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Red Light, Green Light: What Did Squid Game Teach Us?

You have probably heard about the most talked Korean series in Netflix, Squid Game. To be honest, my 3 children were the ones who have been watching it and they all convinced me to watch it with them but I declined. When I started to hear about it from my friends, from the talk shows I watch and read an article saying this is the very first Korean series that rank first in the US chart, I thought this must really be a good one.

So, I jumped on the bandwagon and I didn’t regret not being able to clean the house and cook dinner and sleeping really late for a couple of days just to watch this 9-episode series. 

(Ooops if you haven’t seen the series, please know that some parts of this article may have some spoilers)

Squid Game is a story of cash-strapped people who accepted an invitation to compete in a children’s game because of a tempting prize without knowing that the stakes are deadly.  Although I sometimes wanted to skip the dramatic bloodletting parts of most episodes, I still chose to binge-watch this series because of its plot.  The plot was simple and disturbing and some of the scenes were so heart-wrenching that it will make you think if you have been living a life similar to any of the characters.  After watching the 9 episodes, you will realize how this series teaches you lessons not just about survival but also about finances and life in general.

Just to be clear, I am not writing this article to give a review about the Squid Game, instead, I want to share with you some of the great life lessons that were highlighted in Squid Game.

The choices we make today affect our future. Sometimes, we are caught unaware how even the simplest choice that we make can change our life forever. In this series, Gi-Hun, the lead character made a lot of choices in the past that put him in to the situation where he was in.  His actions in the past came to bite him when he had to face broken marriage, losing his child because he cannot support her and his mom not being able to get the treatment she needs.  Life is a series of choices that we make every single day and each choice that we make can directly affect us or the people around us.  Thus, it is always best that we are careful with our actions and to always consider how the decisions that we are going to make can impact our lives and the lives of the people important to us.

Looks can be deceiving. More often than not, we quickly judge others with their appearances.  And this is clearly portrayed in the series when Gi-Hun was shocked to see that his childhood friend, Sang-woo was among the participants of the game. He had always respected him because he graduated from university and he is known in their neighborhood as a successful business man. It turned out that Sang-woo is also faced with a huge financial obligation and he is in a very desperate situation as well. Similarly, we easily believe in the curated way that the people we know portray in the social media.  We easily feel jealous of the things that we see in our social media feed without realizing that there could be more to the picture-perfect stories posted in Facebook, Instagram or TikTok.  That friend who posts about having the most expensive purses and shoes maybe stressed with her job that she is forced to keep, that happy family that another friend tries to portray maybe on the brink of break-up or that friend who seems to be enjoying his life may just be trying to escape his problems. We don’t truly know what’s the true story behind those good looks.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. This is one the life lessons that will always resonate with me, I am not trying to be pessimistic but based on my past experience, if it’s something that seems so great and hard to believe, you should think about engaging with it really well. In Episode 6 of the series, Ali believed in every word that Sang-woo feed him not realizing that the person he trusted will be the cause of his death. We have to realize that there is no shortcut or quick fix to success, if you come across a situation where you are promised with such a great deal without doing much or with a short time, do not easily fall for it. Do your research or your own study and make sure that you are not falling to a trap.

If you can be one thing, be kind. You have probably heard the saying, “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” This series proved that it is not always the smart ones that win.  You can be kind and still win in life, in so many instances in the series, it showed that one day the kindness that you’ve shown will all come back to you. Gi-Hun has been kind to Il-num even though it appeared that he has bad chances in the game, he also extended his benevolence to Sae-Byeok whom he eventually treated well despite not liking her in the beginning. Though they are all in a difficult challenge, it reminded us that it pays to be kind.

Do you know what people with no money have in common with people with too much money? That living isn’t fun.”

Money is important, but it is not everything. Squid Game pretty much made us realized that money may be one of the most important things but it cannot get you everything, even if we have tons of money it will be useless if we are not contented and unhappy. In the series, Il-nam may have so much money but it wasn’t able to give him the contentment, he longed to experience the things that he used to like, he wanted to relive the simple life’s pleasure that he used to enjoy. As one of the characters in the series said, “Do you know what people with no money have in common with people with too much money? That living isn’t fun.”

Speaking of money, there were 3 important lessons about money that I thought Squid Game made us realized:

Do not underestimate the importance of insurance. In Episode 2 of the series, where Gi-Hun’s diabetic mother needs to be treated but they cannot afford the cost of the treatment, the importance of investing in an insurance while you don’t need it yet was highlighted. Had he not spent the money on gambling and he did not stop paying the premiums for their medical insurance, his mother would have gotten the medical treatment that she needs and it would have been covered by the insurance. This scene made us realized that we should not wait for something to happen before we consider investing into an insurance.  Insurance is not to be considered as an additional expense, rather it is an investment that can protect and save you and your family when you need it the most. Remember, you are just one bad day away from an unforeseen circumstance that a medical or life insurance policy can save you from.

Do not put all your eggs in one basket. In Episode 3, the Dalgona cookies appeared as the second round of the players’ challenges. Gi-Hun’s childhood friend, Cho Sang-woo said, “There’s this saying in investing, “try not to keep your eggs in the same basket,” resulting their team to split up, though Gi-Hun ended up with a shape that is more difficult to carve, Sang-woo’s thinking increased their chances of survival.

And when it comes to financial investment, this is also a good reminder not to put all your money in one investment type or platform, look for more baskets so you can have better chances of growing your money and inflating your personal portfolio.

Prioritize your needs over your wants. The characters in the series ended up being in the game because of their financial situation, most of their back stories showed that they have huge debt because they failed to balance their needs and wants.  Gi-Hun’s situation where he kept spending money for his horse racing gambling was a great example.  The recipe to being able to sustain your daily needs and attaining financial stability is getting the clarity about your wants and needs, you must determine what’s most important and plan your budget to make sure that what’s more important is prioritized.  If you don’t take control of your finances, the lack of it will force you to make decisions that you might regret in the end.

I never really thought that this series will teach us a lot of valuable lessons. Like I said in the beginning, the plot was simple but it was very well-thought of.

How about you, have you seen this most-watched Netflix series? Did you have your personal takeaways too? Or did any of the lessons I listed here resonate to you?



My family and close friends knew how passionate I am when it comes to writing. I find joy and unexplainable satisfaction in writing. I am able to say what I am thinking or how I feel best when I say it through a letter, a poem and now blog. Through the years, blogging has opened different doors for me. It provided me a space to share my journey and my life lessons, the failures and triumphs that I went through in transitioning to a new life outside my comfort zone and it allowed me to reach out to people outside my circle.

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Thanks for stopping by, as I make this space to be my superwoman wannabe diary, I want to share my life experiences as a mom, an immigrant, a financial advisor, a mortgage specialist and my life in general.

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