The creator of Squid Game is not as wealthy as the winning contestant on his TV show.
Hwang Dong-hyuk opened up about his underwhelming bank balance after the success of the survival drama, which has become streaming giant Netflix's biggest series ever - beating previous records set by Bridgerton - and it is far less than the £28 million grand prize offered in the show.
The 50-year-old writer told the Guardian newspaper: "I'm not that rich. But I do have enough. I have enough to put food on the table. And it's not like Netflix is paying me a bonus. Netflix paid me according to the original contract."
Hwang remarked that making the show was "draining" and so stressful that he lost six teeth.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
"It was physically, mentally and emotionally draining. I kept having new ideas and revising the episodes as we were filming so the amount of work multiplied."
The inspiration for the show - which Netflix says has been watched by 142 million households and added 4.4 million subscribers to the platform - comes from Hwang's own personal experiences following the global financial crash in the late 2000s.
"I was very financially straitened because my mother retired from the company she was working for. There was a film I was working on but we failed to get finance. So I couldn't work for about a year. We had to take out loans – my mother, myself and my grandmother," he said.
Hwang also explained how reading comic books helped him to devise the hit show – which sees players desperate for cash put their lives at risk to win a huge cash prize.
"I read Battle Royal and Liar Game and other survival game comics. I related to the people in them, who were desperate for money and success. That was a low point in my life. If there was a survival game like these in reality, I wondered, would I join it to make money for my family? I realised that, since I was a film-maker, I could put my own touch to these kinds of stories so I started on the script."
Hwang said that the show's anti-capitalism messages were "not profound" and attributed the Covid-19 pandemic to showcasing economic inequality.
"During the pandemic, poorer countries can't get their people vaccinated. They're contracting viruses on the streets and even dying. So I did try to convey a message about modern capitalism. As I said, it's not profound."