Squid Game’s heartbreaking detail non-Korean speakers may have missed

People all around the world have adored Netflix’s latest smash hit Squid Game, especially the character of Kang Sae-byeok and her harrowing backstory.

Number 067, as she’s referred to in the show, quickly became a fan favourite when viewers learnt that she was partaking in the brutal game to help her family.

Kang Sae-byeok in Squid Game.
Korean-speaking viewers noticed interesting details about Kang Sae-byeok’s accent. Photo: Netflix

The South Korean drama shows that Sae-byeok aimed to win the money to get her younger brother out of an orphanage and rescue her mother who had been captured in China after trying to escape North Korea.

While actress Jung Ho-yeon has been applauded for her outstanding performance, there’s one detail that’s gone largely unnoticed by non-Korean speakers that truly elevates her work.


Several Korean-speaking fans of the show have taken to social media to point out that Sae-byeok, who is from North Korea, speaks with a North Korean accent.

However, she tries to hide it around other players who are predominantly South Korean to avoid discrimination and gets called a “spy” and a “communist” when they eventually discover where she is from.

Reddit user soyfox was one of the first to highlight the contrast in dialect, writing that it’s typical for North Koreans to adopt South Korean speech and mannerisms “so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb”.

The only time viewers actually hear Sae-byeok’s real accent is when she is speaking with her brother at the children’s home, promising that they will soon be reunited with their parents.

Kang Sae-byeok with her brother in Squid Game.
Kang Sae-byeok only speaks with her North Korean accent when she’s with her brother. Photo: Netflix

In an interview with W Korea, the actress explained that she watched documentaries about North Korean defectors and spoke with dialect teachers to help learn the accent.

Squid Game marks the acting debut for the 27-year-old, who already had quite a name for herself in the fashion world after coming second on Korea’s Next Top Model.

She has gained over 15 million followers on Instagram since the show premiered and is now the most followed Korean actor on the platform.

Ho-yeon, who started her modelling career at 16, was also recently announced as the global ambassador for Louis Vuitton.

The latest fun fact about Squid Game comes shortly after it was discovered that the phone number featured on the business card handed to each of the players is actually real.

The number’s alleged owner, a man in his 40s, has claimed that he’s been receiving “endless calls” since the show premiered on Netflix last month.

“It has come to the point where people are reaching out day and night due to their curiosity. It drains my phone’s battery and it turns off,” the man told Money Today.

Netflix has since announced that they will be removing the scene featuring the phone number, which appears in the very first episode of the series.

“Together with the production company, we are working to resolve this matter, including editing scenes with phone numbers where necessary,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to The Independent.

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