Squid Game depicts South Korea’s debt crisis contributing to suicide

“Financial difficulties” are the number one reason Koreans think of suicide.

The 9-episode Netflix original TV show, Squid Game, has become a cultural phenomenon. Beyond the record of streaming services For the largest audience.

The show follows a Korean man who has been deeply indebted for the opportunity to compete with more than 450 similarly-debt people and win a total of more than $ 38 million in prize money.

But there’s a twist in the game — the spoilers of the first two episodes of the series here — the player who loses and dies, and the final winner is only one. Even after learning this, the majority of the remaining contestants continue to play, despite the low probability of winning fatal stakes and prizes.

Many viewers and critics of the fictional series praised it for accurately expressing the despair of many Koreans suffering from financial difficulties in the country’s debt crisis.

Based in Newyork An organization made up of Koreans from overseas He pointed out statistics claiming that debt is the main cause of suicide in South Korea.


Are economic problems such as debt the main cause of suicide in South Korea?

Source of information


Yes, the South Korean government has found that “financial difficulties” are the main reason for suicidal ideation among the Koreans surveyed.

What we found

South Korea has the highest suicide rate with 24.6 suicides per 100,000 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)According to, a group of 38 countries with some of the world’s largest economies Organizational data..

The OECD includes many countries such as Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan.

South Korean government found suicide to be the fifth highest Cause of death in 2019..Suicide rates are not high only among the young population, nor are the suicide rates of that population 65 years of age or older Even higher than the country as a whole, 41.7 per 100,000.

The Korean government conducted a survey twice a year The number one reason People in the country consider suicide to be an “economic difficulty.” Respondents identified economics as a reason for suicidal ideation about twice as often as the second most common answer, “physical or mental illness or disability.” About half of respondents between the ages of 40 and 59 said that financial difficulties were the reason they considered suicide.

Household debt is one of the major contributors to these financial difficulties.according to September 2021 According to a report from the Bank of Korea, South Korea’s total household debt is currently 105% of the country’s GDP. GDP measures the value of all goods and services produced in a country, and essentially measures the economic production of that country. That means that the country’s private debt is greater than its economy.

For comparison Federal Reserve US household debt is now 78% of the country’s GDP, which was as high as 99.8% of GDP at the peak of the Great Recession.

OECD pays South Korean household debt Disposable income ratio Is 191%, the seventh largest proportion of member countries. Disposable income is a measure of income after tax. The ratio of household debt to disposable income in the United States is almost half of 105% in South Korea.

Therefore, the despair seen in squid game characters is near home for many Koreans. Even the decisions the character makes to continue the game, even being placed in a “flight or die” situation, reflect the real struggle in South Korea.

If someone you know is exhibiting Suicide warning sign, Or if you are thinking of suicide, call us National suicide prevention lifeline Please call 1-800-273-8255 or consult Another suicide prevention resource..

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Squid Game depicts South Korea’s debt crisis contributing to suicide

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