‘Squid Game’: What Does Gi-hun’s Red Hair Change Symbolize?

The Netflix series Squid Game centers around 456 contestants competing for 456 million won ($38 million). Desperate to erase their financial debt, each player fights to survive the deathmatch. More specifically, Seong Gi-hun (Player 456) joins the game to help pay his mother’s medical bills and stay close to his daughter.

As the sole survivor of the games, Gi-hun makes the bold choice to dye his hair red, leaving viewers confused by the decision. Although the new look received mixed reactions, there is a deeper meaning behind the hairdo.

Seong Gi-hun survives the ‘Squid Game’ competition

Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) and other contestants compete in a deathmatch, consisting of innocent childhood games. As the game progresses, it takes a mental toll on the participants. Some players resort to cheating, manipulation, and even killing each other to eliminate competition.

In the end, Gi-hun is the only player who escapes the games alive. Although he wins the prize money, the guilt of being the sole survivor is too much for him. Still grappling with the guilt, he returns home and finds his mother dead. 

Also, his daughter moved to the U.S with her new family. One year goes by with the prize money untouched. One day, he gets a message from Oh Il-nam, also known as Player 001. Before his death, Oh Il-nam reveals that he was the mastermind behind the game. After learning this information, Gi-hun decides to dye his hair a bold red.

Soon after, Gi-hun fulfills his promise to Song Sae-byeok and Cho Sang-woo. In turn, he takes Sae-byeok’s brother out of foster care and sends him to Sang-woo, giving them half of the prize money. While the hair color change marked a transition for Gi-hun, why did director Hwang Dong-hyuk choose red for his hair color change?

Director Hwang Dong-hyuk explains the meaning behind the red hair change

While the bold hair choice shocked some viewers, there is a deeper meaning behind the color change. In an interview with Zapzee, director Hwang Dong-hyuk shared that the red hair color reflected Gi-hun’s inner rage. 

“I thought about this intuitively, thinking about how Gi-hun should change his hair in a hair salon,” Hwang explained. “I imagined being him and thought to myself, ‘What is the color that you would never choose to dye your hair?’ Then I came to the conclusion that Gi-hun would never dye his hair red. It would be the [most unexpected] thing for him to do. So I chose the color, and I thought it really showed his inner anger.”

In some ways, Gi-hun’s hair change symbolized his rage for the competition. Before he boards the airplane to LA, he calls the number on the Squid Game card. Since the games are still going, Gi-hun wants to shut down the operation for good. So, he stays in South Korea with the initiative to stop the deadly survival game. 

Will there be a ‘Squid Game’ Season 2?

At the moment, there is no Squid Game Season 2 in the works. However, director Hwang Dong-hyuk’s recently told Variety that he would be open to collaborating with other writers.​​“Writing (Squid Game) was harder than normal for me as it was a series, not a film. It took me six months to write and rewrite the first two episodes,” he explained. 

“I don’t have well-developed plans for Squid Game 2,” he added. “It is quite tiring just thinking about it. But if I were to do it, I would certainly not do it alone. I’d consider using a writers’ room and would want multiple experienced directors.”

Squid Game is streaming now on Netflix.

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