EPISODE 370. Broadcast on January 22, 2012.
javabeans: The members gather at the studio to do their opening, and make the customary (lunar) New Year’s bow. Uh, what did Seung-gi do to that poor animal that died on his head?
girlfriday: Oh, Puppy. What happened? Did you lose a bet?
javabeans: How can he be so cute and yet have — not one, but — a whole collection of the worst hairstyles ever?
girlfriday: It’s one of the great mysteries of the universe. I’m trying to find a logical explanation, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t one.
javabeans: Su-geun leads them in a round of congratulations, revealing that it’s Seung-gi’s birthday. Their maknae is 26 this year, and this takes us on a flashback reel to the past five Januarys on this show, starting with when Seung-gi was 21. Damn, time flies. Seung-gi says how he’s been with his show for the entirety of his twenties. Ji-won quips, “You’ve wasted your twenties!”
girlfriday: Damn, those flashbacks take ME back. It’s weird to think how long this show has been around, like it’s a chunk of my life too. Ha.
javabeans: As long as this blog? Damn.
girlfriday: It’s kind of a nice flashback sequence that marks the length of the show, ‘cause Seung-gi, being the maknae, has done the most growing up onscreen.
javabeans: Of all the years they’ve filmed, this is the first one where they’re actually filming on the day of his birthday. Seung-gi: “Today’s my birthday, and you’ve so rudely called me here at 4 am…”
girlfriday: Perhaps there’s a birthday soup breakfast, or a nice cake.
javabeans: Su-geun and Ji-won build up the moment, asking what Na PD prepared for Seung-gi this year. Oh man, I love the look of blankness in his eyes as he says, “Uh… Let’s talk about today’s concept.” HAHA. It’s delightfully awkward.
girlfriday: Pffft. Not even a sad little cupcake? How apropos. Evil masterminds can’t be bothered with birthdays!
javabeans: Today’s concept is based on a TV program titled Korea’s Dining Table. It’s hosted by veteran actor Choi Bool-am and explores the world of Korean cuisine, so today’s trip will riff on that program under the title “Korea’s Winter Dining Table.” The boys muse that this is not a bad idea, since it’s all about eating, after all. (Who’s afraid that it’s all about eating, and yet they won’t get to do any of that eating?)
girlfriday: Ji-won guesses straightaway that knowing their show, they’ll have to catch the ingredients themselves in order to make the dishes, before ever tasting them. Yup, that sounds about right.
javabeans: Haha, Seung-gi hastily backtracks on a dish he’d just declared a winner, because it has oysters and nobody wants to go oyster-hunting. “Uh, I mean, I really don’t like oyster rice soup! Nope!”
girlfriday: Oh dude, they take out the map, and they’ve picked the five farthest possible points on the edges of the country.
javabeans: It’s like they mathematically calculated which five places would be the farthest from each other.
girlfriday: Ji-won points out that getting to the southernmost location would be faster by flying to Jeju Island and then taking a boat. Yeesh.
javabeans: They’re all located on the shore, so I’m anticipating lots of digging. They peel off the labels on the map to see what’s on their winter menu, and you’ve got clams and seaweed. When they get to dried sweet potato strips, Ji-won declares this is totally his bag, and Seung-gi argues that it’s his. Ha, is this just because they don’t want to dig in the cold seawater? Su-geun points out that they may have to dig around in a tank or something for the sweet potatoes, because if this didn’t involve hard labor, why would this would this be on the map? He’s got a point.
girlfriday: I’m sort of on Ji-won’s side in this argument, because in his case, he really can’t eat any of the other things without making a stinkface. He’s pretty much got the palate of a ten-year old, while Seung-gi’s proven he can eat the stinkiest, fishiest things that Ji-won won’t even look at. Na PD says that this time, they won’t play a game, but will leave it up to the boys to decide and debate amongst themselves. Oh this is going to be bad. It’ll devolve into games anyway.
javabeans: Ha, yeah. And it turns out that basecamp location is the place with the food that got the most scrunched noses and yucky faces. It’s a type of fish that Ji-won won’t touch, and Tae-woong says he can’t stomach. On the upside, Tae-woong’s pretty good with the debating, right?
girlfriday: Su-geun’s the only one to volunteer for basecamp/stinkyfish, but then Jong-min steps up to fight him for it, just for shits and giggles.
javabeans: It’s like when Ji-won claims the sweet potatoes and Seung-gi challenges him on that, even though Ji-won will ONLY eat that and Seung-gi agrees that he can eat all five menus. Seung-gi says he won’t get to eat this specialty if he doesn’t go on this trip, and Ji-won exclaims, “I’ll go and make it for you!” It turns out they don’t want democracy after all, and Su-geun asks Na PD to decide for them.
girlfriday: Eventually they’re like, screw debate, let’s just mook-jii-ppa. Knew it. Su-geun wins against Jong-min, so he gets his first choice, which is a big relief for everyone else. Next is the fight for the sweet potato dish, and Ji-won and Seung-gi step up… and so does Jong-min. Ha. Is he just going to screw with everyone’s program?
javabeans: Oh this should be fun. Then Tae-woong joins them to make it a four-way fight. Su-geun proposes the game: Everybody closes their eyes and on the count of three, you either step forward or backward. The one who goes in his own direction gets to win.
girlfriday: Su-geun counts to three, and with eyes closed, everyone steps forward, except for Tae-woong. He’s the winner, but then as soon as he wins, he’s like, “Well I really wanted to eat the clams…” Ji-won’s like WTF? Hahaha.
javabeans: Ji-won’s all, “THEN WHY DID YOU PLAY.” Aw, it’s so cute. Tae-woong says, “I just wanted to play the game with you guys.” So they give the clams to Tae-woong, and re-do the sweet potato round with the other three. Jong-min wins the rock-scissors-paper, leaving Ji-won and Seung-gi with these hilarious looks of blank dismay on their faces.
girlfriday: And so with two items left, they even have the same second-choice, so it’s another round of rock-paper-scissors. Ji-won wins the seaweed one, so it looks like Seung-gi will have to travel the farthest today.
javabeans: Right after Ji-won picks his item, Su-geun asks if he’s willing to do the labor for it. Ji-won’s face cracks me up, all horror. Then Na PD pipes up — Ji-won’s and Tae-woong’s trips include labor. HAHAHAHA. That’s totally not fair!
girlfriday: Dude, that might’ve been useful information upfront!
javabeans: The other three do a victory lap while Tae-woong and Ji-won take this information in.
girlfriday: They split up and arrive hours later at their destinations, some taking planes and others driving for hours. Ji-won calls his destination “the end of the earth,” which seems about right. He gets handed his fisherman’s coveralls, and he laments that the design hasn’t changed once in five years. “I’m a singer, but I’ve worn this more times than my stage clothes.” Ha.
javabeans: Tae-woong takes a boat ride out to the dock where he’ll be working, which looks pretty desolate. He says it looks scary, which isn’t too far off the mark.
girlfriday: Both Jong-min and Su-geun attempt their best Choi Bool-am impressions, with the famous belly laugh.
javabeans: Is it me or is it really ssullung? It sorta goes on and on.
girlfriday: Yeah it’s not an inherently funny thing to imitate anyway, so it doesn’t land as a joke.
javabeans: Right. It’s like parodying… I dunno, someone serious and not very mockable. It’s no Christopher Walken.
girlfriday: The rows and rows of dried fish are picturesque, though not personally appetizing. Seung-gi’s location is up in snowy mountain territory, so it looks especially strange and pretty.
javabeans: Seung-gi gets the belated message that he’ll be doin’ some work, too. He introduces his task with this long preface, then hangs up one string of fish and declares his work done. Ha. Now he can tell his hyungs that they weren’t the only ones working. Technically.
girlfriday: Yeah Ji-won won’t be peeved at all. He heads out in his boat to go seaweed-gathering, which is actually kind of cool. I know it’s the ocean, but it looks like a lake or something.
javabeans: Aw, Jong-min’s ajumma loves him. It’s sweet how enthusiastic she is, holding his hand and telling him she likes him more than Seung-gi. The reason? “You know these days, how the successful sons are the sons of the country. The sons who make lots of money are the sons of my in-laws. And the sons with debt are my sons.” Haha.
girlfriday: HA. She’s a riot. Only a Korean ajumma would say that to a celebrity’s face and mean it. She gets carried away though, and launches into her entire life story. Guess Jong-min’s in for a really long day.
javabeans: Seung-gi’s ajumma has her cooking setup ready for him and he takes a look at the ingredients. She asks, “But why are you so good-looking?” Hahaha. There’s no good answer to that question, though, is there?
girlfriday: The better question is why he’s topped his good-looking face with that hair. THAT’s the real question.
javabeans: His segment is sort of amusingly stilted, because he’s asking these questions and she’s totally answering them in unexpected ways. It’s a good thing he’s a good roll-with-the-punches host because he doesn’t seem to feel uncomfortable, but the proceedings are definitely awkward.
girlfriday: He knows how to turn that awkward into funny though, which helps a great deal.
javabeans: He takes a bite of his fried fish dish, and it’s hilarious because now I’m picturing Tae-woong narrating Seung-gi’s foodgasm process, and I literally can count down to the big O. There he goes, right on cue.
girlfriday: Aw, Jong-min’s ajumma gives him lots of life advice as she cooks, and tells him to get married early. And then she turns all Kang Ho-dong all of a sudden, needling him for details since she’s sure he has a girlfriend. He denies it so she offers to set him up with someone, and he hesitates. She’s like, “SEE! You DO have somebody!”
javabeans: Ha, I love it — she’s going on no facts, just intuition but she reads his reactions so sharply that he has no response. Granny should play poker.
girlfriday: She asks him what kind of girl he likes, and when he says ten years older or younger is fine by him, she totally calls him out on it, insisting that ten years older is a lie and that he shouldn’t be so greedy to want a girl ten years younger. She’s like, “This is why men are THIEVES.” Pffft.
javabeans: Su-geun’s hosts show him the way to eat his fish, the dish everyone else balked at which apparently gets a bad rap for being, well, fishy. The ajusshi rolls up a piece in a big ol’ kimchi leaf, showing him the old-school way to eat it before they used scissors to cut it up, and Su-geun sits there chewing, chewing, chewing while the song selection sings, “Go on and speak, speak, speak.” Hee.
girlfriday: Meanwhile Tae-woong and Ji-won slave away on their boats, poor things. My only solace is that I hear Na PD’s voice with Tae-woong, so at least he’s suffering along in solidarity.
javabeans: It’s so funny how Granny tells Jong-min that her dish doesn’t use much sugar, while ladling in four heaping scoops of the stuff. She instructs him on presentation and tells him to find the red dates for garnish, then prods him to follow along. Jong-min misunderstands and mimics her voice, rather than her dictate, and I die laughing.
girlfriday: Hahaha. He went there to host and got schooled.
javabeans: Jong-min’s sweet potato gruel is the one I really want to eat, though. YUM.
girlfriday: Right? I would’ve fought as hard as Ji-won did.
javabeans: Speaking of Ji-won, he’s finally in the kitchen after a tough day of leaning over the side of a boat on his stomach to harvest seaweed.
girlfriday: His ajumma starts cooking the seaweed ricecake soup by plopping in two big handfuls of oysters, and Ji-won’s face screws up in an unhappy tic.
javabeans: That IS a weird assortment of ingredients, though. Oysters, garlic, rice cake, seaweed? Surprisingly, he loves it.
girlfriday: How cute. Ji-won discovers the ajusshi’s record collection and marvels that he could be a DJ, and asks if he has a specific album. It’s totally obscure so he says no, but it turns out that he’s asking because it’s his mom’s old album when she was a singer and part of a duo called Lily Sisters. I always find it interesting when singers come from singers, I don’t know why.
javabeans: Especially when it’s the older generation, right?
girlfriday: Yeah, they show a picture of his mom’s album cover, and it’s so my parents’ generation. It looks like one of my dad’s old LPs. Su-geun eats and eats and eats, and then decides he needs to repay their kindness with some manual labor, so he heads out to do some work anyway. Aw, that’s nice of him.
javabeans: How random. In Seung-gi’s segment, they’re totally playing a track from the Witch Amusement soundtrack, which seems like such an obscure thing to use. I literally had to pause and sit there for a few seconds to figure it out. My thought process? “I know it came from a romantic comedy from about four years ago and it sucked but it was cute.” It’s the song called “Cook,” which explains the usage. I dunno why this strikes me as interesting, except it’s totally something I would do.
girlfriday: Seung-gi has an even bigger reaction to the second dish, and this time the captions point out each part of his typical foodgasm piece by piece. Ha.
javabeans: This cracks me up. They read: “Closes his eyes, turns his head, sighs deeply and smiles, gives a thumbs up.” I just joked about the countdown and they literally provide one.
girlfriday: Clearly you’re on the same wavelength as the editor today.
javabeans: I must be. Where’s my refrigerator?
girlfriday: He keeps eating, so then they turn it into this montage of him sighing over and over again, and it gets more over-the-top each time. It’s like a rake gag.
javabeans: I love the captions that turn this into a viewers’ game: “Let’s follow along!” It really is like outtakes from a CF shoot. He jokes that this is his best birthday dinner ever: “You’re better than my mom.”
girlfriday: No! On your birthday? Really? She did all the work!
javabeans: “I’m sorry, Mom. But it really is delicious.”
girlfriday: Tae-woong finally arrives with his bag of clams, and his ajumma show him how to cut them out of their shells. He shows one to the camera, and it really does look like a baby bird’s head, which is kind of creeping me out.
javabeans: Dude, there he goes playing with his food again. He gets to work cleaning out the clams, and worries about how to keep them fresh for the others later. He wonders, “Is it okay if I use the seawater from Pohang?” As though the sea here is made of different stuff. His ajumma is so hilariously no-nonsense: “You keep saying strange things.”
girlfriday: She’s so brusque that he’s actually taken aback. So far, they’re the funniest duo. He keeps trying to engage her in conversation, but he’s Tae-woong, so he says dorky things, and she’s like, what’s this weirdo talking about?
javabeans: He asks a silly question and she doesn’t say anything so he prods, “That didn’t even merit a response, did it?” and she retorts, “At least you know it!” They’re hysterical.
girlfriday: He finally gets to have a taste of one raw, and when the PD tries to step in to say he can dip it in chili sauce, she makes him feel like that’d be ridiculous. And then as he’s chewing, she’s like, “It’s salty and fishy, right?” HA. I love her bluntness.
javabeans: Ji-won’s ajumma is familiar with the show and can name all the members, so Ji-won prods her to demonstrate. She rattles off the names, and when she gets to the last name she adds on a description, “Pure young man Kim Jong-min.” Ji-won’s all, how come Jong-min gets a description? He asks her for the best member and she answers Ji-won, but he knows she’s just saying that for his benefit and tells her not to force the answer. She replies, “Yeah, that’s pushing it isn’t it?” Haha.
girlfriday: It’s so cute how quickly she admits it. Her real favorite is Su-geun, and when Ji-won asks which member needs to grow the most, she names Pure Young Man Jong-min because she can’t understand what he’s saying without a translator. Hee.
javabeans: Tae-woong sits down with his ajumma to make clam shabu-shabu, and takes a sip of his kimchi broth. He compliments her on the taste, but blunt ajumma shakes her head no, “Not this year.”
girlfriday: Okay, I’m dying of food envy. The raw ones were a bit much, but the shabu-shabu is so up my alley. Jealous.
javabeans: I don’t like shabu-shabu (it’s so bland), but I’m still dying for that sweet potato porridge. I wonder if I can rustle up a recipe.
girlfriday: Probably, but it seems like the big hurdle with that dish is the drying of sweet potatoes first.
javabeans: Yeah, who’s got the time? Knowing me I’d get everything all ready to make soup and then just end up eating sweet potatoes on their own.
girlfriday: Maybe I can find the recipe… for my mom.
javabeans: LOL. Hey, if Mom likes to cook, and I like to eat, it’s a win-win. (Sadly, my mom can only cook via recipe and timer. She’s like Seung-gi that way.) Na PD prods Tae-woong to describe his clam dish, and Tae-woong fumbles for adjectives like sweet, and then adds, “It tastes a little like… you know, clam taste.” He asks his ajumma to describe it and she says, “It’s totally different from other types of clams. Therefore, I can’t tell anybody what it tastes like.”
girlfriday: HAHA, Tae-woong eats and eats and eats, and his ajumma yells at him, “You’re eating so much all by yourself! Aren’t you sorry?”
javabeans: So his crew joins him around the table and ajumma tosses out, “Eat less! Let the others eat!”
girlfriday: Seung-gi continues to stuff his face as well, and makes sure to ask if the rest of his hyungs are doing the same. And then he sighs that tonight’s agenda’s going to be scary. It’s like their pavlovian response to food: fear.
javabeans: Seung-gi feels bad that all he did was eat, so he insists on doing the dishes for his ajumma. And then he BREAKS ONE. There’s this look that flits across his face as he looks around furtively, as though this weren’t all caught on camera, like, Did anybody see that?
girlfriday: It’s straight out of a cartoon.
javabeans: It’s so funny — you know he’ll replace the plate for her, and it probably wasn’t expensive, and hey, now she can go around bragging that this is the plate Seung-gi broke on TV, and yet in that moment you just feel really sorry.
girlfriday: He was saying when he started the dishwashing that he feels bad for his mom ‘cause he never washes dishes at home, but I’m beginning to see why. As payment for the dish, he finishes up with some manual labor in the fish yard where he can’t break anything.
javabeans: And then we get previews for next week. Given that the first thing it does is point out Na PD’s smile of all evil, I have a feeling our boys have got their work cut out for them. Let’s hope they all ate up.
girlfriday: If that boat ride is as hellish as it seems, they might just be losing their lunches anyway.