Being Kind Works.

Beyond Survival: The Unseen Power of Kindness in Squid Game — Phil’s Journey


How one contestant’s kind actions sparked a shift in the dynamics of the competition, challenging the prevailing notion that survival required ruthlessness.

As viewers awaited a new episode every week, they were greeted by new characters, sharing their passions for winning “Squid Game: The Challenge.” Participants met producers in an eerie room to share their stories. Some shared stories of hardships while others shared bittersweet moments from their childhood. One contestant, Phil Cain, shared his strength and skill of kindness with viewers.

Phil Cain (Photo from The Pink News)

“Squid Game” is a South Korean television series that gained international acclaim after its release on Netflix in 2021. The show revolves around a group of financially struggling individuals who are invited to participate in a mysterious competition called “Squid Game” with the promise of a massive cash prize for the winner. The reality show spinoff has now been the top-rated show for over two weeks. Squid Game: The Challenge is a reality TV adaptation inspired by the intense and competitive atmosphere of the original Squid Game. Contestants face physically and mentally demanding challenges for a chance at a substantial prize, blending elements of strategy and survival in a gripping televised competition.

The games in “Squid Game” are childhood playground games with deadly consequences. Participants face life-threatening challenges, and the competition becomes increasingly brutal and morally complex as players fight for survival. Many players choose to be selfish, knowing that they are playing for themselves.

The original “Squid Game” highlights the harmful pedestal money is placed on by society. You can see players move towards malicious motives to give themselves the upper hand rather than supporting other players. Phil was the exception. He constantly put an importance on making friendships rather than alliances. Even when stakes were high, Phil chose kindness and projected it as a strength rather than a weakness, showing positive outcomes. His willingness to help others, even at the risk of his own safety, set him apart as a beacon of humanity in a sea of desperation.

In the team-based challenges, Phil consistently chose collaboration over betrayal. Rather than undermining his teammates for personal gain, he embraced cooperation, recognizing that their collective strength was their best chance for survival. Viewers saw his friendships grow. He became extremely close with a girl named Jackie. She was deaf and had the goal of spreading awareness of deafness and ASL. He was often seen learning new signs with her in order to communicate more comfortably and support her in her goal of spreading more awareness about ASL.

Phil’s selflessness reached its peak when he willingly sacrificed his own resources to help fellow contestants. Whether it was sharing food or providing emotional support, Phil became a symbol of altruism in an environment that thrived on selfishness. He often prided himself on giving others a bigger helping hand than helping himself.

As I watched the show, I noticed his kindness towards others put him above any other contestant. He used kindness as a strength and never backed down to those who were acting in selfish ways. With his kindness, he was able to make more alliances that were true to his morals. His alliances lasted and were based on pure friendship rather than partnering with people for the sole purpose to win. He was able to win players’ trust easily and stayed out of groups who showed themselves in a selfish light.

When people were eliminated, he was the first one to console them and hug them goodbye. When people were being unfair, he was the first one to call them out and to ensure the morals of the game were played out. He showed strength all the way through the end of the games, where he was unfortunately beaten in a game of rock, paper, scissors. Even with the anticipation of being that close to 4.6 million dollars, he went to hug the winner right away. He showed her compassion by validating her feelings of excitement and overwhelmingness.

Phil sets example of kindness with other contestents (Photo from

As the games progressed, Phil’s kindness began to influence those around him. His actions sparked a shift in the dynamics of the competition, challenging the prevailing notion that survival required ruthlessness. Other contestants began to question their own strategies, realizing that there was more to gain from unity than from division.

In the real world, there seems to be the same competitiveness towards money when living in a capitalist society. It often seems that too frequently capital comes first before people. It creates a hostile and competitive environment for many, as it promotes people to act in selfish ways to gain capital. The balance in this environment is acting with kindness. Being kind to others is not easy, but is necessary. Phil demonstrates the strength kindness has to change others lives but as well as his own. He constantly pushed himself to look for the good in himself and people. Kindness is an action to others and oneself of being honest, optimistic, and looking out for others. Phil demonstrated all of these traits and viewers learned about the positive effects that come from being kind to others.

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Abby Rosas

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