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In Squid Game, we see that a standard method of recruitment for the titular lethal competition is playing an extended game with candidates in highly surveilled subway stations, which seems to involve a priori suspicious activities such as publicly and repeatedly slapping a well-dressed businessperson in the face, after which they actually hand out their business cards. Presumably, many more people go through these stages than actually join the game in the end.

We see that the organization is perfectly willing to let players go if a majority vote no, and we see this happen. We also see that they make little effort to prevent players from telling the authorities, which in fact does directly lead to a police officer investigating. Especially since they drop players off together, they certainly could not rely on everyone making wild and uncorroborated allegations as Seong Gi-hun did (as opposed to two people saying that a well-dressed man promised them money then kidnapped them, say). Certainly, they have little means of preventing people from telling their friends or family.

We also see that by the end of each year's competition, they kill a number of people that seems to be equal to a non-trivial chunk of South Korea's actual adult missing persons cases.

Further, the guards are sufficiently poorly vetted that they can tell international organ traffickers about the location of the island and hand off organs to them without the organization noticing. Finally, we see that they let one person go every year with sufficient money and reasons to potentially cause some trouble for them.

With all these potential leaks, how do the organization and its games stay secret?

4

It's unreasonable. It pure fantasy and zero chance this would last more than a few weeks if that.

  1. First there are cameras all over the place that would track all of the vans after they gathered people.
  2. In that region it would also be very very easy to track the ship.
  3. The contestants would for sure blab. But they would for SURE try to get back at the workers. So even this isn't reality but I would tell you what this would be if it were me...
  • If I am in good graces with cops, we set up a sting, follow the vans, arrest everyone. After that boss/island shut down.
  • If you want to get into a sub-movie fantasy and I am a "bad guy cops don't trust"... Well I know the guys are picking me up. I hold them hostage at gunpoint with other friends and "contestants". We then kill all the guys on the boat. Take the boat to the island and kill the leader and take the money.
  1. There is nothing keeping the workers happy. Unless a new sub-plot where the main boss has something over on every worker (threatens to kill their family), then why would they stay there? They can get killed at any time, they sit in an empty room all night, cameras on them, would get busted for murder... no sense at all.

The premise is fantasy because with that large of scale it would be leaked and found in a week or two. Sure you could kidnap random people (5-10 a month maybe) if you are super clever. But you can't re-release them and just nothing.

The biggest flaw in the believability of the plot is that they portray the contestants as pretty smart, down on their luck (in debt) and kind of criminal. So you are telling me 250 criminals who want to win money for competing here and can openly say where they live and who they are (can conspire on outside) would rather play random games for cash rather than take over the workers, break into island and take cash?

And then the meta of this is why wouldn't the workers just do this themselves? Hundred guys with guns can't take over the leader? What? They see all of that money sitting there and they wouldn't shoot one guy and grab the loot. Come on.

3
  • 3
    I was looking for a "how" more than a "they can't," since they clearly do within the context of the show. But you have given me an idea for another question.
    – Obie 2.0
    Oct 4 at 0:13
  • There's no reasoning, at all. You just have to suspend all doubts that they even care about being caught.
    – blankip
    Oct 4 at 0:37
  • 2
    @Obie2.0 - the small psychological subplots of the series are why you watch. You cannot tie the small subplots to the grand scheme - you just can't. You just have to accept that the grand scheme works in its own bubble and then everything else falls into place. If you think about the flaws in grand scheme then some of the other subplots start failing. So just don't think about how the island exists, how no one gets caught, what motivates guards, how billionaires show up and leave untraced... That part is Harry Potter magic. If you have reasoning than everything diminishes.
    – blankip
    Oct 12 at 20:56
1

Because authorities are extremely unlikely to link any missing people and investigate their cases as one.

  1. Majority of the participants are in a situation where their disappearance would either be attributed to other causes or simply ignored. Cho Sang-woo and Ali are wanted by law, Kang Sae-byeok and Ji-yeong have no relatives or friends to report them missing, Heo Sung-tae is actually a criminal. It is also implied that many of the participants are knee deep in debt. Some owe mafia money, and their absence would probably be explained as gang violence. Some would be thought to have simply run off.
  2. Even if several people cooperated and reported the same story - it would still probably be dismissed. Masked people kidnapping you with sleeping gas and forcing you to play "Red light - green light" with giant killer robot, and you have no factual evidence other than a card with some poor woman's phone number? Get sober, boys. Only by pure luck Hwang Jun-ho visits same precinct as Seong Gi-hun and realises there's some actual truth in the story. Had he not found the card in his brothers apartment or came by a day later - he would have no clue.
  3. Related to numbers 1 and 2 - law enforcement isn't exactly depicted as too eager to protect and serve. In episode 1 Seong Gi-hun is threatened to have his kidney removed, yet he doesn't even try contacting the police. Makes you think, doesn't it?
  4. It's implied that contestants are kept under surveillance. Those who are too friendly with law enforcement would be neither invited in the first place nor re-invited later - or would be killed. It also means that eliminated contestants' apartment might be cleaned of evidence.
  5. We only see delivery vans, but it doesn't mean nobody keeps an eye on them. There would be plenty of opportunities to check for any tail.
  6. Winners hardly have any incentive to contact the police. After all, they volunteered to participate in death matches and killed other people. Not even to mention that their hard-earned winnings would be confiscated should any investigation start.
  7. As for the recruiter - he just plays games with people and they let him slap them (with consent, as those surveillance cameras would confirm). What would you charge him with? Gambling? Giving out business cards with some strangers numbers? Being a jerk?
  8. Games happen once a year, which means there's enough time for any small scale investigation to die off. Police might actively search for white vans or suspicious businesspeople for a month or two, but in twelve month? Everybody would forget.
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  • 1
    I am not sure how persuasive many of these points are. For instance, most people would not start ranting and raving as Seong Gi-hun did; saying that a well-dressed man offered them money and then kidnapped them would be believable and would bring unwelcome attention to their poorly concealed operations (Hwang Jun-ho just had to follow the van and the whole game was laid bare). As for the recruiter, he is openly offering hundreds or thousands of seeming strangers large sums of money and leaving them his card. That should scream organized crime to anyone with a brain.
    – Obie 2.0
    Oct 4 at 22:18
  • 2
    Games happen once per year--exactly, as much as one half of all the year's adult missing person's cases for the whole country occuring over a few weeks would seemingly be of interest to a few people.
    – Obie 2.0
    Oct 4 at 22:23
  • 1
    @Obie2.0 - both comments good but really there is no way you can throw these people back to society once they went. Think how traumatic that would be. Either you would be at the police station with 10 others that went night and day or as my answer points out, more than likely you set up the workers and take the cash. I can't wait to see the reasoning the workers have for not revolting... come on... billions in cash and they are backing cookies and taking orders from one dude with a pistol?
    – blankip
    Oct 5 at 5:06
  • 3
    @blankip "I can't wait to see the reasoning the workers have for not revolting..." - same reason why people forced to work for cartels don't revolt. Play nice, and you go home safe and with money, make trouble - you die. Note how each worker is separated from others - they are not allowed to speak, they can't see each other's faces. Would you risk your life conspiring with total strangers, or would you rather do you duties and just hope to get along? I also suggest reading about the Milgram experiment and chinese war prisoner camps during Korean war - people sure can be conditioned to obey. Oct 5 at 7:12
  • 2
    +1 also Gi-hun is likely an exception for going to the police. The vast majority of the contestants likely never did. Also, don't forget that the people at the top of the games and the VIPs are some of the richest and most influential people in the world, and likely have a very strong influence in politics. You can apply and "shadow government conspiracy" tropes here.
    – vsz
    Oct 8 at 10:35

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