Brains over brawn worked in the Korean drama, but will it work in the SoraNews24 office?

The other day, as our Japanese-language reporter Masanuki Sunakoma was looking at images of cruel, ruthless violence he found himself thinking “Hey, I’d like to try that out in the office!”

Luckily for all of us who work with the guy, though, it wasn’t the killing that intrigued him, but the strategy. It’s pretty much an open secret by now that in the hit Korean drama Squid Game the contests are to the death, and Masanuki was particularly intrigued by the results of the tug-of-war that takes place in the series fourth episode (spoilers ahead).

In the episode, protagonist Seong Gi-hun finds himself on a tug-of-war team with much less brute strength than their opponents. But just when things seem hopeless, his elderly teammate Oh Il-nam shares a strategy that shows it’s not always the biggest muscles that win in tug-of-war, but sometimes the smartest brains.

To recreate the physical power imbalance, we split our staff into two teams, one with three members, and one with five. Joining Masanuki on his squad were fellow reporters Takashi Harada and Seiji Nakazawa. Together they would take on the collective might of Mr. Sato, Go Hatori, Ahiru Neko, Yoshio, and P.K. Sanjun.

In a secret strategy session before the contest, Masanuki explained the technique they’d be using, as introduced by Oh Il-nam in the series:

1. Alternate members standing on the left and right sides of the rope
2. Place feet slightly apart with toes pointing straightforward
3. Hold rope up near your armpit and pinch it against your side
4. For the first 10 seconds after the game starts, remain standing in place
5. Lean back so that your navel points towards the sky and you can see the crotch of the person behind you

The logic is that this will turn your team’s entire collective mass into securely anchored body weight that your opponents have to pull, which should be a lot harder than just trying to tug you off balance and letting your legs walk you forward through your body’s instinctual desire to not fall down, If you can hold on for 10 seconds, your opponents will tire themselves out and their physical solidarity will start to slip, and that’s when you can go on the offensive and pull them as far as you want.

Realizing that staging an actual murder game in the office would probably be illegal, and even worse would mean a heavier work load for the winners as they’re forced to take on their dead coworkers’ tasks, we didn’t hold the contest across a deep chasm, but instead in the SoraNews24 headquarters conference room. Thus, the losers would not receive death, but merely teasing of a potentially unending, and unquestionably childish, manner.

And with that, let the contest begin!

Following their strategy, Masanuki and his team made no attempt to change their position, but simply dug in their heels and leaned back. As per the plan he had a close-up, unobstructed view of Takashi’s crotch.

They quickly learned, though, that 10 seconds feels like a long time when you’re outnumbered by a group of people using every muscle in their bodies to try to pull you away from your spot.

▼ Not looking at each other’s crotches seemed to make the situation easier for them to endure not just physically, but mentally as well.

But if they could just hold out a little longer —

Oh no…

This isn’t good.

Had we set up our arena like the one on Squid Game, the last thing Masanuki’s team would have seen was Mr. Sato’s face looking down at them as they fell to their painful-impact deaths.

▼ It’s not a bad face, but still, the whole dying thing would have been a bummer.

But Masanuki is confident that even if he were to die, hell would not be able to contain his desire for revenge. He’d find a way to return to the land of the living, and so we let his team challenge their opponents again, and this time…

the exact same thing happened.

▼ Seiji vainly tried to at least save himself.

And yet, Masanuki’s soul would still accept neither death nor defeat. In a last-ditch effort to prove the value of his knowledge, he formed a new team with Go and P.K., who along with Masanuki make up the three most frequent gym rat weightlifters in the office. This three-versus-five matchup, he figured, would make for the most even distribution of strength between the two teams, and winning by following the strategy would show that it really does work.

Confident that Round 3 would be when things finally started going his way, Masanuki grabbed the rope…

and promptly got defeated again.

▼ Video of the contests

“Why…why…WHY?!?!?!?” Masanuki screamed as he experienced what would have been his third death. Sadly, no one came to his aid with an answer, because this was also the point where the rest of us remembered that we were still on the clock, and that our boss really would kill us if we didn’t start doing some real work. For the time being, though, should you wake up tomorrow and find yourself trapped in a death game, and you see Masanuki is there too, we recommend joining whatever team he’s not on.

Photos, videos ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]