Cho was born in Kagoshima Japan in 1979, and is the youngest of two children. She did not have the most ideal childhood. Her family comes from money, and instead of raising her and her older brother to believe they were entitled to the things they wanted, her parents and grandparents made them work for it. They pushed them, even by Japanese standards. She was rarely praised for the things she did well, as that was simply expected, but when she did anything poorly she rarely heard the end of it, and was made to feel like a failure until she corrected her shortcoming. Primary school was replaced with private tutors, and she got through the material in five years instead of seven, and every other available hour in the day was spent in extracurricular lessons. Cho had no friends growing up, but she learned to dance, and play music, and speak different languages, and play acceptable sports, and sit still for hours on end without twitching, among other things. If she'd known anything different, she might have realized what a miserable childhood it really was.
When she finally entered structured schooling, she was so much younger than her classmates, and still kept up with her strict schedule of extra lessons, that making friends was hugely impossible. Also, by this time her family had found someone they thought would be a good match, and had agreed that she would marry him when she was old enough, so dating didn't become a real concern as she went through puberty. She wasn't interested in anything but the elusive carrot being dangled in front of her - the day when her family would finally tell her that she was perfect just as she was, and she could stop trying so hard. By the time she was out of high school she was still only sixteen, which left her more than enough time to go to college before getting married.
College actually turned out to be almost be easier than high school, and she actually had the time to make some friends before she graduated when she was still nineteen. College changed a lot of things for Cho, the biggest change being that it allowed her to see what she'd been missing in life - friendships and leisure time and learning things because you wanted to, not because you had to, and boys - though she still wasn't comfortable returning any advances, and usually just left situations like that feeling very puzzled. That was assuming she even realized she was being hit on, because usually she did not. She'd focused her class load on the sciences and languages. Her childhood home had given her a love of the ocean, and that only grew over time.
Cho found a Marine Biology graduate program in New York being overseen by one of the top men in the field. She filled out the paperwork, and chickened out before she sent it in. Her fiancé (also her best friend, btw, by virtue of being her only friend for a very long time) and her English professor sent it in on her behalf. Shiki (fiancé) talked to her grandfather and told him that he wanted her to go because he wanted a well-educated wife, and her grandfather agreed, because it was Cho's job to be what her husband wanted.
She was scared out of her mind, and almost didn't go. Shiki had to convince her more than once that she would be fine, and even on the day of her departure, she almost turned back at the airport - probably would have if he hadn't been there to give her another push. Risk taking wasn't something that came naturally, and she'd never been so far away from her family and her support structure.
New York was loud and dirty and crowded with disorder in a way that Tokyo (at least the Tokyo she'd lived in) had never been, and it scared her. If her English professor had not been one of the pair to bring the Todai students over, it's likely she would have gone into a bit of a meltdown. Realizing that she had half the world between her and everything familiar almost broke her. The first day in her school apartment she was dropped in on by a guy from across the hall who had been friends with the people in the apartment from the year before. When he realized his friends did not still live there, he invited himself in anyway and proceeded to overwhelm Cho even more with his incredibly outgoing and decidedly not Japanese attitude. Then his shirtless roommate showed up and started randomly talking about genital piercings, and Cho basically hid in her apartment for the next two months. Gabriel (the guy from across the hall) was persistent, though, mostly because he thought she was hot. He gradually started to worm her out of her shell, and Cho discovered that she actually did have a personality, and was not just a blank slate for the role she had to play. Though his initial goal was to get into her pants, by the time Gabriel figured out she had no sexual experience, he already liked her as a person. He hadn’t really tried to be friends with a girl without sex as an ulterior motive since he was in high school, but she was fun to be around, so he went with it.
Pretty much all of Cho’s social development and slang came from the two years she spent living across the hall from Gabriel, who became her best friend somewhere along the way. She was his first female friend with no ulterior motive, he was her first friend who had no idea who she was and where she came from and still cared enough to keep digging. She learned things about herself - huge fan of horrible horror movies, pretty damn good at FPS video games, physically affectionate when high, and ridiculously giddy when drunk. She learned that she had a sense of humour, that her poker face was horrible but her gift for counting cards compensated for it. Gabriel took her on her first roller coaster ride, her first trip to Atlantic City, she had her first beer and her first hot dog and her first run in with the law and her first costume party with him - simple things, common things, but they still meant something. For the first time in her life, someone wanted to spend time with her and show her things without expecting anything in return. It was surprising and liberating and (even though she didn't realize it at the time) it started her questioning the expectations her family placed on her. She'd never known anything else, and because of that she had no frame of reference for how unfair it really was.
She also got along very well with the professor she’d come to the states to study under. They talked out of class, and formed a real friendship, and he saw potential in her and took her under his wing. Her grades improved from her already high personal standards, and she started to think about using her education to get herself an actual career. She didn't think it was something she could seriously make a go of, but just admitting to herself that she wanted it was a step up for her.
Things were good for a year, she was happy, she blossomed (as clichéd as that sounds) and loved every moment of it. But friendship is really tested when things go wrong, not only when things are right. An acquaintance of Gabriel's, someone Cho trusted because she thought he and Gabriel were friends, tried to rape her at a party. It wasn't a successful attempt. She ended up with a split lip and a concussion, but no lasting physical damage. The most important part of all this was the unexpected support. Something bad had happened with Cho at the center of it, but no one blamed her. Aside from her attacker, all she heard from everyone was that it wasn't her fault, that they were so sorry she'd had to go through it, that no one blamed her. She realized that she'd been expecting society to find fault with her. That, more than anything, worried her. It forced her to deal with the fact that the world views she'd been holding were flawed, that she had value as a person entirely independent of her family and her responsibilities, and that it was not only acceptable to expect to be viewed as a person in her own right, but that it was common and normal. With emotional support and therapy Cho was able to look at her attack as something that happened to her, no blame, nothing she did wrong, not something that had to define or limit her. It was a slow but fulfilling process, and in the end it helped her to develop a stronger sense of self. She still sometimes has issues asserting that sense of self, as old habits die hard, but she's hardly anyone's puppet any more.
Cho fell in love with Gabriel, and that happened somewhere in the middle of their time together though she can’t really pin down an exact moment. His unwavering friendship and support and attention and acceptance was bound to trip her up. Not that it mattered, because he was a shameless man-whore, and she was so exactly the kind of girl he never ever went after. At the end of her two years, the professor she’d grown so close to got her student visa extended so she could go for her doctorate, and for the first time in her life, she made a selfish decision all on her own and decided that she was staying to take advantage of it without asking for permission. She headed back to the apartment building to tell Gabriel that she had more time in the city. Gabriel wasn’t there, but his roommate was, and that’s how she learned that he was in love with someone else, and was going to ask her to marry him. That hurt, but Cho got over it and realized that she didn’t exactly have a claim on him. She tried to get in touch with him, but he never returned any of her calls, and eventually she gave up, because if he’d wanted to talk to her, obviously he would have returned one of her many messages. She was hurt over this for a really long time, but he had so many friends, and she realized she was pretty odd. Plus, he was a surgical intern now, which meant he didn’t exactly have time for a social life. Any time he did have would be for his fiancé, anyway.
Cho settled into a routine. She moved in with Kenneth, which infuriated her family until they found out he was gay, and began working at the University as his assistant. Life wasn’t perfectly ideal, but the fact that she was living it based on her own choices was refreshing and heady, and she was happy enough.
I realize that, when laid out like this, her life might seem a little melodramatic. The thing is, in between these highlights, it's pretty boring. Class, work, class, work, she goes out with friends, she feeds birds in central park, she's mostly a normal young woman living a normal life.
Cho is a kind person, though she's not very good at dealing with new people in casual situations, for reasons that were more fully explained in her history section. They don’t make her quite as uncomfortable as they did before she moved to New York for grad school, but she is still wary about meeting new people. She often doesn't know what people are talking about, and can be embarrassed by this, but tries not to let it show. In more formal situations, social training kicks in, and she knows how to behave, though she also seems to lose a lot of herself in these interactions. This didn’t bother her until she realized that she did actually have a personality and an opinion all her own. The thing about Cho is, she just started discovering at 19 what most people start figuring out when they’re three or four. She’s so incredibly behind on a lot of things, because she’s so far ahead on others. A person can only be stretched so thin, and something had to give.
She’s more likely to get mad or assertive for someone she cares about than she is for herself. She hasn’t really learned how to care for things just a little, so when she finds something she’s passionate about, she takes it to the extreme. That will probably mellow in time, but at the moment, she doesn’t know any other way to be.
She's inquisitive, though that's something of a new discovery for her. She wants to experience new things and catch up on her life now that she's realized just what it is she's been missing. She trusts people easily, believes in the inherent good of humanity, and always sees the glass as half full. Always. This has gotten her into trouble more than once when the people she trusts aren't always worthy of it. Chad is a good example of that. He seemed nice, she believed he was nice, and she didn't realize he had violent intentions on her own. But an important part of who she is, of how she views the world, is that even after that she believed in the good. She forgave him (more for herself than anything else) and was able to let go of her lingering resentment. She thinks people deserve second, third, fourth chances. She believes in God and true love and soul mates, and while she has the logic to understand that not everyone gets a happy ending, and sometimes there's nothing you can do about it, it doesn't stop her from being absolutely certain that some people do get to ride off into the sunset with everything they ever wanted.
Her childhood and family life stomped down a lot of Cho's bubbly nature and love of life, but it didn't kill it. All it could do was repress it for a while. The longer she spends away from those influences, the stronger it gets, and the stronger it gets, the more she realizes that she likes this version of herself so much more than the one they were trying to shape her into.
□ Age: 22
□ Gender: female
□ Appearance: She's five foot tiny, and was on the low end of average in Japan. Now that she's living in New York, she's just miniscule, and is often annoyed by this. She has a very carefully honed build, tailored through nutrition and exercise during her formative years to be feminine yet athletic, fat deposits carefully cultivated, deep muscle tone built at the proper time. Just one more thing about her childhood that sucked. She has incredibly long, straight black hair, which she used to get frustrated with, but never quite frustrated enough to cut it off. She has brown eyes and high cheekbones. She's had many minor cosmetic surgeries and procedures that she didn't actually want. The little bags under her eyes that all Japanese people have have been smoothed out, she's had a couple of moles removed, and her earlobes have been made more symmetrical. Her grandfather? Kind of insane. She's also had rather painful full body laser hair removal. Overall, she's pretty stunning, and she knows it. She's not conceited about it, but she also doesn't have any false modesty. She knows she's beautiful, but she also knows that looks fade and it's not a decent basis for judging someone's worth.
□ Abilities/Powers: She has an eidetic memory, I'm not really sure if that counts. She's been training in a couple of forms of martial arts since she was young, for the discipline of it more than any ability to defend herself. I think she probably could cultivate that more here, but it's not an automatic assumption, and it would take a lot of work. Either that or a life threatening situation to force her into it, as happened in a past game under dire circumstances and with catastrophic mental and emotional consequences for her.