With Netflix’s Squid Game recently reaching the milestone of becoming the biggest launch for a new show on the platform after amassing 111 million viewers in 28 days, the show’s creator, writer, and director Hwang Dong-hyuk dove deeper into the lore of the series and its future.

In a new interview with the Hollywood ReporterHwang explained how the names of the main characters in the show, like Seong Gi-hun, Cho Sang-woo, and Il-nam are names of friends he has in real life, one of numerous examples where he put parts of himself into the show.

“I infused myself into Gi-hun and Sang-woo’s characters quite significantly. Just like Gi-hun, after the failure of my movie, I had a time when I wasn’t able to make any money and I was supported financially by my mother,” explained Hwang, who began writing Squid Game well over a decade ago. “There was also a time when I was going to the horse races with the dream of winning a lot of money—although I didn’t steal from my mother like Gi-hun does. His character also has some bits of my uncle who used to be a real trouble to my grandmother. And like both of them, I grew up in Ssangmun-dong [the lower-income area of Seoul’s Dobong-gu district], and my family wasn’t very well off when I was young.”