Squid Game: Why did Kang Sae-byeok have to die?

Squid Game official trailer from Netflix

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Squid Game has exploded in popularity on Netflix, with fans loving the show for its unique style and memorable characters. As the show is based around a series of games where failure equals death, most of the characters didn’t make it to the end of the show alive. Fan favourite Kang Sae-byeok (played by Jung Hoyeon) was one such casualty.

Why did Kang Sae-byeok have to die?

Throughout the nine episodes of Squid Game, the contestants are thrown into an increasingly bizarre and dangerous set of challenges.

Breaking up into teams, they come together in a bid for survival as they hunt down the cash prize of billions of won.

Ultimately, only one can take home the money, as friends become enemies and unlikely alliances fall apart. 

One character that stood out for viewers was Kang Sae-byeok, a girl with a keen sense of survival.

Yet, fans were devastated when Sae-byeok was killed off ahead of the final game in the series.

During the fifth game, she is struck by a falling shard of glass, though she manages to make it out alive.

Joined by Seong Gi-hun (Lee jung-jae) and Cho Sang-woo (Park Hae-soo) the final three are treated to a steak dinner ahead of the last challenge.

Yet, it is clear Sae-byeok is succumbing to her injuries, eventually confiding in Gi-hun to help her brother if he survives the last game.

Gi-hun rushes for help but Sang-woo stabs her while she is in bed.

This moment has proved to be controversial with fans, as many of them were hoping for a more ceremonious end to the character.

Taking to Reddit, user Samw616 shared their thoughts on the Squid Game forum.

The user wrote: “Hated the way they killed Sae-byeok. I was rooting for her more and more as the show progressed, and her death felt so unearned and shoehorned in.

“She had survived the game, they hadn’t stuck to the rules as they set them out. It doesn’t come from a place of being salty about her death, if she’d just been murdered by Sang-woo I understand the motivation that that gave Gi-hun.

“But having her be defenceless because she’d lost all of that blood felt wrong. Especially as the frontman had gone to so much trouble to show that the games had integrity and that everyone had a fair shot.”

Clearly Sae-byeok was already dying when Gi-hun ran to get help, but it isn’t known if she would have survived or if help would have come.

Ultimately, Sang-woo decided to kill her in order to take down the competition, as there was so much at stake after so many had already suffered.

In the end, it was Gi-hun that won the games and took home the money, though the cost of winning was not worth the prize.

For fans expecting a sequel season, there have been no official announcements from Netflix.

Series writer and director Hwang Dong-hyuk shared an update to Variety on the potential of a sequel in September, disappointing fans with the news.

The director revealed he was in no rush to write a sequel after it took him so long to create season one.

Hwang admitted: “In my earlier days, I’d drink half a bottle of soju (Korean liquor) to get the creative juices flowing. I can’t do that any more.

“Writing (‘Squid Game’) was harder than normal for me as it was a series, not a film. It took me six months to write and rewrite the first two episodes.

“Then I consulted verbally with friends, and picked up clues for improvements through my own pitching and from their responses.”

Squid Game is available to watch exclusively on Netflix.

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