The series revolves around a contest where 456 players, all of whom are in deep financial debt, risk their lives to play a series of deadly children's games for the chance to win a ₩45.6 billion prize. The title of the series draws from a similarly named Korean children's game. Though he had initially written it in 2009, he was unable to find a production company to fund the idea until Netflix took an interest around 2019 as part of their drive to expand their foreign programming offerings. All nine episodes were written and directed by Hwang.
Squid Game was released worldwide on September 17, 2021, to critical acclaim and international attention. As of November 2021, it is Netflix's most-watched series, becoming the top-viewed program in 94 countries and attracting more than 142 million member households and amassing 1.65 billion viewing hours during its first four weeks from launch, surpassing Bridgerton for the title of most watched show.