‘Squid Game’ Explained: How Did Han Mi-nyeo Cheat in the Games?

Each round of the childhood games turned into feats of survival in Squid Game required some strategy. For the Dalgona challenge, Han Mi-nyeo (Kim Joo-ryeong) found a clever way to cheat the system and guarantee her survival in Squid Game. Before entering the Games, Mi-nyeo thought like a criminal and found a way to smuggle in her must-have necessity that would prove convenient when trying to cut out the shape from the sweet cookie treat

Character Mi-nyeo for 'Squid Game' Dalgona cheating wearing green tracksuit.
Character Mi-nyeo for ‘Squid Game’ Dalgona cheating | via Netflix

What is the Dalgona challenge in ‘Squid Game’?

Director Hwang Dong-hyuk wanted the Korean drama to resonate with Korean audiences and bring them back to their childhood. To do so, he used familiar childhood games like the Dalgona challenge. Dalgona is a popular sweet treat seen outside of most middle or high schools. A vendor melts sugar in a special copper ladle over a flame. Once the sugar is dissolved, the vendor adds the right amount of baking soda to create air bubbles.

The sugar mixture is flattened on a metal surface with a special tool. Before the sugar sets, the vendor stamps a shape. Dalgona is popular among students and must try to carve out the shape without breaking successfully. It is a nerve-wracking challenge. Even actor HoYeon Jung has failed multiple times. While spending 24 hours with Vogue, she admits, “Had I been a contestant in Squid Game, I would have died doing the dalgona.”

Han Mi-nyeo (Player 212) cheated during the Dalgona challenge thanks to her clever thinking in ‘Squid Game’

Character Mi-nyeo for 'Squid Game' in bathroom lighting cigarette before cheating in the Games
Character Mi-nyeo for ‘Squid Game’ in bathroom | Netflix

In Squid Game Episode 3, Mi-nyeo convinces a guard to let her use the facilities away from prying eyes. In the bathroom stall, she fishes out a compact container she had hidden inside her nether regions. The container held some cigarettes and a lighter. 

Mi-nyeo’s clever thinking would come in handy during the Dalgona challenge. She hid the lighter in her tracksuit before entering the playground. To avoid the guards, Mi-nyeo hid under a slide and used the lighter to heat the needle. The hot needle allowed Mi-nyeo to melt the sugar and carve out the shape. If she had not smuggled in the lighter, there was a strong possibility she would have failed the challenge because she chose a star. 

How did the other players win the Dalgona challenge? 


‘Squid Game’: Episode 2 Foreshadowed Major Deaths

Squid Game’s Mi-nyeo was not the only player who found a way to win the Dalgona challenge. Jang Deok-su (Heo Sung-tae) also picked the complex star shape. To get into his good graces and for Mi-nyeo to find a way to survive, she secretly gave Deok-su the lighter. He, too, used it to melt the sugar and carve out the shape. 

Cho Sang-woo (Park Hae-soo) cheated another way. When he entered the playground, he figured out the challenge because of the shapes on the wall. He refused to tell the other players and picked the triangle shape. With only three straight sides, Sang-woo quickly passed the challenge.

Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) was unaware of the game they would play and picked the complex umbrella shape. When a drop of sweat falls on the Dalgona, Gi-hun comes up with a solution. By licking the back of the candy, his spit melts the thin layer of sugar that makes up the edges of the shape. Gi-hun’s tactic also helps the other players win.