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When we were young, we used to play like this and our moms would invite us to dinner. That won't happen again...
Sang-woo to Seong Gi-hun during his final moments in "One Lucky Day"

Cho Sang-woo (조상우 Jo Sang-u?), also known as Player 218, was a contestant in the 33rd Squid Game in 2020.[2][3]

A childhood friend of Seong Gi-hun, Sang-woo was an extremely intelligent and successful businessman who graduated from Seoul National University at the top of his class, before becoming leader of an investment team at the securities company, Joy Investments.[2] He illegally siphoned money from his client's balances, then invested it in derivatives and future options that failed, resulting in the loss of ₩6 billion. He also used his mother's house and store as collateral for these activities.[4]

After participating in the Squid Game and surviving the first round, Sang-woo took the initiative for conducting a vote among the contestants to end the Squid Game after learning that participants who lose are killed. However, he ultimately decided to continue participating when he learned that the prize money for winning was ₩45.6 billion. After the games were stopped by the majority vote, his heavy debt almost led him to kill himself in his motel room before having being offered the chance to rejoin the Squid Game.[4]

During the games, Sang-woo helped Gi-hun and others in their alliance, particularly befriending Ali Abdul.[5][6] However, to ensure his own survival, he tended to be more ruthless and inconsiderate as the games progressed. Sang-woo resorted to manipulation to win the Marbles game, betraying Ali and leaving him to die.[7] He later murdered Player 017 in the Glass Stepping Stones game, and afterwards Kang Sae-byeok, to keep himself in the games.[8][9]

Sang-woo was one of the two players to make it into the final round of the competition, along with Gi-hun, who by then was his rival. The two faced off in a Squid Game, in which Gi-hun defeated him. Before claiming his victory, Gi-hun attempted to end the games prematurely by invoking clause 3 of the consent form, hoping to secure a majority vote to end the game and save his friend's life. However, Sang-woo decided to commit suicide by stabbing himself in the neck, allowing Gi-hun to be winner of the competition. As a final request before his death, Sang-woo asked Gi-hun to use some of the prize winnings to help his mother.[10]

Personality

I'm alive because I worked my fucking ass off to stay alive.
Sang-woo arguing with Seong Gi-hun in "Front Man"

Sang-woo's main trait is his intelligence. He is an extremely bright person and capable of quickly figuring out solutions to problems, even in extremely stressful and life-threating situations, which is demonstrated when he saved his team during the Tug of War game.[6][11] Sang-woo relies mostly on logic than on emotion to make his decisions. He also has a strong determination to accomplish his goals. However, this also makes him willing to resort to questionable means to ensure his success. Sang-woo is not easily fooled and is capable of manipulating people, a trait he employs to his advantage during the Sugar Honeycombs and Marbles games of the 33rd Squid Game. Sang-woo is determined to win the competition, as he views it as his final chance to solve his financial issues, and knows fully well that he will have to go to great lengths to win.

Being in heavy debt after failing in his investments, caused him to become desperate, especially because his mother's belongings would be confiscated after he used them as financial collateral in failed investments. As a former student of Seoul National University, his entire neighborhood, including his mother, had high expectations for his future. Because of his immense failure, he is not able to face his mother and tell her the truth. The failure also nearly drives him to commit suicide in his motel restroom after the games were halted due to a majority vote, before being offered another chance to play the Squid Game.[4]  

Despite being a rational, and also apparently fully self-centered and cold-blooded by the end of the competition, he isn't devoid of a heart. His mother is the sole reason he decided to enter the Squid Game in the first place and his entire drive to win the games stems from the fact that he needs the prize money to help her, showing that he genuinely cares about her. Outside the games, he is shown to be polite and friendly, which is seen when he assists Ali Abdul with getting a bus home in Seoul.[4] This behavior remains throughout most of the games. Sang-woo acts as a good teammate of his group, helping them to make the decisions and plans along with Seong Gi-hun, with the two of them usually operating as co-leaders despite their team not officially having a leader. Sang-woo shows to be willing to help others when his own life is not at risk. He helps Gi-hun during the Red Light, Green Light game by telling him that the doll is a motion sensor.[2] Sang-woo later goes to Gi-hun's rescue during the Special Round (when Jang Deok-su and his gang are murdering the other contestants) and he saves his friend from the attackers before helping their team to protect Kang Sae-byeok.[6]  

On the other hand, Sang-woo plays the Squid Game trying to not become emotionally attached to other players, as he is aware of the high likelihood of them dying, including by facing him during the games. However, he ends up genuinely connecting with Ali Abdul, to the point the he allows his new friend to call him "Older brother" ( Hyung?) instead of "Sir" (사장님 Sajangnim?).[11] This ultimately causes him to choose Ali as his partner in the Marbles game, believing that the two of them will be a formidable pair against the other players, only for him to find out they will have to face each other, instead of playing together. In the end, Sang-woo takes advantage of their new developed trust to save himself by manipulating Ali and letting him die to win the game. Despite this, Sang-woo is stunned as he hears Ali being shot and the announcer saying that Ali was eliminated, indicating he doesn't do it without remorse.[7]  

The other person Sang-woo has a connection with is Gi-hun. Among the players, Gi-hun is the closest one to him because they have been friends since childhood. Besides willingly helping him during the first game and the Special Round, he also shows concern for Gi-hun even when he decides not to tell the others about the Sugar Honeycombs game, keeping the advantage solely for himself. He is alarmed when Gi-hun chooses the umbrella, the most difficult option, and is relieved when his friend survives the game.[5][6] He also worries about Gi-hun's state of mind throughout the games; he looks at him in concern while Gi-hun is visibly feeling remorseful after killing their adversary team in the Tug of War, he later questions if he is okay when Gi-hun seems to have a nightmare during the night.[11] He also tries to comfort Gi-hun about Oh Il-nam's death, reminding him that Il-nam is someone he only met recently during the games,[8] which might be something Sang-woo is also telling himself about Ali.

As the games progresses and the number eliminated players increases, Sang-woo also becomes increasingly more ruthless to win, disregarding others' lives. His actions take his kind-hearted friend Gi-hun by surprise. Not being able to understand each other, causes animosity between the two of them, resulting in Sang-woo cutting ties with Gi-hun and Sae-byeok and isolating himself before the final game.[9] Later, Sang-woo's murder of Sae-byeok makes Gi-hun furious, leading the two friends to a mortal confrontation during the Squid Game. Despite caring about Gi-hun, in the final game, Sang-woo is willing even to kill his friend to win, having made it clear that he would do anything to survive and get the prize money. However, upon being beaten, Sang-woo recognizes his defeat. He is touched when Gi-hun attempts to stop the games to save him. Sang-woo ultimately apologizes to Gi-hun before rejecting his offer, instead choosing to kill himself to allow his friend to win and take the prize money.[10] Being aware of Gi-hun's kindness, he trusts that his friend will help his mother in his place.

History

Sang-woo with his mother after graduating from Seoul National University.

Born in 1975, Cho Sang-woo was a childhood friend of Seong Gi-hun, and the two played children's games such as the Squid Game, Sugar Honeycombs, and Red Light, Green Light.

Sang-woo studied Business Administration at Seoul National University, graduating at the top of his class. He later started to work as an investment banker and was the team leader of Team Two at Joy Investments. He eventually siphoned money off from his clients to invest in the stock market and futures. He lost it all, which resulted in a debt of ₩6 billion. Sang-woo also used his mother's shop and house as financial collateral in these investments.[4]  

2020

Sang-woo telling Seong Gi-hun about Young-hee being a motion-sensor during "Red Light, Green Light'.

Sang-woo is hunted by the police because of his debts. To prevent his mother's possessions from being taken, pay back his clients, and solve his money issues to avoid being sent to prison, Sang-woo accepted the offer to join the 33rd Squid Game.[4]  

After being taken to the island where the Squid Games takes place, Sang-woo began to feel skeptical about games, accusing the Guards of tricking and kidnapping him and the other 455 players because they were receiving very little information about the competition. Sang-woo later discovered that his childhood friend, Seong Gi-hun, was also a participant, as the two reunited just before the first game. Sang-woo hid behind other players during Red Light, Green Light to avoid Young-hee detecting his movements. When he saw Gi-hun struggling, he advised him to do the same, and they both made it through the game.[2]  

Sang-woo during the Sugar Honeycombs game.

Following the tragic events of the first game, Sang-woo initially concluded he needed to get out of the game. Remembering about the third clause of the Squid Game, he proposed the guards to let the players vote to terminate the games. However, upon seeing the amount of money accumulated in the piggy bank after the first game, Sang-woo changed his mind and voted no to terminate the games. The game was still stopped after majority voted out of the game, he was dropped off in the middle of Seoul with Ali Abdul, a player who saved Gi-hun's life in the first game. Sang-woo saw Ali's financial difficulties and offered to help by paying for his transport home. Later, he called his mother and told her he was abroad. Just as he was about to commit suicide in his motel bathroom, another invitation from the game crew arrived at his door, and he decided to return to the game.[4] Rejoining the Squid Game, he reconnected with the other players, including Gi-hun, but he felt nervous, knowing that he'd have to compete against all of them at some point. Gi-hun proposed to form a team, which Sang-woo agreed. Their inicial team was composed by Gi-hun, Sang-woo, Ali and the elderly participant Oh Il-nam.

After another player, Kang Sae-byeok, had gone off earlier to find out what the second game would be about, Sang-woo approached her and questioned about what she discovered. She told Sang-woo that the crew was melting something in large pots, and it smelt like sugar. Later, upon viewing the shapes on the doors of the playground, Sang-woo easily figured out the game; Sugar Honeycombs. Instead of notifying this to teammates, he chose to keep it to himself, reducing their chances of survival. Sang-woo then picked the simplest shape to cut out of the cookie while telling the others to split by choosing different ones. However, he is taken aback by Gi-hun choice's of the umbrella, which is the most difficult shape to cut, and tries unsuccessfully to warn his friend about the game.[5] When the game ended, Sang-woo is relieved to learn that Gi-hun survived.[6]

Sang-woo with the other members of Seong Gi-hun's team during the Special Round.

When Jang Deok-su and his gang attacked other players late at night in order to reduce the number of competitors and boost the amount of money, Sang-woo vigorously fought them off and assisted his teammates in defending themselves. Sang-woo later saved the team in the Tug of War game by thinking in a last-second strategy. As they were being dragged and were on the verge of falling to death, he told his team to take three steps forward to knock down their adversaries, allowing him and his teammates to win this game.[6][11] Fearing another attack from Deok's gang, Sang-woo and Gi-hun advised the members of their team to take turns sleeping and keep a lookout at night in case of another riot. Sang-woo and Ali remained up late together, bonding over their shared experiences and telling each-other stories.[11]

Sang-woo opted to partner up with Ali the next day during the Marbles game, stating that with a smart and strong individual, they'd be able to beat the other teams. They soon discovered, however, that instead of playing together, the pairs would have to play against each other. Initially, Sang-woo tried a basic guessing game after Ali revealed he had never played marbles before, which was possible as they were allowed to set the rules of the game. To his surprise, Ali had better luck guessing the amount of marbles accurately and came close to beating him.[7]

Betrayal of Ali and downfall

Sang-woo and Ali Abdul during the Marbles game.

Sang-woo felt frantic with only one marble left and realized he was about to lose. He got on his knees and begged Ali to save his family. However, Ali responded that he, too, had a family who needed him alive. With no other option, Sang-woo decided to betray Ali. He lied to him about how they both might have the chance to play together if the time is out and the other pairs don't have a winner, allowing them both to beat the remaining teams and survive the Marble game. He then convinced Ali to give him his marble pouch and swapped it for one with pebbles. This made him successful in gaining all of his opponent's marbles without resorting to any violence, thus winning this game.[7]

After all the other players were eliminated in the next game, Glass Stepping Stones, Sang-woo, Gi-hun and Sae-byeok were guided by Player 017, who worked as a glass manufacturer. Just as they were running out of time, the lights were turned off, making Player 017 stop as he became unable to guess the final tile they should step on. For wasting too much time, Sang-woo pushed Player 017 off the bridge, allowing him and the others to get to the other side within the time limit.[8] As one of the finalists of the Squid Game, along with Gi-hun and Sae-byeok, he was gifted a suit and served in a fancy dinner. When they were done eating, he and the others were each given a knife. Fearful and angry of his indifference for human life, Gi-hun tried to assassinate Sang-woo while he was sleeping, but was stopped by Sae-byeok, who told Gi-hun that he "wasn't a murderer". However, as Gi-hun had his back turned and was calling for the guards to help Sae-byeok, who was bleeding to death from the wounds she received in the previous game, Sang-woo rose from his bed and slit her throat. Sang-woo's murder of Sae-byeok made Gi-hun furious, and he attempted to attack him with his knife but was stopped by the guards.[9]

In the sixth and last game, Squid Game, Sang-woo and Gi-hun would face off. Before doing so, Sang-woo told Gi-hun that killing Sae-byeok was an act of mercy because she was going to die anyway from her initial glass injury. Gi-hun didn't believe him, so Sang-woo further explained that Gi-hun would have given up on the game to save Sae-byeok, voting with her to terminate the games, which would result in all of them leaving empty-handed.[10]

Death

Gi-hun breaks down after Sang-woo's death.

Sang-woo initially gained the upper hand during the Squid Game, with violent attacks on Gi-hun's life, however, he was eventually overwhelmed. At the climax of the final game, Sang-woo was beaten by Gi-hun and almost killed by him. But despite all that Sang-woo did to hurt him, Gi-hun couldn't bring himself to murder his friend. Instead, Gi-hun resorted to the agreement's third clause to end the game, giving up on the prize money in order to save Sang-woo's life.[10]

As Gi-hun reached out and asked Sang-woo to come home with him, his friend apologized and refused the offer. Sang-woo chose to let Gi-hun be the winner of the games by committing suicide, stabbing himself in the neck with a knife. In his last moments, Sang-woo urged Gi-hun to help his mother. Although they had become enemies by the end of the games, Gi-hun was heartbroken at Sang-woo's decision to end his life. Gi-hun broke down and cried while holding his dead friend in his arms and was emotionally scarred long after the games were over.[10]

One year after Sang-woo's death, Gi-hun eventually fulfilled his friend's wish by giving his mother a share of the prize money and entrusting her with Sae Byeok's brother, Kang Cheol.[10]

Behind the scenes

Cho Sang-woo was portrayed by actor Park Hae-soo.

Appearances

Cho Sang-woo's appearances
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Quotes

Sang-woo: I put an end to her suffering. You know she would have died anyway.
Gi-hun: That's bullshit. Stop lying. She could've survived. They would've treated her.
Sang-woo: I know what you're like, okay? You're the reason that I had to kill her. I knew you two would stop all this, so she didn't die in there.
Gi-hun: Was that it? You killed someone because this might end?
Sang-woo: Yeah! You and that girl would've been the majority you needed to get out! Going home without a single cent. I couldn't do that!
Gi-hun: She's the one who stopped me. 'Cause I was gonna kill you with this. It's over. I won't let you leave here with that money.
Sang-woo and Gi-hun's final conversation before their fight in "One Lucky Day"
My mother, go help her.
Sang-woo's dying words to Gi-hun in "One Lucky Day"

Gallery

References

  1. In Korea, 1 year is added to the person's age after birth, so if he is 46 in the 33rd Squid Game (according to "Red Light, Green Light"), he was born in 1975.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Red Light, Green Light
  3. The overall competition is confirmed to be called Squid Game, and the 2020 game is confirmed to be the 33rd annual game, by the archived files Hwang Jun-ho reads in the episode "A Fair World".
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Hell
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 The Man with the Umbrella
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Stick to the Team
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Gganbu
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 VIPS
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Front Man
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 One Lucky Day
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 A Fair World
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