Netflix defends Squid Game reality spinoff after ‘war zone’ claims

‘People were getting carried out by medics … One was carried out on a stretcher’

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Netflix is denying accusations from several contestants who claimed they were injured while competing in a reality show based on its popular Squid Game series.

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Several hopefuls recounted their horrific treatment on Squid Game: The Challenge, a spinoff of the popular Emmy-winning program, in interviews with the UK Sun.

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One player alleged, “It was like a war zone. People left in tears.”

Another added, “Even if hypothermia kicked in then people were willing to say for as long as possible because a lot of money was on the line. Too many were determined not to move so they stood there for far too long.

“People were getting carried out by medics, but we couldn’t say anything. If you talk, then you’re out. Some people couldn’t move their feet because it was too cold.”

Participants allegedly had to stand for 30 minutes between takes. “Some were crawling by the end,” one person charged. “One was carried out on a stretcher … You could hear someone yell ‘medic.’”

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Hundreds of contenders were eliminated on the first day of shooting in Britain.

“There were people arriving thinking they were going to be millionaires but they left in tears.”

But Netflix fired back against the accusations appearing in the tabloid, calling the claims “untrue.”

“We care about the health and safety of our cast and crew, and invested in all the appropriate safety procedures. While it was very cold on set — and participants were prepared for that — any claims of serious injury are untrue,” a spokesperson for the streamer, and its producing partners Studio Lambert and The Garden, said in a statement to Postmedia.

According to Variety, fewer than five competitors required medics on the set, with one candidate injuring their shoulder after accidentally running into a wall. An unspecified number of others were treated for mild ailments.

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Like the survival series it is based on, the upcoming reality show finds 456 contestants from across the globe competing in challenges to take home US$4.65 million.

Squid Game, which became one of Netflix’s most-watched shows ever in 2021, told the story of a divorced father and losing gambler (Lee Jung-jae) who takes part in a contest alongside 456 cash-strapped losers. In a desperate bid to win life-changing prize money, they engage in deadly schoolyard games with the losers being executed.

In announcing the spinoff last summer, Netflix promised players that the “worst fate is going home empty-handed.”

“For this round, the Front Man is in search of English-language speakers from any part of the world,” a release said, a reference to the overseer of the drama’s deadly tournament.

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This handout image courtesy of Netflix shows a scene of South Korea’s “Squid Game.”
This handout image courtesy of Netflix shows a scene of South Korea’s “Squid Game.” Photo by YOUNGKYU PARK

The alleged injuries on the set of Squid Game: The Challenge happened when contestants were recreating the Red Light, Green Light game which featured in the show’s premiere episode.

In that contest, contestants had to make it across a finish line when a giant robotic doll wasn’t looking. If she turned around and spotted them moving, they were killed. It was during this segment that characters realized just how deadly the game was.

In the reality version, players, of course, didn’t die, but Britain’s ongoing cold snap apparently proved to be too much for some hopefuls to take — only 228 made it through the first round.

In addition to the reality spinoff, Netflix is panning a second season of the hit thriller.

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