A hotel in South Korea and a private company got together to organise a real-life Squid Game event offering a 5 million won (S$5,700) prize money.
But the government stepped in and forced its cancellation — not because people will be killed, but due to social distancing restrictions still in place.
The bizarre story out of the northeast Asian country has highlighted how its pop culture has been just as highly infectious during this pandemic, becoming a global force to be reckoned with.
Was slated to happen
The Korea Times reported the event was tentatively set for Oct. 24, and would have been called, "Saint Game".
More than 1,100 applications signed up in two days when registration opened on Monday, Oct. 11.
The registration fee was 10,000 won (S$11.40) for those making reservations in advance and 12,000 won (S$13.70) for on-site ticketing.
To be held in a hotel
St John's Hotel in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, which was slated to host the event, said it was open to everyone of all ages and not just for hotel guests.
Making it as real as the show as possible
Visitors who made a reservation could expect to receive a business card showing the game organiser’s phone number written on it.
This would be similar to how players in the show were recruited to take part in the dystopian games.
Participants will then play four games as seen in the series in a pine tree forest near the hotel.
1. "The Mugungwha flower has bloomed" ("Red Light, Green Light")
2. Tug of war
3. Paper tile flipping ("ttakji chigi")
4. "Dalgona challenge" (flat sugar candy)
Those who do not follow the rules or fail to show up will be eliminated but will not be killed.
The identity of the host of the game will be revealed at the end — just like the Netflix series.
Major hiccup: Local government preventing hotel from holding game
However, the city government of Gangneung issued the hotel an administrative order to not carry out the event as it violates the current social distancing regulations.
The province currently only allows eight people for a private gathering and disallows an accommodation facility from holding an event.
The government order came on Wednesday, Oct. 13, when the event was fully booked two days into registration.
Will not go ahead
The hotel initially said it was discussing if the event should be cancelled, or have its format changed to not violate social distancing regulations.
By Thursday, Oct. 14, the hotel announced it would refund those enrolled in the event, The Korea Herald reported.
The hotel is issuing refunds.
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