By now, it seems that everyone on the Internet has been enthralled by Squid Game. Netflix's biggest show ever follows a deadly Game, made up of rounds based on traditional Korean and global children's games (opens in new tab). You get eliminated, you die. Survive 'til the end and win 45.6 billion Korean won ($38 million). The players (opens in new tab), all people in life-ruining debt, have been hand-chosen by the secret group who runs the Game for the enjoyment of wealthy VIPS.
By the season finale (opens in new tab) of the season, we know how the Game operates, thanks to the detective storyline, but we don't know who created it. The show's big twist is that we've seen the creator, who's referred to as The Host, all along: Oh Il-nam (Player 001), the old man who befriended the eventual winner, Seong Gi-hun (Player 456). After watching the Game for many years, now dying of a brain tumor, Oh joins the Game himself to play along and unlock childhood memories.
The reveal that the sweet old man was actually the monster that killed 455 people was a surprise to most viewers. However, creator Hwang Dong-hyuk included multiple hints and Easter Eggs revealing Oh's identity throughout all nine episodes. Here are all the clues we found for 001's true identity.
The Red Light, Green Light doll didn't scan him.
After half the players are shot down, 001 is the first player to move ahead, while everyone else was still in shock. While it seems like his dementia may be affecting him, the creator probably just knew what would happen and wasn't fazed.
There's another clue when we see the players through the animatronic death doll's scanner, which detects players that are moving. When it scans over 001, he's not highlighted as brightly as the other players. It's assumed that if even if he moves, the robot won't shoot him. The small detail (along with several others) hints that he had contingency plans for surviving each round.
He stopped the dorm riots in Episode 4.
At the end of the riot scene, 001 climbs onto the beds and screams for the guards to stop the fight. He says that if the fight keeps going, there will be no players left, and yells, "Please, I'm so scared. Stop this madness." Immediately after his pleas, the Front Man turns on the lights and sends in the guards. At first it's strange that the leader of the guards stops the riot because an old man is scared, but when you realize that 001 is the Front Man's boss, it makes a lot more sense.
He had the best Tug of War strategy.
001's Tug of War strategy is thorough and near-perfect, winning his team the upper hand as the game started. The old man doesn't explain where he got the strategy from, but he probably either learned or came up with it after watching the Games over the years. Also, if you look closely at the handcuffs chaining the players to the rope, 001's weren't actually locked, giving him the chance to bail out if they lost.
He recognized the marbles set because he designed it.
Before each round, we see 001 say that he remembers every game from either his youth or his kids' childhoods. In the marbles game, he says that he recognizes the neighborhood-themed playground. He even leads Gi-hun on a chase until he finds the house that looked like his home. Though it seems like he was in a fit of dementia (which he was probably faking), he probably did design the set to look like his own neighborhood.
There was no record for player 001 in the list of contestants.
When detective Jun-ho (opens in new tab) finds the Game records, he first looks through the current year's player roster, hoping to find his lost brother. However, the file opens on player 002. There's no record on 001, because they didn't scout him; he's a VIP who just walked in.
We never saw his death in Episode 6.
Squid Game doesn't shy away from its characters' death. For each fallen player, we either see the moment they're killed, or their dead body soon after. With 001, the camera sticks on Gi-hun, as he walks away and then flinches at the sound of the gun shot. We don't see the death, or 001's dead body, until he actually dies in his hospital bed in the finale.
His name, Oh Il-nam, translates to "First Man."
Before his "death," 001 tells Gi-hun that his real name is Oh Il-nam, and he verifies that it is his real name in the finale. The character's name literally translates to "first man" in English: "Il" (일) means one, and "nam" (남) means man. He's the number one man of the Game (the creator), the number one person in rank among the guards (being the Front Man's boss), and the literal number one player.
The Host's hands in Episode 7 were his.
We see the Host, a Korean man wearing a gold mask, for a second before the other VIPs arrive. As the Front Man tells him the game is set to begin, he takes off the gold mask, and we see his aged hands. The scene cuts away before we can see his face, but after Oh's reveal, we see the scene again, where Oh is the VIP. On a second watch on Episode 7, the hands holding the mask are the same as the old man's.
Bonus: Each character's death was foreshadowed in earlier episodes.
In addition to the Oh Il-nam clues, creator Hwang actually hints at each character's cause of death early in the season, mostly when they go back to their lives in Episode 2. Gangster Deok-su (101) jumps off a bridge, and he dies by falling off the glass bridge. Ali (199) steals money from his boss, and he's shot after his marbles are stolen from him. Sae-byeok (067) (opens in new tab) holds a knife to the broker's throat, and she dies when Sang-woo (218) cuts her own throat. Sang-woo tries to die by suicide in his apartment, and later he does during the final round.
Now that your mind is sufficiently blown, Squid Game might be worth one more re-watch.
Quinci LeGardye is a Contributing Culture Editor who covers TV, movies, Korean entertainment, books, and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.
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