Netflix released a ‘real-life’ version of Squid Game, and behind the scenes it sounds unbearable.

The real-life version of Netflix sensation Squid Game has, unsurprisingly, brought with it some controversy.

Squid Game: The Challenge is based on the hit 2021 series Squid Game, with the creepy South Korean series becoming a sensation upon hitting Netflix, amassing 1.65 billion viewing hours in the first 28 days of its release.

The fictional Korean game show and the spin-off series follow 456 contestants who battle it out in a series of high-stakes challenges for a hefty cash reward. In the case of the scripted series, people die in their attempts to win more than $4 billion, while in the real-life version, no one dies and the prize money is (still an impressive and historic) $4.56 million.

Watch the Squid Game: The Challenge trailer. Post continues after video.

Video via Netflix.

The new series landed on Netflix on November 22 and since its release, allegations from contestants have emerged claiming the working conditions were almost as brutal as the fictionalised series it's based on.

Here are a few behind-the-scenes facts about Squid Game: The Challenge


Filming 'Red Light, Green Light' brought chaos and alleged injuries.

The most iconic challenge in Squid Game is the Red Light, Green Light sequence at the start, in which all 456 participants have to run from one side of a room to the other, but freeze when a giant plastic doll turns to look at them. 

It took the production team three months to build the 4.2 metre, life-size doll. While most of the series was filmed in Wharf Studios in London over the course of 16 days, Red Light, Green Light was filmed in Europe’s largest indoor space, Cardington Studios.

As filming began in January 2023, this means that contestants played during England's brutal winter temperatures. Allegations have since surfaced about contestants suffering injuries while playing at Cardington Studios. 

Contestants are now threatening legal action against Netflix and producers, as some claim they got hypothermia and nerve damage during filming.

A personal injuries law firm, Express Solicitors, is representing two unnamed players seeking compensation, claiming they were unaware they'd be risking their health by crouching motionless in the game for extended periods in cold temperatures.

Image: Netflix. 


“We recognise people may see this as a classic David and Goliath battle with the company and its production partners," said the CEO of Express Solicitors, Daniel Slade.

“Contestants thought they were taking part in something fun and those injured did not expect to suffer as they did. Now they have been left with injuries after spending time being stuck in painful stress positions in cold temperatures.”

Slade added that one client described “seeing someone faint, then people shouting for medics. We have a case where someone complains of hypothermia. One had his hands turn purple from the cold.”

These claims follow allegations that first emerged when filming began in January 2023, when The Sun reported a contestant had been seen being carried out on a stretcher.


One contestant referred to the game as "like a war zone", saying that players were "left in tears".

While Netflix has confirmed three of the 456 contestants received medical treatment during filming, they added that “claims of serious injury are untrue”.

Executive producer Stephen Lambert spoke to BBC News about the allegations. "Everybody was warned that it was going to be cold, we took all the necessary steps to prepare them for that," he said.

"Yes, a few anonymous people were unhappy about the fact they had been eliminated and it had been a cold, quite long experience. But it was no worse than many unscripted shows... when you're giving away a huge prize it is always going to be clear to us it was going to be a tough show to take part in."

The filming schedule was gruelling.

Executive producers John Hay and Tim Harcourt confirmed the 16-day filming schedule saw contestants start filming at 7am, until lights out at 11pm.

Players ate flavourless food similar to the South Korean series. 

In an effort to recreate an authentic experience like the scripted series, the filmmaking team only fed the contestants basic rations delivered in a basic dish. Harcourt noted that the meals weren’t “the most delicious of meals”, but they were “nutritionally balanced”.

Thankfully, unlike the fictionalised series, other contestants weren't punished for one contestant eating extra, which happened when Lorenzo (Player 161) took extra food in episode one. “No one went without because Lorenzo had a [second] helping,” Harcourt clarified.


The guards were trained and choreographed. 

The faceless guards are a huge part of setting the tense tone in the series. For the real-life game, actors underwent special training and learned choreography in order to nail the right feel so the contestants would feel as intimidated as their fictitious counterparts. 

“We took them to guard school, essentially, and had a choreographer come in and work with them in terms of how they stood, and how they walked,” executive producer Stephen Yemoh told Netflix

“They did really create the atmosphere within our show.”

Players weren't allowed to bring any personal items.

There was no phone scrolling in the breaks of this game, as players were not permitted to bring any personal items with them. Players were allowed to have a bum bag, which was provided by the costume department, but these only contained their basic toiletries.

Once players entered the game, they never left. 

In order to immerse players in the game, The Challenge was filmed over 16 consecutive days across six huge interconnected sound stages. When they weren't playing, contestants slept in bunk beds in a windowless dormitory.

That meant contestants never left the game unless they were eliminated.

How the game show was cast.

While the original series had contestants speaking in Korean, the game show only had English-speaking cast members. Like most reality shows, contestants submitted video applications before a lucky 456 were chosen.

Feature image: Netflix. 

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