More details on the real Squid Game island

I noticed today that the location of the "real" island shown in the popular Netflix show Squid Game has been making the rounds in foreign media. So if anyone is curious here is a little bit more info about it. 

The island is called 선갑도 (Seongab-do, Seongab Island) and is an uninhabited island just off the mainland of Incheon, South Korea, located at [37.094, 126.07], which is not far from the island that hosts Incheon International Airport. 

I should be clear that most of the show was filmed in studio, not "on location." This island is only featured in aerial shots of the island and a few outdoor scenes. 

The most prominent is at the end of episode 1, following the Red Light Green Light game where the camera zooms out from the game field to reveal that it takes place on an island: 

Screencaptures from episode 1 of Squid Game

You can see the distinctive curved bay entrance of the island in the imagery. 

The real island part of the administration division of 인천광역시 옹진군 자월면 승봉리. Therefore it can be slightly confusing because Google Maps doesn't seem to have the proper name for this island, instead labelling it as a portion of the "Seungbong-ri" (승봉리) village authority, which it is, but this administrative area covers a few islands in the area. The island we want is featured in the just lower-left of center of this screenshot. Note that the feature image Google includes (with the pretty purple flowers) is the other more populated island in the administrative district of 승봉도. 

You can view it yourself on Google Maps here: 37°05'38.4"N 126°04'12.0"E - Google Maps

However I think the imagery on South Korea's own Naver Maps is better: 네이버 지도

Unfortunately you can't see any street-view coverage here, but the satellite coverage is much better and gives a good look at the lagoon and some of the associated buildings and infrastructure. 

Here's a look at the landing dock:

Image: Naver Blog 선갑도지킴이 

The island is apparently known among hardcore backpackers and campers as you can see here. The linked blog post also includes a nice drone footage overview of the island:

#오징어 게임섬 : 네이버 블로그

There are even photos from the island featured on Instagram under the island's hashtag:

It looks like a pretty place, but has a bit of a sad history according to this article:

하지만 선갑도는 바닷모래 채취로 인해 몸살을 앓고 있는 곳이다. 환경단체들은 해양생태계 파괴와 해안 침식 등을 이유로 지속해서 채취 중단을 요구하고 있다. 또한 최근에는 인천 쓰레기매립지 후보로 거론되기도 했다.

선갑도는 한국에서 가장 큰 무인도로 알려져 있다. 2007년에 (주)선도공영이 매입했다. 1970년까지는 승봉도 주민 35명이 공동 소유했다. 정부가 핵폐기물 처리장으로 만들기 위해 1992년에 매입했다. 이후 주민 반대에 부딪히자 1996년 해양수산부 산하 한국해양연구원에 매각했고, 그 후 (주)선도공영이 매입했다.

현재 선갑도에는 1가구에 4명이 전입신고를 한 것으로 나타났다. 엄밀히 따지자면 무인도는 아닌 셈이다. 다만 이들은 거주목적 보단 섬 관리를 위해 오가는 것으로 보인다.

Looks like it's been used and abused throughout recent history: considered for a landfill site and nuclear waste dumping ground, and used as an erosion-heavy sand harvesting base. 

The island itself is uninhabited except for a few stewards who live there off and on. There's no regular ferry service to this specific island, but boats can be chartered to take avid and adventurous hikers and campers out. I'm not sure about the legality of camping there but obviously some hearty souls do it. 

There's a movement to try to include this island in the wider protected maritime park area. I wonder if any attention drawn to it from Squid Game could help that cause. It could be a nice turn of events if the popularity of Squid Game brings heightened tourism to these island communities that could make a buck off fans chartering boats out to see for themselves. Of course that tourism could also end up hurting the environment too, but considering the lack of economic opportunity for a lot of these communities I feel like it would be a positive.

Probably the most traction for this island getting visibility among foreigners would have come from TikTok user @thegoogleearthguy who featured it on his channel:

He zooms in around it using Google Earth imagery here: 

Share this to someone who has watched squid game! 😳 #fyp #viral #thegoogleearthguy #squidgame #netflix #squidgamenetflix #googleearth #scary #island

He also discovered a few other Squid Game location shots, such as this section of Yeoido where the main character is dropped off:

Browse his channel to see a few more of the locations featured in the show.

This Instagram post also conveniently showcases some of the locations:

And the AREX (airport railroad) promotional blog featured a post about the filming of the final subway scene which apparently took place at the Airport Cargo Station. 

I enjoyed Squid Game quite a bit. Personally I'm puzzled as to the massive level of popularity it has around the world. It was a good show but I hardly expected it to have such a huge following. Not to diminish from the show's achievement, but I wonder if part of the reason for its success is related to Korea well managing the COVID-19 outbreak and keeping production crews at work. There seems to have been a lack of new English content shows in the 2020-2021 period as production was halted on shows where outbreaks were cropping up. Regardless, it's to Korea's credit that they managed to maintain the infrastructure and creative content chops to put out professional Hollywood-level shows. Korea always has been an export-focused economy, and it's nice to see the successful addition of soft products to their already famous hard products.