All The Hidden Clues In ‘Squid Game’ That Pointed To That Twist Ending
That Marbles 'Gganbu' episode had just a few too many coincidences...
Squid Game, the drama-thriller that people are calling the Korean version of The Hunger Games, is currently the number one show in the world on Netflix. And if you’ve watched Squid Game, its popularity really isn’t that surprising.
The show has everything: Murderous kid’s games. A ₩45.6 billion (approximately $53 million AUD) prize fund. A giant 10-foot-tall doll with sniper eyes. Soldiers in pink boiler suits with Playstation-esque masks. Kinky millionaires with bedazzled face coverings. There’s a whole lot going on.
— Warning: Major spoilers for Squid Game ahead. —
And with so much happening in Squid Game, it’s only natural that people have been busy coming up with theories and dissecting the show to find the hidden easter eggs scattered throughout the series’ nine episodes.
For example, the popular theory that Oh Il-nam and Gi-hun are actually father and son — a hunch based on the simple fact that Gi-hun and Oh Il-nam’s son are both allergic to milk and share similar birthdays. Or there’s the theory that the colour a contestant selected during the opening subway game of Ddakji determined whether they became a player (blue) or a worker (red).
But beyond theories, there were also some pretty clear easter eggs in Squid Game, too. Take the walls of the contestant hall that literally revealed each game through illustrations on the walls, for example.
From the beginning, All the games were drawn already on the wall but no one noticed it…
— TAHJ MIKAELSON (@TAHDIOR_) September 25, 2021
Then there was also the major foreshadowing of the main character’s deaths that occurred at the start of the series. For example, Sang-woo killed himself at the end of the competition and was about to do the same in Episode 2 before being called back to the game.
Similarly, Sae-byeok ended up getting her throat slit before the final game, which was similar to the way she held a knife to the throat of the man who scammed her. Jang Deok-su died after falling in the Glass Bridge game, which is how he fled from those chasing him in Episode 2. And sweet, sweet Ali died because Sang-woo stole his marbles, which was poetic considering he stole money from his boss before reentering the game.
But one thing no one saw coming was that old man 001, Oh Il-nam, was behind the games. However, upon reflection, there were actually a number of hidden clues that hinted at that shock twist ending.
So let’s break down all the twist clues you might’ve missed in Squid Game.
#1. 001 “Loved” Each Game Because He Picked Them Out
One of the biggest clues that pointed to 001 being behind the games was his strange knowledge of, and love for, every game that was played. But of course, you’d love every game in a competition when you’re the one who picked them.
As someone old, frail and sick, it’s not like Oh Il-nam was an ideal ‘Squid Game’ player. In fact, there was barely anyone even close to his age in all 456 contestants. Yet, every time a game was played, 001 was frothing at the mouth over it — and in some cases, like in Tug-O-War, he even had an impressive strategy to win despite having a weaker team.
If you watch closely during Green Light, Red Light, Oh Il-nam knows the game song that the 10-foot doll sings so well that he even stops and poses ahead of it even calling out Red Light. Suspicious.
#2. And He Recognised Homes During Marbles Because He Designed The Set
During the Marbles round, Oh Il-nam kept banging on about the alleys and homes looking familiar to his own hometown — and in one instance, he even claimed that one house was the exact same as the one he used to live in with his wife and son.
But once you learn that 001 was behind the games, it’s no surprise that it all looks so familiar to Oh Il-nam because he designed the set.
#3. The Red Light, Green Light Doll Didn’t Really Scan Him
One would think that you’d be at least a little spooked if 255 people were just murdered in front of you during a children’s game of Red Light, Green Light, right? Well not for player 001.
Instead of being shocked or surprised that 50 percent of the people around him were being gunned down, Oh Il-nam was all smiles. But I would probably be unfazed too if I knew the giant robotic killing machine was programmed to never strike me no matter how much I moved.
While I can’t say for certain this was the case, if you look at the movement detector when placed over 001 it lit up differently to everyone else. For all other contestants, the green outline was also accompanied by a green overlay whereas Oh Il-nam — and those close to him, likely to prevent any potential misfire — only had the outline.
#4. 001 Was The Tie-Break Vote To Keep The Games Fun
When the soldiers were caught leaking information to the doctor, The Front Man stressed the importance of fairness by killing everyone involved. So by having 001 vote to set everyone free after the first round, he was ensuring the game was kept fair through rule three: ‘Games may be terminated if the majority agrees’.
As the tie-breaking vote, 001 let contestants leave and return willingly, which meant no one was forced to play. Beyond easing 001’s own conscience, this move meant that the people who did return weren’t going to be boring because they returned knowing that elimination would lead to death. And as we saw during the Glass Bridge game, the VIPs weren’t a fan of the games when things became boring.
Plus, at the end of the series, Oh Il-nam revealed that the whole reason the Squid Game was even created was because these VIPs thought that “living is no fun” when you have too much money or not enough as “everything gets boring”.
#5 Also, 001 Never Got A Backstory And Conveniently “Found” Gi-hun
Every main character in Squid Game had a backstory that revealed what drove them into debt and back to the game — everyone except for Oh Il-nam, that is.
We saw that Gi-hun had a severe gambling problem, Sang-woo was running from authorities because of financial fraud, Sae-byeok was desperately trying to pay for her mum to cross the North Korean border, and Ali was an illegal immigrant who hadn’t been paid by his employer for six months. But for Oh Il-nam all we knew was that he had a brain tumour with zero mention about needing money — even for piling medical bills that we know is a problem as Gi-hun’s own very ill mother left the hospital because she knew how expensive the fees were.
Beyond the lack of background story, it was just all too convenient that 001 had “a friend” who lived in the same area as Gi-hun when the contestants were let free. It seems a little suspect for an old man to find another player on the outside when he doesn’t live in the area. And it’s even more suspicious that Oh Il-nam was able to convince the gambler to head back into the game because “life [outside] is more tormenting” even though he literally had no money woes himself.
#6. He Stuck With The Dalgona Star Because He Knew The Umbrella Was Harder
As Oh Il-nam had a hand in selecting the games played, he was aware that the second round would focus on Dalgona candy. So when Gi-hun offered to switch the umbrella for the star before the game began, 001 refused knowing it was the more difficult of the two.
While the star is by no means an easy shape to cut around, the straight lines make it way easier than Gi-hun’s umbrella or even Ali’s circle.
#7. The Front Man Stopped The Riot When 001 Said He Was Scared
When the contestants began rioting after learning killing each other in the dorms was allowed, 001 realised he was in real danger and could not be protected.
Oh Il-nam knew he was an easy target to be picked off, so he climbed to the top of the beds and pleaded directly to the cameras for the riots to stop. Despite multiple people getting murdered, it was only after 001 shared his fears and noted that no one would be left to actually play the games if the violence continued — a real issue for the VIPs coming to watch the final rounds — that the Front Man stepped in to call the riots off.
#8. The 2020 Players Book Started At Player 002
When police officer Jun-Ho found the Squid Game archive room, he opened the 2020 player book hoping to find the file on his lost brother.
But when he looked through the players in the current games, the number 001 was omitted and the file started at 002. This is because the creator wouldn’t need background information on himself.
#9. 001 Knew He’d Be Pulled From The Game If He Had No Partner
Due to the odd numbers going into game four, Oh Il-nam assumed no one would pick him as a partner because he wasn’t strong. After all, he was so “sick” that he could barely even stand up to enter the game hall and had just wet himself the night prior.
It seems like the odd number situation was designed to get Oh Il-nam out of the game at this exact point. If it all went off as planned, 001 could’ve been pulled from the game and “killed” without any questions being asked. Pulling him out at this point makes total sense because games five and six would’ve been too physically demanding for Oh Il-nam to participate in anyway.
So, knowing that he probably wouldn’t get picked, 001 sat in a corner and didn’t try to find a partner. But to everyone’s surprise, Gi-hun selected 001 and foiled his perfect escape plan.
#10. And 001 Gave 456 His Jacket To Protect Him
Prior to getting selected and being thrown back into the competition, 001 gave 456 his jacket.
Oh Il-nam explained that Gi-hun needed the jacket because people might “look down” on him for not having one. But instead of returning the 456 jacket that was lent to him, Oh Il-nam gave Gi-hun his own 001 jacket.
I suspect this is because Oh Il-nam assumed he would not be selected to play in the Marbles game but still wanted to protect Gi-hun — who had shown him immense kindness and compassion — from being killed off. By wearing the 001 jacket, it told soldiers to not “look down” on Gi-hun, but rather protect him with Oh Il-nam out of the game.
#11. 001’s “Death” Conveniently Happened Off-Screen
A lot of people clued into 001 being behind the whole thing when Oh Il-nam was shot off-camera.
This is because most of the main characters in Squid Game had very gruesome on-screen deaths to confirm that they had been eliminated. But even beyond the gunshot happening off-camera, there was also no sound of a 001’s body hitting the ground after the headshot like everyone else had.
#12. He Also Wasted Time So He Didn’t Die Mid-Game
Throughout the first three games, dementia was never a real issue for Oh Il-nam. He remembered the Green Light, Red Light song and used his childhood Tug-o-War strategy to pull his team to victory. But when it came to Marbles, 001 suddenly forgot everything.
It’s likely that Oh Il-nam just hammed up his dementia to run up the clock. As each team only had 30 minutes to complete the task, if 001 had “lost” mid-way through the challenge it would’ve been difficult to fake his death with so many people around.
Plus, we already knew that Oh Il-nam was faking his forgetfulness because he revealed that he was aware that Gi-hun was cheating all along at the very end of the challenge.
#13. And Finally, You Have To Admit The Host’s Hands Looked Old
After watching Oh Il-nam’s old hands fiddle around with marbles for an hour, it would be hard to miss the equally aged hands holding the host mask.
Also, the weirdly sexual VIP episode coming right after Oh Il-nam’s death was just a little too conveniently timed.
You can stream Squid Game on Netflix now.
Michelle Rennex is a senior writer at Junkee. She tweets at @michellerennex.