South Korean Protesters Wear Squid Game Costumes To Demand Better Working Conditions

by : Emily Brown on : 21 Oct 2021 18:19
South Korean Protesters Wear Squid Game Costumes To Demand Better Working Conditions@yunsukCNA/Twitter/Alamy

South Korean protesters were spotted wearing Squid Game masks as they took to the streets this week to demand better working conditions. 

The demonstrations were made up of tens of thousands of labour union members who ignored government warnings against protests to call for better conditions for irregular workers as well as an increase to minimum wage.


Irregular workers, which includes temporary and contract workers, do not receive full benefits under South Korea’s labour laws.


According to the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), some 80,000 members joined rallies that took place across 13 cities, The Straits Times reports. As many as 550,000 members also took part in a one-day strike across the country, with school canteen workers and delivery drivers among those who refused to work.

Thousands of those who took to the streets did so while wearing costumes and masks reminiscent of Squid Game, which tells the story of indebted people who take on deadly children’s games in a bid to win millions of dollars.


Some union workers cited by Lim Yun Suk, the Korea Bureau Chief for Channel News Asia, said ‘they too are struggling to make a living’ like the characters in the Netflix drama.

The series hit close to home for some viewers in South Korea, with one worker named Lee telling ABC News, ‘Some scenes were very hard to watch.’

Lee worked at South Korea’s Ssangyong Motors and struggled with financial difficulties and depression after he was laid off alongside 2,600 other employees in 2009.


‘In Squid Game you see characters scrambling to survive after being laid off at work, struggling to operate fried chicken diners or working as ‘daeri’ drivers’, who get paid for driving people home in their own cars after they’ve been drinking, Lee said. ‘That reminded me of my co-workers who died.’

Wednesday’s rally took place in spite of coronavirus restrictions, which only allow gatherings of up to eight or 10 people if the group includes four fully vaccinated people.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University and went on to contribute to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming Senior Journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news, trending stories and longer form features.

Topics: Film and TV, Netflix, Now, Protest, South Korea, Squid Game


The Straits Times and 1 other
  1. The Straits Times

    Labour union stages rallies, strikes in South Korea

  2. Lim Yun Suk/Twitter