Squid Game: Why The Guards Wear Red & Players Green


Netflix’s Squid Game has received praise for its striking visual style, but why do the guards of the eponymous game wear bright red uniforms, and why do the contestants wear green? Like many other parts of the show, the bright colors are chosen for a reason and have a greater significance than it might seem on the surface. The uniforms that the Squid Game characters wear have quickly become iconic, but they also tie into the series’ darker themes.

One of the Squid Game’s major components is the conflation of childhood games with the grim realities of late-stage capitalism. The main characters have all fallen into deep debt for a variety of reasons, making them desperate enough to risk their lives and do despicable things in order to have a chance at escape. Though the games they play remain based on common playground games, they are perverted by the dark stakes – stakes that the show implies are inescapable in today’s economic reality. In short, the juxtaposition between the kids’ games and the death surrounding them is what gives Squid Game such a powerful tension.

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The brightly colored uniforms worn by Squid Game’s players and henchmen tie into that dark juxtaposition. The green/blue of the contestants’ tracksuits and the red/pink of the guards are both so bright that it’s strange to see them so prevalently in a Hunger Games-style gladiator arena. Series creator Hwang Dong-hyuk has explained that he also wanted to create a clear visual language of factionalism, bringing in the team-based nature of many playground games.

While no explicit reason is given for the exact color of the Squid Game guards’ uniforms, there’s some clear symbolism at play. Pink is often portrayed as a feminine color, but red is also a color of danger and warning. The Squid Game henchmen are therefore dressed in an inherent paradox – a color that traditionally represents mildness and childhood, but which also evokes feelings of tension and anxiety. That tension is only magnified by the fact that none of the Squid Game guards’ faces are visible, making them come across as more robotic or beastlike than human.

Similarly, the blue/green tracksuits worn by Squid Game’s players have a level of irony inherent to their design. Tracksuits are casualwear, not battle armor, playing into the natural irony of the game’s juxtaposition. The teal color of the uniforms is also generally a symbol of peace, healing, or rebirth, but in the story of Squid Game, the tracksuits are practically a death sentence, with most who wear them winding up in the incinerators. Despite all the darkness tied to them, the costumes of Squid Game have become quite popular, with both the red guard outfits and the green player tracksuits now being sought after online by fans.

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About The Author

Rick Stevenson (1221 Articles Published)

Rick Stevenson is a writer, editor and performer based in Brooklyn, NY. He’s written on TV, film and games for over six years, in addition to assorted stints in bookselling, carpentry, and TV production. Rick studied writing at the College of William & Mary and Oxford University, and can report with some authority that they are both old. He lives and dies for Avatar: The Last Airbender.

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