The Netflix hit has come back but this time with a reality game show spin-off seeing 456 real players battle it out for a $4.56m (£3.66m) prize fund – one of the biggest cash prizes in TV history.
“It felt like it was real – it didn’t feel like you were in a fictional place,” contestant Lorenzo Nobilio, 26, told BBC News.
Describing it as the physically hardest game on the show, the London-based Italian said: “I made it past the line in seven hours, that was a very long time, but it’s called Squid Game: The Challenge, it’s not an all-inclusive holiday in the Canary Islands.”
The show made headlines earlier this year, when people received medical treatment during filming and contestants complained about the cold conditions amid freezing UK weather.
“It was no worse than many unscripted shows, if you look at Survivor or SAS: Who Dares Wins,” claimed executive producer Stephen Lambert of Studio Lambert, the production company also behind hit game show The Traitors.
“When you are giving away a huge prize, it was always clear it was going to be a tough show to take part in.”
That huge prize attracted applications from 81,000 people from around the globe, before they were whittled down to 456 seemingly normal people – unlike fellow Netflix reality competition show Physical: 100, which gathered a hundred South Korean competitors at peak fitness, including national athletes and bodybuilders.
Producers are waiting to see if it indeed does win over audiences.
“It’s amazing to make something which comes off the back of a show as popular as Squid Game,” Hay adds. “That’s the ultimate in head starts.”
Squid Game: The Challenge is available on Netflix from Wednesday 22 November.
The Dalgona Candy from the original makes a return in Squid Game: The Challenge