Abstract

This article delves into the portrayal of the relationship between indebted individuals and disposable time in the South Korean Netflix TV series Squid Game (2021–present). It argues that the show illustrates how the debt-ridden, so-called unproductive members of society are denied the right to have disposable time and are excluded from moments of play and leisure and denied escape from their perpetual debt cycle. The analysis focuses on two pivotal moments: the recruitment of Gi-Hun and the persuasion of Oh Il-Nam to participate in the deadly game. In the final episode, Oh Il-Nam is revealed as the wealthy mastermind behind the Squid Game, highlighting the rich’s exploitation of the indebted individuals’ time for their own leisure and profit. The article concludes by suggesting an alternative perspective: considering time as stolen rather than wasted, prompting further contemplation on the complex dynamics of power, time, and exploitation depicted in Squid Game.

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