Exclusive: Runner-up Yung "Woo" Hwang talks 'Survivor: Cagayan -- Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty' (Part 1)
By Reality TV World staff, 05/23/2014
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 on Thursday, Woo talked about his Survivor experience. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion and also for more interviews with the season Final 4 castaways.
Reality TV World: How had you left the jury vote? Did you think you had won?
Yung "Woo" Hwang: You know what? What did you think? Going into final Tribal Council and hearing the comments towards Tony, it felt like it was going my way until that Spencer guy opened his mouth.
Reality TV World: So you think Spencer's little speech held a lot of sway?
Yung "Woo" Hwang: Ahh, you know what? Maybe just a little bit, but I'm pretty sure everyone came in with an idea and decision who they wanted to vote for and who they wanted to win.
Reality TV World: Yeah, because when I talked to Kass earlier, she said she didn't think Spencer's speech held a lot of sway. It frustrated her enough that she almost actually voted for you just because of it. (Laughs)
Yung "Woo" Hwang: Well, hey! If that would've worked in my favor, how cool would that have been?
Reality TV World: We saw Spencer suspecting a Final 2 and sharing that with Tony, but we didn't see him sharing that with Kass or yourself, or you suspecting that on your own. Had you also left that Final 4 Immunity Challenge suspecting the jury was going to be a Final 2 vote?
Yung "Woo" Hwang: My thought was, "Okay, here we go. If Kass wins, Kass doesn't want to take Spencer because Spencer's got a very good chance of winning, so we'll vote Spencer off." So, I'm like, "Holy shit. We just made Final 3!" And then Spencer brings it up, but you know, when he took Tony aside, maybe he mentioned that to Tony before announcing that to the rest of us. But it made sense.
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It was like, Jeff didn't say, "Congratulations on the Final 3. Now you guys will have a shot of presenting yourself for a million bucks." So it made sense. So going into Tribal, you're really hoping it's not true, but then Jeff's like, "Okay, get some rest. Tomorrow's a big day. Tomorrow's another challenge." And you're just [like], "Oh man! It never ends!" You're so close but yet you're so far away.
Reality TV World: Would you have done anything differently if you had known it was going to be a Final 2 earlier in the game?
Yung "Woo" Hwang: No. Nope, absolutely not. Everything I did was for the moment, like how life is, you know? When you play the game, you have so many different ideas on how you want to play it. But in reality, when you're out there, you're faced with real-life decisions and you're just being yourself.
You live, you're in the moment, we're all struggling, we're all going through the same process. So, no, no regrets. I did everything I could. I made it to the runner-up, and as far as exceeding my expectations, I'm happy, pleased, honored, and I'm loving life.
Reality TV World: How did you plan to play the game before it started and how did that change once you actually got out there?
Yung "Woo" Hwang: You go into the game and you just have so many different ideas. My No. 1 concern about myself was being too noticeable, grabbing too much attention. So going in, I was like, "Okay, maybe I should calm that down." So my strategy was to stay super low key and not put the light on me too much and to coast as far as I could and try to find a good core alliance and ride them out and be a team player.
Reality TV World: Would you have voted Tony out if you had known his special idol's powers weren't good at the Final 4 Tribal or did you want him there at that point?
Yung "Woo" Hwang: The decision of taking Tony -- if that's what you're asking -- you sit there at Tribal Council prior to the final Tribal Council, and you could see the jury's reactions when Tony opened his mouth. You just look discretely over to your right and you just kind of look at the facial expressions.
It goes down from [Sarah Lacina], [Morgan McLeod], [Jefra Bland], [Jeremiah Wood], [LJ McKanas]. Every time he would talk, they would just make a reaction -- that face of, "This guy, really?! Is he really trying to say this or that?!"
So you go in with that idea. You register that like, "Hey, oh my goodness, I don't think the jury likes Tony at all. Even though he's playing a great game, they all seem pretty annoyed by him at this point." So, I'm taking it in, thinking, "They're going to respect you for taking someone that deserved to be there and [not] taking Kass."
The idea is, you don't want to take someone who the jury thinks, "Okay, hey, Woo doesn't make one freaking move this whole game. He takes Kass and thinks he's just going to run away with it." They're going to vote for her despite me.
That's what my idea process was. So taking Tony was, "Okay, he's fooled a lot of these guys. I really hope they don't get fooled again twice by voting for him." So that was kind of my decision on taking Tony.
Reality TV World: So the whole thing we saw about you talking about wanting to play the game based upon your martial arts principles, was that really accurate then or no? I guess your explanation sounds different now.
Yung "Woo" Hwang: Well, if you're saying, "Did I play the game with the five codes of conduct as best as I could?" Am I saying I'm a perfect person? Absolutely not.
Reality TV World: No, I guess the issue some viewers have had with you is obviouslySurvivor isn't real life. It's a game.
Yung "Woo" Hwang: Sure.
Reality TV World: And it came across on the show as though you felt you needed to play Survivorthe same way that you act in real life.
Yung "Woo" Hwang: Like I was saying earlier, when you play the game of Survivor, you go in with different ideas of what you want to do. But just like in life, everyone lives in the moment, and when you're out there, you're struggling.
So a lot of times, you kind of forget about what's going on and it's such a real-life situation. But at the same time, I mean, you go in -- and I know from watching Survivor that in order to advance yourself, what do you need? You need a core alliance.
And if you have a leader, like someone like Tony was on our season who's making those big moves, what do you gotta do? You gotta be a team player. What do you want to do ultimately every day? You don't want to get your torch snuffed by Jeff. You want to make it further and further and further, and I did, I did, I did.
And at the end of the day, I didn't make the right decision. But hey, I'm going to walk away with my head up high. Because at the end of the day,Survivor is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and that's a big accomplishment in its own. So, I'm happy.
Above is the first half of Woo's exclusive interview with Reality TV World. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion and also for more interviews with the season Final 4 castaways.