons:

1. Prioritize Your Debts

In the film, we initially see Seong Gi Hun (the main character), being beaten almost to death by the mob for the money he owes them. They then tell him that if he doesn’t pay up soon, they will take his life. In the next scene, we see how Seong Gi Hun wins a considerable amount of money at the race track, but instead of going straight to pay his collectors, he thinks that he’ll do it someday after. Then, as he makes this very wrong decision, we see his money stolen by a pickpocket. Now, he has no money to pay his debt collectors, and he’s absolutely devastated. 

The lesson here is that you should repay your debt the moment you get your hands on any money, especially if you have trouble managing it. Seong Gi Hun put himself in a situation with no exit plan because of his laid-back thinking that he can do it another day.

2. Never Spend Money You Don’t Have

Why did the protagonist and the deuteragonist end up in the deadly games in the first place? Because they gambled with money they couldn’t afford to lose. Seong Gi Hun should have paid his collectors immediately, and he shouldn’t have been in debt in the first place, as he borrowed money to gamble.

Cho Sang-Woo also got in the game because of his risky actions. As a stock market investor, he could have been more conservative, being careful with his client’s money and making sure to do his job properly. Instead, he did what is essentially gambling with it. Cho Sang Woo lost all of his client’s investments because his moves proved to be too risky.

3. Being Paid “Under The Table”

Ali Abdul is perhaps the only character in the entire series that didn’t deserve his fate in the Squid Games. The sole reason he got into the game was that he was not paid for months by his boss, who kept withholding his checks against him, as Ali Abdul was an illegal immigrant.  While he did break the law by entering South Korea, and perhaps being paid this way was his only way to earn a living, this only further proves how bad the practice is. You are not protected by law if you are an underground employee. You can’t turn to the police, you can’t resolve any conflict with your boss or manager. Never agree to such work. While you may get away with it for a time, it’s financial suicide. One day your employer might decide that he doesn’t want to pay you anymore, and you wouldn’t be able to do anything about it, even if you have already honestly worked for an entire month.

4. Saving Money Should Be A Priority

None of the show’s characters had any savings. That’s why they got into the game in the first place. When you don’t have savings, the moment you need them, you are in very deep trouble. You don’t have any money, so your only way of paying for something would be going into debt. But what if you can’t repay your debt? 

A lot of people struggle with putting a savings plan into action. Sure, it may be unpleasant to put aside the money you earn, and it takes discipline and willpower not to spend it. But if you are not creating a safety net for yourself now, there won’t be anything to save you from a fall later.

5. Insurance Is Paramount

We live in a world where anything can happen any day. That’s why insurance was created in the first place. It’s a guarantee that if something terrible happens, at least you will have a way out. Unfortunately, Seong Gi Hun doesn’t think of it, and because of his poor decisions, his own mother dies.

Seong Gi Hun steals his mother’s medical insurance money and then gambles with it. He is left with no money, and his mother doesn’t have the insurance to cover her anymore if something happens to her. That’s exactly what happened while Seong Gi Hun was away in the Squid Games. She becomes ill, only to realize that she has no insurance anymore. Because of that, she dies, without receiving adequate medical care.

Having insurance is paramount. While you may be just fine today, unfortunately, nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. You need to have it back you up in the worst-case scenario. Even if it seems unlikely, it can happen.

Final Notes

Squid Games teaches us many life lessons, and we can take it or leave it. As much of the show is centered around money, and how badly the characters manage it in their lives, we can see the retribution for their actions in the show. In real life, it’s best to learn these lessons as soon as possible, and not by making these mistakes yourself.

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