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We see that in Squid Game, there are a large number of guards who oversee the games. Of course, we are given some idea of how the contestants are recruited—they are extensively surveilled and then psychologically profiled through a game.

However, the recruitment process for the guards is arguably at least as important: they certainly must be absolutely loyal and unwilling to reveal the secret of the game or attempt to steal the money, able to stand up to a work environment that is at turns extremely tedious and dangerous, as well as cold-blooded enough to kill any contestant on the drop of a hat or even their fellows if their leader so orders it.

How does the organization select the guards?

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    Strong vibes of Stanford Prison Experiment. The guards are as much surveilled and under strict orders as the contestants. Oct 10 at 11:17
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There's an interesting theory regarding the first game Gi-hun is offered to play at the train station, called Djaki. Note that there is a blue card and a red card. Gi-hun chooses the blue card and he gets selected as a player (cyan outfits). The theory is that, had he chosen the red card, he would have been recruited as a guard (magenta outfits). This would explain why the guards are also being regulated in some manner (numbered rooms, time schedules, no talking policy, no revelation of identity).

Source

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    That seems extremely logical.
    – Obie 2.0
    Oct 8 at 22:33
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    This sounds interesting, but has some problems. Picking a color is basically random, with a nearly equal chance for picking one of the cards. Yet the attrition rate of guards is much lower than of the players. Hundreds of players die every season, yet in this game only a handful of guards died, even that in special circumstances, so there might be many games where not a single guard dies. The question now would be, if the guards return next year. If not, then they also need massive recruitment for them. But the organ harvesting ring hints that guards might be employed for more than one season.
    – vsz
    Oct 9 at 11:17
  • @vsz: Note that the officers (squares) and grunts (circles) are not alike. The grunts might be replaced constantly. Neither 28 or the assumed identity of 29 were hinted at being involved for a long time they were merely divers/couriers and treated as lessers. Btw, I'm unsure about guards (triangles). I would guess that seniority is valued as they are the ones carrying most weapons.
    – Flater
    Oct 12 at 18:32
  • Also note, though the color selection is seemingly random: who's to say every potential recruit is even given a color choice? The Djaki theory could still hold true if color selection is no longer an option once all player or guard openings have been filled. Likewise, color selections past the current game limit could theoretically be applied to the next game. Though I favor the previous idea.
    – OhBeWise
    Oct 12 at 19:45
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There is no certain information revealed, so unless there will be a second season explaining it, we can never know for certain.

However, there are many strong hints.

One such very strong hint explains how they are loyal and why they don't mind killing unarmed innocents: both the host (on his deathbed) and the front man (when executing the doctor for cheating) explain an ideology they strongly believe in: they believe they're giving a fair second chance to people whose lives were already beyond saving in the outside world. This ideology can be like a central doctrine of a cult. (Yes, the games were created by the founders purely for their own entertainment, but creating this ideology is a good excuse for them to suppress any traces of conscience they might have had, or their employees might develop)

Another key point is that the contestants are given a fair choice. Everyone is there on their own accord, they aren't forcing anyone to compete, and they can have a fair vote at any time to stop the games. Of course, we can call them hypocrites if we want (circumstances of the player's lives force them into continuing), but that doesn't matter. All that matters is that the organizers strongly believe that they're not responsible for the player's deaths, because they are there on their own free choice. This means that any of the staff who might have conscience problems, can use the above justification to not feel guilty.

We should not forget the Milgram experiment, and how prone guards in POW and forced labor camps were to mistreat inmates. Especially if they can find an ideological justification to see them as subhuman. And here the players are people who are already "beyond saving" in the outside world. They will likely get killed by loan sharks, or commit suicide pretty soon. They can be considered as being already dead. Remember, some guards referred to the contestants as "zombies". So if they're already dead, why should the guards feel guilty about shooting them? Especially if the players are there on their own free choice?

So, where can they get new recruits?

  • we see (if I remember correctly) 3 unmasked lower-rank guards, and all of them are very young. They can be recruited/kidnapped as children, probably as orphans, and raised/brainwashed that way. The organizers are strong believers of the "free choice" doctrine, even if that free choice is only "free" from a certain viewpoint, but if they really recruit orphans who have nowhere else to go, they are "providing them an opportunity" just like they do with the players.
  • higher ranking guards might be strong believers of the ideology presented above. It's like high-ranking people in a cult, some might be there for strongly believing the cult's teaching, others just for enjoying being in power over people they can feel superior towards. The organizers of the games are some of the richest and most influential people on the planet, I won't be surprised if they were also owned stakes in some cults.
  • former winners are not enough to make up the full roster, many are unlikely to want to join, and it's unlikely that they are forced to do so, given the central doctrine of "free choice". But some of the higher ranking staff can be former winners, just as the Front Man is a former winner.
  • a very likely pool of candidates is made up of those who voted to leave and didn't return. In the current year, there were 14 people who decided not to return, and the Front Man is seen giving the order that they should be kept under surveillance. Remember, the candidates are all in a desperate situation, with debts they are incapable of ever repaying. It is very likely that when new positions open up, they are approached and given the opportunity to join the staff. They aren't forced, but they don't really have any choice besides getting killed by the loan sharks they are indebted to or dying of starvation. They are desperate, and probably were on the verge of choosing to return but chickened out at the last moment because they were too afraid of dying suddenly in the game. But they are desperate, remember that 93% of the players decided to return to the games on their own free will even after they learned that they get killed if they don't win. The other 7% is equally desperate, so if given a choice to be member of the staff, where they have a much higher chance of survival, they'll be eager to accept.
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    This is such a poor conceived answer. They meet up once a year. You don't brainwash people and have them meet up with you for a few weeks once a year. There is absolutely no justification of the guards. There is no reason why the guards couldn't overtake 1 leader and take the cash. All of your examples are extremely off base. They could possibly come up with reasoning in season 2 - it surely won't be the opinions you have here.
    – blankip
    Oct 8 at 15:32
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    "There is no reason why the guards couldn't overtake 1 leader and take the cash" - the winner receives the money into a bank account, immediately after the final round. The money in the room might as well be fake, only for illustration, there's no reason to keep the same amount of money twice. And it's a big, powerful international organization, with deep connections if they can do so much surveillance and not get caught. Trying to double-cross the boss will get any mutineer hunted down. There isn't only one leader, the Front Man is only the organizer of the local event.
    – vsz
    Oct 8 at 18:00
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    No. There is no reason to believe the money is fake. It is intimated from player 1 that he has so much money he doesn't care. There is nothing in the entire season that even alludes to anyone on the "management" team other than the leader being on the island. So there might be surveillance and whatever but there is only 1 guy to kill to get the money. I am sure the writers will backtrack to try to give some explanation but right now you just have to accept everything with no semblance of reality.
    – blankip
    Oct 8 at 19:27
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    There's 1 guy at that location. So if the guards kill that 1 guy - the leader... a swat team from Egypt flies in and does what? I don't get why you are getting this. This could never happen - ever. You have to accept the holes in the premise. Could this work with 5 guards... no but maybe its more believable. But with this many guards... ummm... no. And the fact that they are early 20s... makes your premise weaker. These guys would be all over the place and very hard to control.
    – blankip
    Oct 8 at 19:41
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    @blankip: There are multiple games a year, as evidenced by the cop walking through the archives, with multiple aisles worth of records. It seems a monthly thing. Inbetween prep and player acquisition, that would be a non-stop activity.
    – Flater
    Oct 12 at 18:37
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It has been said that the guards were previous winners. The other thing to recruit new guards is through the suitcase game.

Note that the guards are also numbered.

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  • Was the suitcase game the same one that they used to recruit players? Also, I don't see how the guards can be previous winners: they seem to try to ensure one winner per year, and they have only been doing the game for a few decades, which leaves them with about 30 guards at most, if every winner returned. We saw that there were more than that.
    – Obie 2.0
    Oct 4 at 20:30
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    "it has been said" - said by whom? That's just a weasel word. Most winners likely have no incentive to become guards themselves. The only member of the staff we know was a previous winner is the Front Man. And when executing the cheaters (the doctor and the guards who conspired with him) he reveals that he has strong ideological motives: he believes they're giving a fair second chance to people whose lives were already beyond saving in the outside world. It's not inconceivable that some other staff, especially higher ranking ones, believe that in a cult-like mindset, but we have no proof.
    – vsz
    Oct 8 at 10:24
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    It would be pointless to win a huge amount of money from an extremely difficult game and then returning to the same game for a different yet dangerous role (note that guards are also executed sometimes).
    – Sandun
    Oct 8 at 22:18

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