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October 14, 2021

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‘Squid Game’ frenzy in China

YOU can hardly escape the sweeping impact of Netflix’s smash-hit Korean-language show “Squid Game.” You might have binge-watched it or at least stumbled upon a meme related to the program on social media.

The show has become the most popular Netflix series launch ever, since it premiered on September 17. Products featured in the series have also quickly become hot items.

The nine-episode dystopian South Korean series depict a thrilling survival game participated by people deeply in debt. The contestants risk their lives competing in six rounds of children’s game challenges for the chance of earning a prize worth 45.6 billion won (US$38 million).

In Shanghai, a crowd formed on Tuesday at an eatery selling dalgona — the crisp sugar candy featured in one episode — with customers gathering at its Squid Game-themed sign to take photos.

“People were sending jokes related to the show in group chats when I started watching,” a customer surnamed Li said. “It’s rather fast-paced and therefore, quite thrilling,” the video producer said of the series.

After buying the candy, Li and his friend filmed their attempt at a challenge from the show, where contestants try to cut shapes from the snack without cracking it.

On China’s e-commerce platform Taobao, nearly 2,000 search results ranging from crisp candy to bobble-head dolls to sports outfits appear when you type “Squid Game style.”

An online vendor on the platform has sold within a month more than 8,000 servings of dalgona, priced at 9.9 yuan (US$1.53) each.

According to, a Chinese business database, words like “squid game,” “squid dalgona” have been used in applications for registered trademarks in fields like education, entertainment and food.

Zhao Hu, a lawyer, told The Beijing News that although products like crisp sugar candy were copycats, they didn’t infringe upon the intellectual property as the making of dalgona is not an invention from the series but rather a folk tradition.


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