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In context: For as long as I can remember, the Hollywood standard for including a phone number in a film or TV show has been to give it the phony "555" prefix. The industry understandably wants to keep innocent number holders from receiving unwanted calls. On rare occasions that a valid number does slip through, the consequences for the owner can be more than frustrating.
In South Korea, using fake numbers in a movie or show is slightly different. Instead of using 555, the country has a government regulated directory of unused phone numbers. A show that is currently trending on Netflix called Squid Game ignored using one of these fake phone numbers. Now a woman in South Korea cannot keep her phone charged because she is receiving thousands of calls and text messages a day from viewers of the Netflix original.
"After Squid Game aired, I have been receiving calls and texts endlessly, 24/7, to the point that it's hard for me to go on with daily life," the woman anonymously told Korean news outlet Money Today.
She explained that she has had the phone number for more than 10 years and cannot change it because she uses it to communicate with clients for work. Since the show aired on September 17, she has "deleted" (blocked) over 4,000 callers.
"It's to the point where due to people reaching out without a sense of day and night due to their curiosity, my phone's battery is drained and turns off," the woman said.
Replica Squid Game invitation cards that include the phone number are sold on at least one UK website.
The fiasco started because the show's producers thought that if they left off the first three digits, the call would not go through. However, as we all know, the first three numbers are just the area code, and dialing without them places a call under the local area code.
Korean entertainment blog Koreaboo notes that revealing someone's telephone number is illegal under the country's privacy laws. Netflix is quickly working on editing the number out of any scenes where it appears in the show. However, it seems like a situation where the damage is already done.
"Together with the production company, we are working to resolve this matter, including editing scenes with phone numbers where necessary," a Netflix spokesperson said. The streaming giant also politely asked viewers to stop phoning the number.
However, it's not just one person that has been affected by the telephone number leak. The Korea Times reports that another individual with a number that is only one digit off the one shown in the series is also receiving tons of unwanted calls.
"The stress from incessant prank calls is driving me crazy," said the unnamed person.
Reuters asked Netflix if it would compensate the phone number owner, but it refused to comment. It also noted that the woman indicated that she was offered one million won ($839) in compensation but refused it and was later offered up to 5 million won ($4,196). However, Reuters did not indicate if Netflix Korea or some other entity put forth the compensation.