The set for Squid Game was so intricately designed, even if you watched the show meticulously, it would be difficult to catch every single detail. Luckily for viewers, the show’s art director (Chae Kyoung Sun) revealed five of the most meaningful details you may have missed in a recent interview.
1. The flowers
Chae Kyoung Sun says she cried after reading the script for the gganbu marble game episode for the first time, but the set was her favorite to create—even though it took the longest to make. One detail in particular fans may not have noticed is the flowers in the scene with Kang Sae Byeok (Jung Ho Yeon) and Ji Yeong (Lee Yoo Mi).
In the scene, which is a huge favorite among viewers, the art director arranged flowerpots behind Sae Byeok and Ji Yeong. In Sae Byeok’s pot is a live flower, while in Ji Young’s pot is a dead one. Heartbreakingly, this foreshadows which character will die in the game from the very beginning.
2. The shape hierarchy
If you watched the final episode of Squid Game closely, you’ll likely have noticed that the circle, triangle, and square shapes used throughout the show were taken from the “board” of the titular squid game. They also reflect the characters “ㅇ,” ㅈ,” and “ㅁ,” in the show’s Korean title: 오징어 게임. However, you may not have realized that there’s also another detail to the shapes.
According to Chae Kyoung Sun, all the staff in the game are ranked in a hierarchy, and this is represented by the shapes on their masks. The shape with the most vertices (the square) represents the highest-ranked guards, while the shape with the least (the circle) represents the lower rank.
3. The meaning of the colors
Did you know that even the colors used in Squid Game had their own meanings—both individually and combined? The green tracksuits, for example, were chosen for their resemblance to those used in a 1970s Korean political initiative. The Saemaul Movement, which assigned green tracksuits to school children, was allegedly created to bring rural areas up to speed with urban life. However, the government was criticized for how the movement suppressed and destroyed local culture, traditions, and beliefs. The color green is also seen in the game staff’s dorm hallways.
Pink was also chosen as a main color. Seen in the maze-like hallways and the giftbox-shaped coffin bows, pink was selected because of its use in fairytales. Of course, pink and green are opposite each other on the color wheel, reflecting the juxtaposition in the show. “Green is terrified of pink,” says Chae Kyoung Sun, “because it monitors and suppresses green.”
4. The lack of realism
Notice how many of the set designs looked puzzlingly fake? In the “Red Light, Green Light” game, for example, there seems to be little effort put into the flat wallpaper that lines the arena, fooling no one into thinking the plains and sky are real.
These fake-looking designs were actually completely intentional. Chae Kyoung Sun explained that in the show’s storyline, the lack of realism in the sets was used to cause confusion between reality and fiction among the players. For example, when the players first enter the “Red Light, Green Light” set, the art director says, “Everything seems fake and artificial, so they’re denying the fact that people are actually going to die here.”
The art director says the same trick was used in the marble game. The team used an obviously fake sunset background, but put extra details into the fake houses (from the milk baskets to the porch lighting to the real weeds) to blend reality with fiction.
5. The tug-of-war road
Look closely at the floor as the Squid Game players take on the tug-of-war game, and you’ll notice the gray, mottled flooring is made to resemble a road. It even has yellow center lines and faux street lines to complete the theme. Even this, says Chae Kyoung Sun, has a meaning behind it.
Since the players are stuck with mountains of debt with no clear pathway forward, the art direction team decided to go with a disconnected roadway for the set. This represents how the players have “but have nowhere to go” in their lives, as well as how many of them live on the streets.