Net-Fluxed Korea: Squid Game, Acting in/on the Logic of Platform Economy

Net-Fluxed Korea: Squid Game, Acting in/on the Logic of Platform Economy promotional image

The Korean Studies Research Network, an International Programs affinity group, presents this virtual talk featuring Dr. Seung-hwan Shin of the University of Pittsburgh.

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Reflecting on the global success of Squid Game (Hwang Dong-hyuk, 2021) and its reinvention of the death game genre, this talk explores both the opportunities and challenges presented by new media systems, particularly global video streaming platforms, for local creators.

Netflix, renowned for decentralized approaches and departure from corporate-driven and center-to-local strategies in traditional media, allows for greater financial and creative freedom for local creators. However, concerns have arisen over Netflix’s dominance in local media landscapes and the overreliance of local creators on the platform giant, which would eventually lead to the demise of local media.

In exploring the rise of Netflix as the leading global platform, with a particular focus on its success in Korea, this talk thus aims first to articulate the double-edged nature of platform economy. In the latter part of the talk, attention shifts towards Squid Game itself, focusing on how it creatively adapted to the platform culture and how it questions contemporary capitalism through an innovative investment in the trope of survival game, where participants voluntarily enter the death game, rendering values such as free will empty promises.

Highlighting the show’s own dilemma between its anti-capitalist ethos and its success on Netflix, this talk also addresses the broader irony of resistance within the logic of platform economy that local production faces as the platform ecosystem continues to expand.

Dr. Shin is a teaching associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh. He teaches Korean film and culture in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. His recent work includes Nose Nose Nose EYES!: Korean Horror and Naturalist Sensibility, Monstrum 5.2 (2022), "Singing through Impossible Modernization: Sopyonje and National Cinema in the Era of Globalization" in Andrew Jackson ed. The Two Koreas and Their Global Engagements (2022) and “Korea, the Land of the Living Dead: The Biopolitics of the Korean Zombie Apocalypse,” Metamorphosis 1 (2021). He is currently working on a book project, Disenchanted Times, Reenchanted Cinema: New Korean Cinema Reframed.

The Korean Studies Research Network aims to bring together scholars whose research focuses on Korea-related topics and to provide mentoring to the younger generation of scholars. It serves as a platform to facilitate collaborative and interdisciplinary research among scholars and graduate students at the University of Iowa and institutions of higher education in the Midwest through seminars, speaker series, and workshops.

This event is made possible through generous support from the Korea Foundation.

Thursday, November 2, 2023 5:00pm to 6:30pm
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Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Daniel Vorwerk in advance at 319-467-1619 or