South Korean woman’s phone rings nonstop due to phone number misstep in Netflix’s “Squid Game” series
In context: As far back as I can remember, the Hollywood standard for including a phone number in a movie or TV show has been to give it the bogus “555” prefix. The industry naturally wants to prevent holders of innocent numbers from receiving unwanted calls. On the rare occasions when a valid number gets through, the consequences for the owner can be more than frustrating.
In South Korea, the use of fake numbers in a movie or show is slightly different. Instead of using 555, the country has a government-regulated directory of unused phone numbers. A currently trending show on Netflix called Squid Game skipped using one of these fake phone numbers. Now a woman in South Korea cannot keep her phone charged as she receives thousands of calls and texts a day from viewers of the Netflix original.
“After Squid Game aired, I got calls and texts over and over again, 24/7, to the point where it was difficult for me to continue with my daily life,” the woman at Korean media Money Today.
She explained that she has had the phone number for over 10 years and cannot change it as she uses it to communicate with clients for work. Since the show aired on September 17, she has “deleted” (blocked) more than 4,000 callers.
“It’s to the point that due to people reaching out without a sense of day and night due to their curiosity, my phone’s battery is drained and goes out,” the woman said.
The fiasco started because the show’s producers believed that if they omitted the first three digits, the call wouldn’t go through. However, as we all know, the first three numbers are just the area code, and dialing without them places a call under the local area code.
Korean entertainment blog Koreaboo notes that revealing someone’s phone number is illegal under the country’s privacy laws. Netflix is working quickly on editing the number of all the scenes it appears on the show. However, this appears to be a situation where the damage has already been done.
“Together with the production company, we are working to resolve this issue, including editing scenes with phone numbers if necessary,” said a spokesperson for Netflix. The streaming giant has also politely asked viewers to stop calling the number.
However, it was not just one person who was affected by the phone number leak. The Korea Times reports that another person with a number that is only one digit away from the one shown in the series is also receiving tons of spam calls.
“The stress of the incessant prank calls drives me crazy,” the unnamed person said.
Reuters asked Netflix if it would compensate the owner of the phone number, but declined to comment. He also noted that the woman indicated that she had been offered one million won ($ 839) in compensation but refused it and was later offered up to 5 million won (4,196 $). However, Reuters did not indicate whether Netflix Korea or another entity offered compensation.