The highly successful Netflix series Squid Game premiered on 17 September 2021. This is an extremely thought provoking series which depicts how people of various personalities play cruel games for a chance at a renewed life. The interesting aspect of this game is that it attempts to set up as level a playing field as possible. No one should have an advantage over another player based on their occupation.
This is most apparent when a player who used to work at a glass manufacturing company used his knowledge to gain an edge over the others, the gamemaster took away his advantage by switching of the lights such that he could not tell which glass tiles were tempered and which were not.
The only advantage left that one player have over another, is therefore, personality. How would players of differing personalities try to win the game and how would they interact with each other based on conflicting goals? Let us do a deep dive into the mbti types of the rich characters in squid game.
Cho Sang Woo-INTJ
Sang Woo fits the INTJ stereotype, as a coldhearted and highly intelligent villain who would do anything to get ahead. INTJ personalities have Introverted Intuition(Ni) as their dominant function. Sang Woo uses this function to plan ahead. He has a vision in his mind of how everything would pan out. He was willing to face the harsh truth that eventually the game would reach a point when he would have to kill someone else.
He also uses this function to understand the thought patterns of his fellow competitors as well as the game organizers. By understanding how others think, he was able to persuade them to act in his benefit. During the game of marbles, he understood that Ali was optimistic and would choose not to kill him if he could. Therefore he manipulated Ali into thinking that there was a chance that they could both survive, while in reality playing a game of misdirection, hiding his true intent. In fact he used this chance to swap out Ali’s marbles for useless stones such that he could survive instead. He probably used this function to cheat his clients of their money.
Moreover, he understood the perspective of the game organizers. When he knew that the organizers were making sugar and he saw the different shapes on the wall, he put the pieces together and came to the conclusion that they wanted them to play Ppopgi, a childhood game in korea where they had to cut out shapes from honeycomb candy. He also used Ni to detect a pattern that they were making them play childhood games. He also understood that the game organizers had organized the games as a bloody sport, and knew that they most likely would have to fight to the death.
Sang Woo has Extraverted Thinking(Te) as his auxiliary function. He was very clear of his final goal and knew the most effective way to reach it. When it was in his benefit, he cooperated with his fellow competitors. He knew that in order to survive the first few rounds, he needed the help of others. He teamed up with Gu-Hun, Oh II-nam and Ali Abdul as he knew he would need their protection from the other competitors. He also understood that some games were team games, such as tug-of-war.
However, He had no qualms betraying his team mates when he needed to. Not only did he let his childhood friend Gu-Hun choose the umbrella during the game of Ppopgi despite knowing that it would probably be the hardest to win at, he also tricked Ali during the game of marbles. Te users can sometimes become exploitative like Gu-Hun, when they are so focused on accomplishing their goal that the ends justify the means.
Te users are prone to see everything and everyone as resources, as simply tools to accomplish their goal. Sang Woo made use of the people around him whenever he could. Before the game of Ppopgi, he offered his knowledge of childhood korean games to North Korean defect Sae-byeok in exchange for her knowledge of what the game organizers were doing in the kitchen. Nonetheless, he saw her as merely an obstacle to him before the last round and killed her. He made small talk with his team as he knew that team bonding would be essential to their survival, but secretly harbored no loyalty towards his supposed allies.
Sang Woo has Introverted Feeling(Fi) as his tertiary function. As this function is relatively low in his function stack, it was easy to ignore it in favor of his more conscious cognitive functions. He cared only about winning the game, and put his personal morals aside. Any feelings of guilt he did feel when he killed or betrayed others, he pushed aside easily.
In a twisted way, Sang Woo used Introverted Feeling to justify his actions. To him in his current situation, it was morally right to kill others as everyone else knew that they had to do it in order to win. He observed that the glass maker allowed all the people in front of him to fall to their death even though he could tell the glass tiles apart. As far as he was concerned, it was kill or be killed. By joining the game the other competitors had already subscribed to this.
Sang Woo has Extraverted Sensing(Se) as his inferior function. He is observant of the details in his physical environment. In the game of red light, green light, he noticed that people who flinched even a little were shot down. He inferred that the doll was probably a motion sensor and one could avoid getting shot by hiding behind someone else to evade detection by the sensor. Furthermore, he noticed that Sae-byeok had left to go to the toilet, guessing that she actually went to investigate about the inner workings of the place.
Moreover, he also uses his physical awareness in certain aspects of the game, such as using his strength in tug of war and using a stick to fight other competitors. However, as this was his inferior function, he depended mainly on his intelligence to get ahead, and not his motor skills.
As an ESFP personality, Gu-hun has Extraverted Sensing(Se) as his dominant function. He lives in the moment, craving sensory experiences without caring about the long-term. He is a gambling addict as he loves the feeling of excitement and anticipation when watching the horses race. He also started and failed two businesses, presumably because he rushed into something he deemed exhilarating without having proper planning.
Sang Woo is aptly described him as someone who “always have to get into trouble to know it’s trouble”. When he was playing the games, he did not think about the implication that he would have to kill in order to survive, but instead focused on playing the games to the best of his ability. This shows how little he thought about what playing the game would mean, and simply joined the game as he felt it was the next best move to make.
Gu-hun has Introverted Feeling(Fi) as his auxiliary function. Gu-Hun is an unhealthy ESFP who did not develop this function well enough. When making his decisions, he impulsively did whatever gave him the most sensual stimulation without thinking about whether it resonated with his core values.
Despite caring for the people around him, he still took actions that jeopardized his relationships with them. Not only did he steal from his mother and rely on her for financial support when he should have been supporting her, he was also unable to support his daughter and allowed his ex-wife and her current partner to take custody of his daughter. He was also willing to let II-nam die for him, even though it did not sit well with him, seeing how much guilt it caused him.
As he did not care much about making decisions based on what felt right, he allowed others to superimpose their values onto him, and they judged him for being an irresponsible failure, while in fact he was just doing whatever gave him the most psychological reward in the moment, and he did not actually want to cause grieve to those around him.
However, throughout the show, he grew as a person. The ironic thing is that playing the squid game encouraged him to think about who he wanted to be and develop his auxiliary function, making him a healthier ESFP. He chose to enter the game as he knew in his heart that he did not want to lose his daughter. However, after people died in the game, he ignored the fact that he would likely have to risk his life or kill in order to win. When II-Nam died, he felt such despair and guilt that he realized he did not want to kill anyone. He chastised Sang Woo for pushing the glass maker off the tile. Also, he protected Sae-byeok from Sang Woo.
Moreover, by the end of the game, he was so in touch with his inner principles that he wanted to end the game instead of killing Sang Woo and walking away with the prize money. If he was in touch with his auxiliary function from the start, he probably would not have joined the game after knowing that people died there. In fact, he probably would have been a better son and father and not be in the mess he was in in the first place.
After the game ended, he was a completely different person. He got in touch of introverted feeling and became much more reserved and thoughtful. Feeling guilty of Sang Woo’s death, he offered Sang Woo’s mother the prize money. Finding out that his own mother had died caused him greater regret that he had not acted according to his heart earlier. He did not even use the prize money as he could not bear to think about all those people who had died for the money and could not bear the survivor’s guilt. His confrontation with the mastermind of the game Il-Nam was the ultimate prove that he had changed as a person and believed that no one should ever have to go through such an ordeal like the squid game.
Gi-hun had Extraverted Thinking(Te) as his tertiary function. Since Gi-Hun did not develop Introverted Feeling(Fi) well, he was often caught in an Se-Te loop, where instead of getting in touch of his core values, he wanted to make quick decisions(Te), such as gambling, starting businesses, and joining a murderous game for money that stimulated his senses(Se) and thus ended up making irresponsible decisions that did not resonate with him.
Gi-hun had Introverted Intuition(Ni) as his inferior function. This is apparent is he is unable to plan for the future. Not only did he have no savings, he was in heavy debt and continued to gamble despite being hunted by loan sharks. He was literally unable to think in long timelines. He did not understand that eventually he would have to kill in the Squid Game, and still participated in it even though he did not want to kill.
Kang Sae byeok-ISTP
Sae byeok fits the stereotype of a quiet rebel that ISTPs are often portrayed as. She has Introverted Thinking(Ti) as her dominant function. Furthermore, she has Extraverted Sensing(Se) as her auxiliary function. This gave her a very good understanding of physical objects and excellent sensory awareness. She used this practical logic to figure out the layout of the place.
By pretending to go to the toilet and picking the lock on the ventilation shaft, she managed to obtain privileged information on what the next game was likely to be. She used this kinesthetic and environmental intelligence in multiple parts of the game, such as moving swiftly and hiding behind Deok-Su in Red Light, Green Light and when fending off attackers.
Sae byeok has Introverted Intuition(Ni) as her tertiary function. As she has less conscious control over this function, it came off as paranoia of the future. This served her well during the games as she was always ready for any challenges that might arise. She was afraid of Deok-su and knew that he would make a move to attack her. Hence she was ready to defend herself when he did.
Sae byeok has Extraverted Feeling(Fe) as her inferior function. As this was the function she had the least access to, she mostly kept to herself and appeared a little guarded. However, her willingness to help others gained her good allies that defended her.
The Front Man has Introverted Sensing(Si) as his dominant function and Extraverted Intuition(Te) as his auxiliary function. This means that he sees his ability to enforce rules and uphold order(Te) as essential to his personal identity(Si). Coupled with his detail oriented nature(Si), this makes him the perfect organizer of the Squid Game.
He ensures that there is a rhythmic process to everything. The entire system runs very smoothly, with workers waking up at certain timings and having lunches at certain timings, and everything being extremely predictable. He also punished people for not obeying the rules. In the end he achieved the goal in precisely the manner he set out to, with one winner at the end of the game, and the clients satisfied.
ISTJ personalities have Introverted Feeling(Fi) as their tertiary function. The Front Man valued fairness above all else. When he found out that his workers were in a conspiracy with one of the players to make money off organs, he killed his workers as he felt that they were jeopardizing his integrity at keeping a level playing field for the players. He also turned off the lights when he noticed that the glass maker had an unfair advantage during Hopscotch.
The Front Man has Extraverted Intuition(Ne) as his inferior function. He uses this function to anticipate all the possibilities for how things would pan out, and took action to manage risks. Despite facing many unexpected obstacles such as his brother infiltrating the place and players attempting to cheat, he had a contingency plan for everything and carried out his responsibilities perfectly.
Deok-su has Extraverted Sensing(Se) as his dominant function. Even before he entered the Squid Game, he was already engaging in high risk situations, being a violent gang member. He used his physical prowess to bully others into submission. As he could read facial expressions well, this gave him the ability to navigate social situations and attract many allies.
Deok-su has Introverted Thinking(Ti) as his auxiliary function. He used this function often in a negative way, being extremely rational when it came to his own self interest. He used others when they were of use to him, and tossed them aside when they did not serve his purpose. He did that to Mi-Nyeo, as well as to the doctor.
Deok-su has Introverted Feeling(Fe) as his tertiary function. As he probably grew up in a rough neighborhood. He used this function to manipulate others. He acted friendly and helpful when he needed their help, only to push them aside later.
Deok-su has Introverted Intuition(Ni) as his inferior function. Despite him having limited control over this function, he used it to speculate about the future and prepare himself, such as asking the doctor to find out more about the next game, and getting men to join his team as he knew strength would be required.
Ali has Introverted Feeling(Fi) as his dominant function and Extraverted Sensing(Se) as his auxiliary function. His uses his physical prowess(Se) to express his intense loyalty(Fi) to his friends and other human beings in general. He has showcased this loyalty multiple times, such as defending Sae-byeok from Deok-su and proving himself during the tug of war.
ISFP personalities have Introverted Intuition(Ni) as their tertiary function. Ali has less conscious control over this function. Hence, he could not always sense the thought patterns of others, and did not know he was being manipulated by Sang Woo.
Ali has Extraverted Thinking(Te) as his inferior function. As seen in the show, he did not care much about controlling others or even winning the game. He only wanted to express his solidarity to those around him.
Using his practical logic from Introverted Thinking(Ti) and Extraverted Sensing(Se), Jun-ho infiltrated Squid Game with ease. He was able to navigate a very foreign environment and avoid detection for a long time. When the circumstances required him to, he was able to swiftly eliminate fellow workers with controlled violence.
He has Introverted Intuition(Ni) as his tertiary function. Before deciding to board the ship and joining the game, he did not have much of a plan, he just wanted to find his brother. Instead, he acted on impulse and was able to improvise.
He has Extraverted Feeling(Fe) as his inferior function. Luckily, he did not have to communicate much with the other workers as they operated almost independently of each other as cogs in a massive system. Hence, he was largely able to avoid detection.
Not unlike Gu-hun, Mi-nyeo was an unhealthy ESFP personality who was mostly caught in a Se-Te loop. She made many rash and impulsive decisions without consulting with her moral compass. For example, she made out with Deok-su even though she did not like him, and paid the price in the end. She also did not hesitate to insult others, including the guards. She was alienated as a result and could not find a partner for the game of marbles(which turned out to be a good thing).
She did however display Introverted Feeling(Fi) at times. She felt that it was against her core beliefs that selfish bullies like Deok-su could win the game at the expense of others and thus decided to take him down with her.
She also has Introverted Intuition(Ni) as her inferior function. This shows up as she is unable to plan for the future, not thinking through her actions and making enemies of others only to regret it later when she needed them.
ENFJs have Extraverted Feeling(Fe) as their dominant function and Introverted Intuition(Ni) as their auxiliary function. However, II-nam is an unhealthy ENFJ who skipped past his Ni function and jumped straight to using his tertiary function, Extraverted Sensing(Se), causing him to be perpetually stuck in an Fe-Se loop.
Fe allows him to understand social dynamics very well. Coupled with the fact that he is rich, this allows him to form many shallow relationships. However, since he does not use his auxiliary function Ni, he cannot understand the perspectives of others and thus is unable to form deep meaningful connections. This causes him to become cynical and lose hope in humanity. He creates Squid Game initially as a sensory experience(Se) for himself, using it as a tool of escapism to deal with the emptiness he feels at not being able to satisfy his inherent need for deep connection.
Perhaps he notices that spectating will never bring him that connection, hence he decides to participate in the games himself. As he forms a deep connection with Gu-hun, his faith in humanity is restored and he is more satisfied with life. Therefore he allows Gu-hun to live. When Se is used in support of Ni and not in isolation, it can enhance connectivity via having fun with one’s good friends.
He has Introverted Thinking(Ti) as his inferior function. This is obvious as he is often slow to come to logical conclusions in the game.
Ji yeong has Extraverted Intuition(Ne) as her dominant function. She is not grounded in reality, but instead ideates about hypothetical future possibilities. This is especially apparent when she asks Sae-byeok what she would do if she won the prize money.
She has Introverted Thinking(Ti) as her auxiliary function. She is very logical about her believes, and does not believe in religion or god. Furthermore, her Ti comes out as being critical of others as she sarcastically criticizes the man after tug of war for not being grateful to his team members and pushing the responsibility of killing his opponents to god.
Ji yeong has Extraverted Feeling(Fe) as her tertiary function. She is able to sense that some people were not happy with her on the team, and volunteered to leave even though she knew this may jeopardize her survival. She was also keen to connect with Sae-byeok, who was acting a little guarded.
Ji yeong has Introverted Sensing(Si) as her inferior function. She is not really grounded in reality, so much so that she fantasizes leaving with Sae-byeok and going to jeju island. Her past also seems to cause her much grieve, as his dad, who was a pastor, used to beat his mum and even killed her.
There you have it, the MBTI types of all major Squid Game characters. Hope I was not too long winded. This is only my opinion, do you agree with me? Do let me know in the comments.
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