HOLD ON. Are you done watching the Korean series, “오징어게임” or “Squid Game” on Netflix yet? If not, let me stop you right there and just read a different blog post or close this browser. I don’t want to be apologetic about the series of spoilers that I might drop as you read this. But if you manage to finish the series, then feel free to read my thoughts about it and I am also open to know yours. I’ll put small photos to not further spoil the show. From hereon, reading this is your choice.
So this Korean series entitled “Squid Game” or “오징어게임” is a bloodbath as we know it. I know there could have been a lot of questions about why be there? or why would ever people do that just for money? But same with other life-and-death games, we all enjoy watching them. Probably just knowing other people’s life decision-making skills make us somehow aware of how we are doing with ourselves; allowing us to decide at no expense at all. We also get to critique their decisions, weighing that it could be better if they had chosen the other way. What I realized while watching the entire series is that everything has been purely based on your choice and no matter what other people say about your decisions, yours is valid and we all have one, to begin with. While we are given the freedom to choose, we don’t get to choose both rewards and the consequences after – and that makes our life thrilling and challenging at the same time.
Yes, they could have been pre-selected already based on their financial status, but it was their choice to chase the promised money and it was their choice to call the number on the card. They had the freedom to choose whether they would call the number or not. But it’s was tempting since they had the taste of winning and feeling the cold hard cash on their hands. I bet their dopamine levels were shooting nonstop thinking of the probability of winning again from a children’s game with a higher return of cash prize. All adults who have ‘mastered’ those children’s games would look down on this and would call the number in a heartbeat. However in the 1st episode, upon knowing the consequences of their decision of joining the game AND signing the consent form, they all have seen the mistake and repercussions that it had brought them making them wanting to back out.
Going back to their freedom to choose, in the 2nd episode, someone had the guts to call out the 3rd clause of the consent form and to seek an end to the game, because a lot was begging to return to their normal lives, promising to pay what they owe instead. I also saw that it was cunning of the game masters to show first the prize money’s worth and how it sounded easy to win it before putting everyone into a ‘democratic vote’. Showing the prize money is actually the stimuli that got them there and the game masters were sure that it’ll be the same reason why would they choose to stay and resume the game. It was also the participants’ choice to vote and cancel the game, and since the majority voted “No”, the game was supposed to end but since the minority who were triggered by the cash prize plead to resume without the majority, then and the game masters allowed them to rethink; which I guess, the game masters would want. However, it was then again their choice to return. While they did not say what happened to the 14 people who refused to return, it just goes to show that there had always been a choice for them.
Now going to the point of this blog, after accepting that everything was based on their decisions, I felt sympathetic with their life stories. I felt bad knowing that they could have endured life’s hardships and make it through even if it takes years of hard work, mixed with blood, sweat, and tears. While killing other people just to get ahead in life will never justify the high moral grounds of God, we all know that there had been an underlying issue why people do what they do and it’s called ‘Greed’. Let’s just say for the lead character, he had already won a handsome amount of cash from the slapping game with Gong Yoo (lol) he has always been bringing bad news since the Goblin series (kidding). But kidding aside, the lead character already won, why call and join for more? Some would say that it’s for his daughter but hey, we all know that he failed to be a good father up until the very end of the series. So, why? It’s greed.
All participants included in the Squid game, not limited to the staff and the one who operates the whole thing, showed a serious heart problem of greed. Even those who have been smuggling the body parts to the Chinese mafia showed that there’s a whole different system even if they are already inside. We were born in a world that taught us the existence of socio-economic classes and the playing field is not the same for everyone. We are taught that one can be at the top and one can be at the bottom therefore, we are to study hard in order to secure a good-paying job, work hard in order to earn lots of money, and save as much as we can in order to secure for the future. However, greed knows no socio-economic boundaries, even the VIPs of the game showed this. And contrary to what we know, Greed does not always translate to money. This is not a financial issue – it’s a heart issue. Unlike other enemies of the heart, you can identify greed from other people but not from ourselves. Moreover, there are no studies to show a direct correlation between financial status and greed because this has nothing to do with what you have or what you don’t have, but with what’s in your heart. We can always be quick to say that we are never greedy but if confronted with what scares us most to lose, our greed takes over.
What is your greatest “what if?” How does it affect your life choices and decision-making process? I guess the lead character showed fear of losing both his daughter and his mother but was it justified in the end? From the book, I have read called ‘Enemies of the Heart’ by Andy Stanley, Greed is one of the four enemies of our heart that needs resolution. It convinces the heart that we ‘owe’ something to ourselves. When the minority heard that the cash prize shall be distributed equally, giving 100 million won per the bereaved family, the minority felt that the money was theirs to have instead. Why? What made them think that the money is theirs to have?
15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”Luke 12:15 NLT
Greed says, “I owe me” and it is something that comes out naturally from our hearts – unseen and unnoticed. Sometimes, we think that we owe ourselves too much that it becomes covert and we could no longer notice it unless processed. With what the world had been teaching us, we need to work hard in order to get what we want and need. And when we worked hard for something, the world says that we deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labor. The lead character received money from his mom to buy his daughter a nice dinner for her birthday and what did he do with the money? He lost it from the pickpocketer when he was busy running for his life from his creditors, after gambling the birthday money. If we are to be asked how should we be living right now, I bet we would answer that we deserve a lot better than what we currently have. Needless to say, there are really things that are beyond our control and since we “owe” ourselves a better way of living and future, we tend to focus on things we can control of getting to the point that we no longer know when to give back.
WHY ARE WE GREEDY?
10 Those who love money will never have enough. How meaningless to think that wealth brings true happiness!Ecclesiastes 5:10 NLT
The driving force of Greed is FEAR. Greed does not only equate to finances and it can easily disguise itself. We can easily say that we are not greedy and if our friends would ask for help, we can easily be approached. However, how true is it? They had been showing this in high resolution in the succeeding episodes. The fear of both dying and not winning loads of cash drove them to do what they did. Don’t we sometimes think thrice before we could actually respond to the help? Don’t we sometimes think about our convenience first before saying yes? Don’t we sometimes check first how much would be left before we could actually give? Yes, just like in the marbles game. Greed is subtly wrapped when we are scared to lose something and it populates our mind with ‘what if’s. One way or another, each one of us had the experience of having nothing – be it money, experience, friends, status, job, or/ and even basic wants and needs. The thought of ‘what if you lose it all’ scares us and it affects our life choices and decision-making process. Protecting and securing one’s future is not bad, but if it makes you turn a blind eye to those in need, then maybe it’s the greed in your heart that’s taking over. Well, we all knew what happened to the doctor who greed himself up knowing the games before anyone else in return to his service, to another greedy scheme of smuggling the body parts. The same goes with the baddie who knew that having a woman in his team in the game of tug-of-war would be a handicap despite the fact that the woman helped her in the earlier game and they even promised to stick together during their ‘private’ time in the bathroom. Anyway, it just proves that it becomes a habit of constantly taking but being reluctant to give.
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.Matthew 6:19-21 NLT
So, how to resolve Greed? Generosity.
BE A CHEERFUL GIVER (Mark 12:41-44; Matthew 5:42; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Psalm 41:1-3; Proverbs 22:9)
Taking from Mark 12:41-44, the widow had nothing much to offer “two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents”, and Jesus called His disciples to preached how God measures the heart rather than the financial status. The widow had basically nothing compared to the others who have offered large amounts but the value remains of what we can offer despite not having much. God doesn’t need anything from us but He wanted us to emanate a cheerful giving to our brothers and sisters. Having a generous heart can clearly show how dependent we are on God and His promises – disregarding the fear of having nothing and losing things we thought that matter. In Matthew 5:42, it is impressed that we are blessed to bless others and there’s nothing else that can conquer greed but with genuine generosity. Since it’s a subtle enemy in our hearts, generosity is a habit we must practice with discipline in order to experience true change. God loves a cheerful giver and He promises to deliver them, bless them, and sustain them.
Going back to the series, it’s all based on their choice. But if I were to ask you given that you have already joined the game and facing loads of cash and how it seems easy winning it, it’s basically an easy way out and finally going back into the outside world depleting all the financial and socio-economic crisis you had, would you stay?