In Squid Game, participants are given a business card. On one side are PlayStation-like icons, and on the other is a phone number to call. The number, however, is real.
When phone numbers appear in Hollywood movies, they typically begin with “555,” which is a phony phone prefix. The reason why this fake number is used is that people will call.
The creators of Squid Game thought the number in the show was safe because, as Koreaboo explains, the first three digits of the number were removed. However, since the last eight digits were provided, it was possible to phone the number as a local call, and the number would connect automatically without the first three digits. That is, if that exact same number actually existed.
It does. The owner has been receiving thousands of phone calls since the show debuted on September 17.
“After Squid Game aired, I have been receiving calls and texts endlessly, 24/7, to the point that it’s hard for me to go on with daily life,” the phone number’s real owner told Money Today via Koreaboo. “This is a number that I’ve been using for more than ten years, so I’m quite taken aback. There are more than 4,000 numbers that I’ve had to delete from my phone (viewers) and it’s to the point where due to people reaching out without a sense of day and night due to their curiosity, my phone’s battery is drained and turns off. At first I didn’t know why, but my friend told me that my number came out in Squid Game and that’s when I realised.”
Koreaboo explains that there could be privacy violations and legal ramifications for Netflix.
The phone number’s owner has said that it is impossible to live a normal life with the incessant phone calls, with people ringing to say they want to join the game. She has told local South Korean media that she cannot change her number because she uses it for work to contact clients. According to Reuters, the owner has turned down an offer of one million won ($US842 ($1,154)) in compensation. She has since been apparently offered five million won ($US4,178 ($5,727)).
According to The Korea Times, another person with a number that is only one digit different from the one in the series has also been receiving a slew of calls, stating, “The stress from incessant prank calls is driving me crazy.”
Netflix Korea announced that it will edit the phone number in the series and is asking viewers not to call the current number. “Together with the production company, we are working to resolve this matter, including editing scenes showing the phone number where necessary,” stated Netflix Korea.
The Korea Times reports that Netflix Korea did not comment on the status of compensation for the phone number’s real owner.