- Sarah A
Round 6 It is anything but a typical Korean TV series and sugar water.
In a scathing nod to life in South Korea today, viewers learn of a tale of violence, betrayal and despair.
This is all about a series of gruesome games in which players fight to the death.
Despite the extremely violent content, Round 6 It attracted audiences around the world, becoming the most watched series on Netflix in at least 90 countries.
The drama takes viewers on a thrilling journey over nine episodes, as a group of people mired in debt and personal adversity engage in a series of six survival games, inspired by traditional South Korean children’s games.
The losers will die through a relentless elimination process, and the only winner will receive 46.5 billion KRW (about 214 million R$).
The first episodes reveal the circumstances that led to the central characters losing everything.
The viewer is offered a series of very different lives, but each of them is mired in debt and misery.
A man who becomes unemployed and then becomes indebted to failed businesses and gambles joins a failed fund manager.
An elderly man dying of cancer plays alongside a North Korean defector.
A Pakistani migrant worker and gangster, along with hundreds of other equally unhappy people who have fallen out of favor with South Korean capitalism, are betting everything they can.
Round 6 Joining the recent South Korean film productions, notably the 2020 Oscar-winning film, parasiteBy directing a scathing critique of the social and economic inequality that has plagued the lives of many citizens of the country.
More specifically, he talks about the worsening crisis of family indebtedness affecting the middle and lower classes.
debt and inequality
Household indebtedness in South Korea has increased sharply in recent years, reaching more than 100% of GDP – the highest in Asia.
The country’s richest 20% have a net worth of 166 times that of the poorest 20%, a disparity that has increased by 50% since 2017.
There has been a rise in debt to income and a recent rise in interest rates.
This situation has left in a more precarious position even those who do not have the resources to deal with unexpected events, such as sudden separation or illness in the family.
The Gini index, which measures the distribution of national wealth, places South Korea at roughly the same level as the United Kingdom – and in a better position than the United States.
However, rising youth unemployment, soaring real estate prices, and a global pandemic have reversed the modest decline in inequality seen in recent years under Moon Jae-in’s progressive government.
And the debt is not just for families to pay for housing and education – a key expense for the middle class hoping to ensure their children can go to university.
In August, the South Korean government announced new lending restrictions aimed at reducing debt among young people.
Millennials and those in their 30s owe the most in terms of their income.
But attempts to restrict borrowing have led some people to turn to lenders with higher costs and higher risks.
This choice leaves many at the mercy of debt collectors who, if there is a slight change in circumstances, will not be able to make the payments.
Although a few of them may find themselves in the hands of gangsters who threaten to take their organs for sale, as shown in Round 6The massive debt burden is a profound social problem – not to mention the leading cause of suicide in South Korea.
Winners and losers
embedding in Round 6 Another figure representing disadvantaged minorities in South Korea highlights the consequences of social and economic inequality for these groups as well.
The ruthless exploitation by the employer of a migrant worker factory forced into the game presents impediments to upward mobility for those living in South and Southeast Asia.
North Korean defectors also emerge as individuals who must fight on multiple fronts to achieve financial stability and social inclusion.
The series parodies Christianity, frequently expressing the growing shift in public opinion about the rapid development of South Korea during the 1970s and 1980s and its relationship to the growth of the church at the time.
A so-called Protestant work ethic was the cornerstone of the economic “miracle” of South Korea’s authoritarian era, as three decades of ambitious economic plans transformed the country into a high-income economy.
Throughout this period, universal success was seen as a sign of blessing and the great churches were at their peak.
However, corruption was rife among politicians and families. chaebol (Massive business groups dominated by the family) They served as elders of the church while embezzling money and building their own empires.
Not surprisingly, disillusionment with some members of the political and ecclesiastical elite has led many in an increasingly secular country to challenge the sincerity of Christianity’s claim to serve the poor and persecuted in South Korea.
Of course, this is not an exclusive story for South Korea.
People from different communities around the world can learn about the characters in Round 6its problems and humanity.
Economies similar to South Korea face many of the same challenges, which have been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic.
Round 6 He brutally reminds the winners of each stage, and the series’ global audience, that those who succeed often succeed at the expense of those who fail because of weakness, discrimination, bad decision, or mere misfortune.
The last episode suggests the possibility of a second season but even if it doesn’t last, Round 6 It shows that the bigger story the series represents isn’t over yet.
* Sarah A. Son is Professor of Korean Studies at the University of Sheffield, UK.
This article was originally published on the academic news site The Conversation and is republished here under a Creative Commons license. Read the original version here (In English).
You have seen our new videos on Youtube? Subscribe to our channel!
“Incurable web fan. Typical food enthusiast. Award-winning twitter expert. Tvaholic.”