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On September 5, Netflix debuted an installation, Squid Game World, at Seoul’s Itaewon subway station to coincide with its newly released nine-episode series Squid Game. Since its airing last month, Squid Game has become Netflix’s top performing release worldwide, a first for a Korean drama series.

The Seoul pop-up featured replicas of the pastel-colored set, including a giant robot doll that’s become synonymous with the series. Visitors could play games and win prizes, with guests who documented their visit on social media receiving a Squid Game-themed gift. Set to wrap September 26, the installation closed a day early due to social distancing violations.

Squid Game World

The Squid Game World installation at the Itaewon subway station in South Korea. Images: Koreabee

What is Squid Game?

Currently the most popular show on Netflix, the series follows 465 debt-ridden individuals as they compete in deadly survival games for the chance to win a huge cash prize. More so, the Korean series evidences the streamer’s growing investment in the Asia region. Since 2016, Netflix’s Seoul arm has invested $700 million into local content production and distribution to meet the demand of its 3.8 million South Korean subscribers.

Also in the past five years, the media platform has produced more than 200 Asian original series, and in early 2021, announced its push to grow its subscriber base across the Southeast Asia region. Squid Game, for one, has also popped up in Manila in a temporary installation.

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Why it matters

At the pop-up, visitors could win Squid Game-themed products in games or by creating a post on social media. Image: Koreabee

In recent moves, Netflix has been showing its interest in expanding and banking on its IP — particularly with its e-commerce store, Netflix.shop, launched earlier this year to retail merchandise inspired by its shows like Yakuse and Lupin.

Similarly, in October 2020, the streaming giant partnered with the Brooklyn Museum to exhibit costumes from its hit series The Queen’s Gambit and The Crown. Just as cultural institutions are looking toward Netflix’s digital subscription model as a framework for post-COVID engagement, the platform has been seeking and discovering ways for its audiences to interact with its IP in the physical realm.

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