Another Korean show has clinched the number one spot for top shows on Netflix in Singapore, joining successful productions like Squid Game, The Silent Sea and Hellbound.
The eight-episode show surrounds young and attractive singles who are stranded on Hell Island, which is described as an inferno for its hot weather.
But participants have a chance to escape to Paradise, where they can enjoy fine dining and luxe accommodation for a night. The catch is, they have to be successfully coupled first. After their daily interactions, they would choose someone they like, and if their choices are mutual, they would head to Paradise.
Germaine Si, 27, found out about Single’s Inferno when she came across videos on TikTok about the show. Despite it being on her to-watch list for a while, Ms Si only decided to watch it when she was on a cruise with her friends.
“[My friends kept] talking about it, sharing spoilers, thoughts [and] their favourite [members] which made me even more intrigued,” she shared.
Ms Si said that it was exciting to see “how couples are formed, how they are thinking of each other, the love triangles, etc.”, adding that the good-looking cast also drew her in.
While she doesn’t have any particular dislikes about the show, Ms Si felt that there should have been more bonding activities for the cast to get to know everyone better instead of going for only the person they like.
Lim Zhi Xuan, 20, started watching the show as it was trending on Netflix. “It was an asian reality show which piqued my interest since shows like this usually take place in western contexts,” she said.
She shared: “I like that in every episode, there’s some drama and conflict happening. These moments help me understand the [cast members] even better.”
However, Zhi Xuan was put off by the fact that all the cast members fit the conventional Korean beauty standards – including guys with six packs and girls with fair skin – rather than having more variety in terms of appearance.
Similar to Ms Si, Nur Zhafri Bin Badrul Hisham, a 27-year-old male viewer, got interested in this show when his friends mentioned that it was similar to Love Island USA and Terrace House but in the Korean context.
“There is a good mixture of heart-warming, emotional and intense scenes which makes it a good watch,” said Mr Zhafri.
However, he felt that the activities the cast engaged in on Hell Island were “pretty lacklustre” as most of the “eventful scenes were at Paradise”.
In the show, a few of the male cast members shared that their ideal type is someone with a light skin tone. This has sparked recent controversy over traditional beauty standards especially among the western audience.
“One of the cast members [associated] fairness of skin [with] the purity of the girl, which was a pretty problematic statement to make,” said Zhi Xuan.
She also thinks it is understandable that people with darker skin were unhappy with the remarks made about fair skin.
“The fact that fair skin popped up multiple times as an ‘ideal type’ for many candidates showed how Korean beauty standards are very fixed and rigid,” said Zhi Xuan. “People have to [look] a specific way in order to be seen as conventionally attractive such as having fair skin.”
Htet Htet Nay Aung, a 21-year-old Burmese student living in Singapore, said she was “disappointed but not surprised” when she heard the remark.
“I’m aware that Korean people do tend to idolise fair skin and being fair earns you extra attractive points instantly,” she added.
“Personally, I was not offended because I still do believe that it is a personal preference to a certain extent,” said Ms Htet.
However, she said that it would have been offensive if the male cast members were insistent on girls having fair skin, which some of them did point out.
“Since I’m not a Korean myself, I don’t think it’s fair [for] me to comment,” she said, explaining that this beauty ideal comes from “generational standards”.
As for how realistic the show is, Zhi Xuan said not everyone in the “real dating scene” is as physically attractive as the cast members who “fit into conventional Korean beauty standards”.
“This might perpetuate beauty standards that might be difficult to attain,” said Zhi Xuan, who still agrees that the show does accurately reflect people’s attitudes in real life situations.
Ms Si who has watched both Single’s Inferno and Too Hot to Handle said that she prefers the former as it is “more conservative without the sexual stuff”, a sentiment which Mr Zhafri also agreed with.
Although Mr Zhafri felt that there weren’t enough scenes featuring cast members who were left behind on Hell Island, “the plot twists, cinematography, and relatability of the show” made him want to keep on watching.
All episodes of Single’s Inferno are now available for streaming on Netflix.
Catch the trailer here: