|This article's content is marked as Mature|
The page Cho Sang-woo contains mature content that may include coarse language, sexual references, and/or graphic violent images which may be disturbing to some. Mature pages are recommended for those who are 18 years of age and older.
If you are 18 years or older or are comfortable with graphic material, you are free to view this page. Otherwise, you should close this page and view another page.
|“||I'm alive right now because I tried damn hard to stay alive.||„|
|~ Cho Sang-woo to Seong Gi-hun.|
|“||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 Gi-hun.|
|“||Hyung... I'm sorry... Hyung... my mother... my mother...||„|
|~ Sang-woo's last words to Gi-hun, asking him to take care of his mother.|
Cho Sang-woo (Korean: 조상우) is the deuteragonist-turned-final antagonist of the first season of the South Korean Netflix drama Squid Game. He is Seong Gi-hun's childhood friend-turned-greatest adversary in the brutal competition for the ₩45.6 billion prize. Sang-woo is a businessman who needs the prize to pay a ₩6 billion debt and solve his financial problems, especially because they will also cause his mother's financial ruin.
He was portrayed by Park Hae-soo, and by Park Si-won as a child. In the English dub, he was voiced by Stephen Fu.
|“||We've already come too far to end this now.||„|
|~ Sang-woo to Gi-hun.|
Sang-woo is a very intelligent and rational individual who is determined to win the game. Although Sang-woo is strong-willed, his willingness usually causes him to exploit certain situations in his own favor, as he is fully aware that he will need to go extreme lengths in order to win. Being very intelligent, he does not fall for tricks easily and is capable of manipulating others, a skill he uses to favor himself during the second and fourth games. He also can quickly think in good solutions to problems even under extreme situations, as seen when he saves his team during the Tug-of-War game.
Despite showing a cruel and self-centered side during the final few games, he is polite and not really heartless, especially in the beginning of the Squid Game. This is shown as he helps Ali in Seoul and his teammates during the games, especially when the generous action will not bring any harm to his own life. He also truly cares for his mother, as she is his entire reason for joining the Squid Game in the first place. His whole desperation to win the games is due to him needing the money to prevent his mother's possessions being taken after he used them as financial collateral in his failed investments. Because of the total failure after being constantly praised by everyone for his achievement as the top student of his class in Seoul National University, he does not have the courage to return to his mother and tell her the truth of his current situation. After the games were interrupted by the majority vote, this also leads him to almost take his own life in his motel bathroom, before being offered another chance to rejoin the Squid Game.
During most of the games, Sang-woo acts as a good teammate. Despite his group not officially having a leader, Sang-woo and Gi-hun usually act together as co-leaders, making all the decisions and planning for their team. However, Sang-woo tries not to get attached to other players, knowing about the high chances of them dying, including by facing him during the games. Despite this, Sang-woo develops friendship and trust with Ali, to the point that he decides to team up with him during the Marbles game, believing that the two of them will be a great duo against other players. However, when he discovers that they have to face each other and one of them will die, Sang-woo does what it takes to save his own skin, even manipulating Ali and letting him die to grant his own survival. Though it is shown that Sang-woo is visibly shaken or even remorseful by this as he hears the gunshot that ends Ali's life.
He also shares friendship since childhood with Gi-hun, making him the closest one to Sang-woo among the players. They are seen teaming up for most of the games. Sang-woo helps him during the Red Light, Green Light game when he sees his friend having difficulties, and he protects him when Jang Deok-su and his gang attack and murder the other contestants after the lights are out. When Sang-woo decides not to tell the others about the Sugar Honeycombs game (probably as a strategic move to keep the advantage to himself), he becomes alarmed when Gi-hun chooses the hardest option, the umbrella, and later shows relief when his friend ends up surviving the game. Sang-woo also seems concerned for his friend when he looks at a remorseful Gi-hun right after the Tug-of-War and later when Gi-hun seems to have woken up from a nightmare. Following the Marbles game, Sang-woo tries to comfort Gi-hun about the death of Il-nam, saying that he only knew the old man in the games and points out to Player 069 who is in a worse situation as he had to play against his own wife.
Despite caring about Gi-hun, he lets it clear that he will do anything to survive and win the prize. As the number of killed players increases, Sang-woo goes down a spiral, becoming more ruthless and disregarding others' lives. To ensure that the games are not interrupted again, he also makes sure other players don't start another vote to terminate the games, reminding them that they already came too far to stop and this choice will make previous deaths become meaningless. After Sang-woo killed Player 017 to complete the Glass Stepping Stones game within the time limit, Gi-hun who has a naturally kind heart, becomes surprised and does not understand Sang-woo's decisions, resulting in Sang-woo cutting all ties with Gi-hun and Sae-byeok and going rogue in order to win. Sang-woo later kills a dying Sae-byeok, which further infuriates Gi-hun before they confront each other in the final game. When facing Gi-hun in the Squid Game, Sang-woo is willing even to kill his friend to win. However, upon being defeated, he acknowledges Gi-hun's kind-hearted nature when his friend tries to end the game so they both can survive and go home, but Sang-woo chooses to commit suicide so that Gi-hun can be the one to win all the prize money, trusting that Gi-hun will support his mother after his death.
Sang-woo is a childhood friend of Seong Gi-hun. In their younger days, they would both play children's games such as the Squid Game, Sugar Honeycombs, and Red Light, Green Light.
Sang-woo enrolled at Seoul National University, where he studied Business Administration. After his graduation as the top of his class, he started to work as an investment banker. Sang-woo became the team leader of Team Two of Joy at Joy Investments, however, he embezzled money from his clients and invested it in the stock market. Sang-woo lost it all trying to invest in derivatives and futures, resulting in a debt of ₩6 billion.
Having used his mother's shop and house as financial collateral and now being hunted by the law, Sang-woo accepts the invitation for the Squid Game, a mysterious competition with a large sum of money as the prize to pay back his clients to avoid jail time.
Sang-woo is first seen in a flashblack as a child, during the opening narration of the series. Gi-hun narrates one time he played Squid Game with his friends and explains the rules of the game. Young Sang-woo plays in the defensive team while young Gi-hun plays in the offensive team. Gi-hun manages to trick Sang-woo, distracting him long enough to cross to the the other side of the squid's waist. Sang-woo tries to push Gi-hun off the grid, but fails. When Gi-hun moves towards the squid's head, Sang-woo grabs his shirt to stop him. Sang-woo only manages to rip a piece of the shirt and Gi-hun runs to the squid's head, claiming his victory. While Gi-hun and the offensive team celebrates, Sang-woo is seen sitting on the ground, still holding a piece of the ripped shirt.
Years later, on the island where the games happen, Sang-woo is seen in the dormitory with the other players while the masked men welcomes them and explain the rules of the competition. Because of the small doses of information the 456 players received before being taken to the island, some of them question the mysterious staff, including why they are hiding their faces. Sang-woo is one of this skeptical players and tells the masked manager that he doesn't believe in anything that was said. Sang-woo thinks the players were enticement, kidnaped and then confined, and the staff are just giving excuses for their illegal actions without revealing their identities. In response, the manager shows a footage exhibiting Sang-woo playing Ddakji with the salesman, explaining that Sang-woo is the former leader in a investing company, but he embezzled money from his clients and then invested it in derivatives and futures, and failed, resulting in a ₩650 million loss.
Sang-woo continues to listen the staff tell the players the rules and then is seen signing the consent form with three clauses of the game. At the location of the first game, before the game begins, Sang-woo is approached by his childhood friend Gi-hun who is surprised to see him and asks why he joined the game. Gi-hun says he visited Sang-woo's mother's store, and she told him that Sang-woo was abroad on a business trip. Gi-hun asks if it is true that Sang-woo the SNU alum and pride of Ssangmun-dong is in debt like the manager said. Uncomfortable by his friend's questioning, Sang-woo says they will talk about it later.
During the first game (Red Light, Green Light), Sang-woo and the other players discover that the losers of a game are killed. Sang-woo finds out he can hide behind other players to prevent his movements from being sensed by the doll. Upon seeing that Gi-hun is paralyzed and trembling on the ground after being knocked down by a player who fell on over of him, Sang-woo approaches and says that Gi-hun should move or he will die. He tells Gi-hun about the doll being a motor sensor and that he can hide being others to survive. Sang-woo reminds his friend that the time is running out. Gi-hun hears this advise and decides to move. When Sang-woo manages to cross the finish line within the time limit, he looks back and sees Gi-hun running to follow him. While Gi-hun runs towards the finish line, Sang-woo witness when his friend trips on a corpse and is almost seen by the doll, but is grabbed by Ali Abdul. Thanks to Ali, Gi-hun is saved and jumps to cross the finish line in time, landing next to Sang-woo.
Returning to the dormitory, Gi-hun thanks both Sang-woo and Ali for saving his life during the Red Light, Green Light game. With half of the players killed in the first game, most players became terrified and beg the masked staff to let them go. The manager reminds them that the second clause of the consent form says that players who refuse to play will be eliminated, however, Sang-woo tells him that the third clause says that the games can be terminated if the majority agrees. The masked manager confirms that Sang-woo is correct and agrees to allow a voting after announcing the prize money accumulated from the first game. They staff reveals that 25.5 billion was accumulated and the final prize will be ₩45.6. billion, but if they quit the games, all the money will go to the families of the deceased players, and living players will be left with nothing. After seeing all the money accumulated in the piggy bank, Sang-woo is impressed and changes his mind about leaving the Squid Game. With this, Sang-woo votes against the termination of the games, which surprises Gi-hun. Despite this, the games are still stopped by the majority of votes, which disappoints Sang-woo. Because of this result, the manager announces that the games are terminated, unless the majority later decides to play again.
Sang-woo was dropped off in the middle of Seoul with Ali Abdul. Seeing Ali's money problems, Sang-woo decided to pitch in and pay for his bus home. He later called his mother and lied to her about being abroad. Just as he was about to kill himself in his motel bathroom, the game staff dropped off another invitation at his door, and he decided to rejoin the game. Reuniting with the other players again, including Gi-hun, he became wary, understanding that he'd eventually have to compete against all of them.
Sae-byeok, another participant in the game, had earlier gone off to find out what the second game would be about. She disclosed with Sang-woo that the staff were melting something and that she could smell sugar while they were doing so. Sang-woo quickly figured out the game after seeing the shapes on the doors. However, he decided to keep it to himself, instead of telling his team (now consisting of him, Gi-hun, Ali and Il-nam). Picking the simplest shape to cut out of the toffee while telling the others to split by choosing different ones, Sang-woo decreases their chances of survival to favor only himself. However, he is surprised by Gi-hun choosing the umbrella, which is the hardest shape, and tries to warn his friend about the game, before giving up on doing so. After the game, Sang-woo is relieved to see that Gi-hun survived.
During the night, when Deok-su and his crew attacked other players to decrease the number of competitors and increase the amount of money inside the pig bank, Sang-woo actively strove to fight off them and helped the members of his team to defend themselves from the attackers. In the Tug-of-War game, Sang-woo saved the team by coming up with a last-second tactic, telling the others to move three steps forward to knock down the opposite team. This tactic allowed his team to win when they were being dragged and very close to fall to their deaths. At night, Sang-woo suggested members of his team to take turns to keep a watch in case Deok-su's gang attacked again. Sang-woo and Ali stayed up together and they bonded while sharing each other's stories.
In the following day, during the Marble game, he decided to team up with Ali, saying that with a smart and a strong person, they've would be able to beat the other teams. However, they soon learned that the pairs would have to play against each other, instead of together. As they were allowed to create the rules of the game, Sang-woo initially tried a simple guessing game after Ali said he never played marbles before. However, Ali had more luck guessing the number of marbles correctly and almost beat him. With only one marble left and realizing he was about to lose, Sang-woo became desperate and pleaded to Ali because of his family, but Ali said that he also had a family needing for him to survive. With no other choice, Sang-woo decided to betray Ali, lying to him about how they could both make it out of the Marble game. He then switched Ali's pouch of marbles for one with rocks, obtaining all his opponent's marbles and winning the game.
In the Stepping Stones game, Sang-woo callously kills Player 017 for wasting too much time. For being one of the three finalists (alongside Gi-hun and Sae-byeok), he was given a knife after a fancy dinner. Wary of Sang-woo's disregard for human life, Gi-hun and Sae-byeok kept themselves away from him during Lights Out; Gi-hun attempts to kill Sang-woo while he is asleep, but is stopped by Sae-byeok. However, due to the wounds Sae-byeok had attained from the previous game, Sang-woo rose to cut her throat while Gi-hun had his back turned calling for help. Sang-woo rationalized the murder as an act of merciful euthanasia, which almost made Gi-hun want to kill him. Sang-woo also says that Gi-hun would have given up on the game, voting along with Sae-byeok to end it and save her life, making all of them go home empty handed.
Sang-woo and Gi-hun would face each other in the sixth and final game, Squid Game. Initially gaining the upper hand with his aggressive attacks on Gi-hun's life, Sang-woo would eventually be overpowered and defeated. However, Gi-hun refused to kill him, instead attempting to invoke the third clause of the agreement to end the game and forfeit the prize money in order to spare his life. But Sang-woo commits suicide by stabbing himself in the neck to allow Gi-hun to win the money. In his final moments, Sang-woo also tells him to look after his mother, which Gi-hun eventually does by giving her a share of the prize money and placing Sae-byeok's brother in her custody one year after his death.
Good & Heroic Deeds
- Told Seong Gi-hun how to survive the Red Light, Green Light game.
- Proposed the vote to terminate the games, allowing all the players to go home.
- Bought cup noodles for Ali Abdul, then lended his phone to him. Later, he also offered money for Ali to take a bus in Seoul.
- Rejoined the games, choosing to risk his own life to pay back his clients and save his mother from financial ruin.
- Gave his breakfast to Ali in "The Man with the Umbrella".
- Tried to warn Gi-hun about the Sugar Honeycombs game, although he failed. Later was relieved upon seeing that Gi-hun survived.
- Approached the player who was beaten by the gangster Jang Deok-su with the intention to help. He tried to wake him up, before realizing that the player was dead.
- Advised his team to stay awake after the lights out for them to survive the attack from Deok-su's group.
- Saved Gi-hun from attackers twice during the special game.
- Helped his team to protect Kang Sae-byeok from Deok-su's group during the special game, including fighting off Player 303 who was attacking her.
- Saved his team when they were about to lose during the Tug-of-War.
- Showed concern for Gi-hun who was feeling remorse right after the Tug-of-War and later when Gi-hun seemed to have a nightmare in "A Fair Word".
- Along with Gi-hun, devised a plan for his team to survive another possible attack from Deok-su's group after lights out in "A Fair Word".
- Shared the corn he received from Ali with him.
- Allowed Ali to call him "Older Brother" ("Hyung") instead of "Sir" ("Sajangnim").
- Initially tried to play a fair and a simple guess game with Ali who told him he never played marbles before. Also explained this game to Ali, as he did not know the difference between even and odd numbers.
- Hesitated to leave Ali behind in the arena and was stunned upon hearing him being shot, after betraying him to win the Marbles game.
- Tried to comfort Gi-hun who was mourning Oh Il-nam's supposed death in "VIPs".
- Accepted defeat and chose to kill himself, allowing Gi-hun both to win the competition and gain the money to help his mother, in a moment where he could have easily killed Gi-hun to become the winner, or simply accepted Gi-hun's offer to stop the game just to spare his own life.
- In the first episode, it is stated that his age is 46. As one year is added after birth in the Korean age, this places his birth in 1975.
- Sang-woo's ₩6 billion debt converted to U.S. dollars is around $5 million.
- Hwang Dong-hyuk, the director of the series, explained that Sang-woo and Gi-hun were named after two of his friends in real life and are two sides of himself: Similar to Gi-hun, he was raised in Ssangmun-dong by a single mother in a financially troubled environment; similar to Sang-woo, he went to Seoul National University and his entire neighbourhood praised him and had high expectations of him.
- Park Hae-soo, Sang-woo's actor, stated that he didn't feel any difference between himself and his character while filming the series, which made him feel as if he wasn't acting.
- In an interview, when asked who is the most memorable character of the series, Wi Ha-joon (Jun-ho's actor) and Anupam Tripathi (Ali's actor) both replied Sang-woo: Wi Ha-joon stated that Sang-woo is the most realistic character and, in his position, he would have done the same; Anupam Tripathi said he admires Sang-woo's determination to keep going despite of everything.
More to be added
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Barbie: Dreamhouse Adventures
F is for Family
Go, Dog, Go!
Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts
Orange is the New Black
The Umbrella Academy