5 financial lessons I learnt from watching Squid Game, Itaewon Class, & other K-dramas

by Vera

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a finance bro or a r/wallstreetbets kinda Singaporean. I didn’t even know what a call option was until yesterday. But, I do know how to watch Korean dramas. And while most of us tune in for the tears, heartache, and victories, there’s also much to takeaway from K-dramas these days. 

Multi-faceted and multi-dimensional storylines help to keep things fresh and insightful so even finance novices like me can bag home a lesson or two. Here are five actually useful financial lessons I learnt while clocking in my Netflix hours.

[Warning: Spoilers ahead]

1. Don’t underestimate consistency in the little things — Itaewon Class


Summary of the show: Having been dealt a terrible hand in life in general, Park Saeroyi’s life is riddled with setbacks and uphill battles. Itaewon Class tells an inspirational, feel-good story about how he looks adversities in the face and says, “not today” through a combination of sheer resilience, patience, and consistency. 

In the waiting for avenging his father’s death, Saeroyi remains consistent all this while — working hard silently, amassing wealth and relations that will eventually see him through his success. 

Lesson: As Saeroyi slowly but surely grows his wealth through investing in his rival Jangga Co.’s stocks and with the help of his wealth manager and childhood friend Lee Ho-Jin, it highlights the importance of staying steadfast in even the littlest of things, despite how minimal they might seem in the present, because every little action or investment accumulates over time. 

And you can actually invest from as low as S$1 per week with SNACK By Income’s app too, according to your comfort level. So even if you’re just starting to earn an income, don’t forget that the small things add up. Don’t underestimate the value of doing something today that your future self will thank you for. 

2. Risk-taking doesn’t only mean danger — Start-Up


Summary of the show: With dreams of becoming the next big tech entrepreneur, Seo Dal-mi from Start-Up takes her chances in Sandbox, South Korea’s fictional equivalent of Silicon Valley. But as most know, starting a business is never without risks, gambles, and hard work. Regardless of the results, at least starting over after taking a risk doesn’t mean starting from scratch but rather taking all your knowledge and experience along with you. 

Lesson: While the term “calculated risk” is frequently thrown around, it’s not without good reason. There is truth in taking the leap of faith in order for potentially bigger returns. But as with all things, it’s always better to work smart.

While some scoff at investments being risky, plans and products catering to varying risk appetites exist for this very reason. SNACK by Income provides full flexibility over your investments, so this means starting, stopping, and withdrawing anytime you want. There’s literally nothing holding you back or locking you in with this investment model. 

3. Rainy days will come — Hospital Playlist

Photo: Hospital Playlist Official Instagram

Summary of the show: Five doctors who have been friends since medical school navigate the challenges of the medical world and the sacrifices they must make. 

Lesson: Seeing as how the whole series is literally centred around the field of medicine, it serves as a grim but necessary reminder that we may not always be in the pink of health, even though that day seems so distant right now. And just like you, I’m also the kind of person who absolutely hates paying for things that I actually need because where’s the fun in that? 

But #adulting has made me realise that the boring thing to do is sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself. Saving up and stashing away isn’t what most people my age are thinking about, but it can be made easier when it feels effortless. 

Even as you go about your daily activities like taking the MRT, buying food, and going to the movies, you’re subconsciously building your investments and insurance coverage as your cards can be linked to your SNACK account, and these activities will trigger the bite-sized premiums that help you build your investments and insurance coverage. You can also set a cap on this or adjust it to suit your pace. It’s all about comfort here. 

4. Money sense can be a matter of life and death — Squid Game 

SNACK by Income

Summary of the show: If, by now, you still haven’t seen one of the most-viewed Netflix original series of all time, I have this to say to you — get out of here and put on some Netflix. But if you have, you’d know that Squid Game revolves around the juxtaposition of desperate, adult players who willingly enroll themselves in children’s games in hopes of clinching the grand prize pool. 

Lesson: It sounds a little dramatic, but hear me out. Surely financial literacy (or lack thereof) isn’t lethal in itself, but you’ll be surprised at just how quickly things can spiral out of control — which is what makes this silent killer so lethal in the first place. This was demonstrated in a literal sense in record-breaking series Squid Game, where participants fought to their deaths in trying to undo their poor financial plight. 

It might look a little more subtle in day-to-day life. Sometimes a matter of squandering can lead to having insufficient funds to pay for life-saving measures, or can drive one to extreme tactics just to attain money to get by. Get a head start by developing a habit of saving, amassing some insurance coverage, and investing a little will keep you from having to resort to drastic measures like enrolling yourself in Squid Game. Though if that means getting slapped by Gong Yoo, then sign me up anyway. 

5. Seek financial advice only from credible sources & do your due diligence — Hotel Del Luna

SNACK by Income
Photo: tvN

Summary of the show: Starring singer-actress IU, Hotel Del Luna tells the story of how a hotelier and owner worked together to run a hotel that serves wandering ghouls. 

Lesson: What’s the link to finance? You ask. Running a hotel, Man-wol needed help managing the hotel’s finances, and so Chan-sung stepped up as the level-headed one to provide reality checks and ensure that sound decisions were being made in general. 

It’s important to have people you can trust with important decisions, and everyone could do with having such “mom” and “dad” friends in their life. When making financial decisions, don’t forget to conduct your own research but also have a bunch of friends, advisors, or mentors whom you can trust, and with your best interests at heart. 

Sometimes with investments, it’s hard to trust that what you’re pouring money into is worth your while. With SNACK being a product of NTUC Income, you can go about your day with a peace of mind knowing that your funds are stashed safely with a reliable source. Choose how much to invest when you use SNACK’s fully flexible model. And by “how much”, I really do mean however much from as low as S$1. 

A S$30 gift to get you started

Because investing, insurance and all that jazz isn’t always head-turning, here’s a S$30 head start just for you. Yes, no promo code needed, and you don’t actually have to invest to receive it. Get started on the SNACK Investment programme and receive S$30, just like that. This gift is up for grabs, with these terms and conditions.

SNACK by Income
Photo: SNACK by Income

Good things, must share

For every new user that you refer using your unique referral code found in the app, receive an additional S$30 of investment credits (terms & conditions apply) while your friend gets their S$30 too. It’s time to get financially literate, babe. 

Download and sign up to SNACK By Income here now. 

*This post was brought to you in collaboration with SNACK by Income.

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