Do you still believe in people? Even after what you've experienced? Do you know what the common ground between someone without money and having too much money? Life is just not fun! If you have too much money you can buy, eat and drink as much as you want, but at some point it gets boring. And at a certain point my clients started telling me that they no longer enjoy life. So we all sat down together and pondered; what else could we have fun in life? Do you still believe in people now?Oh Il-nam to Seong Gi-hun.
Il-nam: And our guests, greet them for me, alright?
Front Man: Of course, sir, but why not do it yourself?
Il-nam: Because I know that I'm not going to have as much fun watching as playing.Il-nam to the Front Man about joining the Squid Game.
Oh Il-nam (Korean: 오일남), also referred to as The Host or Player 001, is the main antagonist of the first season of the South Korean Netflix drama Squid Game.
At first he seemed to be an ordinary old man who got to participate in the Squid Game as a destitute player. Because of his brain tumor, it seemed that he did not fully grasp the situation and was just enjoying the games as a way to have fun before his death. However, it was later revealed that he is the creator and host of the Squid Game, a true mastermind who has been hosting the games for decades, later being helped by his right-hand man, the Front Man. It's revealed that he wished to participate in the 33rd Squid Game as he knew it would be the last one before he died.
He was portrayed by Oh Young-su. In the English dub, he was voiced by Hideo Kimura.
Although he is a cold-blooded host of many death games, he was always looking for new fun, and for this reason, the last death game he made while he was at the end of his life, the Squid Game, was so much fun to watch that he even participated in it himself.
On his death bed, he explained to Gi-hun that being as wealthy as he was made him desensitized to everything since he never had to struggle or work for anything. However, he seems to have a genuine fondness for Gi-hun, buying him food when Gi-hun couldn't afford it, helping him during the game as much as he can and even allowing Gi-hun to defeat him in the marbles game rather than continuing on to the end without any ulterior motive in spite of Gi-hun attempting to trick him and take all his marbles.
During their friendship, he was also honest for the most part about himself, telling Gi-hun the truth about his past and even his name, only hiding his true role in the games from him. This suggests that Il-nam truly did see Gi-hun as his friend, possibly the first real one that he'd had in a very long time since the last time that Il-nam is known to have friends was when he was a kid and would play the games that he loved so much with them. He is also implied to hold genuine love for his family based on how he speaks about them and allowed the players to go home by casting the deciding vote, showing an honorable side.
He also sees humans as despicable and selfish creatures at its core as shown when he points all the treachery and selfishness exhibited by the players during the duration of the Squid Games to survive and win the grand prize. He goes as far as to challenge Gi-hun in a gamble on his death bed to see whether or not bystanders would save a homeless man who was sleeping in the freezing snow to prove his point.
Oh Il-nam is an incredibly wealthy financial tycoon who is bored with wealth as he has everything in the world to the point that life gives him no more joy. To cure his boredom, he and others wealthy individuals who mostly are his clients in his financial corporation, created the Squid Game based off of games he played in his childhood when he was young and watched his own children play.
Ever since the game began in 1988, it has sprouted out in many version in many different countries where the rich elites can pour money to watch the death games full of desperate people trying to compete to the death to rid themselves of financial ruin for their sick entertainment and gambling. Il-nam rationalized this by believing that he was offering some fun in poor people's lives, believing that they suffered as much as wealthy people in terms of lacking purpose.
Eventually, Il-nam suffers from brain cancer and decides to participate in the latest Squid Game for his own entertainment and in his own twisted desire to be like a kid again.
When he first met Seong Gi-hun as participation number 1 among four hundred and fifty-six participants, he mentioned that he had a tumor in his brain, so it can be seen that he is living a limited life due to a brain tumor. In the first game, Red Light, Green Light, when two hundred people were slaughtered and everyone in the crowd was in a panic and couldn't even say a word, he unintentionally led the crowd by showing himself brightly leading the game according to the rules of the game. Follow him and start moving to survive.
He was unintentionally in charge of the last one vote because the game replay voting was conducted in reverse order of number, and the previous two hundred votes were split evenly, so he exercised a very important vote. He ultimately chooses to end the game and after that, he and everyone go back to their daily lives. He coincidentally meets Gi-hun in the outside world, and the two share a drink and ramen together. Il-nam confess to Gi-hun that he realized the masked men were right and "the reality is even more hell" than the games. He changes his position and decides to participate in the game again and rejoins the game. After rejoining the game, he reunites with Gi-hun and forms a team alongside Ali Abdul and Cho Sang-woo. At the start of the second game, Sang-woo suggests the all split up, so Il-nam chooses the star as his shape, one of the difficult shapes in the dalgona lottery game, and managed to remove the shape with a troubled expression. After two minutes, so he realized Gi-hun was licking at the back of the shape to easily remove it and pass the round. Il-nam then meets with Gi-hun afterwards and thanks him for the strategy.
During lights out a riot breaks out between the players, Il-nam hides from the chaos until he reapers on the top of a bunk pleading with the guards to end the fighting. He cries are heard, and Masked Soldiers appear to stop the conflicit. Following the riot, Il-nam keeps watch over his team just in case another riot started. Just before the third game, the group must expand their team to 10 players. When the third game is revealed to be Tug-of-war, Gi-hun's team feel hopeless at their odds due to having three women and an elderly man. Especially when they realize they are versing team 5, a team consisting of all men. Il-nam attempts to inspire his team, however he is met with fatalism, that is until Gi-hun advises the team to heed Il-nam. Il-nam explains a strategy in Tug-of-war that should allow them to win even against physically stronger teams. Gi-hun's team follows the strategy and gains an initial advantage against team 5, until their opponents manage to recover and overpower the strategy. But thanks to Sang-woo's quick thinking, they manage to out maneuver team 5 win the third game.
Once back in the dormitory, Gi-hun, concerned over another possible riot, orders his team to construct a barricade and keep a night watch. During his shift, Il-nam partners with Gi-hun and Gi-hun confides within the old man. Revealing that he was involved in a work related protest that turned violent. Although a riot never broke out, Il-nam fell ill the next day. Feeling bad for the old man, Gi-hun gifted Il-nam his Player 456 jacket to cover himself. Just before the forth game, the players are instructed to split up into pairs. Due to his condition of being an ailing elderly man, most of Il-nam's teammates abandon him. That is until Gi-hun pities the old man and partners with him. The next game is revealed to be with Marbles, which both Gi-hun and Il-nam cheer gleefully until Gi-hun hears they must compete with each other. Gi-hun tries to start their game, however, Il-nam wonders around the arena, reminiscing about his life and how the arena looks similar to his old neighborhood. Gi-hun repeatedly pleas with the old man to start, but Il-nam's mind seemingly is affected by dementia and the old man ignores Gi-hun's pleas as childish requests. Eventually, as time begins running low, Gi-hun grabs Il-nam and begs the old man to start their game. Scared, Il-nam begrudgingly agrees to play with him. As the two play a guessing game, Il-nam repeatedly wins and collects Gi-hun's marbles. Just before he wins, Il-nam begins to lose his memory from his dementia and questions Gi-hun about his guess. Seeing an opportunity, Gi-hun takes advantage of the old man's condition and makes a comeback, winning almost all the marbles, except one. Gi-hun attempts to play the final round and win, however, Il-nam wonders off, eventually finding a house that resembled his old one. With time running out, Gi-hun desperately tries to play one more round and save his life, suddenly, Il-nam reveals he knew about Gi-hun tricking him by using his weak mental state against him. Gi-hun apologizes and Il-nam gifts Gi-hun his last marble to allow him win because he was his trusted friend, so Gi-hun can progress in the next round. Upon leaving, Il-nam states he remembers his name, and shares with Gi-hun that his name is "Oh Il-nam".
After Gi-hun wins the game and billions of won, he is miserable as he lost his mother who died from her diabetes and lost custody of his daughter as he was too late to win the money to pay for his mother's surgery and prove his financial stability to the court to keep his daughter. The winning money has become worthless to him as he lost everyone he cares for and he barely touches it after a year of winning the games, beside using it to pay back the loan sharks he owes the money to. While drowning his sorrow in a river with alcohol, he receives an invitation from a seemingly dead Il-nam to come a building complex.
On his death bed, Il-nam reveals everything from the nature of the game to his role in creating it much to Gi-hun's rage as Il-nam treats people life like playthings for him and his rich elite. Il-nam then challenges Gi-hun in a final gamble that if a homeless man outside does not receive any help from the bystanders, it will prove his point as human are inherently selfish creatures and he will take all Gi-hun's winning money. However, if the homeless man gets help, Gi-hun will be allowed to kill him in any ways he likes for revenge. Eventually, the homeless man receives help and Gi-hun wins the bet. However, after Gi-hun expresses his smugness at proving Il-nam wrong about human nature, he realizes the old man finally passes away from his brain cancer, though probably not before he witnessed his loss. Later, after Gi-hun leaves, the Front Man goes to his apartment to pay his respects.
- According to the archives discovered by Jun-ho, the Squid Game takes place annually; The first game took place in 1988 and the most recent one took place in 2020. This makes Il-nam responsible for thousands of deaths, spanning thirty-three years.
- If 456 players were in the Squid Games annually, including the one during season one, and only one person wins each time, Oh Il-nam would be responsible for 15,001 deaths at the most. However, given that the players are given a chance to leave via Consent Form Clause 3, it's most likely that the total number of victims is less than fifteen-thousand.
- Oh Il-nam's name means "Number One Man", which explains why his player outfit says "001".
- At the time of his death, Il-nam seemed to be roughly in his 80s or 90s, which would have made him in his late 50s to early 60s when the first game began. His advanced age meant that he grew up through the Japanese occupation of Korea and the Korean War, which could have desensitized him towards death.
- There are theories that Gi-hun was the son of Il-nam due to both of them being lactose intolerant and Gi-hun being around the age his son supposedly was. However, this has still not been confirmed and remains unlikely.