Fans Call Obvious Squid Game Knockoff 'Embarrassing'

Chinese streaming service Youku is accused of ripping off the Netflix hit
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2021 4:45 PM CDT
China's Squid Game Knockoff Has Streaming Service in Hot Water
This undated photo shows South Korean cast members, from left, Park Hae-soo, Lee Jung-jae, and Jung Ho-yeon in a scene from "Squid Game."   (Youngkyu Park/Netflix via AP)

(Newser) – The "haunting" Squid Game has become Netflix's biggest show ever, a fact not lost on a streaming giant in China that's now being accused of plagiarizing the South Korean hit. Youku's version of Squid Game, per the BBC: an upcoming variety show entitled Squid's Victory, which, according to promos, will feature contestants taking part in "large-scale kids' games." In Squid Game, of course, the fictional competitors do the same, except the consequence for losing or refusing to continue playing is death.

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There will likely not be fatal eliminations in the Chinese version, but that hasn't stopped observers from slamming Youku for this apparent Squid Game copycat, right down to its promotional poster (the BBC shows the strikingly similar posters from the two shows). "Obviously, they ... tried to rip off Squid Game because of how popular it is," one user on the Chinese social media site Weibo remarked. Others pointed out this isn't the first time Chinese producers have ripped off Korean TV content, calling it "embarrassing."

The BBC notes that Netflix isn't available in China, meaning people there have taken to illegally downloading or otherwise viewing Squid Game, which may have given someone at Youku the idea that a knockoff could be big. The company hasn't addressed the overall concept of the show and its similarities to Squid Game, but it has since renamed the program Game's Victory and says the promo poster was a "draft" never meant to be released, and that it was used at a trade fair due to a "work error." News and entertainment site Sportskeeda notes the Youku show is set to debut in 2022. (Read more Squid Game stories.)

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