Squid Game: 10 Questions Left Unanswered

What you may be asking after watching the series

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With my spoiler-free review of Squid Game gently easing you into what you can expect, the gates are wide open for us to delve deeper into the world and explore many talking points you have be thinking, missed or haven’t thought of. This is naturally riddled with spoilers so a pre-requisite is making sure you’ve watched Squid Game and then jumping right back here straight after!

Throughout the 9 episodes, while I found it enjoyable and unescapably gripping in many ways, the critical mind of mine started to ponder questions that were left unanswered – some possibly intentional by the director – but other questions I expected to tie loose ends that it failed to do. Some range from the small to the more glaring. So let’s kick off the 10 questions left answered in Squid Game. Spoilers ahead, you’ve been warned!

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Gi-hun’s debt to loan sharks

At the start of Squid Game, Gi-hun is known to have a gambling addiction, skimping on the little money he and his 엄마 (mother) have to bet on horse-racing with his friend. He manages to luck out and get quite a significant amount, only to be chased down by loan sharks shaking him up for the money he owes them. After convincing them to give him more time in the toilets, he signs a contract with his thumbprint pressed from the blood running down his nose that if he doesn’t pay back in one week, they’ll gouge his eyes and tongue out. Ouch.

Skip towards the end, and it’s roughly one week that has passed after completing Squid Game. Many events occur that cloud’s Gi-hun’s judgment or motivations, it’s made clear he hasn’t touched any of the money he deposited at the bank for more than one year that’s passed since. It’s unclear if he deposited all the money from the balance of the card given with the insane bank balance, but it feels a little detached considering the desperation he resorted to borrowing money, that (on screen anyway), he isn’t shown to repay the large debts that spurred his participation in Squid Game.

The guilt he feels from the money won in Squid Game and all the lives lost is a very justifiable reaction after all he had gone through, but knowing how persistent and aggressive loan sharks can be (as seen from Jang Deok-su running away from the gang he stole from Philippines), they’re know to ruffle up feather’s among any relatives or contacts from him and persist until the debt is paid. There’s little concern from Gi-hun about being on the run from the debts and it’s left to assumption he paid his dues. But the continuity is a little disjointed that there’s a little too much left to the imagination to see it all tied up, considering the state Gi-hun was in after.

Sang-woo’s dying message

In the final game, appropriately called ‘Squid Game’, Gi-hun faces off with Sang-woo for who will end up being the ultimate prize winner. It’s a scene of great reminiscence and nostalgia for both of them, as they used to play Squid game countlessly as children. Little did they know it would be a game they’ve replay as adults in a life-threatening situation, going against your childhood, now estranged friend is a tough situation to be in.

Gi-hun at this stage is raging with anger and is determined to revenge Kang Sae-byeok, the North Korean participant after Sang-Woo deviously slices her throat amidst Gi-hun learning she was badly injured. Gi-hun just won’t let Sang-Woo live for that. Gi-hun besides all of that, faced with Sang-woo beaten down and at his mercy, still couldn’t face killing Sang-woo, as Kang Sae-beyok said, “It’s not who you are”.

With no option left for Sang-Woo knowing he is at the end of the road, he stabs his neck with the knife left in Gi-hun’s arms and apologisng it had come to this. From Sang-Woo’s last breathes, he speaks about his 엄마 (mother), but dies shortly after without finishing what he wanted to say. Now I like this seen a lot and not always is it better to have them say before they die as if that was the only thing holding them before passing. The air of mystery and a kind of regret Gi-hun is unable to hear his final wish is what makes the scene very powerful. It definitely poses a question what he wanted Gi-hun to know about his mother although we can gather some natural assumptions:

  • look after my mother
  • tell her I’m sorry
  • tell her I love her
  • don’t tell her about my sins / debts
  • don’t tell her about who I became

Any of these are very plausible Sang-woo would ask this of Gi-hun about his mother. After all, Sang-woo knew what kind of trouble this would cause. At the same time, like with Gi-hun, there’s little continuity and closure about Sang-woo as we see his mother later on, but not for the reasons we had come to hope for, nor the screen time to understand the predicament the mother was left in when police questioned her about Sang-woo’s location and potential criminal charges. There’s a silver lining to all this, but the thread of Sang-woo still hangs a little loose, even if we can come to a conclusion on how it ties up.

Hwang Jun-ho’s video evidence

The police officer Hwang Jun-ho who infiltrated the Squid Game island to not only learn about his brother’s disappearance after receiving the same card Gi-hun was given to by Gong-Yoo (the Salesman in the subway who plays Dakkji with Gi-hun), but recorded behind the ranks to know what was going on and to bring it to light. While Hwang Jun-ho’s presence and involvement was a little under the radar who offered a simple, but important lens inside Squid game, he was the potential whistleblower if he could escape successfully, would unravel the deadly game of money and death which has been going on for decades.

After escaping the main island underwater with the scuba gear and making his way to the nearby island, the tracker on each scuba gear was only a matter of time before the front-man and crew caught up to silence the detective. As he trekked towards the peak and the final standpoint, he anxiously tried to get signal to send the footage he recorded to his police partner, but to no avail. We’re left seeing the footage could not go through and needed to retry but he was receiving some kind of signal… just unconfirmed if the video was able to send.

This part was a little iffy for me as even in a race against time, we all know video takes eons to upload on spotty signal, especially in the middle of a remote island far from Korea shore (unknown however). I still question why even if he couldn’t take pictures (as Korean phones make a noise every time a picture is taken, although can be avoided if using a third-party app, but that’s way too deep and unrealistic to happen), he could have taken a screen shot of the video to send which has a higher chance to send than a long video file. Failing that, he could have text the situation he was in and ask for his phone signal to have been tracked, text any details about trying to look for him, a voice message or anything to report.

Now this open-ended thread is definitely intentional form the way it plays out, and definitely a thread that they’ll pursue and answer in an eventual season 2 (because the ending alludes to the likelihood of it). While the delivery is a little irrational on how one might send messages, there’s definitely a lingering factor to whether any message was received by the police. There’s no indication about Hwang J-ho’s disappearance and what the police tried to do, if any, to look for him because that would normally happen). It’s a question I’m looking forward to seeing answered, even if we kind of know what may happen of it in Season 2.

Gi-huns mother passes away

More of a talking point than something major to the storyline, but Gi-hun’s mother was not in a healthy condition at the beginning, shown hospitalised and needing treatment, but turning away treatment and the idea of staying at the hospital due to the cost. Her leg was not in a good state and it is know their living conditions and squalor kind of lifestyle meant the ending to which Gi-hun arrives home and see’s his mother laying on the floor, seemingly passed away a natural realisation.

She was always taking care of Gi-hun earning little to barely get through, while Gi-hun wastefully spends the money on betting. One moment I remember is after they left hospital as his mother drudgingly hobbled home, Gi-hun said “he will bring money when he comes home”. He finally fulfilled that wish, only to see her passed away in what is assumed the bad state of her health. We don’t know how exactly she died, but we do know she alluded to giving up on life as she felt too tired to carry on. She wanted to give up. Sadly, it’s left unknown but it’s more for transparency rather than anything significant to the story, but a little short-lived in the aftermath of Squid game.

Gi-hun colours his hair red

Towards the end of the first season, Gi-hun is seen going into a hair salon to finally clean himself up after reflecting on life after Squid game, and trying to find meaning or purpose to his life after. A seemingly odd choice was as he looked at the reference pictures of women’s hair, he chose to go red and left the salon. At the time, it was a choice I was puzzled by and asked why did he go for that particular hair colour?

Thankfully, the director actually addressed this and said it was more of a mood choice to reflect the fiery anger and hatred he held inside, bringing that to the fore and show a monumental shift in Gi-huns demeanor. It set the stage of r what we can expect from Season 2, although not in the direction you would have expected at the start of the series.

Did you forget your daughter?

Probably the biggest shock and ultimately what sets up the precursor for season 2 is the fact Gi-hun turned his back on the flight that would unite him with a second chance to be a true father to his daughter and instead, head back into Squid game in what looks like a higher purpose to take down the system. While I admire his change of heart and greater purpose to look outward beyond himself – the only other time being his daughter – the inevitability he wasn’t going was easy to see from a mile away. I still couldn’t help but feel the disappointment that even after all he went through, regardless of the money, he turned away the only other family he had and rebuild a life he threw away from his bad habits.

There’s a moment inside after the brawl inside the bunk bed warehouse as they took turns to watch the others what their motivation was to live and win the prize. For Gi-hun it was to be with his daughter and be a true father to her.

I’m sure the revelations stripped all of that away when he saw the salesman play dakkji with another vulnerable man. But still. Your daughter man. Why? Why?! Of course we kind of know in between the lines, but still. Why Gi-hun??

Old Man’s revelation

If you guessed it was the old man all along, you outsmarted the twist in Squid’s game – although there were some glaring ways the series revealed it’s true colours such that the old man was number 1 in the 256 plays that competed. With Gi-hun receiving a message from ‘his kkanbu’, it was only a matter of time Oh Il-nam (the grandpa) showed himself layed on a hospital bed in a private building, looking out to the cold winter and snow road.

It turns out, the old man is an insanely rich man who has reached the end of his life (disclosed when we first see him with his brain tumour), finding emptiness from having anything he wanted and shared that loneliness with other rich clients. Life got boring and so he founded Squid game as a means of entertainment and the ‘feel’ and ‘rush’ of his younger years.

The revelation is not that dumbfounded, but it opens up many questions behind it all: when did he start Squid game, how far does it go with the connections and any potential pay-offs to get this underground, especially as the detective’s brother ends up being the frontman. Police, government who else is ‘in’ on the operation? Why resort to such lengths of dying over the prize money if it’s meant to give a second chance back in society? There are many unknowns around Squid game that I’m sure will be touched upon in Season 2, but to what depth’s we see this (including the VIPs), this I’m fondly curious to learn more about.

Ali Abdul’s Family

While there are many unknowns as to the fate of the other player’s who joined Squid game, I’m sure many of you like myself were horrified at Sang-woo’s betrayal to Ali Abdul in the infamous marble episode. Ali was such a wholesome, pure and kind-hearted player with exploited working conditions and employment, that forced his hand into a terrible incident after arriving in Korea for a better life. That only heightened the emotional investment we had in Ali when he was tricked by Sang-woo after winning fare and square, before getting ‘eliminated’.

We saw prior to his participation he had his wife and baby to look after, giving them money and hurriedly telling his wife to flee back and that he’ll see them there. While many had people outside who cared for them, Ali was one of the most invested characters backstory that you can’t help but wonder if the family is safe. We never got the closure around Ali, while the other’s kind of had some in the aftermath, making his loss much more sudden, direct and emotional. What happened to his wife and baby? Did they make it back safely? Did they ever get message of Ali, or did they wait? The year in between Gi-hun’s time skip, was there any investigation into it? What of his disappearance after getting his boss’ hand crushed in the amchinery?

It’s quite a loose thread but the possibility of delving into Ali’s disappearance from concerned family and the incident at the work could be worked into season 2, but it’s unlikely. Still, his loss was one of the most saddest moments in Squid game, that you cannot deny.

Targeting the vulnerable

When salesman Gong-yoo discloses Gi-hun’s outstanding debts, private information and binding contract to the loan sharks he was running away from, it makes you question how deep does the Squid game system go. Many classified information at their fingertips on carefully chosen individuals who fit the profile of being debt-ridden beyond return, again what may be answered in an eventual season 2, is how many more salesman are there like Gong-yoo. Are they connected to the loan sharks?

Detective’s unknown whereabouts

A big question that lingered near the beginning was detective Hwang Jun-ho’s lack of communication to his partner when he first set to investigate his brother’s disappearance and the unknown card. Series and drama’s like this when in strange situations is to naturally let the other officers known or message being on a mission so they know he was following up a potentially dangerous lead. For all these reason,s it leaves Squid game a little on the more scripted side for events to trigger, although most of the reactions and behaviours aren’t out of the ordinary from then on. It still begs to question why he didn’t check-in prior with his partner at the ferry or just before.

And finally here is a question left unanswered…

Organ Trafficking

Byeong-gi is the doctor (player 111) who also joined Jang Deok-su’s gang in the bed war was secretly working with corrupt guards of the game to harvest and aid in organ trafficking. He joined the same game but I question how or when he was able to set up such a deal with the right kind of guards who have been doing this for awhile. Naturally, I would guess since they know the profile, they can handpick him due to his credentials and set it up, which is what I imagine to be the case, but it’s never fully explored. Everything blows up anyway, but again it ties down to how deep the system goes, who are the buyers of the organ trafficking?

So those are 10 (or 11) questions I had during Squid games that were left unanswered. Sure some are minor, while others are more likely to be addressed in season 2. But there are also some questions that are unlikely to be answered and instead leave holes if you venture deep enough, but not enough to detract from Squid game being a very enthralling series. If you need a refresher, have a read of my review again and be on the look out for more Squid game discussion points!

Please consider supporting my work by contributing any amount as low as $1. This helps to maintain my website costs, development, creation efforts and putting food on the table. Your support is very much appreciated. Keep being awesome! Donate to support my platforms