News and Commentary

Popular Netflix Series ‘Squid Game’ Is Making Life Miserable For One Real-Life South Korean Woman
Netflix logo displayed on a tv screen is seen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on July 19, 2021.
Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

“Squid Game,” the current Netflix sensation taking the streaming service by storm, may have tons of fans, but one woman in South Korea says her life has become miserable because of the show.

Koreaboo, a Korean media outlet usually focused on K-pop news, reported that in one episode of the popular series, a character is handed a business card that includes an 8-digit phone number. In the U.S., movies and TV shows that use phone numbers include the “555” prefix to ensure the number is fake. Why? Because people will call a number they see in a program they enjoy. Just ask anyone with the number 867-5309 before area codes became part of the dialing experience.

In South Korea, however, people who dialed the eight numbers presented in the TV show would be connected locally to the person who held that number. This led to a South Korean woman receiving thousands of phone calls a day from fans of the show.

“After Squid Game aired, I have been receiving calls and texts endlessly, 24/7, to the point that it’s hard for me to go on with daily life. This is a number that I’ve been using for more than 10 years, so I’m quite taken aback. There are more than 4000 numbers that I’ve had to delete from my phone [viewers] and it’s to the point where due to people reaching out without a sense of day and night due to their curiosity, my phone’s battery is drained and turns off. At first I didn’t know why but my friend told me that my number came out in Squid Game and that’s when I realized,” the woman told Money Today via Koreaboo.

The woman who owns the phone number also revealed a text from on such person who informed her about the episodes featuring her number.

“There’s a hot drama recently called Squid Game that’s produced by Netflix and in the invitation card there, the eight digits of the phone number [censored] was written. As it was only eight digits, I thought it wouldn’t exist and so I tried calling it but it connected automatically. I thought that of course the production team would’ve taken preventive measures. I’m sorry. The number appears in episode 1 and 2. You can confirm it around the 23:44 mark for the first episode. I’m sorry once more for contacting you late at night,” the person said.

Legal experts told Koreaboo that Netflix’s accidental use of someone’s personal information could break the law. The woman in this case said she was contacted by Netflix, whom she says told her to “change her number,” and that they couldn’t do anything else about it.

“We can’t do anything since it [phone number] already went out and it’s not like we did it intentionally. Honestly, we think the only option is for you to change your number,” a member of the “Squid Game” production crew told the woman, according to Koreaboo.

The outlet also reported that the woman was allegedly offered one million won (the equivalent of $851) in compensation for her troubles. The woman declined the offer, adding that the number was tied to her small business. She was then reportedly offered five million won (or about $4,240), and she again declined.

The “Squid Game” production team has issued a new response to the controversy, saying it is “trying to solve this through continued phone calls and face-to-face meetings between the owner of the number and the production company.”

CNN reported Thursday that Netflix said in a statement that “Together with the production company, we are working to resolve this matter, including editing scenes with phone numbers where necessary.”

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