The creator of 'Squid Game' is not as wealthy as the winning contestant on his TV show.
Hwang Dong-hyuk opened up about his underwhelming bank balance after the success of the survival drama, which has become streaming giant Netflix's biggest series ever - beating previous records set by 'Bridgerton' - and it is far less than the £28 million grand prize offered in the show.
The 50-year-old writer told the Guardian newspaper: "I'm not that rich. But I do have enough. I have enough to put food on the table. And it's not like Netflix is paying me a bonus. Netflix paid me according to the original contract."
Hwang remarked that making the show was "draining" and so stressful that he lost six teeth.
He said: "It was physically, mentally and emotionally draining. I kept having new ideas and revising the episodes as we were filming so the amount of work multiplied."
The inspiration for the show - which Netflix says has been watched by 142 million households and added 4.4 million subscribers to the platform - comes from Hwang's own personal experiences following the global financial crash in the late 2000s.
He said: "I was very financially straitened because my mother retired from the company she was working for. There was a film I was working on but we failed to get finance. So I couldn't work for about a year. We had to take out loans - my mother, myself and my grandmother."
Hwang also explained how reading comic books helped him to devise the hit show - which sees players desperate for cash put their lives at risk to win a huge cash prize.
He shared: "I read 'Battle Royal' and 'Liar Game' and other survival game comics. I related to the people in them, who were desperate for money and success. That was a low point in my life. If there was a survival game like these in reality, I wondered, would I join it to make money for my family? I realised that, since I was a film-maker, I could put my own touch to these kinds of stories so I started on the script."
Hwang said that the show's anti-capitalism message were "not profound" and attributed the COVID-19 pandemic to showcasing economic inequality.
He said: "During the pandemic, poorer countries can't get their people vaccinated. They're contracting viruses on the streets and even dying. So I did try to convey a message about modern capitalism. As I said, it's not profound."