Netflix's Squid Game has swept the globe since its premiere September 17, 2021, becoming the streamer's biggest-ever show. The hit k-drama also made history in terms of acting accolades, with cast members Lee Jung-jae and HoYeon Jung becoming the first winners for a non-English series at the 2022 SAG Awards.
The engrossing series depicts a deadly, Battle Royale-style Game, where 456 people, all facing massive debts, gamble their lives on a $38 million dollar payout. While the wild premise drew in millions of viewers, the expertly written characters and what-would-you-do dilemmas left fans rampantly trading theories and checking out similar shows to Squid Game long after season 1 ended.
Season 2 Renewal
Season 2 is a go! The official announcement from Netflix came in June of 2022, nine months after season 1's premiere. In a statement to fans, printed-of course-on one of the Game's cardboard recruitment cards, Hwang revealed that Gi-hun and the Front Man will be back, while also teasing a new character.
"It took 12 years to bring the first season of Squid Game to life last year. But it took 12 days for Squid Game to become the most popular Netflix series ever," the statement read. "As the writer, director and producer of Squid Game, a huge shout out to fans around the world. Thank you for watching and loving our show.
"And now, Gi-hun returns. The Front Man returns. Season 2 is coming. The man in the suit with ddakji might be back. You'll also be introduced to Young-hee's boyfriend, Cheol-su. Join us once more for a whole new round."
Young-hee is the name of the iconic Red Light, Green Light doll from season 1 (which is based on a Korean textbook character of the same name). So it seems like we'll get a new giant murder bot in the upcoming season in the form of Cheol-su.
2024 Release Date and First Look
Netflix has confirmed that Squid Game season 2 will finally arrive in 2024. On February 1, the streaming giant included a first look at the new episodes in a sizzle reel for the streamer's 2024 slate.
The short clip seems to take place immediately after Gi-hun made the decision to put an end to the Game rather than get on the plane to visit his daughter. As Gi-hun walks back through Incheon Airpot, the Front Man calls him back, telling him, "You're going to regret the choice you made." Gi-hun replies, "I will find you. No matter what it takes."
Netflix also released four new images from the season, including the returns of familiar faces (Lee Jung-jae as Gi-hun, Lee Byung-hun as The Front Man, and Gong Yoo as The Recruiter) as well as the debut of Sweet Home actress Park Gyu-young as a new character who is given the choice to enter the next Game. The press release for season 2 offers another hint toward the season's plot, reading, “Gi-hun abandons his US plans after a mysterious call and embarks on a chase with a motive."
New Cast Members
Netflix announced the first round of new players joining the highly-anticipated second season. A clip from the streamer's annual fan event Tudum in June 2023 confirmed that four actors from Season 1 will return: Lee Jung-jae (Gi-hun), Lee Byung-hun (The Front Man), Wi Ha-jun (policeman Jun-ho), and Gong Yoo (the Recruiter). They also revealed four male actors who are joining the series in yet-to-be-disclosed roles, most of whom are familiar faces to fans of Netflix's k-dramas and Korean movies.
Yim Si-wan is an actor and idol who's best known for two very different projects: the 2020 rom-com drama Run On and this year's horror thriller Unlocked. Kang Ha-Neul is best known for starring as Yong-shik in the small-town drama When the Camellia Blooms. Park Sung-hoon made his Netflix debut earlier this year, playing bully Jae-jun in the hit melodrama The Glory. Yang Dong-geun (also known as YDG) is an actor and rapper who had supporting roles in the Netflix film Yaksha: Ruthless Operations, as well as the dramas Connect, Cheer Up, and The Forbidden Marriage.
Following the initial cast announcement, Netflix released the full cast with a series of pics from season 2's first table read. Among the new actors joining the show are several Netflix k-drama alums, some rising actors, and well-known k-pop idols: Park Gyu-young (Sweet Home, Celebrity), Jo Yu-ri (Iz*One), Kang Ae-sim (Move to Heaven), Lee David (The Fortress), Lee Jin-uk (Sweet Home), Choi Seung-hyun (a.k.a. Big Bang's T.O.P.), Roh Jae-won (Ditto), and Won Ji-an (D.P.).
Squid Game season 1 spanned a full Game, with Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) emerging with the 456 billion won prize. One year later, Gi-hun discovers that the Game is about to begin again when he runs into the Salesman (Gong Yoo) recruiting another player. Right before he's set to head off to America, Gi-hun decides to stay in Korea, with hopes of shutting down the Game once and for all.
The end scene left fans hoping that Gi-hun's story will continue, with the victor teaming up with others to shut down the secret, multinational death Game. Everything besides Gi-hun's return is still up in the air. He could try to get the police on his side, after they turned him away in Episode 2, or he could find more past players, who may or may not have worked through their trauma enough to take on the wealthy VIPs and Game masters.
There's also no guarantee that a continuation would follow the next Game in Korea. Season 1 revealed that there are deadly Games happening all over the globe, with rich men from multiple countries gambling on the outcomes. While the first Game was presumably founded in Korea, since Oh Il-nam (Oh Young-soo) was involved, another country's Game may become the subject of a future season.
Hwang has also dropped hints that season 2 could focus more on the Front Man, who led season 1's Game. At the end of the season, his identity was revealed as Hwang In-ho (Lee Byung-hun), policeman Jun-ho's (Wi Ha-jun) older brother. The masked man was ruthless throughout the Game, and when he discovered that his younger brother had infiltrated the Game, he shot him (though perhaps not fatally; we never see Jun-ho's body).
In an October 2021 interview with The Times, director Hwang suggested that the Front Man (Lee Byung-hyn), a former cop himself, could become one of the show's leads.
"While I was writing season one, I thought about the stories that could be in season two if I get to do one—one would be the story of the Frontman," he told the outlet.
He added, "I think the issue with police officers is not just an issue in Korea. I see it on the global news that the police force can be very late on acting on things—there are more victims or a situation gets worse because of them not acting fast enough. This was an issue that I wanted to raise. Maybe in season two I can talk about this more."
The now-confirmed second season was part of Netflix's global fan event Tudum 2022, which arrived a year and a week after season 1's premiere. Though it was too early to present any new footage, Hwang did reveal a previously-unseen clip from season 1, which solidified the Front Man's identity.
The one-minute clip connects the mystery man back to Jun-ho's introduction in episode 2. A brief recollection: Jun-ho's mom sent him to his brother's dorm to check on him cause he was dodging her calls. The brother hadn't been by the dorm in a week or paid his rent, and his room had a concerning detail: a pair of dead goldfish in a bowl. In the new clip, the Front Man arrives at the dorm and puts a pair of live fish into the bowl, with the camera focusing on the bag and bowl until it reveals his face and he looks at the fish.
The deleted scene is extremely vague and short, but if it was included in season 1, it would have fed into the identity reveal, solidifying that the Front Man and the investigating cop were brothers. Also, Jun-ho's investigation started because he thought his brother had become a player in the Game. The clip could have reinforced that assumption for the audience, assuming that he had bought the fish before meeting the recruiter (Gong Yoo) and then left the fish for dead.
As for why Hwang revealed the deleted clip, when it explains such a small detail, that type of attention and scrutiny is why nerds like me became obsessed with the show in the first place. The one thing we can be sure of: we'll definitely learn more about the Front Man in season 2.
What the Cast Says
Lee Jung-jae, who plays Seong Gi-hun, also said that he's ready for a second season. He told the New York Times that there are many possibilities for where his character could do next. "That’s a very difficult question because the story could go in any direction, and some of Gi-hun’s emotions are very complicated. He’s a very intriguing character. I guess he could go and try and punish the creators of the game. Or he could try to stop new contestants from playing it. Or he could try to join the game again. I have no idea at this point."
When asked about a popular fan theory, that Gi-hun could be offered the chance to replace the Front Man and run the game, Lee said, "Well, for one, I’m never going to let anyone die! If the story does go in that direction, Gi-hun would end up in a position like Oh Il-nam, the old guy [played by Oh Yeong-su]. But you know, in “The Deer Hunter,” the character that Christopher Walken plays never makes it out of the game, right? That could be what happens."
The cast also has their own ideas of how fallen players can return for season 2. During a Variety interview at the SAG Awards, Lee shared that the season 1 cast all got together to brainstorm near the end of filming.
"After we filmed Squid Game Season 1, we all got together brainstorming ideas for how to bring everybody back alive,” Lee said. “My idea is the masked men carry all of them out as quickly as possible and do a surgery on them to keep them alive."
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