The creator of "Squid Game" once had to stop writing the script because he had to sell his laptop.
Studios dismissed Hwang Dong-hyuk for 10 years, saying his show was too grotesque and unrealistic.
"Squid Game" became Korea's first show to hit Netflix's top trending spot in the US.
The creator of Netflix's hit "Squid Game" once had to halt writing the script for the show because he was forced to sell his laptop for cash, a Wall Street Journal report said.
The Korean survival drama series, which debuted on the streaming platform on September 17, centers on a group of adults struggling to pay off their debts. They're invited to play children's games to win 45 billion won, or about $40 million - but losing the games has deadly consequences.
Hwang Dong-hyuk, the show's creator and director, came up with the idea while he was living with his mother and grandmother, but he had to stop writing the script at one point to sell his laptop for $675 in cash, The Journal said.
Netflix picked up the show two years ago. It's been subtitled in 31 languages and dubbed in 13, and it's the platform's top show in more than 90 countries, with about 95% of viewers outside South Korea, Netflix told The Journal.
"Squid Game" also made history by becoming Korea's first show to hit Netflix's top trending spot in the US, the report said.
But the show hasn't always experienced such roaring success. For about a decade, studios rejected the concept, deeming the gory plotline "too grotesque and too unrealistic," The Journal said.
Hwang said he believed the COVID-19 pandemic had made his show's concept more appealing to studios, namely Netflix, as it exacerbated the socioeconomic disparities that play into the show's plot.
"The world has changed," Hwang told The Journal. "All of these points made the story very realistic for people compared to a decade ago."
Minyoung Kim, Netflix's vice president of content in the Asia-Pacific region, echoed that sentiment, adding that the show poses moral questions about a person's worth.
"We are not horses, we're all humans," she told The Journal. "That is the question the show really wants to throw at you."
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