Korean Footballers on TV: Cho Gue-sung

Cho Gue-sung's ceremony. Screenshot from I Love Alone.

Last week I summarized Son Heung-min’s father, Son Woong-jeong’s, appearance on TV. This week I summarized World Cup hot star, Cho Gue-sung’s (조규성), appearances on MBC’s I Live Alone (나 혼자 산다) and tvN’s You Quiz on the Block (유 퀴즈 온 더 블럭).

I Live Alone

I Live Alone is a popular program where celebrities show off their daily life to viewers. This way fans can see a different side of their favorites. The guest is joined in studio by 4-5 other celebrities (fixed members) and together they comment, ask questions, and joke about the guest’s daily life. Personal comment, this show tends to be a lot of TMI stuff that can be fun or interesting rather than big revelatory news.

Ceremony

Upon entering the studio, the hosts started doing Cho Gue-sung’s ceremony (kissing crossed fingers). They asked him if it was a gesture he had prepared in advance of the World Cup and what the meaning of it was. Cho Gue-sung told him the finger crossing had two meanings, the tips formed a heart shape (a form of the popular ‘hand heart’ 손하트) and also crossed fingers is a sign of good luck. He also told them that it was a ceremony he had done long before the World Cup.

Cho Gue-sung’s house

Cho Gue-sung revealed his house for the first time on TV. It is a simple studio apartment in Jeonju. He said he picked that house because it is close to the gym that he works out at during the offseason. 

Cho Gue-sung’s house. Screenshot from I Live Alone.

Cho Gue-sung explained that he is trying to keep a minimalist lifestyle and only have the things he really needs: clothes, basic cooking, and so on in his house. Pretty much everything in the house in white, and he has no real decorations up. The one prominent thing he has on the wall is the jersey he wore at the World Cup during the match against Ghana when he scored twice (the jersey appears to have been signed by the other members of the national team).

Favorite stuffed animal

Many were surprised to see that Cho Gue-sung sleeps with a large stuffed animal that he’s named ‘ducky’ (덕이). The name was actually a slight mistake as he originally thought the stuffed animal was a duck, but it turned out to be a goose. He revealed that it was a gift from his oldest sister (who made brief appearances both here and on the You Quiz broadcast).

Cho Gue-sung’s favorite stuffed animal – ducky. Screenshot from I Live Alone.

Diet

Cho Gue-sung described himself as someone who doesn’t naturally gain weight. However, during the day he didn’t eat a whole lot. In the morning, he drank an ABC juice (apple, beet, carrot + kale) smoothie along with a spoonful of hongsam (홍삼). 

For lunch he met a friend and they ate at a cafe. It was a very western brunch style meal with sweet potato and pumpkin soup, avocado toast, and french toast with burrata cheese. On a personal note I was quite surprised that he enjoyed that type of food as I had him pegged as a complete Korean-food lover.

Enjoying lunch with a friend. Screenshot from I Live Alone.

For dinner he ate beef and cold noodles with his nephews. However, many viewers commented that Cho Gue-sung seemed to spend most of the time grilling and serving his nephews rather than eating himself.

Before going to bed he ate some grapes and drank some wine.

Exercise routine

Cho Gue-sung said that during the offseason he tries to improve his fitness in areas that he found to be lacking during the season. So, this offseason he did some tests that said the muscles in the legs (inner hamstring area) were not ideal, so he is focusing on doing exercises that strengthen those areas. Most of the exercises he did focused on strengthening his leg muscles while maintaining balance. For example, he did squats (with weights) while standing on the edge of a mat (heels off). 

Working out. Screenshot from I Live Alone.

Cho Gue-sung also talked about how he massively bulked up when he joined the army team to complete his mandatory military service. Many thought that he had bulked up from doing military drills. However, he revealed that the bulk up was just a side effect of him working to improve overall, as the season before he had a lot of trouble when physically competing with defenders. He also said that after bulking up he found his body to feel really heavy, and so he learned that he needed to balance his muscle build up with the need to be able to run and jump and do all the other things. 

Hobbies

Cho Gue-sung revealed his two main loves outside of football and family are food and fashion. He and his friend went shopping for clothes after eating lunch together, and Cho Gue-sung said that he has a lot of interest in fashion. Cho Gue-sung would also talk about his love for fashion in his You Quiz appearance.

You Quiz on the Block

For those unfamiliar with the program, You Quiz is a popular program on tvN that is hosted by Yoo Jae-suk (유재석) and Jo Se-ho (조세호). The program interviews people from all different walks of life. For example, this episode had people from different religions (a pastor, a priest, a Buddhist monk) to discuss life, the pop opera group Forestella, and Cho Gue-sung. After interviewing them, they are given the chance to answer a one-question quiz and win $1,000 (100만원). 

Versus Ghana

The football conversation started with talking about the match versus Ghana and Cho Gue-sung scoring twice. He said that with the team down 0 – 2, he spoke with the wide midfielders and fullbacks and told them to cross the ball into the box whenever they got the chance. He also commented on how it was helpful that both Kim Jin-su, Kim Moon-hwan, and he are all on the same club team (Jeonbuk Hyundai). He said that Kim Jin-su told him that if he sees that Kim Jin-su has the ball to make the run (towards goal).

2nd goal vs Ghana. Screenshot from You Quiz.

The controversy with Ronaldo

Cho Gue-sung was asked again about the controversy with Ronaldo during the Portugal match. He said that he didn’t really think about whether it was Ronaldo or not, but just because of the match situation he tried to tell him to get off the pitch faster and Ronaldo told him to be quiet. Then Pepe came up behind him, and because of the heat of the moment and situation he reacted strongly to it. He also expressed regret for the way the whole situation has unfolded because he said he is a big fan of Ronaldo.

Confronting Ronaldo to get off the pitch. Screenshot from You Quiz.

Oh Hyeon-gyu

He also spoke about the tight bond between the players, and especially his relationship with Oh Hyeon-gyu (오현규). Oh Hyeon-gyu plays for Suwon Samsung, and didn’t make the 26-man roster for the World Cup. However, he did travel and train with the team as an injury substitute (primarily for Son Heung-min).

Cho Gue-sung said the two are close because they both did their military service around the same time and were on the army Gimcheon Sangmu (김천상무) team together where they often played as a two-top attacking formation.

Cho Gue-sung and Oh Hyeon-gyu. Screenshot from You Quiz.

The team also decided to split off and give some of the reward money from the World Cup to Oh Hyeon-gyu because of all the hard work he put in during the World Cup. Since he was not an official member of the squad Oh Hyeon-gyu did not receive any money from the KFA.

On his start with football

Cho Gue-sung said he got started with football because of his father. He said, one day he was watching TV and his father said, “Let’s go.” Cho Gue-sung asked where to, and his father told to just come along. They went to where some (older) elementary kids were getting ready for a match, and his father told him to go and stretch and warm up with the kids. Cho Gue-sung said his father, who enjoyed playing football for fun (조기축구), had thoughts of his son becoming a professional. However, his mother, who had been a professional volleyball player, knew how hard the life was, and while not against it, did not want to push him to become a professional athlete.

On his youth playing days

Cho Gue-sung said that many people think he was a player who was a member of the youth national team at various levels. However, that isn’t the case and Cho Gue-sung admits that he was not very good when he was younger. Cho Gue-sung also briefly talked about his difficulties when he first got called up to the U-23 national team for the Tokyo Olympics. He said it was really hard for him at first because the other players had all been members of the youth national teams at various levels, so he didn’t know the other players that well. 

Cho Gue-sung at Anyang Technical High School. Screenshot from You Quiz.

He said that when he was younger he was very skinny and had no muscle, so much so that he was often teased by the other players and nicknamed things like “a sickly ostrich” (병든 타조) due to his tall height but skinny frame.

During his middle and high school days he said he was on the bench more than on the pitch. As a middle school player he wasn’t scouted by any team, and he didn’t know what high school he could go to. He ended up at Anyang Technical High School (which is part of the FC Anyang youth system) because of someone on his father’s football club team.

Before his final year of high school he was very concerned about his future as he had yet to be scouted for a university team (or drafted) and he was not playing much (so even if a scout came to the match they wouldn’t see him). He said at that time it was common for students at the technical schools to study to pass the public servant exam, so he told his mother that if after the first match of the season, nothing had changed he was going to quit playing and focus on preparing for the exam.

Cho Gue-sung’s high school coach, Lee Soon-woo. Screenshot from You Quiz.

Lee Soon-woo, who was Cho Gue-sung’s coach at Anyang Technical High School, described him as being incredibly tough-minded (악바리), always had a ball with him, as well as being tall and ate a lot. Cho Gue-sung said he was constantly eating during high school because he got a growth spurt, but was still very skinny and he was determined to put on weight and muscle.

Transitioning from defense to attack

Many know that Cho Gue-sung was initially a defender and it was his university coach, Lee Seung-won at Gwangju University, who transitioned him to being a center forward. Cho Gue-sung said that at the time he had dropped down to being on the 3rd team. The coach then started to continually push him higher and higher up the pitch from being a defensive midfielder to a central midfielder to an attacking midfielder and finally to being a center forward. The other players (as well as Cho Gue-sung) all found the situation quite hilarious.

Cho Gue-sung said the coach told him he wanted to have a meeting to discuss his position. The coach asked him whether he felt more comfortable as a defensive midfielder or a center forward. Cho Gue-sung, not having any experience as a center forward, told him he was more comfortable as a defensive midfielder. So, the coach told him if that’s the case then you’ll need to transfer to another school because you won’t get any match time here. Hearing that, Cho Gue-sung, who of course wanted to play, told him he would switch to being a center forward.

Cho Gue-sung at CF for Gwangju University. Screenshot from You Quiz.

Lee Seung-won said he remembers that Cho Gue-sung was good in the air and at heading, which is why he wanted him to convert to being a center forward. He said he focused on getting Cho Gue-sung some extra practice as an attacker and getting stronger. He remembers Cho Gue-sung being someone who puts in a lot of extra training to push himself, so much so that he often needs to be told to take a break from it.

Call up to the senior national team

He also shared how his family reacted when he first got called up to the senior national team. His oldest sister saw the news first and called their parents. So, when Cho Gue-sung saw the news a bit later, they already knew and he said everyone was crying they were so happy.

He also shared that Paulo Bento told him the main reason he was selected was because his playing style was quite different from (then) first choice striker Hwang Ui-jo (황의조) – he was strong in the air and had solid technical skills.

He also said that the most interesting thing when he first joined up with the national team was seeing Son Heung-min, and he didn’t actually think he would play at the World Cup.

Playing overseas

Cho Gue-sung wrapped up his appearance by answering that there are discussions for him to move to a club overseas, but that he is currently focused on getting ready for the upcoming K League season. He did also say that like every (Korean) player, he does dream of playing in overseas (in Europe).

You quiz?

This was the question Cho Gue-sung received (and he couldn’t answer):

This phrase originates from the name of an Engish football team. Footballer Alan Smith received a lot of attention for his outstanding play, but after transferring his quality dropped. Football fans began to comment a lot using the phrase, “Alan Smith’s days”. These days it’s a modern slang used to describe when someone’s looks, popularity, or abilities seem to be at their peak.

Answer is in the comments below
Cho Gue-sung tries to answer the quiz question. Screenshot from You Quiz.
About Jae Chee 331 Articles
A football fan who got bit by the writing bug.

4 Comments

  1. I hope CGS gets to Europe, but I have this one nagging concern about him. He became famous for his good looks before his football skills. And every clickbait article about him during the World Cup was about his looks, not his skills. This isn’t his fault, it’s just an observation. The two headers against Ghana were awesome, but I’m not sure that’s enough for the top leagues in the world. Added to that the extra fame he got overnight for his looks, some clubs might see that as a distraction, or even something annoying. Being good-looking isn’t that important when you’re trying to win games.

    • Taking away the patriotism, it’s most likely that CGS will bounce around smaller Euro leagues (if he moves there) for 4-5 years and maybe in that time he’ll get a chance at a smaller team in a Big 5 league (probably Germany if we’re honest). Then he’ll return to Korea and finish out his careers there. I’m not completely sold he has the technical abilities with his feet to survive in Europe but we’ll cross out fingers and see.

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