Why ‘Squid Game’ Sex Scene Had Different Fan Reactions Versus ‘My Name’

Netflix’s Squid Game is the streaming platform’s most successful Korean drama in its history. While fans were shocked by its brutality, they were more surprised by the sex scene between Jang Deok-su (Heo Sung-tae) and Han Mi-nyeo (Kim Joo-ryoung). The scene left fans divided over its necessity and overall purpose in the drama.

But, Netflix’s My Name also had fans berating the streaming platform for including a sex scene for its female protagonist Yoon Ji-woo (Hans So-hee). The directors of both K-drama’s explained the sex scenes were vital for their characters’ stories, but viewers are more sympathetic toward Squid Game than My Name.

'Squid Game' Character Han Mi-nyeo talking to Deok-su
‘Squid Game’ character Han Mi-nyeo | via Netflix

‘Squid Game’ fans understand Hwang Dong-hyeok’s reasoning for the sex scene in episode 4

In an interview with The Guardian, director Hwan explains Deok-su and Mi-nyeo’s sex scene served a bigger purpose than some fans realized. Mi-nyeo tries to gain Deok-su’s favor simply for survival, but to be okay with her actions, Mi-nyeo has to believe their relationship is a “different kind of love.”

“The woman relies on the strongest man in the group. She has to find something to rely on. She believes it’s love – otherwise, it’s too sad, you know, to sell sex to the guy just to survive. So she believes her emotion is love, but not romantic love like in Bridgerton,” said Hwang. Fans on Reddit understood Hwang’s reasoning.

Many fans agreed the scene caught them off guard and was not easy to watch. One Redditor explains the scene is “an example of yet another transaction under capitalism. It wasn’t romanticized or sexual, just there to show the lengths people will go to in order to believe they are secure.” Some fans commented the characters needed more buildup before the scene. But it led to the crux of why the characters die.

‘My Name’s’ sex scene in episode 8 was unwelcomed by many fans

RELATED: ‘My Name’ K-Drama Review: A Gripping Story of Revenge With a Strong Female Lead

Netflix’s My Name was a refreshing take on a female lead that breaks the mold of K-drama stereotypes. Yoo Ji-woo (Han So-hee) goes on a dark path of revenge to find her father’s killer. Throughout the drama, there was no inclination of a romance between her and her partner Pil-do (Ahn Bo-hyun). After the life-threatening events in the drama, the two characters have a sex scene in a beach house.

Much like Squid Game, fans were surprised by the sudden scene that had no real buildup beforehand. In a Reddit thread, one user commented, “I genuinely thought they’d play it off as a platonic friendship or at least some lowkey romantic feelings that goes unsaid.” Other fans commented the scene felt out of place.

A Squid Game fan who also watched My Name commented, “Not only was it unnecessary, the characters involved had been adversaries basically minutes ago and one of them badly wounded. It screamed, ‘we’re almost at the end, and our female lead hasn’t had a sex scene yet.'”

My Name director Kim Jin-min also stood by his decision like director Hwang. “We believed that the scene offered a chance for the viewers to believe that the lead character Yoon Ji-woo was a woman with feelings, not a revenge-driven monster,” said Kim according to The Korean Herald.

Both ‘My Name’ and ‘Squid Game’ sex scene recevied backlash

Characters Han Mi-nyeo and Jang Deok-su for 'Squid Game' K-drama in bathroom
Characters Han Mi-nyeo and Jang Deok-su for ‘Squid Game’ K-drama | via Netflix

RELATED: ‘Squid Game’ Season 2: Director Won’t Take Fan Theories or Expectations Into Consideration

While both sex scenes from the K-drama received mixed reviews, Han had to clarify viewers’ misunderstandings. According to Soompi, Han said in an online interview she learned of the sex scene halfway through filming. She had her doubts about its effect on her character’s story. Fans mistook Han’s quote in a negative light.

Han’s agency explained the scene was discussed before production. Kim and the production team were unsure if the scene would be included in the K-drama. “Since the script wasn’t complete yet, it was discussed that the decision on whether to proceed with filming or not would depend on the character’s emotions while filming,” explained Han’s agency. As the K-drama progressed, the scene was filmed with the consent of the actors.

Squid Game’s sex scene also received negative reviews for another reason. In a 2016 interview, Heo Sung-tae revealed he made a promise to his wife. His wife drew the line at Heo filming bedroom or sex scenes. Korean netizens were upset to learn Heo broke his promise despite claiming he would never film a 19+ scene regardless of money.