How Netflix’s Squid Game created an astonishing, viral world

Squid Game: Only one can survive.

When you read that, does it bring back terrifying memories of playing dodgeball at high school? The race for an iPhone at the last Cyber Monday sale? Or perhaps it even reminds you of the time you had to fight off a few colleagues to land a new client account. All very real possibilities.

Image: Netflix

But, what about surviving a killer contest to win millions of dollars? Only if you’re binge-watching the Korean survival drama brought to life with English dubbing by the Squid Game voice actors. A host of vocal talent that’s dropped jaws and hooked viewers worldwide.

But the idea of a lone survivor has been around for ages like in Hell’s Kitchen and Survivor. So, what makes Squid Game so astonishing, since it’s completely fictional? 

Let’s hit pause for a second.

If you’re wondering why we’re talking about Squid Game, the real question you should ask is ‘what can we learn from Squid Game’s virality?’

So allow us to draw back the curtains to reveal why millions can’t stop watching the show, how the Squid Game voice actors extended its global reach, and how it can have a viral impact on your next project!

But first, where did Squid Game begin?

Korean dramas have been around for decades. For as long as you’ve been watching TV, they’ve been airing, although romance is the usual go-to storyline. But it’s like how the iPhone has to keep adapting. 10, 11, 12, 13 … People don’t buy smartphones just to make calls and send texts anymore. They want to be mind-blown by a bigger, water-proof screen, and ultra HD camera!  

That’s exactly what sets Squid Game apart! It’s not your typical K-drama. 

Its roots are set in the kind of deep, economic crisis that lands many into crushing debt. Not just the nonchalant ‘I owe you’ or the usual credit card bills after a vacation. This is a serious black hole of debt that a person just can’t escape. And while it’s 100% Korean, who can’t relate to being in debt? In real life, typical solutions are a second job, a third job, a loan, and another mortgage. But in the world of TV, imagination has no bounds. 

3 things that helped Squid Game go viral

1. Suspense.

There’s nothing that we enjoy more than the feeling of not knowing what comes next. Even if we love to make predictions like, ‘He’s gonna propose! She’s so gonna win this case! I bet you he’ll make a mess out of this deal!’ With Squid Game, nothing is predictable, which makes it so irresistible. Hundreds of people, only one survivor, and millions of dollars. The stakes have never been higher. 

2. The simplicity of the games.

Remember the immunity games in Survivor? Well, Squid Game is the polar opposite! Contestants have to survive killer versions of popular playground games. While they are Korean, you’re bound to find yourself saying ‘Oh, I remember playing something like that!’ And to win, they have to rely on their childhood, so the chances of survival are the highest for the kid who ruled the playground. 

3. Believable characters.

Some of the main cast stand out for their intensity and screen chemistry. Their backstories clearly weren’t written in just for context; it all adds to the drama and believability. If you rooted for Katniss Everdeen for trying to save her sister, Luke Skywalker’s search for his father, or Neo’s sacrifice to help The Matrix, prepare yourself to form serious character attachments. 

Squid Game voice actors

Image: Netflix

Being a Korean show, the first thought global audiences might have is ‘I don’t speak Korean,’ which is true for millions of Netflix subscribers. Cue subbing vs dubbing, a topic we’ve covered extensively. 

While there’s an ongoing discussion about subtitles maintaining the original language, in this case the English dubbing by the Squid game voice actors helps hold the suspense and cinematic integrity of the show. Especially since the games are so fast-paced. If you blink, you could miss it. Or in this case, if you read, you could miss it. Dubbing also makes it easier to watch the show without losing its full depth and intensity. 

But dubbing with awkward pauses, sync issues, or character misalignments is the worst. It makes you wanna pull your hair out and throw the remote at the TV as you yell, ‘Come on! That doesn’t sound anything like this character!’ That’s because your mind automatically creates a voice in your head that the dubbing has to live up to. but that’s where the squid game voice actors save the dubbing day. 

While it doesn’t sound exactly like the original Korean voice, it’s an incredibly professional performance by an AAPI cast (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders). And their sound adds a distinct authenticity to the original characters. 

Who are the Squid Game English dub cast

The Squid Game English dub cast is a combined group of versatile voice actors. And each one used their extensive vocal skills to personify the numerous vocal nuances that made this Korean show a global success. Here are 5 of the main cast members that made the English dub possible.

Who voices Gi-hun Seong

Greg Chun voices Gi-hun Seong. Squid Game’s fan-favorite protagonist, who’s a gambling addict trying to turn his luck around. Chun who is best known for English-dubbed anime and video games like the Yakuza video game series franchise had to balance Gi-hun’s vocal desperation to win the games and take custody of his daughter with his overall struggle to simply survive. Drawing on his intense vocal skills Chun did an exceptional job expressing various on-screen nuances. From the emotional and somewhat teary-eyed scenes Gi-hun shared with his daughter to screaming himself raw in the exhilarating horse racing gambling scenes.

Who voices Sang-Woo Cho

Stephen Fu voices Sang-woo Cho. A complicated character who’s highly educated and on the run from the police for stealing his clients’ money. With numerous English dubbed animes under his belt including several well-known K-Dramas like Love Alarm, Fu drew on his extensive vocal talents to accurately depict Sang-woo’s sarcasm, and wit, which was an exact match to the on-screen deadpan delivery. Additionally, Fu used his voice to illustrate Sang-woo’s calculating and pragmatic character capturing the dynamic moments when he betrays friendships that eventually turned into rivals and finally adversaries.

Who voices Sae-byeok Kang

Vivian Lu voices Sae-byeok or player 067, a female North Korean defector who enters the games to help rescue her parents from across the border. Lu is best recognized for her work in Mulan, and major video games like Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Her English dub accentuates the trauma Sae-byeok endures and her inspirational struggle to survive for her family. Paying crucial vocal attention to touching moments like trusting Gi-hun to care for her brother.

Who voices Jun-ho Hwang

Donald Chang voices Jun-ho Hwang, a police detective disguised as a guard who sneaks into the game to find his missing brother. Some of Chang’s past credits include hit shows like ABC’s “For Life”, and HBO’s “High Maintenance.” In Squid Game, Chang voices a detective on a mission. One who is skilled enough to maintain his composure and calm even during stressful situations, something Chang consistently stresses using multiple vocal nuances throughout the season.

Who voices Ali Abdul

Rama Vallury voices Ali Abdul, an immigrant worker entering the games to support his wife and young son. Vallury has been a voice over artist since 2011 recording for companies like Audible, GoDaddy and WHO. His Squid Game character Ali although the most kind-hearted among all the players is also emotional and naive. And Vallury does a bang-up job of expressing Abdul’s tenderness and naivety in various scenes from saving Gi-hu during the first game to trusting unwisely in Sang-woo which eventually leads to his death.

Closing thoughts on Squid Game

Has Squid Game started a new revolution of fictional survival shows? Will the fanfare die down after a few weeks? And will it finally settle the subbing vs dubbing debate? Time will tell. 

For now, everyone’s upped the ante at game night so you’ll need to bring more than soda and nachos! And if you’re tired of waiting for season 4 of Stranger Things, you’ve got something to kill the time, quite literally. 

But what if you’re neck-deep in a new project? Then, why not try adding an element of suspense in your storytelling to grip your audience? Or add some depth with authentic voice acting. Did you know that the voice actors on Voice123 can choose from over 100 languages to perform in? With that kind of range, you’ll certainly find the best pro to suit your project! 

So, now that you know how to turn your brand into an astonishing, viral world, what are you waiting for? And we wish you every success as you create a believable story, capture the intensity, and bring it all to life with professional voice acting. 

Let the games begin! 


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