In a roundtable interview with Netflix Korea (via YouTube), “Squid Game” production designer Chae Kyung Sun explained the gift-box coffins’ meaning. “I think it focused on the mind of the person who came up with the game,” she said. “I imagine he’d think he gave the contestants a chance as if he’s a god. ‘This is my gift to you. Even your bodies being disposed in the incinerator is a show of mercy.’ So I thought, what if I put a ribbon on it?”
That tracks what we know about that character, Il-nam, aka the “Old Man,” aka Contestant No. 001 (Oh Yeong-su). When he’s first introduced on the show, he appears to be just another contestant, and he appears to die in Episode 6. Later, it’s revealed that he isn’t just dying from terminal cancer — he’s also the creator of the games. As he explains to Seong Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae), the reason why he created the games was that he was bored. Actually participating in the games was his way of getting an adrenalin fix, even if he was never in mortal danger like the other contestants.
The fact that Il-nam was willing to organize a series of twisted takes on children’s games for his own amusement already speaks to the callous way he regards other people’s lives. And cremating the contestants inside a literal gift box shows just how depraved he really is.