Is Netflix Riding the Korean Wave or Vice Versa?| Squid Game as a Levinasian Morality Tale: The Ethics of Alterity and Empathy in a Survival-Game Narrative

Hye Seung Chung


This study seeks to provide an alternative interpretation of Squid Game as a Levinasian text about ethical choices made by the protagonist and his relationships with two other finalists including a North Korean defector. Challenging both popular and critical readings of Squid Game as a morally ambiguous or even harmful text that might have detrimental effects on impressionable young viewers, the author contends that Squid Game is covertly an ethical text that espouses Emmanuel Levinas’s theory of “for-the-other” subjectivity and “infinite responsibility” for the other under the guise of an exploitative and misanthropic “death game” narrative.


Squid Game, Hwang Dong-hyuk, Netflix, Emmanuel Levinas, North Korean defectors, the Holocaust, ethics, game theory

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