This episode continues the island trip following the teddy-bear race, wherein the boys settle down for a relaxing night of comfort…NOT. Here, the guys hang their prides and their appetites on their cooking abilities, or, as the case may be, a conspicuous lack thereof. It occurs to me that if 1N2D were filmed any more frequently than twice a month, the guys might very well burn out from the exhaustion of earning every little scrap. Either that, or develop a case of Stockholm syndrome.
EPISODE 327. Broadcast on March 27, 2011.
girlfriday: Ulleungdo is definitely one of the prettiest places they’ve been in a while. It made me want to go on an island vacation. Well, minus all the snow.
javabeans: I think one of 1N2D’s biggest charms is the way they showcase Korea as a whole. It’s easy to forget that there’s a whole country outside of Seoul, especially if a lot of your exposure to the country is via dramas or movies, which tend to reinforce the illusion that everything takes place on a frankly tiny strip of land south of the river. If the official tourism board isn’t sponsoring the show, it really ought to be.
girlfriday: This show has definitely introduced me to a Korea I didn’t know. I’m such a city girl. Seoul is all I know. But you’re right that the show does something that dramas so rarely do, which is showcase local charm and flavor in the rest of Korea.
javabeans: So after the teddy bear race ended, the team hopped on the bus to make camp miles away, knee-deep in the snow. Of course. I am learning that if there is one patch of land within miles that is more uncomfortable than the rest, the 1N2D team will find it, and pitch their tent on it.
girlfriday: They got hungry, as they always do, so Na PD offered them a chance to earn a snack by building a 3-meter tall snowman. (He specifically said that it had to be a legitimate 3m snowman because Su-geun had this challenge a few weeks ago, and the weather conditions were bad enough to allow him a “cheat” — he put the head on a long stick and attached it to the body, making it 3m tall, which I think was Seung-gi’s idea.)
javabeans: I can’t say I disagreed with Ji-won’s reaction to the snowman challenge: “Can’t we ever just eat when we’re hungry? Why is there always a mission?” But I’m a big softy whose hypothetical variety show would be mind-numbingly boring because I’d just give everyone what they wanted. What, you mean this show isn’t about giving the boys massages and feeding them by hand?
girlfriday: Yeah, that’d get old, real fast.
javabeans: On the other hand, you’d never lack for volunteers to participate. (On either side, really. Isn’t this how we define win-win?)
girlfriday: Ji-won’s outburst was funny because it’s nothing new that he has to earn his food; he was just tired and hungry. One of my favorite things on the show is when the boys actually get mad at the PDs, and their true colors show. It’s so refreshing to see them forget about their image once in a while and throw a tantrum.
javabeans: How funny was it when you compared the two groups’ snowman-making strategies? You have Tae-woong silently rolling a huge boulder in the background, and in the foreground there’s Seung-gi with his tiny little egg, going *pat pat pat.*
girlfriday: Pffft. And insisting that it would work out. Oh, Seung-gi.
javabeans: Yeah, the young boys were so insistent that they’d do things their way, even as time ticked on and their ball of snow remained the same size. Even Na PD pointed it out: “I’m sorry to say this, but your snowball hasn’t gotten any bigger.”
girlfriday: But you notice how when you put a bunch of guys together, EVERYTHING, even how to make snowballs, is a pride contest? The games are all just all window dressing. Which is why, even when it’s clear they’re doing it WRONG, they won’t admit it. Ever.
javabeans: That’s such a man thing. And a Korean thing. Put ’em together, and you have an immovable mountain of stubborn.
girlfriday: Add in games designed to challenge said mountain, and you get comedy win.
javabeans: Seeing the sizes of their snowballs, I had no idea how the guys were going to make it 3m tall. Even if they were to spout all the glib talk in the world, when they started piling puny little snowballs on top of the “head,” I was skeptical as to how they’d be able to explain it…until Ho-dong called it their “Sandara Park snowman.” LMAO.
girlfriday: That was the best recovery in the world. From what brain comes Sandara Park Snowman? So funny.
javabeans: But that was one fugly snowman, no offense to Sandara Park. She’s pretty. (That snowman…not so much.)
girlfriday: As was the Kim C version, when the boys parodied 2NE1 back in the day. That was fugly too. Damn, does 1N2D hate Sandara Park?
javabeans: When the snowman collapsed prematurely, I was surprised that Na PD let Su-geun decide whether the team had succeeded or failed. And impressed when Su-geun honestly admitted that he thought they failed, and that the snowman wasn’t quite 3m tall.
girlfriday: It’s an interesting feature of the show and all Korean variety programs, where netizens take shows to task if anything seems slightly off. That’s why they always show times on camera, to legitimize when the team wins a task and makes it to their destination on time. Once they had to play a game to win 10,000 won for snacks, and netizens freaked out that what Seung-gi bought at the convenience store added up to more than 10,000 won, in their estimation. 1N2D literally issued a statement that he came back to ask for another 10,000 won by playing another round, the footage of which was edited out for time’s sake.
javabeans: I like that transparency. Scripted is cool. Unscripted is cool. It’s when you have one pretending to be the other that viewers feel they’re being hoodwinked. By keeping tabs on themselves and preemptively providing “proof,” the show lets me the viewer enjoy what’s going on without wondering how much is actually real, because they’ve already answered that question.
javabeans: Moving on to the snowy basecamp site, the guys had to cook their own dinner using a particular Ulleungdo squid specialty, which was naturally turned into another challenge.
girlfriday: Like Iron Chef! Woot!
javabeans: Except without the skill.
girlfriday: Na PD once said in an interview that his dream job is to produce a cooking show (because he hates travel, HA), and I remember reading that and thinking, “Oh, so that explains his obsession with food on 1N2D.”
javabeans: I appreciated the Gourmet parody (ahh, Kim Rae-won…but that’s a tangent for another day) ‘cause I did enjoy that drama a lot, and the music brought me back to all the overly dramatic food battles in that show. And to think, prior to this episode I thought nobody could top Gourmet for making the simplest cooking exercise look like a life-and-death-stakes competition.
girlfriday: These guys can turn anything into a life-or-death match. That’s the genius-simple premise of the show: if you make each game worth something crucial, then every move becomes fraught with meaning and expectation, even a game of chance like rock-paper-scissors.
javabeans: Su-geun was smart to call his wife for advice, and Tae-woong looked like he knew what he was doing with his curry. But I was nervous for Ji-won for a while there, he who does not know that carrots must be peeled! He usually seems so cool and controlled that I liked seeing him lose his composure and begging for more time, all frazzled with his uncooked potatoes.
girlfriday: It was kind of a cheat that Su-geun called his wife to ask what goes in his dish, but it was So. Adorable. that it didn’t matter. This show always makes me feel better about my cooking skills. Or lack thereof. Like when Ji-won has to ask about the carrots, or when Seung-gi tries to cook with vinegar instead of oil. Hee.
javabeans: I was amused at how matter-of-factly everyone acknowledged that their tasting judge, Food Ajumma, is blatantly pro-Seung-gi. And that they had to institute a blind tasting specifically to negate her bias.
girlfriday: It cracked me up that everyone acknowledges her bias as fact, even Seung-gi, who just nods his head in agreement. LOL.
javabeans: And how his smile immediately turned worried when they revealed the blind test failsafe. “Uh-oh…so she won’t KNOW it’s me? Then how will I win?”
girlfriday: You could see how proud/happy she was when he won 2nd place.
javabeans: It must’ve been gratifying for Seung-gi, after everyone kept predicting he’d be the loser. It was cute how he was trying to defend his dish (“You ate it separately? Of course it tastes bad separately! You have to eat it together — here, let me prepare it for you!”). I’m going to guess that Seung-gi’s rather used to coming out on top of a lot of challenges.
girlfriday: You’d think so from the way he talks big, but he actually loses a lot. He makes it seem like he’s always supposed to win, which is why he gets mercilessly teased when he doesn’t. I love how earnest the Food Truck Ajumma was. Her metaphor that food = mom, because no matter how much you have, you always need more was so sweet.
javabeans: Yeah, it may have brought a tear or two to my eye. And the guys were getting a little verklempt as well.
javabeans: I was relieved when you explained that Cho-ding is Ji-won’s nickname, because I didn’t know that when I first saw this episode. When they asked Food Ajumma who she thought made the omurice (omelette over rice, except he subbed squid for the omelette), and she said, “Cho-ding!” I was curious. Like, was she saying that only a grade-schooler could have made this dish? Isn’t that kind of…mean?
girlfriday: Heh. Ji-won was so afraid of his squid too. Might as well have been a giant sea monster. Cho-ding’s reaction when he won third was like he won a million dollars.
javabeans: They did a pretty good job of masking the results while Food Ajumma was judging, because I had guessed all wrong for the rankings. Everyone’s worried faces cracked me up when they were watching Food Ajumma tasting. They were trying so hard to hold themselves back and not give away that they were the cook, but it was so obvious whose dish she was tasting at any given moment. When she gave the “noodles” a thumbs-up, Ho-dong blurted in relief, “That’s great!…for whoever the cook is, not that I know!”
girlfriday: Keh. Honestly though, I could’ve guessed who made what without even tasting. And that Su-geun would win, once he called his wife. One time the guys were told to bring their own doshirak (homemade lunchbox) on a trip, and everyone’s wives made them lunchboxes (Seung-gi’s mom made his), and Su-geun’s doshirak was straight out of a drama. All the boys are jealous of his wife’s cooking skills.
javabeans: Truthfully, Jong-min’s dinner looked unconsumable. “Soup” made from boiled cabbage, pork, squid, pepper, and about 10 times the advised daily intake of sodium? And limp boiled cabbage wraps? Mmm.
girlfriday: Sometimes he’s SO inept that I literally can’t tell if he’s purposely messing it up. But his earnest desire to do well makes up for it, sometimes. Food Truck Ajumma’s reaction to his dish was priceless. She has a dry sense of humor: “It’s a spectacle,” or “It’s amazing,” when her face clearly shows the horror. And then she gets progressively looser, near swearing, caption-wise.
javabeans: Both Ho-dong and Jong-min were sweating bullets when she was deciding between them for last place. I almost felt sorry for them, if only their reactions weren’t so entertaining.
girlfriday: The first place winner was Su-geun, who “gave” his reward to Tae-woong, who chose Ho-dong sleep indoors with them. Last place was Jong-min, whose punishment was to go on the location scout with the PDs for the next trip.
javabeans: I thought Su-geun’s choice to let Tae-woong decide their third roommate was a clever way of deflecting responsibility. He used the excuse that it was for Tae-woong’s comfort, while avoiding having to choose. Ha. Not that anybody was surprised when Tae-woong chose Ho-dong.
girlfriday: It was so cute when Tae-woong shyly confessed to liking Ho-dong hyung, all the while clinging to Seung-gi.
javabeans: And Seung-gi pretended to be offended: “Go over there then!”
girlfriday: Who knew Uhm Tae-woong would end up being so clingy and adorable?
javabeans: I’m enjoying the current teams, but I do hope that more bonds spring up between other pairings — I want to see Tae-woong more one-on-one with the other guys, rather than settling into a role right away as one of the OBs. I suspect that he’s still uncomfortable in front of the variety cameras and is eager to settle into a character/role, and is grabbing at whichever ones pop up. Such as Ho-dong’s admirer.
girlfriday: I can’t wait till Eun Chun-jae (Ji-won’s other nickname, meaning “Genius”) and Soon-doong get paired up for a challenge. That’s a match made in heaven.
javabeans: I kind of think that Tae-woong and Seung-gi on one team would blow everyone out of the water. Together, they’re like the perfect package of brains and brawn. And also damn sexy.
girlfriday: Sigh. **Bromance swoon** So, for the morning mission, the boys play the strawberry game, to decide how many dried squids they have to eat in the morning.
javabeans: I’ve played the strawberry game before, which is pretty simple to get the hang of with a little practice. When Tae-woong didn’t know how to play, I was wondering, “What kind of weird, deprived childhood did you have, that you never played that game?”
girlfriday: I know, right? Didn’t his noona ever teach him that game? Did he have no friends? And then they discover another of Tae-woong’s Black Holes: rhythm. Though he does better than expected, given that the game involves numbers.
javabeans: That 3-6-9 game really is hard, though. I would have failed it straight-away. “Three! I mean, clap! I mean, fuck!”
(Rules: Going down the line, each member counts in turn. On numbers containing 3, 6, and 9, you clap instead of saying the number. Seung-gi decided to up the difficulty level by adding the twist that on numbers containing 5, you have to throw up your hands and shout hurrah, or “Manseh!”)
girlfriday: When Tae-woong loses two rounds, he gets his first ever talking-to from Ho-dong. The other members note that if it were them, they’d be dead. Seung-gi: “He would’ve smacked us in the face with the squid.” And then right away, Seung-gi loses a round of 3-6-9, and gets a talking-to from his team’s hyung, Ji-won.
javabeans: Hoisted by his own petard, no less. It was Seung-gi who pushed for making the game harder and then he fell for it first. He looked so horrified.
girlfriday: It’s my favorite of Seung-gi’s Huh-dang expressions: The Oh-Shit.
javabeans: Then they moved on to a rock-scissors-paper relay (er, its more difficult cousin, mook-jji-ppa). I realized that you write it rock-paper-scissors, but I write it rock-scissors-paper. I think it’s because I’m unconsciously following the mook (rock) jji (scissors) ppa (paper) pattern every time I play. You’d think that meant I’d be a better player.
girlfriday: I don’t know what it is about mook-jji-ppa, but you need the reflexes of a jungle cat to be good at that game.
javabeans: It’s almost like you have to shut off your brain and let your reflexes take over, but I think too hard, which is a hindrance. I have the problem Su-geun encountered, where the communication between hand and brain gets interrupted and I get all confused. Hence Su-geun’s “That’s not scissors! Well that’s not a fist either!” debate.
javabeans: That night, we got to see more of the Tae-woong/Ho-dong bromance develop. What cracks me up about Tae-woong’s adoration is that per his innocent streak, he just says what he means. But most people aren’t that blunt, so the words sound suspicious. Like how he offered, “I think everything you say is right, Ho-dong hyung.” Who else but Tae-woong says that without an ulterior motive? The captions (above) read, “Those words sound suspicious to his ears.”
girlfriday: It’s so funny that Tae-woong’s earnestness is so foreign to them. So they go to sleep, and then wake up to eat their morning squids, which really is the strangest thing to do first thing in the morning.
javabeans: Isn’t it? And they were eating the squid in order to win breakfast…squid. Ji-won had it right when he mumbled, “I think I’m done eating squid for a while.” The old boys were smarter about their strategy to prepare and cook the squid before the challenge started, but they just couldn’t get past their one-squid handicap. And then they just had to sit there and watch the young boys eat breakfast.
girlfriday: They had such a great meta moment when all six of them were sitting outside, silently munching their squid, going, “What are we DOING?”
javabeans: I get what you were saying before, though, about the episodes ranging from uproarious to mildly amusing, depending on whatever unfolds. There were plenty of funny moments in this one, but I think the previous three had more laugh-out-loud-hysteria moments. I don’t mind, though, since I appreciate that 1N2D is about as close to a real reality show as you get in Korean variety shows.
girlfriday: What I like about 1N2D is that the boys are 100% invested in winning the games, not just because of the reward, but as a point of pride. They constantly yell things at each other like, “Don’t go variety!” (As in, going for the funny) vs. “Go docu[-mentary]!” (As in, play for reals, or I will hit you). Their personalities come out when their pride is on the line, so regardless of whatever game is planned, the results are real. And when they do go for the laugh, it’s interesting to see each person’s comedic bent too. This show is very open and revealing in that sense–they let us see the guys attempt jokes, fail, succeed, and then get commended by their peers. You can literally see a guy’s face light up if Ho-dong praises his joke. Seung-gi once did an imitation of Na PD that was such a hit that it was a running gag for an entire episode.
javabeans: I know a bunch of variety programs are partially or even mostly scripted, but when you just let the cameras roll (within the challenge’s crazy parameters) as you do here, you get even higher highs than when you pre-ordain the direction of the missions. That’s the difference between finding the story threads within the existing footage, and preparing actual scripts with ideas and storylines before shooting, which seems to be the sorta-debate brewing in the comments about the scripted/unscriptedness of variety shows.
girlfriday: This is a show where the story is found in the editing room. It’s always been that way, and that’s why despite watching a lot of variety, this show is by far my favorite.