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If you loved Netflix’s Squid Game (pictured), check out these six other gritty survival-themed K-dramas and films, including one with contestant No. 456 himself, Lee Jung-jae.

Liked Squid Game on Netflix? 6 other K-drama survival series and Korean death game movies you should seek out and watch

  • Like Squid Game, Hellbound sees people pushed to their limits through an extreme situation where they begin to show their true and often despicable colours
  • Movie Death Bell sees 20 students thrown into a nightmarish situation in which the life of one of their own depends on their ability to answer exam questions
K-drama news

Chances are that by now you’ve seen Squid Game.

The sensationally popular death game series recently became the first Korean drama to top Netflix’s global rankings – and Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos believes it has “a very good chance” of becoming the platform’s top-rated show ever.

But now that you’ve seen it, what’s next? Netflix Korea has a few other recent and upcoming options definitely worth considering.

While Squid Game is the first death game title to hit Korean television, the Korea film industry has churned out a number of gritty survival-game-themed titles over the years, including one starring contestant No. 456 himself, Lee Jung-jae, playing another protagonist forced to play a deadly game.

Squid Game: Netflix survival K-drama is wickedly entertaining

1. Hellbound (2021)

The first drama series from Yeon Sang-ho, the hit director behind Train to Busan, Hellbound won’t be available until November 18, but the series has already wowed viewers and critics alike at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the first three episodes had their world premiere.

In a dystopian version of Seoul, Yoo Ah-in plays the mysterious leader of a cult that rises to prominence when demons appear on Earth and drag sinners down to hell.

Like Squid Game, Hellbound sees people pushed to their limits through an extreme situation where they begin to show their true and often despicable colours. Tension ripples through the story as several characters investigate this supernatural phenomenon, as apparitions come before sinners, warning them of the time of their deaths, at which point demons violently attack them.

2. Sweet Home (2020)

A group of characters from different walks of life find themselves stuck in a building, facing off against powerful foes, and eventually each other. Sound familiar? This premise could describe either Squid Game or Sweet Home, the horror-action Netflix drama that debuted late last year.

Song Kang and Lee Si-young lead the cast as two of the residents of a dilapidated block of flats that finds its doors shut to the outside when monsters appear, hell-bent on wiping out humanity.

The creatively designed monsters are one of the major selling points of the show, as each of the creatures, originally humans, take on different forms depending on the personalities and personal problems of the people they used to be.

3. Big Match (2014)

Seven years before Squid Game, Lee Jung-jae was fighting for his life on screen in another death game for the pleasure of a rich and powerful elite. In Big Match he plays former MMA star Choi Ik-ho, whose older brother, who is also his coach, disappears.

When Ik-ho becomes a suspect in his brother’s murder, he receives a call from Ace, played by Beyond Evil actor Shin Ha-kyun, the mastermind behind a survival game designed for the amusement of high-paying customers, who bet on players to succeed.
A still from Big Match.

To save his brother, Ik-ho takes part in the game and its many dangerous missions and opponents in the streets in Seoul.

4. The Devil’s Game (2008)

Shin Ha-kyun also appeared in the earlier film The Devil’s Game, in which he plays a struggling artist who is offered three billion won (US$2.5 million) if he’s willing to bet his life in a game against a rich old man, played by Byun Hee-bong, the grandfather in Bong Joon-ho’s The Host.

A still from The Devil’s Game.

The game is simple: each must call a random number and guess if the person who answers is a man or a woman. The young man loses the game and wakes up after a month-long procedure to find that they have traded bodies in this twisted thriller.

5. Death Bell (2008)

High-school-set horror films have long been popular in South Korea but, in 2008, some new life was breathed into the genre through Death Bell, which turned the hallowed halls of learning into a deadly gameboard.

Twenty top students are taking part in a special class for the university entrance exams. With the rest of the students at home, the pupils think they are alone in the school with their teachers – but in the middle of class, music suddenly comes on the speakers and the television turns on.

A still from Death Bell.

They’re shocked to see a fellow student trapped in a tank with rising water when a voice crackles through the sound system, asking them an exam question. If they give the wrong answer, their classmate dies. And so begins their life-or-death exam.

6. A Million (2009)

Park Hae-il, Shin Min-a, Lee Min-ki and Jung Yu-mi all had early roles in the survival game action-thriller A Million. They play four of the eight characters who have signed on to compete in a reality television show for the chance to win a billion won.

They need only survive for seven days in the Australian Outback to claim the prize. But, after a contestant winds up dead on the second day, they begin to realise they’ve been pitted against each other in a deadly game set up by a deranged director seeking to avenge his wife’s death.

A still from A Million.
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