The Chinese streaming company Youku Has recently begun pushing promotional material for its new series “Squid Victory”. The promotional material in question is a poster that looks remarkably similar to the poster for Squid Game. Squid Victory is a variety show In which contestants compete in large-scale childrens’ games. Netizens were quick to chastise the “shameless” Youku for the obvious thievery of intellectual property at play. In response, Youku has issued an apology and alluded to the idea they will change the poster at the heart of this issue stating it is, in their words, just a “draft” poster. Regarding this issue The company also stated:
“Due to a work error, the first draft of the new Game’s Victory show – which was shot down before – was mistakenly used in promotional activities at a trade fair,”
This statement which was written on the Chinese Twitter equivalent “Weibo” was posted alongside a notably distinct poster design for their newly re-titled program “Game’s Victory”. These steps however have done little to quell online outrage.
“It sounds like such a lame cover-up. Obviously, they had tried to rip off Squid Game because of how popular it is,” another Weibo user posted.
This debacle has brought up the fact that many Asian citizens are “fed up” with how often Chinese producers plagiarize Korean content. Netizens cite the similarities between the South Korean program “Show me the money” and the similar Chinese program “The Rap Of China” as being a particularly egregious example of this trend as well.
“Why can’t our producers come up with our own ideas? This is so embarrassing,” another poster on Weibo commented.
This all comes as a result of Squid Game’s becoming a nationwide phenomenon in China despite its not officially being released there. As Netflix is not available in China the show has gained a following exclusively through illegal means such as torrenting sites. Youku being one of China’s most popular streaming platforms with between 90 and 100 million active users decided capitalizing on Squid Game’s situation was potentially very profitable. This controversy comes on the heels of a multitude of similar culturally-based arguments that China and Korea have taken part in in recent years. Last year for instance Korea accused China of “stealing culture” when the country stated it “led the kimchi industry”. This controversy was born of The language barrier between the two countries. In China, kimchi is called “pao cai” – this being the same name as a Chinese pickled dish. China was also criticised for stating that the Korean national dress handbook originated there.
To answer the question posed by the title of this article “no”. I’m writing this article because I firmly hold that opinion. I don’t think taking surface-level elements from a popular television program and incorporating them into a show of a completely different genre is as bad as it’s being made out to be. To be clear, I’m glad that the name “Squid Victory” and the poster that represents the centre of the controversy were changed because they were deliberately misleading. I would however like to call into question why the Chinese and Korean governments are bickering like children about cultural stuff? Lastly, I beg the question, who cares if some Chinese body makes a rip off of a game show or of a drama that can’t legally be accessed in China? If said shows aren’t good enough to stand on their own merits won’t they just be cancelled anyway? Is mimicry not the greatest form of flattery?
NEWS, BBC. “Squid’s Victory? China Streaming Site Accused of Copying Squid Game.” BBC News, BBC, 21 Oct. 2021, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-58991127.