My Universe, Squid Game Scenes Explained

And tofu steak

안녕하세요, it’s Ari, your friendly Korean source and your weekend reminder🎉 Today’s newsletter is about explaining confusing scenes in Squid Game, gossips about casts of the series, an easy-peasy Korean food recipe and some more. Let’s start!

🎧 You can listen to this newsletter on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or other your favorite podcast platforms.

What Up Korea?👋

(SPOILER) Squid Game scenes explained & gossips

#1 Ep 1. Gi-hun, the lead character or player 456, gifting a lighter which looks like a real gun to his young daughter

This scene caused a different reaction between Koreans and Americans. I saw some American viewers were shocked to see the lighter. But many Korean viewers just laughed at the scene because we instantly knew it’s not a real gun. South Korea bans guns so the only guns we see in our entire life are just toys or lighters. So no matter how realistic they look, Koreans don’t get intimidated or scared by them. There’s a gun meme on Korean Internet saying, ‘A difference between Koreans and Americans: when a gun is pointed at you, Americans say, ‘Don’t shoot.’ But Koreans say, ‘Shoot.’

#2 Ep 2. Sang-woo, a Seoul national university graduate, sitting in a bathtub with charcoal briquette burning next to him

I saw a post saying that foreigner viewers didn’t know that Sang-woo was committing suicide in this scene. It’s because they don’t know that charcoal briquette is commonly used in South Korea for suicide. Burning it in a room makes fumes that leads a person in the room to death. This method got widely known to public after Korean intelligence agents and celebrities reportedly used to kill themselves.

#3 Ep 7. Player 212, Han Mi-nyeo, lived even though she didn’t participate in a game

In Episode 6, players are asked to pick a partner for a game but nobody wanted to be with Han Mi-nyeo so she got left out. After the game ended, in Episode 7, survivors returned to surprisingly find out that she was alive. She says, “The masked guys call me 깍두기(kkagdugi).” When I was watching the series, I predicted this to happen because I knew about 깍두기.

깍두기 is common for playing children’s games in South Korea. It refers to a kid who doesn’t belong to a team yet can play the game. When a kid is not good at playing the game or too young to play or is left out after making teams, other kids make the kid 깍두기 so that he/she can play the game anyways. For example, when playing a soccer between team A and team B, 깍두기 can be a player for team A for the first half and be a player for team B for the second half. When 깍두기 is not good at playing a game while others are really good, others take easy on him/her or it can be vice versa. It’s for everyone to play games together regardless of their game levels or popularity.

#4 What you don't know about Squid Game actors

Squid game is actually full of the most handsome actors in the country. Lee Jung-jae, 48, who played the lead character, Seung Gi-hun, used to be Korean women’s sweetheart when he was in his 20’s. He’s known for dating a heiress of a Korean conglomerate who is ex-wife of Samsung heir, the richest man in the country. Another handsome actor in the series is Lee Byung-hun, who played the front man. After an attempted-affair-turned-blackmail scandal, in 2014, he was close to end his career as an actor, but he returned with big-hit movies including Inside Man. Now he is the most popular and the highest-paid actor in the country. The last but not least handsome actor is Gong Yoo, the salesman carrying red and blue envelopes in the series. He is known for appearing in commercials of KANU, a Korean instant coffee brand, for 11 years. (When I think of Gong Yoo, I smell coffee☕) Many Korean women pick him as their ideal type for his mellow voice and sweet smile.

Seoul going cash-free

If you’re planning to visit South Korea, be prepared to travel cash-free. Starting from October 1st, eight bus lines in Seoul stopped receiving cash. Instead of cash, bus riders should use a transportation card like T-Money, a credit/debit card with transportation payment, or a smartphone payment app. Seoul city says, it will test the cash-free bus system on the eight bus lines for the next 9 months before making all Seoul bus lines cash-free.

A lot of Koreans don’t use cash anymore. I think the last time I used cash was about several years ago. Even if you don’t have any cash, you’ll have no problem traveling the country unless you visit rural areas or traditional markets where card payment is not available. Domestic payment apps like Kakao Pay and Samsung Pay are widely available in many shops. International apps like Apple Pay are not available yet. 60% of Starbucks in the country are cash-free. Seoul National University Hospital, the biggest hospital in the country, is partially cash-free.


🎵 Learn Korean with My Universe

I don’t have much to say about this song. Coldplay meets BTS, BTS meets Coldplay. I don’t have to explain more😆 As I’m writing this newsletter, it’s #1 trending for music on YouTube. The song is super cool, so Coldplay, yet BTS at the same time. Please watch the music video if you haven’t. Since BTS sings in Korean in the song, I picked a quote,

지금 이 시련도 결국엔 잠시니까

The quote literally means, “Because these hardships we are having now are, eventually, just temporary” I made three daily Korean sentences using expressions in this quote, here they are,

  1. 지금 일하고 있어요 I'm working now.

  2. 결국 (여친)이랑 싸웠어요 Eventually, I had a fight with (my girlfriend).

  3. (잠시만) 기다려주세요 Wait (a moment), please.

Change a bracketed word to make a different sentence! You can practice speaking the sentences with my podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or other your favorite podcast platforms.

👂 I Have Voicemail

Send me your Korean voice message! If you’re a beginner Korean learner, speak the three sentences you learned today. You can change the bracketed word in the sentences if you want. If you’re a more advanced learner or adventurous, send me your voice message about today’s newsletter (your opinion about WUK stories, etc.).

If you send it by October 18th, Monday ET, your voice will be on the the week after next podcast episode. If you want my feedback for your Korean speaking, leave a comment after submission. I’m all ears!

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🍳 Tofu Steak

Following last week, I want to give you another food ingredients match made in heaven: tofu X soy sauce. Koreans eat tofu a lot, we fry it, grill it, and make soups with it. Tofu itself tastes bland so we often sprinkle soy sauce on top of tofu or dip it in soy sauce. And it tastes really good! You can taste this heavenly match with tofu steak. Check out the ingredients list below, watch how-to-cook video, and try for yourself!

  • 1 block tofu

  • Cooking oil

  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1.5 tablespoons chopped green onion

  • 2 tablespoons allulose

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • Grind sesame seeds

TLK will take a break next week because I get my second shot of vaccine next week🎉 Thanks for reading! Leave a comment or share this newsletter! Your comment, share, or voice message will help me recover from vaccine side-effects💪 See you the week after next! 안녕👋