Squid Game: What would Player 067 do on Jeju Island?
In the hit Korean Netflix series Squid Game, a young woman (Player 067) dreams of moving to Jeju Island with her family — if she wins. Many people share her aspiration to settle down on their own piece of paradise.
- Squid GameWhat would Player 067 do on Jeju Island?
(Photo : Netflix)
If you enjoyed the hit Korean Netflix series Squid Game, then you’ll know how Player 067, a young woman named Kang Sae-byeok (Jung Ho-yeon), dreams of moving to Jeju Island with her family — if she wins. Sae-byeok says she saw Jeju on TV, and thought that it “looked exotic and nothing like [mainland] Korea.”
In fact many people in Korea share Sae-byeok’s aspiration to live in a peaceful, rural setting, especially since the majority live in apartments in urban areas. Their dream is to settle down on their own piece of paradise.
Jeju Island fits this description perfectly.
About an hour’s flight from Seoul, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province is located roughly 100 kilometers off the south coast of South Korea. It has an area of just 1,833㎢, or about 1.83 percent of the total territory of South Korea. Largely a rural province with two main cities and seven townships, it is home to nearly 700,000 residents.
Jeju is a designated Biosphere Reserve, a member of the Global Geopark Network and the proud steward of many precious UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites. In 2016 the culture of the Jeju diving women, or haenyeo, was recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Jeju was once the Kingdom of Tamna. It had its own rich history, culture, and language. In particular, the island’s women are known for having taken leadership roles in society back when Korea (and the world) was overwhelmingly patriarchal.
Millions of domestic visitors come here on weekends and during their holidays, particularly with the benefit of many low cost airlines offering round trip flights for under $100. They enjoy the island’s uncrowded beaches, its art museums and galleries, the network of 26 Jeju Olle walking trails, hiking in Hallasan National Park, spending time at its bustling cafes and restaurants, and staying in luxury hotels and quaint B&Bs.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, international visitors from 180 countries could use the province’s no-visa policy to fly directly to Jeju International Airport and stay up to 30 days without any red tape. Many of these travelers come to Jeju from Southeast Asia to experience snow for the first time!
(Photo : Netflix)
Bio | Player 067 | Kang Sae-byeok
- Originally from North Korea
- Needs money to pay a broker to bring her mother to South Korea and retrieve her little brother who is in an orphanage
- Had to turn to crime to survive in society
- Stoic and emotionally distant, her troubled life has left her unable to trust others
- Dreams of a quiet, peaceful life after reuniting with her family
(Photo : Netflix)
So, without revealing any spoilers about the series, let’s try a fun thought experiment, shall we?
Based on what you know of Sae-byeok’s backstory and her predicament, where in Jeju (click on the “Select on Map” button) do you think she would like to live with her family?
Would she prefer living next to the vast, soothing ocean? Or would she rather build a secluded cabin in the forest? Perhaps she’d want to start her own business, maybe a café by sea?
Here are just a few ideas for life on Jeju Island presented in no particular order: geographical areas and activities that Sae-byeok may have seen on TV.
- Surfing daily at Jungmun Beach
- Growing mandarins in a citrus orchard
- Running a local café at Baksugijeong Cliff
- Farming in the area around Songaksan Mountain
- Starting her own art gallery
- Operating a guest house/pension
This isn’t the first time Jeju Island is referenced or used in a Netflix drama.
Kingdom: Ashin of the North, a “sidequel” of the main series, was released in July 2021. Set in the Joseon Dynasty, it covers the backstory of Ashin (Jun Ji-hyun), the mysterious heir of the Northern Seongjeoyain tribe.
The producers needed access to many pristine locations to convey a sense of life many hundreds of years ago on the Korean peninsula. Naturally they turned to Jeju Island to provide an untouched natural setting.
(Photos : Netflix)
The Jeju locations used included Meochewat Forest in the southern village of Hannam. Interestingly Meochewat in the Jeju language means “forest of rocks and trees,” and they filmed its atmospheric groves of cedar trees and dense, green undergrowth to full effect. A scene in which poachers hunted a tiger was filmed in another southern forest near Uigwi Village.
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