Exclusive: Runner-up Yung "Woo" Hwang talks 'Survivor: Cagayan -- Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty' (Part 2)
By Reality TV World staff, 05/30/2014
Yung "Woo" Hwang, a 29-year-old martial arts instructor from Newport Beach, CA, finished Survivor: Cagayan -- Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty as the runner-up behind Tony Vlachos.
Tony beat Woo and claimed the $1 million grand prize in the season's final jury voting results, which Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed live during the reunion broadcast. Both Tony and Woo had begun the game on the Brawn tribe.
Jeff revealed Tony had received five votes from the jury, while Woo only earned one. It's unclear which way the other three votes went. Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen finished the game in third place, and Spencer Bledsoe finished in fourth.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World, Woo talked about his Survivor experience. Below is the concluding portion. Click here to read the first half. Also, check our Survivor page for more interviews with the season's Final 4 castaways.
Reality TV World: Jeff polled the jury last night at the reunion show and it seemed like you made a $1 million mistake. They all said, for the most part, they would have voted for you instead of Kass if you had taken Kass to the end.
Yung "Woo" Hwang: At a commercial break when Jeff's like, "Okay, when we come back, will we see if Woo made a one million-dollar mistake?!" Boom! I got punched in the stomach. I was sitting onstage during the live show, everyone's looking at me. I've got family and friends in the crowd. I'm thinking, "Here we go."
And then we come back. [Jeff said], "Oh, we're back live. Now, if Woo were to have taken Kass, who would've voted for Woo?!" People raised their hand. The regrets in life are only regretful when don't find the positive. So, you think, "Okay, yes, I lost. But did I leave a good impression on every single person I met?"
Everyone on my Twitter is posting nothing but encouragement, like, "Hey Woo. Man, thanks for just being you!"
"Man, thanks for being my hero!"
"Man, I strive to be like you!"
"Man, what you did at that Reward Challenge -- on my next missionary trip, I'm going to go out and be just like you."
To me, I don't need a million bucks, because if I feel like a million bucks inside, I win in life!
Reality TV World: Sure, but knowing what you know now, I mean, would you have taken Kass to the end or do you feel so principled about the decision you made you would've done the same thing by taking Tony?
Yung "Woo" Hwang: I'll reiterate one more time. Decisions are made in the spur of the moment. I made my decision and I don't regret anything. At the end of the day, I had a great time, awesome opportunity. Shoot, I made it to the red carpet, made Final 2. So, I mean, I'm happy.
Reality TV World: I wasn't asking if you had regrets, but that's fine, I understand if you don't want to answer the question. So the whole thing about Tony insisting his special idol was usable at the Final 4, did you believe that was the case sincerely?
Yung "Woo" Hwang: When he said that special idol had amazing powers, I'm thinking, "What could this be?! Could it take him to the Top 4?" Because at that point, I'm not thinking you could use it after the votes are read. So, I mean, you have someone who's got this power. Do you want to mess with that?
I mean, you could just use it after the votes are read and then you got the target on your back for flipping? I don't know. For me, at that time, when Kass and Spencer were like, "Hey, we should get Tony out." I was like, "He's got his bag of tricks and I'm not messing with that right now."
Reality TV World: When you were shown gushing about what you planned to use the money for if you won, one of the things you mentioned was proposing to your girlfriend and starting your own studio. Obviously you still won $100,000 as the runner-up, so are you still planning to follow through with either one of those options?
Yung "Woo" Hwang: Yeah! Yeah, in the near future. I currently run a gym in Huntington Beach, where I teach martial arts. And I have a weight facility where I do a lot of strength and conditioning as a personal trainer. I got that thing running, it's going really well. I'll be opening it up in January, and I couldn't be happier!
And yeah, with Christina, obviously at the right time, I'll get my ducks all lined up in a row. And when the time is right, that question will be popped.
Reality TV World: You were shown struggling with the decision whether to vote Tony out prior to that Final 3 as well when Spencer and Kass were still in the game. Had there ever been any real chance you would've voted him out earlier than the Final 4 or Final 5? And if so, what was the difference? Was it that you didn't want to be the sole person responsible for his vote-off?
Yung "Woo" Hwang: You know, earlier, I mean, there was no chance in voting Tony out. He was a good teammate of mine. At the end, you sit there, you have to write a name down, and you take a second to kind of recap.
"Like, Okay, what am I doing? Will the jury respect me for not making moves and then taking someone like Kass and for Woo to think he's just going to cruise up in here and win the votes? Or, are you going to take someone like Tony who played a good game? They'll respect that. Those are some kudo points right there, I would say. But at the same time, are these guys -- who [Tony] had lied straight up to their face, they shook hands straight up, [Sarah Lacina] was arguing about how honorable her [police] badge was -- still [going to vote] for him? I don't know."
So, it's hard. It's like, "Will they vote for him? I don't know. He made me swear on my parents, who I just absolutely adore, and then he blew me out [of the game]? Man, that's tough. I don't know if I can vote for him to win."
Reality TV World: Spencer called you "a dog" in reference to your loyalty to Tony throughout the game. Did that offend you or do you understand where he was coming from with that comment at all? Would you argue Spencer's point by saying you had made some big moves or decisions along the way that just went unnoticed or weren't appreciated?
Yung "Woo" Hwang: You know, comments like that, I'm a very prideful individual, so that didn't phase me. Does it bother me now? No. Because Spencer and I, we're good, we're cool, we squashed the beef, it's water under the [bridge], we had a great time. So everything is good.
Reality TV World: Looking back at it now, do you think you would've actually had a better chance to win if you had gone to the end with Spencer instead of Tony?
Yung "Woo" Hwang: Spencer? Not a chance. Kass? Yeah. Now when everyone raises their hand saying they'd vote for me over Kass, yeah, I would've loved to take Kass. But there was no chance I would've beaten Spencer. Spencer, you know, he said some things about me. Did I take it personally? Absolutely not.
But look at where he came from. That guy, hey, if I met anyone with the drive of Spencer's -- he's a great kid. I'll forever be his friend. We're going to go surfing this weekend on Sunday, and I can't wait to take him out and see him get pounded by waves. That would be my little payback... He'd just get washed up like a ragdoll for an hour maybe and then we'll squash everything.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when Tony admitted he had no problem playing the game on his father's grave? Obviously, that seemed to be the exact opposite approach of how you chose to play the game. Did you find his lies and broken promises "pathetic," as Jeremiah Wood had put it?
Yung "Woo" Hwang: That's tough. Everyone has different ideas of how they want to play the game. I wanted to play it one way. Tony, very different from how I wanted to play. But I loved the way he played hard, okay? That's not a question.
Maybe what I can't really respect is how people can take advantage of other people, because at the end of the day, everything you do will dictate who you are tomorrow and in the future -- a year from now, two years from now.
Would I be happy as a person and love my life and respect myself by being a guy who has a million dollars but then being perceived as the bad guy? Or you play the game well, you go for the win -- of course -- you don't succeed, but at the end of the day, tomorrow, the next day, a week, a month, a year, two years from now -- whenever people see me, what do I remind them of? Positivity. Right? I put a smile on their face. That right there to me is priceless.
Reality TV World: How were you cast onSurvivor? How did you end up on the show?
Yung "Woo" Hwang: Big fan! I applied, got a callback, and from there, it's history.
Above is the concluding portion of Woo's exclusive interview with Reality TV World. Click here to read the first half. Also, check our Survivor page for more interviews with the season's Final 4 castaways.