This article may contain spoilers if you haven’t watched Squid Game; if you intend to watch it I recommend you first read my No Spoiler review: the good, the bad and the ugly of Squid Game.
Squid Game is a symbolic series that personifies the modern-day capitalist story while satirising the extreme competitiveness people would go to make ends meet. The show is heavy on symbolism if you pay attention to the background art and the colour schemes. From the way the Squid Staff dress in red jumpsuits, moving in sync like a colony of ants without individualism except symbols on their face masks and the contestants who are stripped off names, identified only as numbers, stats and cash in a piggy bank.
During the opening sequence you get some artsy graphics with triangles, circles and squares. The Squid Staff have masks which have triangles, circles and squares and one character exclaims that they don’t to speak to a supervisor, the one with a square meaning the symbols also a denote a sort of hierarchy to the staff of Squid Game.
So what do the symbols mean?
circle, Triangle and square of squid game
One would be forgiven for immediately thinking that the symbols associated with the Squid Game which you find on their calling card and on the face masks are reminiscent of a video game controller…
There is a sort of analogy somewhere in there about how one who pushes the buttons controls the players and by extension the game with the power over life and death, hmmm.
Had a conversation with a non-practising blogger and all-round good guy KG Changunda (There is your shurrup ^_^) about a possible interpretation of the symbols and he came up with the following:
If you recall the squid game at the beginning, the squid is made up of the 3 shapes. You start at the square, then move to the triangle and win by reaching the circle I don’t know why its in reverse order with the hierarchy but somehow its the reverse order of the way you win the gameKG
While searching for possible meaning on the internet I ran into a artwork by a Japanese Monk Sengai Gibon (1750 – 1837) titled “The Universe” which depicts depicts a circle, a square and a triangle.
The painting is often called “Maru-Sankaku-Shikaku“, written as “〇△□”, or “The Universe” when referred to in English.
The circle represents the infinite, and the infinite is at the basis of all beings. But the infinite in itself is formless. We humans endowed with senses and intellect demand tangible forms. Hence a triangle. The triangle is the beginning of all forms. Out of it first comes the square. A square is the triangle doubled. This doubling process goes on infinitely and we have the multitudinously of things...the universe.
A circle turns into a triangle, and then into a square, and finally into infinitely varied and varying figures.
The founder of aikido, Ueshiba Morihei said that:
“The body should be triangular, the mind circular. The triangle represents the generation of energy and is the most stable physical posture. The circle symbolizes serenity and perfection, the source of unlimited techniques. The square stands for solidity, the basis of applied control.”
I don’t know if that Zen Philosophy had anything to do with Squid Game could be just some unrelated coincidence… a glitch in the Matrix; déjà vu.
What the circle, triangle and box really mean in Squid Game
According to the Director of Squid Game, Hwang Dong-hyuk; “The circle symbol represents the workers, the triangle is the symbol for the army, while the rectangle is for the manager,” Dong-hyuk stated this at a press conference held by Netflix on Wednesday, September 15 2021.
The circle is the letter ‘O’, the triangle is part of the letter ‘J’, and the square is ‘M’, side by side, it reads ‘O J M’, which are the initials of Squid Game in Korean language Hangul, which is read as Ojingeo Geim (오징어게임)
….and I will leave you with an interesting fan theory; you know how in The Matrix you chose between the red pill and the blue pill? When you are recruited into the Squid Game you pick between red and blue squares, those who pick the blue become players and those who pick the red tiles become the workers; how about that?…..
Any interesting tidbits to share from Squid Game?