Cho Sang-woo, also known as Player 218, is the deuteragonist in the hit South Korean Netflix series Squid Game. He was the best friend of the main character, Seong Gi-hun. Throughout the games, Sang-woo is seen to be a cunning and intelligent person, especially when he is the reason that their team won in the Tug of War game. However, his intelligence had a dark side.
Below, we will look over the questionable actions that Sang-woo committed in the game. And what we mean by “questionable” is something that could make the audience hate the character. Then, we can decide if Sang-woo is the villain we thought he was.
This is where Sang-woo showed that he was determined to win the prize money through questionable actions, even at the cost of human lives. In the episode, Sang-woo could be remembered as tricking Ali into winning the game. However, it was more than that. He made his instructions quite complicated to be able to send Ali away far enough to buy him time to head to the exit.
There is an emotional appeal to this betrayal as well that would make Sang-woo more hated. Ali referred to Sang-woo as 형 (hyeong), which was, unfortunately, heavily mistranslated by the subtitles. In Korean, the term signifies an endearment, a close relationship, as if it were between two brothers, with one being more respected. If someone was somebody’s hyeong, it could mean that they were equivalent to brothers, and no brother would leave his other brother behind. Sang-woo’s dirty action made him not worthy of the respect of a hyeong, that Ali gave him.
Moreover, after the game, the deaths did not seem to affect him much. He even justified the deaths with the amount of money they would win, pushing one man to take his life.
Glass Stepping Stones
The penultimate game saw Sang-woo being finally confronted about his actions. In the game, where there were only four contestants left, only two choices left for victory, and an almost empty clock, Sang-woo resorted to pushing the glassmaker who was having trouble identifying the correct glass without lighting. If you think of it, if the glass where the glassmaker was in front of did not break, then that was the correct one, and the glassmaker would only have some slight pain may, be in the chin. If the glass in front was wrong, which happened in the game, they would know which one was correct, having only two choices to pick from. What happened in the show was the identification of the correct glass but at the cost of one life, which Gi-hun deemed to be necessary.
However, think of it this way. What if the glassmaker was just delaying things so that he would be the only one able to make the final jump? If that was the case and we knew what he was thinking, would it justify Sang-woo pushing him to death?
Sae-byeok and the last game
After dinner where the survivors of the Glass Stepping Stone game were invited, and the three players tried to isolate themselves to not get killed. However, Gi-hun and Sae-byeok got along, with the latter stopping the former from killing Sang-woo.
While Gi-hun was distracted from calling for help because of Sae-byeok’s intense bleeding, Sang-woo killed her, which couldn’t have happened if she just allowed Gi-hun to go on with the deed.
Still, Sang-woo was eager to win, and he revealed that the real reason why he killed Sae-byeok was that they would be able to invoke the third clause and would vote against the game versus only him, who would vote for the games to continue. Sang-woo just showed that he still wanted the money, even if it meant sealing the games’ fate (now no longer stoppable).
In the final events of the last game, in his dying moments, Gi-hun asked to call the game off, so he and Sang-woo could go home. However, Sang-woo did not allow this and stabbed himself in the neck, making Gi-hun win.
And after all this time, he still did not allow the game to end without a winner and let Gi-hun win so that he would have the money. Was it justifiable to kill himself at that moment, knowing that everything that had happened would go to waste if he did not allow Gi-hun to be declared the winner?