Yung “Woo” Hwang got himself all the way to the Final 2 on “Survivor: Cagayan,” then made a questionable choice taking power player Tony Vlachos with him to the finals, which saw Tony win the million dollars and Woo finish in second place. But Woo tells Zap2it that he doesn’t regret his decision.
Zap2it: Congratulations on making it to the finals — that must have been an incredible experience.
Woo Hwang: Just a shot at playing the game was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You can’t put a price tag on this opportunity. At the end of the day, win or lose, what a great ride.
Let’s talk about last night’s finale — did you think there was a chance Tony would vote you out and keep Spencer at Final 4?
Yeah, of course. At the end of the day, it just goes to show you what teamwork’s all about and what being a key player, someone’s that going to be loyal, it’s our bond. It paid off for him.
When it was Final 3, you pulled out a nail-biter win in Immunity and you looked to be in such a good position — why on earth did you take Tony to the finals?
It was a really difficult decision. You’re basing your decision on what the jury is going to consider and respect. Taking Kass, who was not viewed with the jury as someone who is respected and deserving, I just thought maybe if I took her and not having made any critical moves throughout the game, taking the easy way out in the end would be a vote against me.
Taking Tony, someone who is deserving, I thought I could score some big points with the jury members … and also, looking at the jury, every time Tony would speak at Tribal Council, the reactions these guys would make, it was pretty clear he was not liked at all. So you also have to consider hey, he’s got some blood on his hands. He fooled them, and that’s why they’re sitting on the jury. What I was thinking is there’s no way these guys are going to be clumsy enough to be fooled twice and actually vote for him. But at the end of the day, Tony played a terrific game and so I didn’t get the votes I was hoping for, but that was the strategy behind taking Tony.
Were you surprised at the live reunion when the jury said if you had taken Kass, they would have unanimously voted for you to win?
You know what? When Jeff dropped that question, I could feel the air strokes of everyone’s hand raising up. I didn’t need to turn around, I could feel that vibration of hands going up. So that was a pretty gutless feeling, but I felt like I held my composure pretty well, [but] I was pretty shocked. Kass is a wonderful person, I respected her and I got along with her extremely well. I thought she played a great game. She made a comment during the episode about a double standard … she makes the moves, she wins, but being someone like Kass, whose physical appearance is not very threatening, it’s almost like an insult that she’s doing well, to them, in their eyes.
How do you respond to people who thought you weren’t really playing the game, did that hurt your feelings at all?
Actually, no. I thought I played a wonderful game. I was able to align myself with good players and I had to gain everyone’s trust. I played the game as best as I could. I felt like my game play going into it was going to be as low-key as I possibly could. … I did what I needed to do to better myself in the game. Would I have liked to make bigger moves? Of course! But looking at the betterment of the team, you have a teammate with Idols who is making the moves. Those moves only happened because Trish and I were good team players. So at the end of the day, if you say I’m not playing — of course I was playing the game, that’s why I got to the Final 2.
Would you go back on “Survivor” if asked?
Hands down, without a doubt. I played with the best, I lost against the best and I learned a lot during this whole process, and Jeff even mentioned that too, age and experience, it all comes into play. At the end of the day, I learned a lot from my loss and hopefully it would help my game in the future if they ever called me again.
“Survivor” Season 29 returns in the fall with “Blood vs. Water 2” on CBS.