What is behind the Squid Game mask? It hits close to home

Bruno Cooke September 20, 2021
What is behind the Squid Game mask? It hits close to home


South Korean drama series Squid Game premiered on Netflix on 17 September, featuring a masked management class of faceless heavies who oversee a gruesome survival competition. Collectively, they serve the Front Man, played by Lee Byung-hun.

[warning: spoilers ahead!]

Why the Squid Game masks are more than just masks

Fans of the series have been quick to point out the parallels between the universe of Squid Game – in which everyone must wear masks – and elements of life during a pandemic.

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But many of the parallels are incidental. The purpose of the masks in Squid Game isn’t to prevent the spread of a virus. It is to ensure confidentiality among those coordinating the games.

There are a variety of masks – Forbes writer Paul Tassi called them “PlayStation button masks” for the shapes they bear. Perhaps this is to reinforce the game element, but this is a game with real life consequences.

At one point, a contestant – set to win a game – holds a staff member at gunpoint. After forcing his mask off, he finds himself unable to kill him. Instead, he shoots himself. But the Front Man kills him anyway: identity, apparently, is sacred.

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Source: YouTube [Netflix]

Who is Squid Game’s Front Man, and what sort of mask does he wear?

Collectively, the members of the mysterious organisation running the Squid Game serve a leader: the Front Man. 

Ultimately revealed to be the missing older brother of Detective Hwang Jun-ho, Squid Game’s Front Man is played by Lee Byung-hun.

Photo by Kate Green/Getty Images

After winning the 28th Squid Game in 2015 – so the story goes – Hwang In-Ho (player 132) joined the ranks of the Squid organisation, ultimately rising to the top, to satisfy his “obsession”.

The Front Man’s mask is different to his staffers’. It is angular and prismatic, resembling a stealth aircraft.

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Squid Game | Official Trailer | Netflix

Squid Game | Official Trailer | Netflix

Twitter users react to Squid Game’s various masks

They’ve arrived just in time for Halloween. 

Already, social media users have expressed their desire to buy a Squid Game mask, but it doesn’t look like they’re available to buy just yet. 

Meanwhile, others have taken to Twitter to share their favourite mask, or to talk about the Front Man’s reveal.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.