'Squid Game: The Challenge' Contestants Respond to Reports About Filming Conditions (Exclusive)

Four new episodes of the reality competition show are streaming now on Netflix.

Real-life contestants are taking on the iconic Squid Game obstacles in Netflix's competition series, Squid Game: The Challenge.

In the new reality adaptation of the Emmy-winning Korean drama series, a massive cast of 456 competitors enter a challenge space designed to look just like the show, with towering bunk beds, a twisted, colorful staircase, and ominous masked guards. 

Over the course of nine episodes, viewers will also see the contestants competing in some of the same challenges faced by the Squid Game characters, including the dalgona challenge, the glass bridge and the harrowing game of "Red Light, Green Light."

However, it'll be worth it for the competitor who comes out on top. Squid Game: The Challenge is setting a record for reality television and game show history with its massive prize of $4.56 million.

Over the summer, the show found itself facing some controversy when anonymous competitors spoke with Variety about the filming conditions on the show. "Red Light, Green Light" was the first challenge to be filmed -- taking out 228 competitors, nearly half the field -- and the anonymous eliminated players claimed that it was due in part to "inhumane" conditions during the cold day of filming.

According to the competitors, multiple people collapsed during the seven-hour competition, likely due to the cold and fatigue -- as the production took eight hours to set up before the game even began.

"This is not a Bear Grylls survival show," said one anonymous player. "If they had told us it was going to be that cold, no one would have gone through with it."

Netflix and the producers responded at the time, saying, "We care deeply about the health of our cast and crew, and the quality of this show. Any suggestion that the competition is rigged or claims of serious harm to players are simply untrue. We've taken all the appropriate safety precautions, including after care for contestants – and an independent adjudicator is overseeing each game to ensure it's fair to everyone."

ET's Ash Crossan was on set of The Challenge, and later spoke with several players who refuted the claims that production was "inhumane" -- with most saying they knew they signed up for a difficult competition.

"I was very surprised that somebody ran to the media that fast because they're just really upset that they got eliminated really quick," said Bryton (432), a former college athlete who was pretty sure there was a target on his back because of his physical prowess. "You're not signing up for a beach trip in Hawaii, you're signing up for something to win $4.56 million. It's not going to be easy."

"I think it was a little bit of an overexaggeration," agreed Dani (134), who also admitted that she did "absolutely nothing" to train for her time on the show. "I think we all knew what we were signing up for. It wasn't easy -- like we watched the Netflix show and you could tell it wasn't going to be easy... Did it suck the entire time? Yes, I was freezing cold and my feet were numb but like, I was just very proud of myself when I got past that finish line."

Lorenzo (161) told ET that he considered himself "the strongest player" -- which he thought ultimately led to his elimination. But he didn't place any blame on the filming conditions.

"You have to expect some difficulties," he conceded. "If not, it would have been advertised as having ice cream in Malibu instead of Squid Game: The Challenge, right?"

Rick (232), who said he was the show's oldest competitor, also laughed off the idea that someone entered the game thinking it would be "a walk in the park."

"I expected it to be difficult. You know, $4.56 million, it needed to be difficult," he noted. "I got through it. I'm the oldest person there. So somebody half my age crying about it? I mean, that's their issue. It wasn't the show's issue."

After the second batch of episodes dropped on Nov. 29, ET caught up with even more players who echoed the same sentiments.

"It was cold and it was challenging," Bee (018) admitted. "But in my opinion I never personally felt in danger. I did quite a thorough health assessment. I know we all did, to make sure we were up for long standing periods, cold temperatures, and things like that so I knew I felt quite safe personally there. I can't speak on other people's experiences, but that's how it was."

TJ (182) agreed, recalling "They literally told us: Your'e going to be standing for a long time and you'll be cold. Literally told us exactly what was going to happen and we knew it was gonna be challenging. I think all of us knew it was going to be extremely challenging."

Squid Game: The Challenge is streaming now on Netflix, with the season finale debuting on Dec. 6.


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