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Is the next 'Squid Game' already here? 'Hellbound' from 'Train to Busan' director picks up buzz

The new series from South Korea could fill the gaping void left by the end of Squid Game.

By Josh Weiss
Hellbound 106 PRESS

With Squid Game mania starting to quiet down a bit — at least until Season 2 ramps up production — Netflix may be onto the next big cultural phenomenon from South Korea thanks to Hellbound. Hailing from Yeon Sang-ho (director of Train to Busan and Peninsula), the new series has been described as a combination of Clive Barker, The Da Vinci Code, and The Ring.

A pretty accurate summary for a show in which strange beings start showing up out of nowhere to tell people that they'll die and go to Hell on a specific date. It's not trickery, though, because on that date, three Golem-like demons actually show up to burn the marked victim to death. As you might imagine, this leads to all-out pandemonium and the rise of a cult of religious extremists who want to rid the world of sinners. More level-headed individuals become rather suspicious of the supernatural warnings and set out to find the true origin behind them.

Hellbound is currently sitting at No. 2 on Netflix's Top 10 list of non-English series around the globe (falling just below The Queen of Flow Season 2). To put that further into perspective, Squid Game has been bumped to third place. IMDb lists Hellbound as the sixth most popular TV program in the world after The Wheel of Time, Arcane, Hawkeye, Cowboy Bebop, and Yellowstone.

"If we were to categorize the genre for Hellbound, it would be cosmic horror," Sang-Ho said during an interview with TIME. "The genre of cosmic horror deals with a story that happens with a cosmic or an absolute being intervening in human society. And by nature, this genre makes humans seem extremely small, almost minuscule. In a way, I think it’s a great genre to show how these immense supernatural beings can reduce humans into puny, vulnerable beings. And I think through cosmic horror, not only can you focus on the smallness and vulnerability of humans, but at the same time it is a great genre to highlight the strength, the power that only humans can show."

Sang-Ho adapted the project from a Webtoon of the same name that he co-created with illustrator Choi Gyu-Seok (the idea originally came to life through a two-part animated film). The creative partners plan to continue the Netflix story in comic form, though another season of live-action television isn't entirely out of the question.

"That’s something that we will need further discussion on," Sang-Ho told Variety. "As you know, we have only just released Hellbound Season 1 and so we didn’t have any time to discuss that issue with Netflix. So I would say this is something we need further discussion on."

Season 1 of Hellbound is now streaming.