Real-life “Squid Game”?: “Physical: 100” shoots to top of global Netflix rankings

Posted on : 2023-02-14 17:48 KST Modified on : 2023-02-14 17:48 KST
The hard body competition show has garnered fans for the surprising comradery exhibited by its contestants
Still from “Physical: 100” (courtesy of Netflix)
Still from “Physical: 100” (courtesy of Netflix)

“Physical: 100,” an original reality program on Netflix, has moved to the top of the global rankings.

According to FlixPatrol, a statistics site ranking global streaming service content, “Physical: 100” was No. 1 in around 30 countries as of Friday, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany and Singapore. This put it at the top of the world rankings for the site’s Netflix series category.

This is the first time a South Korean reality program has come in at No. 1 on the global ranking.

Debuting on Jan. 24, “Physical: 100” is a survival reality show in which participants of different genders and nationalities compete for “best body” honors. The winner among the 100 contestants wins a prize of 300 million won (US$236,00).

Screen capture from Flixpatrol
Screen capture from Flixpatrol

The show has attracted attention with appearances by figures from different backgrounds, including South Korean national gymnastics team member Yang Hak-seon, Olympic gold medal-winning skeleton racer Yun Sung-bin, MMA fighter Choo Sung-hoon (Yoshihiro Akiyama), national wrestling team member Jang Eun-sil, fitness YouTuber Shim Eu-ddeum, and bodybuilder Kim Chun-ri.

As the show has continued, the participants have won praise for their sportspersonship, which has helped boost popularity.

Speaking with the press on Feb. 7, the show’s producer, former MBC current affairs and information bureau staffer Jang Ho-gi, attributed the show’s popularity in part to the fair-minded and dignified way in which the participants accept the quest results.

Still from “Physical: 100” (courtesy of Netflix)
Still from “Physical: 100” (courtesy of Netflix)

“Depending on the competition process and its outcome, the participants could feel negative emotions toward each other, and it’s been striking how they’ve saluted each other with the kind of expressions you could only see in people who have tried their hardest,” he said.

In a telephone interview with the Hankyoreh, popular culture critic Kim Bong-seok explained, “South Korean content is just generally popular, and games that are physical in nature tend to be low-barrier.”

“The addition of one-to-one or team-on-team competition to simple physical contests such as hanging or ball capturing has helped to trigger interest,” he suggested, adding that “competition content is what South Korea does best.”

Still from “Physical: 100” (courtesy of Netflix)
Still from “Physical: 100” (courtesy of Netflix)

Also contributing to the show’s popularity are set equipment and sound design that evoke similarities with “Squid Game.”

The list of people involved in the production includes musical director Kim Seong-su, who took part in producing the “Squid Game” soundtrack; stage director Yu Jae-heon, who contributed to BTS’ world tour concert; and costume director Choi Se-yeon, who was in charge of costumes for films like “Parasite” and “Okja.”

By Park Mee-hyang, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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