Squid Game’s Red Light Green Light round explained

Chris Weston September 21, 2021

Throughout cinematic history, we have seen people put to the ultimate test, hunted and pitted against one another for survival.

The likes of The Most Dangerous Game, Battle Royale, The Hunger Games, and more recently The Hunt are all prime examples. However, there’s always room to be wackier with your concepts and ideas…

Just ask Hwang Dong-hyuk, the writer of Squid Game.

This South Korean survival drama series premiered on Netflix on Friday, 17 September 2021 and has attracted some serious attention.

We’re plunged into a dystopian tale of a group who enter into a mysterious game that offers a ₩45.6 billion prize. The catch? To win is to survive.

Episode 1 is a lot to take in, so let’s spend a moment explaining the Red Light Green Light round in Squid Game. But first, let’s have some context.

Anupam Tripathi (cr YOUNGKYU PARK, via Netflix).

Jigsaw, eat your heart out

The cogs begin to turn when Gi-hun calls the number on a business card he was given. He’s compelled to reach out after learning from his mother Ga-yeong will be moving away next year.

In an effort to achieve financial security, he signs up to the game and it’s established “Red Light Green Light” is the password to participate.

All the others who agreed to join are transported while unconscious, waking up with numbered tracksuits running from 001 to 456. Gi-hun is 456.

They awake in bunks and are met by staff donning masks labelled with squares or circles, reminiscent of the ones on the business card we saw earlier.

We learn Gi-hun and all the others share something in common: they desperately need the cash prize that dangles from a piggy bank above them. To win, they will have to compete in six games in six days.

The first? Well, it turns out Red Light Green Light isn’t merely a password. It refers to the first round the contestants must endure…

Squid Game | Official Trailer | Netflix

Squid Game | Official Trailer | Netflix

Squid Game: Red Light Green Light explained

As they all need the money, the participants agree to accept the challenges that lie ahead, proceeding to the “game room”.

You may be unfamiliar, but there’s actually a playground game called “Red Light, Green Light”. The rules are you must move on the green and stop on the red, as highlighted by Ready Steady Cut.

Of course, the twisted version played in Squid Game is a dangerous deviation.

Basically, those who don’t move on green and stop on red are shot and killed by one of the guards commanding the area. Additionally, those who forfeit the game by attempting to flee are shot and killed.

Inevitably, many decide to take their chances and are met by an onslaught of bullets.

The characters that have been sufficiently established as central as of yet survive. Sang-woo helps Gi-hun understand the motion sensor, telling him to remain behind somebody else to survive.

He almost meets a sticky end after a fall but is saved by participant 199. Things wrap up when it’s revealed the sadistic games are happening in woods surrounded by mountains.

‘I really thought Squid Game was gonna be calm’

The series is pretty out there and plenty of audiences have wasted no time in offering their reactions on Twitter.

Check out a selection of tweets:

Squid Game is streaming on Netflix now.

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Chris has a First Class Film and Journalism (Joint Honours) degree from De Montfort University and previously studied film at A-level, making him HITC’s resident movie guy. Chris's passion for all things cinema has been with him from a very young age and he has written for a number of publications, from Taste of Cinema to local sites. He has been with HITC for a five years, exploring the world of film and television while looking out for the latest titles to excite and inspire audiences.