South Koreans rally for labor rights dressed as Squid Game characters
Although the squid game Seeming to be a popular choice for this year’s Halloween costumes, it’s also being used for a much bigger cause: demanding better working conditions at protests across South Korea.
On Wednesday, October 20, tens of thousands of workers took to the streets to protest better conditions and a higher minimum wage, dressed as black masked guards from the hit Netflix series.
An estimated 80,000 unionized workers demonstrated in 13 cities across the country, ignoring government calls to curb gatherings (gatherings of more than 99 people are currently restricted due to COVID-19).
Among other demands, they called for better conditions for irregular workers who, under South Korean labor laws, do not enjoy the same benefits as employees.
Lim Yun Suk, Korea Bureau Chief of Channel News Asia, reported some union members say that, like the characters in the survival drama, “they too are struggling to make a living.”
The series, which broke Netflix viewing records around the world, clearly shines a light on the injustice inherent in capitalist systems. It centers on 456 debt-ridden adults on the brink of financial ruin who are asked to play children’s games in order to win 45bn won (about £28m), only with potentially deadly consequences.
For many in South Korea, the spectacle hit close to home, where “workers work an average of 44.6 hours per week, more than the average weekly working hours (32.8) in member countries. of the OECD,” according to an article published in July 2016.
“Some scenes were very hard to watch,” a former worker at Ssangyong Motors in South Korea, which laid off thousands of workers in a 2009 bankruptcy filing, told ABC News.
Meanwhile, a real Squid Game recently took place in Abu Dhabi, where – thankfully – there were no murders (or multi-million cash prizes).