By Arlyn Tan
The newest streaming sensation “Squid Game” features 456 debtors who are competing against each other in 6 Korean childhood games to have only one winner of the $38M dollars. The tournament is composed of pog, marbles, honeycomb candy, red light green light, tug of war & glass stepping stone bridge. Every time a player loses, he loses his life, and the prize money becomes bigger.
After the Korean drama-slash-horror show premiered on Netflix on Sept 17, it has been topping the charts of Netflix, and the most talked about series in the streaming platforms like HBO and Apple. Dubbed in 34 languages, and has subtitles in 37 languages, there were 625 million total hours viewed within its first four weeks of release. Forbes reported last Oct 7 2021, it is the #1 show in 90 different countries.
The stories of the 456 contestants speak volumes about how debt, obsessions to get rich, and desperation can lead to illogical behaviors and decisions. According to the show creator Hwang Dong Hyuk, “The stories and the problems of the characters are extremely personalized but also reflect the problems and realities of Korean society.” The country ranks 11 in the measure of income inequality while the US ranked 6. As South Korean families try to keep up, debt is mounting up. Young Koreans wanted to advance in society, but the pressure has accelerated that the “dirt spoon” generation is focused on cryptocurrencies and quick rich schemes.
The characters resonate the feelings of the Filipinos during the pandemic: anxious and uncertain. According to a study commissioned by the Amsterdam-based Fintech Backbase and conducted by Forrester Consulting, the Philippines is the most stressed nation when it comes to managing household finances during the pandemic. It gained insights from 900 retail banking consumers in the 9 Asia Pacific countries where 100 respondents are from the Philippines. 70% of the consumers are stressed with debt while the average ratio is at 49%. The household debt of the Philippines has reached P2 trillion pesos.
Reflections as Wealth Management Consultant
1) I have seen how money can be a driving force for people to achieve better lives or become the cause of relationship breakdowns. When stakes are high in family asset distribution, money becomes thicker than blood. We see siblings fighting over ownership and power in businesses that were created by the first generation.
According to Yun Suk-jin, a drama critic and professor of modern literature at Chungnam National University. South Koreans used to have a collective spirit but turned to the opposite in the late 1990’s during the Asian Financial Crisis where everyone had to fight for themselves.”
2) When people do not have options to recover debt, they resort to risky behaviors. After the deadly first game and the players were released, they volunteered to come back, realizing that the games may be the only chance to recover even if the odds of survival aren’t good. In real life, the causes of heavy debt are addiction, irrational business expansion and risk taking.
If squid game is a real life event where you are given chances to get $38M, will you even think of joining it ? How many do you think will join? Can you imagine your chances of winning?
3) Money can’t buy happiness. In the last part of the series, the Old Man reveals in his deathbed that no matter how much he accumulated from his financing business, he is still looking for his happiness. He thought that by being the mastermind behind the game, he will feel fulfillment. However, he craved to enjoy the experience of playing and developing friendships with players. What is this teaching us? Success in life will have meaning when you are enjoying it. It is multiplied when it is shared with others.
The Squid Game is an eye-opener for me on the value that financial advisors provide to consumers and businesses. We are not here to give you the best yields, but we give you options so that you won’t ever think of being part of the Squid Games. We provide education on personal finance, retirement planning, risk management so you can differentiate red light green light. We empower you to have more choices, prioritize relationships and enjoy the big and small experiences in the GAME of LIFE.
Arlyn Tan is a Strategic Wealth Consultant. She helps individuals and organizations on how to maximize the value of their money through risk, health & wealth management. Her mission lies in making sure that clients achieve 3 things. First, they reach their milestones on time with sufficient resources. Second, they protect them from the impact of economic losses secondary to unexpected events. The third and most important is that they enjoy meaningful and balanced lives.
LinkedIn/Twitter: Arlyn Tan