Study Buddy (Explorer): Squid Game phone number turns out to be real; Netflix changes the digits shown in the series

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  • Check your reading comprehension using the questions below or in the linked Kahoot! game
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Squid Game is a hit Korean series that has topped Netflix’s charts in countries around the world. Photo: Reuters

Content provided by the British Council

Read the following text and answer questions 1-9 below:

[1] A South Korean presidential hopeful offered 100 million won (US$85,000) to buy the phone number of a person who reported being bombarded with calls and messages after it was shown in the Netflix series Squid Game.

[2] Huh Kyung-young announced his bid for presidency in August. In September, he said on Facebook: “I heard that the owner of the phone number [shown] on a business card in Squid Game is suffering serious damage from prank calls. I would like to buy the number for 100 million won.”

[3] The Korean series has topped the charts of the global streaming service in many countries. In the show, a mysterious man played by actor Gong Yoo gives business cards with a phone number to the main character Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) and others. He tells them to call the number if they want to join the game, where participants bet their lives to win a huge amount of money.

[4] It seems some viewers called or sent text messages to that number. But it turned out that the phone number was not made up for the show. It does exist, and the owner said it was difficult to continue with normal life because of the endless calls, both day and night.

[5] The person said viewers were calling about 4,000 times a day. At first, the owner of the number was not aware of the Netflix series and thought these were spam calls. The person only found out what was going on after a caller explained that the show had used the number.

[6] Some calls came from people who sounded like children, saying they also “wanted to be in the game”. Some called at 1am, 2am and 3am, and sent messages and pictures.

[7] The owner of the number said the eight digits were linked with their business, and they had used the number for 10 years. The person claimed that even their spouse had the same number except for the last digit and was suffering. The phone number owner was even using sleeping pills to sleep during this stressful situation.

[8] According to The Guardian, the eight-digit number that appears in the show was replaced with a six-digit version in early October.
Source: Korea Times; September 28


Play a Kahoot! game about this story as a class or with your friends by clicking on the link here.

Or play on your own below to test your understanding:

1. What is a “presidential hopeful”?
A. a president who is very positive and full of hope
B. someone who is extremely hopeful
C. someone who is aiming to be president
D. an optimistic person who works for the government

2. How much is Huh Kyung-young willing to pay for the phone number?

3. How does the owner of the phone number feel about receiving the phone calls according to paragraph 2?
A. stressed
B. scared
C. amused
D. excited

4. In the Netflix series Squid Game, what do participants have to do to join the game according to paragraph 3?

5. What might some viewers have realised when they tried to call the phone number in the show?

6. Why can’t the owner of the phone number continue with normal life according to paragraph 4?
A. because of the non-stop phone calls
B. because the owner’s business was failing
C. because the owner started watching Squid Game
D. none of the above

7. According to paragraph 5, was the owner of the phone number a fan of Squid Game before people started calling, and why? (2 marks)

8. Read paragraphs 6 and 7, and decide whether the following statements about the owner of the phone number are True, False or Not Given in the text.
(i) The phone number’s owner has received calls from people offering an invite to their game.
(ii) The owner of the number gets the most phone calls between 2am and 3am.
(iii) The phone number of the owner’s spouse has changed.
(iv) This person has used the same number for more than five years.

9. How has Netflix solved the problem according to paragraph 8?
A. by giving the person a new phone number
B. by giving the person 100 million won
C. by replacing Squid Game with a different show
D. none of the above

Netflix’s Squid Game has become so popular that parents in South Korea are bringing their children to pose for photos with a doll from the show. Photo: Reuters


1. C
2. 100 million won / HK$664,245 / US$85,000 (any 1)
3. A
4. call the phone number on the business card
5. that it belongs to a normal person / that it was not made up for the show (any 1)
6. A
7. No, because the owner had not been aware of the Netflix series when the calls first started coming in
8. (i) F; (ii) NG; (iii) NG; (iv) T
9. D

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