Recently, Netflix’s original Korean drama “Squid Game” has taken the world by storm. It tells of a group of people who are heavily in debt in real life who participate in a game.
The final winner can take home $38 million. Since its release, the series has been a hot topic of conversation around the world, and was even nominated to win an Emmy.
Compared with the deadly games of other shows, some might call those in “Squid Game” “child-like” in that they’re based on games from people’s childhood; in fact, whether in the Korea or Spain, the U.S. or China, kids everywhere can be found playing tug of war or marbles!
However, these normally low-stakes games are suddenly life-or-death, and that’s what creates the tension of this drama. Do you know how to say these games in Chinese?
Some readers might be familiar with the concept of “Red light, green light… 1-2-3!”, and that’s the idea behind “123 Wooden Man”, or, “一二三，木头人” (yī èr sān, mù tou rén) in Chinese. In the show, a huge doll stands at one end of an empty field, calling out the rules of the game, which are simple: cross the white line before time is up.
However, should the If the doll see someone moving when it looks back, that person will be… eliminated. Immediately.
木头 (mù tou): n. wood
fǔ tóu yī xià zi bǎ mù tou pī kāi le.
斧 头 一 下 子把 木 头 劈 开 了。
The axe split the wood in one fell swoop.
tā bǎ nà gēn mù tou tuō chū lái fàng xià.
他 把 那 根 木 头 拖 出 来 放 下。
He dragged the log out and put it down.
In the game “挖桠糖” (wā yā tang), participants choose a small box with candy inside. The goal? Simply take out the marked piece of candy! Easy enough, right?
Maybe, but there’s the slight catch that if you break the candy or take too long, it’s “lights out” for you.
桠糖 (yā tang): n. sugar
nǐ yǒu wán guò wā yā táng de yóu xì ma？
你 有 玩 过 挖 桠 糖 的 游 戏 吗？
Have you ever played a game of digging candy?
chuán tǒng yā táng shǒu yì rén xiàn zài hěn shǎo jiàn le.
传 统 桠 糖 手 艺 人 现 在 很 少 见 了。
Traditional dalgona candy craftsmen are rare now.
Tug of war (拔河 bá hé): 1 rope, 2 teams pulling, and pressure to the degree. Not only is it physically difficult, but the losing team falls to their death.
拔河 (bá hé): n. tug-of-war
cāo chǎng shàng，tóng xué men zhèng zài jìn xíng bá hé bǐ sài.
操 场 上， 同 学 们 正 在 进 行 拔 河 比 赛。
Students are playing tug-of-war on the playground right now.
bá hé bǐ sài zuì jiǎng jiū qí xīn xié lì.
拔 河 比 赛 最 讲 究 齐 心 协 力。
Tug-of-war is mostly about working together.
At the start, people thought that they were pairing up in groups of two to compete with others and win their marbles (弹珠 dàn zhū).
However… they soon found out they weren’t choosing teammates, but rather opponents.
With friends pitted against friends, and family members against family members, the stakes of the game were suddenly very, very clear.
弹珠 (dàn zhū): n. marble
dǎ dàn zhū shì xiǎo hái zi cháng wán de yóu xì.
打 弹 珠 是 小 孩 子 常 玩 的 游 戏。
Marbles is a game that children often play.
tā hěn shàn cháng dǎ dàn zhū.
他 很 擅 长 打 弹 珠。
He is very good at playing marbles.
A glass bridge composed of two types of glass, one that can bear a reasonable amount of weight and one that’s significantly weaker, generally shattering if someone stands on it.
To complete the game, simply “过桥 (guò qiáo)” – cross the bridge. including tempered glass and general glass. Tempered glass is very strong and can bear the weight of two people.
As a game based on luck and the starting sequence, its over quickly for those who are unfortunately.
过桥 (guò qiáo): n. cross the bridge
guò qiáo shí，wǒ xiǎo xīn yì yì de fú zhe lā gān.
过 桥 时， 我 小 心 翼 翼的 扶 着 拉 杆。
When crossing the bridge, I held the handrail cautiously.
cóng guò qiáo zhè gè yóu xì zhōng，wǒ tǐ huì dào le hé zuò de zhòng yào xìng.
从 过 桥 这 个 游 戏 中， 我 体 会 到 了 合 作 的 重 要 性。
From the bridge crossing game, I realized the importance of cooperation.
“鱿鱼游戏 (yóu yú yóu xì)”, or, “Squid Game” is something of a classic. The attackers enter the squid pattern, break through the defenders, and step on the “head” of the squid to win; the defenders win if the attackers cannot break through.
In a one-on-one “鱿鱼游戏(yóu yú yóu xì)” only one person can survive.
鱿鱼 (yóu yú): n. squid
kǎo yóu yú shì zhè jiā cān tīng de zhāo pái cài.
烤 鱿 鱼 是 这 家 餐 厅 的 招 牌 菜。
Grilled squid is the signature dish of this restaurant.
zhè jiāng fáng zhǐ guò dù bǔ lāo yóu yú.
这 将 防 止 过 度 捕 捞 鱿 鱼。
This will prevent overfishing of squid.
Now that you know all about the games… are you ready to play?