EPISODE 390. Broadcast on June 10, 2012.
javabeans: We open to a montage of teaser clips from later in the episode. I know the whole point of this is to edit in the juiciest bits, but even so I’m thinking whoa, lots of excitement ahead. Like a mob screaming for Joo-won, and Seung-woo calling his wife (Kim Nam-joo) to find a hospital.
girlfriday: A hospital? That sounds serious.
javabeans: Then for the real opening, as Joo-won asks, “User ‘1231’-nim! So you say the last episode was boring?” Oh, is that why we’re getting all the excitement today?
girlfriday: Are they actually naming netizen handles and quoting their comments? That’s… weird.
javabeans: Welcome the meta; the fourth wall is for sissies! By the filming of this trip, Gaksital has aired to positive response, so we’ve got to acknowledge that.
girlfriday: None of them are like, It’s so weird to watch you be all badass, boy afraid of bees?
javabeans: Ha, you know what that means: Nobody’s seen it, I bet. Shi-kyung had a concert that went well, and everybody but Tae-woong and Seung-woo went. Tae-woong was sick, but he asks hyung point-blank why he didn’t go, and Jong-min calls him on his “I was busy” excuse, asking innocently what he’s working on these days. Basically: “You’re not shooting a show, what’s YOUR excuse?”
girlfriday: Poor Seung-woo, who’s like, “I’m shooting a drama!” Well, if nobody knows, who’s fault is that?
javabeans: Bird PD reveals the huge map behind them that’s been covered up thus far, revealing today’s special trip. Okay, now is every trip somehow a “special”? Doesn’t that make it automatically less special? Like when you give kids trophies for participating?
girlfriday: YES. Like A’s for effort. Pffft.
javabeans: And “citizenship” grades to inflate GPA? Piffle. In my day, we inflated our GPAs the hard way, through extra credit and brownnosing. How will children learn to value winning when they never lose? What happened to good-old-fashioned competitive spirit?
girlfriday: Fail, children! FAIL!
javabeans: PAIN BUILDS CHARACTER.
girlfriday: Preachin’ to the choir, buddy.
javabeans: So. Ahem. This is Part 1 of the trip, the North Jeolla Province edition of what they’re calling “Reckless Trip.” Um. I’m not sure if this is a very good idea, or a very bad one.
girlfriday: I think they mean more Unplanned and Willy Nilly Trip, which could end up reckless or not.
javabeans: It’s a word that is chosen specifically for the funny, ‘cause it makes the whole mission sound haphazard. Maybe that’s a better title: Haphazard Trip.
girlfriday: Yeah that’s more like it. This would be my ideal trip-planning strategy.
javabeans: Mine too, only there have gotta be some crippling restrictions in this game, right? They’re told to go “where their hearts lead them,” ha, without any plan. The captions tell us this trip will take them to see, eat, and experience Korea’s myriad offerings, and feel “the joy of freedom in the journey.” And I’m like, then why is the background music something out of a Mission Impossible episode?
girlfriday: Shi-kyung turns to the map and reminisces about the time he went on such a trip, back when he was studying for the college entrance exam… for the third time. Suddenly all the boys are like, “YOU? THREE TIMES?”
javabeans: Does that shatter his brainy image a bit? Maybe that’s why he knows so much, though: He learned everything three times.
girlfriday: Ha. And then Su-geun asks Joo-won if he’s ever gone traveling with a girlfriend. Pffft. But he’s so tiny!
javabeans: The first theme has everyone oohing in anticipation, ‘cause it sounds too good to be true. (Which you know means it has to be.) The Gourmand’s Journey will feature one team of two, and give them a car and a whopping 100,000 won (close to $100) allowance. The second theme is a day of touring: two more members, another car, and half the allowance.
girlfriday: The third theme is a walking journey, with half the allowance of the second one, and the last an Island Trip for One, with zero allowance. Su-geun correctly calls that just being left behind.
girlfriday: Bird PD says they’ll play games and the first two winners from each set get the best trip. As Su-geun says the words, “Don’t make it a race…” Bird PD blows the whistle for a race. Ha.
javabeans: Su-geun cheats a head start, but his legs are overtaken by long-daris Joo-won and Shi-kyung. Then Tae-woong somehow forces the others to stop and tries to broker a deal. If I can’t win, you can’t either?
girlfriday: But Speedy Su-geun doesn’t give up, and by the end he beats Shi-kyung into second place. He and Joo-won get to go on the food trip, and they hug for joy.
javabeans: HAHA, Tae-woong comes back holding Seung-woo’s hand—is it ‘cause he was slowest, or because he’s most resigned? I can’t see Seung-woo reacting well to a food-less, money-less trip…
girlfriday: It was probably a let’s-be-ajusshis-in-last-place solidarity thing once they saw that they’d lose anyway. The next game is speed-texting.
javabeans: Oh, Tae-woong. He’s hilarious. The message is one he texted to a PD on a previous trip, and basically pats himself on the back for being cool for changing the flat tire, noting how the ladies will love it.
girlfriday: Hee. Why such a dork?
javabeans: How is Tae-woong so slow at texting the thing based on his text? Seung-woo is fastest, while you hear the others grumbling, “Oops, I called instead” (Jong-min) and “Urg, I sent it to the wrong Jae-hyung!” (Tae-hyun)
girlfriday: Jong-min: “Why do I have so many hyungs named Jae-hyung?” Turns out slow and steady wins this race, ‘cause Shi-kyung is the first to actually get it right AND send it to the right person.
javabeans: Haha, Seung-woo got one letter wrong initially, so he resent the corrected version… but ONLY the one letter.
girlfriday: HAHAHA, Tae-woong’s text to Bird PD: “Just say I’m first place.”
javabeans: He cracks me up. So now we’re deciding who loses and has to go to the island. It’s Tae-woong, Seung-woo, and Jong-min, and they have to close their eyes and then either step forward or backward. The odd one out is the loser. Oh, Korea, way to uphold conformity at all levels, even schoolyard games.
girlfriday: Jong-min is the odd man out, and he immediately accuses them of rigging the results… which kinda makes me nostalgic for Ho-dong and his cheaty cheaterson ways. But Seung-woo just hugs Jong-min in sympathy and offers to go to the island instead. Aw.
javabeans: Hee, so then Tae-woong offers to go to the island too, and Jong-min pipes up, “Both of you go to the island.” The winning team is the eaters, ‘cause they get to hit up five restaurants and spend their money. Things start to sound less happy with the second trip, though, because they have to keep up a string of tours for a minimum of five hours.
girlfriday: And then the third trip, that the two ajusshis are going on, is a no-sitting, no-lying-down trip, FOR THE ENTIRE DURATION. Whoa.
javabeans: Yet that’s nothing compared to Jong-min, who has to go to the island, travel without car, and snap photos with A HUNDRED people.
girlfriday: Dude, he also has to CIRCLE the whole friggin’ island. The boys head to the local train station and just start flipping through travel brochures, since this is a haphazard plan-as-you-go thing.
javabeans: Shi-kyung does some calculating, and finds it difficult to make their allowance stretch enough to fulfill their 5 hours. (There are cheese tours, wine tours, and the like.) Especially if they figure in food. Yoo PD says, “For the sake of your trip, you’ll have to give up something…” Meaning: Starve, minion. Does it seem like Yoo PD has become more of a hardass in this season, or was she always tough?
girlfriday: Maybe with Na PD around, she didn’t have to be the resident hardass, but now with Bird PD being a big ol’ softy, she’s the bad cop. They decide on a cheese tour, because they figure at least they’ll get to eat some cheese while making it. Ha.
javabeans: I can’t see this team dealing with hunger very well. Tae-hyun’s a big ol’ complainer, and Shi-kyung is a huge eater. Tae-hyun gets on the phone to call their destination and says “I’m calling from 1N2D…” Shi-kyung’s all, “You have to say, This is Cha Tae-hyun” and immediately there are squeals over the phone. Cute. Then the girls decide it’s a prank call and are like, “This ajusshi’s a liar!”
girlfriday: Hee. I’m pretty sure I’d say the same if Cha Tae-hyun called me.
javabeans: Seung-woo answers a call from the wife, and starts explaining his no-sitting, all-walking mission in detail. He says in complete deadpan, “Look into hospitals for me. When I get home, I’ll need MRIs on my knees.” Tae-woong teases him for reporting everything to the wife like a child to his mom, but I’m like, honey, you know you’re jealous.
girlfriday: It’s adorable that he literally reports every boring detail to her over the phone. Jong-min goes through his backpack in the car, only to find a pan, a camera, and film. He gets his revenge–I won’t take responsibility for screentime! There might be nothing!
javabeans: When buying tickets, Tae-woong decides to try to pass himself off as a student (he’s in grad school, but the reduced fee is only for middle and high school students), then he says Seung-woo’s his nephew. (He says he took some bad meds that aged him, HA.)
girlfriday: Su-geun and Joo-won start eating right away, and clean up every last drop of their bean sprout soup. I have a feeling they’re going to suffer from over-filling their bellies faster than they think.
javabeans: I know! Shouldn’t they be pacing themselves? They decide to ask youngsters for their restaurant recommendations, since different generations have different tastes. (I’m like, this is Joo-won’s way of satisfying his little-kid taste buds, isn’t it?) Then they go to a school campus, which, are you kidding me? You’re inviting a mob scene, right? The girls are all blushing and Su-geun asks who their favorite is, and they’re like, of course, HIM! (Joo-won.)
girlfriday: Haha, Jong-min arrives at his boat and asks the captain, “Can we go? Isn’t there a lot of fog?” The captain assures him there’s no problem, and his face falls. Tae-hyun and Shi-kyung arrive at the Cheese Village (Is there really an entire village devoted to cheese?) and the ajusshi-is-lying girl freaks out.
javabeans: I love how excited both boys are to hear that the tour takes a WHOLE HOUR (the longer it takes, the fewer places they have to hit up) and they start by eating a whole donkatsu lunch. Then it’s adorable when a team of ajummas arrives who’d also booked that tour, and are excited at their tourmates.
girlfriday: And then a screaming horde of schoolgirls arrives on what must be a school field trip or something. They’re all wearing similar costumes and Tae-hyun’s like, “That flower is pretty!” The girls immediately offer them up.
javabeans: Tae-hyun guesses that the ajusshis have passed out by now, and cut to: Seung-woo and Tae-woong, dead asleep on the bus. Okay, then their mission isn’t so bad if they can sit while in transport, right? Because I was thinking they’d have to stand in the buses. The eating team, meanwhile, heads to their second location: A place that fries everything, which you eat rolled in lettuce.
girlfriday: At least it’s other stuff that’s fried. When they were told about the restaurant, I was picturing deep-fried lettuce.
javabeans: It’s funny, because I was thinking: fried lettuce, cool. Kale chips aren’t so weird, after all. But Joo-won and Su-geun have a hard time wrapping (hur) their heads around the concept of eating tempura with fresh lettuce.
girlfriday: It’s entertaining how skeptical they are. Does Joo-won do everything aegyotastically? Baby-voice: “I’m wrapping now…” They both end up pleasantly surprised by the fried-in-lettuce concept.
javabeans: You know, I think I’m just going to have to consider Joo-won’s real-life, normal voice to be aegyo baby. It’s like an actor with an Australian accent who drops it for movie roles; Joo-won’s natural state is aegyo accent. Maybe it’s his body’s way of neutralizing all the angst of his drama characters.
girlfriday: He’s clearly not the type who can’t get out of character easily, like those intense actors who have to go hibernate in the mountains to drop character.
javabeans: I wonder if that’s an innate thing, or merely a difference in acting style. I remember people like Kim Myung-min saying that they act “the hard way” because they’re too thick-headed to know how to do it any other way. He means it self-deprecatingly, like: My way really isn’t the best way, but hardcore Method is the only thing I can do. Whereas Tae-hyun joked that he falls out of character the minute he finishes a project. It’s like acting as a natural, versus acting as a learned technique.
girlfriday: I dunno if it’s a personality thing, but it must be, because some people just have a thicker wall between fiction and life, and others don’t, because they can’t control the emotion leaking from one side to the other. It’s certainly gotta be healthier NOT to be method-mountain-actor, ‘cause that’s gotta cut into personal life in a drastic way.
javabeans: Not to mention giving yourself lifelong health problems because, say, you starved yourself insanely for a movie. Back at the cheese village, both boys stick the flowers on—Tae-hyun on his hat, and Shi-kyung in his hair. He looks ridiculous (but cute) and says, “I was overlooked by all of them for Tae-hyun hyung, but after I put this on, they’re all looking at me. But…. it’s not with admiring gazes…” Ha.
girlfriday: I love this side of Shi-kyung. If I can’t be a flower boy, I will be Boy Who Wears Flower.
javabeans: Joo-won and Su-geun both get super sleepy from the food coma, and pull over from their mountain road to take a nap. The last thing Su-geun mumbles is, “Lettuce… is… good…”
girlfriday: It cracks me up that they just drive into random woods along the way to stop and take a nap. When they arrived they had discovered a toad and thought it amusing, but then once they’re asleep, Mr. Toad decides to investigate and ends up hanging out underneath Joo-won’s backpack/pillow. Eep!
javabeans: Eek! I’m imagining how he’d react to awaken with a toad right under his neck.
girlfriday: I’m thinking Bee x 100?
javabeans: That sounds about right. I’m actually disappointed when the toad hops off while they’re still asleep (thirty minutes later), but it returns just as Joo-won groggily wakes up. Predictably, he jerks back in horror, but man, I still wanted the full “IT’S ON MEEEE!” freakout.
girlfriday: I wonder if he’ll see it on tv and then have a belated freakout anyway.
javabeans: On to Jong-min, who arrives on his island and starts his leisurely journey around it. He spots a seafood restaurant he’d love to try, only the whole no-money thing puts a damper on that. At Cheese Village, the boys participate in a quiz for various dairy products, and Shi-kyung basically cleans up, winning yogurt and cheeses. He’s all, “We can eat this for dinner!”
girlfriday: Jong-min passes shopowners by, and the PD asks why he’s not stopping to take pictures with them. He says the beach is just up ahead, so why bother? Uh… is he expecting like Haeundae or something? This is an island in the middle of nowhere!
javabeans: I know! I’m wondering if he’s got a tip about an island festival or something, ‘cause otherwise I don’t understand his confidence. He declares that he’ll get his 100-person photo in one shot, then scrambles to the beach… which is completely empty. Wah wah.
girlfriday: Seung-woo and Tae-woong walk and walk and walk. They seem to be bonding from the experience at least. At the Cheese Village, the boys start making their cheese in a giant pot, and Tae-hyun’s like, “I feel like Gargamel!” Making smurf soup?
javabeans: Tae-hyun and Shi-kyung have said they lucked out with the best mission, because eating can be a trial, too. I really do think they got a nice trip theme, because they’re having tons of fun stretching out cheese and eating it directly from the fresh batches. It’s strangely hilarious, watching them just chomp down on the stuff they’re working on, stuffing their faces with cheese. Tae-hyun writes the other members’ names on little plastic containers to take home, then pauses, “How do you draw a bird?” Ha, for Bird PD? And then, HAHA, he draws an Angry Bird! Perfect.
girlfriday: Now I wanna try making my own cheese. Looks so fun.
javabeans: Seung-woo is starting to pant and gasp as he walks along, using walking sticks for added support. He really does seem like an old man now.
girlfriday: They’re clearly at the stage of hunger where they’re hallucinating everything as food. The layered rocks look like pastries to Seung-woo and the sand looks like ramyun soup powder to Tae-woong. Someone feed them!
javabeans: They have a packet of kimchi leftover from lunch and ask the PD to buy it from them, which merits the obvious response, “Why would I do that?” They figure they can split an ice cream or something if the PD buys it for a buck, so the PD offers a trade: If they can stack 40 stones, he’ll buy it for 2 bucks. Two ice creams, no splitting, go!
girlfriday: Man, Bird PD’s a hardass about the sitting. They can’t even do a kimchi-crouch? So they have to hover with their butts hanging in the air to make their tower.
javabeans: Their stone tower collapses, and Seung-woo kicks the ground angrily and says, “Let’s go.” Ha. Then on to Jong-min, who discovers a family picnicking at the beach and gets photos with them. In exchange for giving them one polaroid, the grandma gives him a tomato, and the PD starts to argue that it’s somehow breaking the rules. Then instead he sighs, “Go ahead, eat.” Aw.
girlfriday: Tae-hyun and Shi-kyung head to their next stop, the Chunhyang Park. Does that… count as a learning experience?
javabeans: You mean because it’s a theme park?
girlfriday: Yeah it seems more like a recreational thing.
javabeans: But I guess it’s culturally relevant? Since it’s such a famous story with roots in Namwon. Like… visiting the birthplace of a famous person, maybe. Just with attractions built in. The walking team trudges on, and Tae-woong tries to sell his kimchi again. When the PD starts to haggle over price, he argues that there’s the added labor cost of carrying it all the way up the mountain: “Where can you buy kimchi on this road?” I love how shameless he is, ‘cause never mind the fact that nobody would WANT kimchi on this road.
girlfriday: He manages to bait Bird PD in a bet over whether or not the flowers up ahead are acacias or not, and they finally win some ice cream money.
javabeans: Oh, poor Jong-min. He’s driven to picking up random shells on the beach, hoping for clams or abalone.
girlfriday: Oh, the Chunhyang thing is ROLEPLAY. Hahaha. They decide that Shi-kyung should play Chunhyang, but then none of the hanboks fit him (of course) so they have to switch roles.
javabeans: Ha, I love how he’s initially unhappy because both he and Chunhyang have the same last name, but I think Tae-hyun would make a better Chunhyang anyway. Shi-kyung can be the romantic hero instead.
girlfriday: Omo, Tae-hyun is so pretty in that costume!
javabeans: Is it weird that the schoolboys are absurdly excited to see Tae-hyun? One of them crows, “I touched his head!” It’s adorable. I guess when you’re beloved by the country as a whole, everyone’s a fan, not just the schoolgirls. HEE, over on the walking team, Bird PD sits on the ground in front of Seung-woo, almost like he’s taunting him. Seung-woo tries to convince them to all stand together, and Bird PD sits even harder, if that’s possible.
girlfriday: He’s getting better and better at being evil! Tae-woong returns with two cans of coke, and they drink it like it’s nectar of the gods. Seung-woo gapes that he doesn’t even like soda, and marvels at how it could taste so good. Is he like this about everything?
javabeans: This show is making a liar out of Seung-woo! Even he knows it’s going to sound like a lie, but this show will make you grateful even for the things you hate.
girlfriday: Okay, now I’m seriously jealous. Joo-won and Su-geun go to eat pat-bing-soo (red bean with shaved ice) that looks like heaven.
javabeans: That’s a damn delicious looking pat-bing-soo. See, the pat-bing-soos of the early 2000s really went off the rails in a bad way, loading it up with all these random extraneous things that just made it taste like Leftover Halloween Candy Sugar Mountain—gummi bears, hard candies, rice cakes, fruit cocktail, whipped cream, ice cream, corn flakes… This one is the old classic: pat and bing-soo.
girlfriday: Could those chunks of rice cake be any bigger? Yum. Oh no, Joo-won calls the Walking Team to show off their pat-bing-soo! That’s mean.
javabeans: Worse yet, he takes a huge mouthful and eats it right into camera, with gloating face. Oh, somebody’s getting a toad in his bedroll tonight.
girlfriday: Jong-min discovers some crabs walking around on the beach and hurriedly unties his pot. Are you… doing what I think you’re doing?
javabeans: I know they’re crabs… but they look like spiders!
girlfriday: The captions describe the crabs and their special characteristic… of burrowing into holes as soon as anyone comes near. Cut to Jong-min standing on the beach with his pot, staring at the empty sand where they used to be. Ha.
javabeans: A the theme park, Tae-hyun and Shi-kyung re-create a scene that starts the story, with Chunhyang swinging and catching the eye of her future husband Mong-ryong. So Tae-hyun’s swinging by himself, wondering, “Where has [maidservant] Hyang-dan gone, not helping me swing? That rude little wench.” HA. Tae-hyun’s hysterical, just ad-libbing random lines as he swings.
girlfriday: His second-nature comedic sensibility is kind of amazing. I just don’t even know why everything he does is funny, but it is.
javabeans: Then around the corner, “Mong-ryong” catches a glimpse, and why does he now look like a Peeping Tom? I’m kinda creeped out. Tae-hyun-Chun-hyang bemoans his 105 days of swinging without any sign of the young master (since she was planning the fateful encounter, don’tcha know), then when Shi-kyung appears, he’s all, “Ah, my hard work pays off at last!” So funny.
girlfriday: Shi-kyung’s not as quick with the ad-libs, but he pushes Tae-hyun on the swing and then gives him a big twirling hug. Cute.
javabeans: After failling to catch lunch, Jong-min sets up shop on the sidewalk… selling autographs. And people buy them! After he runs out of little 1N2D flags, he pulls out other paraphernalia and sells them to the passersby.
girlfriday: That’s kind of brilliant. I mean, they gave him the bag full of stuff. And then he takes pictures with his customers too. Two birds with one lucrative stone. Is he… selling his ramyun pot? Is the shirt off his back next?
javabeans: Thankfully, he’s got enough to eat now. Tae-hyun’s Chun-hyang is sort of a hard-living wench, isn’t she? Ha. S/he chugs makgulli in one shot and stops just short of belching. The show dubs her “Yupgi Chunhyang” (a reference to My Sassy Girl), which seems about right.
girlfriday: They top off lunch with a bout of… torture?
javabeans: I’m impressed that Jong-min scrounged up the 7,000 won for dinner, and also really happy for him because he seems so thrilled to finally get his seafood jjamppong. Until he arrives and sees that it’s 8,000 won. Oh no! I think he might cry.
girlfriday: Aw, and he worked so hard! He looks crushed. With a sinking heart, he tells the ajumma he’ll be right back…
javabeans: …next week!
girlfriday: Looks like next week’s got some serious hijinks. Is someone dancing in the middle of a crowded street? *evil cackle*