Netflix announced it would be censoring phone numbers displayed on its hit, limited series “Squid Game” after a person in South Korea who owned a phone number complained about receiving thousands of prank calls and texts.
An unnamed person told the South Korean newspaper Money Today that he/she had been using the number for 10 years, but since the show aired, the person has received phone calls and text messages 24 hours a day totaling more than 4,000.
It has been reported, and Snopes has independently confirmed, that Netflix intends to edit the scenes with phone numbers in question.
“Squid Game” has quickly gained in global popularity since its Netflix launch on Sept. 17, 2021. The gory South Korean drama hit number one on Netflix in more than 90 countries, putting it on track to succeed "Bridgerton" as the most-streamed show on the platform.
Snopes watched the first three episodes of the series on Oct. 7 to determine where and when the phone number in question appeared. We found three scenes that showed the number in question.
The number first appeared in the first episode “Red Light, Green Light” around the 29-minute mark, when lead character Seong Gi-hun, Player 456, called a phone number listed on the back of a business card he was given by a stranger. We have blurred the number for the privacy of those affected.
That same number once again appears in the second episode “Hell” around the 20-minute mark when Seong Gi-hun gives the business card to a police officer.
Its last appearance was at the 24-minute mark of the second episode when Seong Gi-hun attempts to redial it on his cell phone.
Snopes contacted the South Korean Film Council, a government body that issues fictitious phone numbers for entertainment purposes, to determine whether there was a national policy that legislates whether individual phone numbers can be shown on screen, either in a movie or on a television series. We did not hear back, but as The Wall Street Journal reported, the nation restricts how films can use phone numbers but not television shows.
As Money Today pointed out, the mishap may be violating Article 59 of South Korea’s Personal Information Protection Act, which prohibits the leak of personal information without legal or proper authority or providing it without permission.
At the time of this publication, the phone number in question was still visible in all three scenes. Netflix declined to further comment on the timeframe for which the number would be removed from the nine-part series.
Martin, Dasl Yoon and Timothy W. “Real Phone Number Featured in ‘Squid Game’ Leads to Prank-Call Apocalypse.” Wall Street Journal, 6 Oct. 2021. www.wsj.com, https://www.wsj.com/articles/squid-game-netflix-phone-number-inundating-real-people-with-calls-11633539087.
Napoli, Jessica. “‘Squid Game’ on Track to Overtake ‘Bridgerton’ as Most-Streamed Show on Netflix.” FOXBusiness, 6 Oct. 2021, https://www.foxbusiness.com/entertainment/squid-game-on-track-overtake-bridgerton-netflix.
Watch: Netflix’s Squid Game Now Number One Most Watched Show in 90 Countries. www.independent.co.uk, https://www.independent.co.uk/tv/culture/netflix-squid-game-south-korea-vbe1126b1. Accessed 7 Oct. 2021.
머니투데이. [단독]"10년 쓴 내 번호 '오징어게임’에…밤낮 전화와" 고통 호소 - 머니투데이. 23 Sept. 2021, https://news.mt.co.kr/mtview.php?no=2021092313252483864.