EPISODE 7. Broadcast on August 16, 2013.
javabeans: Here we are, already at the Season 1 finale for this show, with the last episode of this European trip. Well, it’s on cable and it’s experimenting with format so it’s been a short Season 1, but on the other hand, it’s been a loooooong Season 1.
girlfriday: So we pick up the morning after Geun-hyung halbae has left the group (sadness) and now we just have the impatient mat-hyung Soon-jae halbae and the tantrum-throwing maknae Il-sub halbae left. Breakfast is so awkward and silent that the PDs ask if they should turn on some music, and soon they’re both dancing to Michael Jackson. Ha.
javabeans: Sitting outside are Seo-jin and Na PD side by side, in this silent daze, and one of the producers tells Seo-jin he looks like he’s aged. Just then, their neighbors happen by with a bunch of tools and slabs of stone, here to construct an outdoor table. Na PD jokes that Seo-jin should offer his help, and he’s all, “I’m thinking about it.” Hahaha. He’s totally been reprogrammed into worker/helper drone mode.
girlfriday: He rolls up his sleeves and offers to help, and suddenly he’s the one nagging Na PD to stop standing there being useless. He’s like, “I was joking…” Too late. Now they’re both helping.
javabeans: After they get that huge slab hoisted, Seo-jin heads inside to research more info on their next stop, but isn’t sure that he can call in the event they don’t speak English. Light bulb moment: Let’s ask the neighbors! Caption: Nothing’s for free.
girlfriday: It’s great. He uses brawn, she gives him brains, and the hotel reservations get made with no hassle. I like that when she asks if all three guys can sleep in one room he’s like, “Nonononono. Two rooms.”
javabeans: I know, it hardly matters how the two rooms get divided, provided there’s a division. But three in one? Aie.
girlfriday: They pack up and head out, and take a really picturesque train ride through the alps. Soon-jae halbae studies his travel guide book the whole way, taking notes like a good student, and then sometime later he suddenly announces that they should give Seo-jiinie the day off, and he’ll find their way to the hotel. What.
javabeans: Omo omo. Seo-jin’s reaction is both thrilled and worried, like, uh you sure? But I need to check you in! Meanwhile Na PD’s jaw literally drops and he’s all, “O….kay.” And then, “Okay!” Il-sub halbae has this “Uhhh” look on his face the whole way through this but in the end he’s all, “Okay, whatever works, I’ll just go along.” Either the halbaes are going to get into a fight or they’re going to come out of this super-bonded. Or both those things.
girlfriday: Yeah I’m nervous but it’s probably going to be entertaining either way, which is what probably went through Na PD’s head in those two seconds where he went slackjawed.
javabeans: I’ll grant you that Soon-jae halbae probably is the one halbae we don’t have to worry about in terms of finding his own way—he seems really resourceful and sharp, as opposed to, say, Il-sub halbae who would maybe just sit down in the middle of a street until somebody helped him. But putting them together and alone is the thing.
girlfriday: I have this image in my head of Il-sub halbae being the kid you lose at the amusement park, and hours later he’s just sitting in the same spot, crying.
javabeans: Yes, meanwhile his mother has gone tearing around the whole place searching everywhere BUT that place, because that’s where she lost him.
girlfriday: And Soon-jae halbae would’ve made the most of his day by riding all the rides, and then taking a taxi home.
javabeans: Which he would’ve paid for with the extra emergency money he always carries just in case. And when everyone is shocked and relieved, he’d be all, “What?”
girlfriday: So then they arrive in Lucerne and Seo-jin has this worried mom-look on his face as he sends the halbaes off, and already within twenty seconds, Soon-jae halbae is walking way ahead. Crap, they might actually lose each other.
javabeans: Seo-jin says in an interview that he’s not worried that the two halbaes will be awkward with each other, even though they don’t talk much, because they go waaaay back and have those decades of familiarity between them. He gives examples of the halbaes looking out for each other in little and silent ways, which is sweet.
javabeans: So that’s one worry we can strike from the list. Still, that leaves the other one: wandering halbaes! I will say though that Switzerland is really beautiful—it’s like every image you have in your head from movies and cartoons, only it’s really like that. When are we gonna take our Parisian-Swiss tour, huh?
girlfriday: And with a Seo-jiinnie of our own?
javabeans: Well, obviously! Though I’d be fine with a Min-ho Genie too. I’m easygoing like that.
girlfriday: How giving of you. I say we just pick up and go. This show seriously makes me want to be on the road. We can be road bloggers!
javabeans: I love how Seo-jin experiences his first moment of free will and is instantly drunk on it. He’s all, “I haven’t gotten to choose a single thing for myself!” And then like a kid on the loose, he beelines for McDonald’s, which, HA.
girlfriday: Pfft. Does being with the halbaes make everyone into children?
javabeans: I notice how McDonald’s served in any country outside of the US actually looks tasty. Like what you get actually resembles the menu pictures.
girlfriday: Yes, I’ve experienced this. It’s weird.
javabeans: It’s actually cooked with a little respect in Europe, I’ve found. It’s SO WEIRD. Whereas McDonald’s at home gives me stomachaches. It does make sense that Seo-jin is all but inhaling his burger, since he could never bring the halbaes to eat hamburgers. The PD says he should’ve asked them to go, and he’s all, “I’m pretty sure they would’ve pretended not to hear me.”
girlfriday: Meanwhile, Soon-jae halbae is ordering lunch and buying ice cream in German with ease. Damn, I’m pretty impressed.
javabeans: Wow, turns out he already knew some German before the trip, having majored in philosophy. He went to Seoul University and majored in philosophy. Dude.
girlfriday: The man remembers German he learned in ‘54? I can’t even remember the German I learned in college!
javabeans: I’d do the really ignorant thing of saying English words with a German accent, the way Californians jokingly add -o to make things Spanishified. I guess this is how JFK ended up calling himself a jelly donut though.
girlfriday: They check into the hotel and make their way up to the room, but find that there’s only one bed. Oh. That won’t do.
javabeans: Il-sub halbae feels strongly enough about this to head back down to ask for twin beds, only… can he manage? I mean, he’s having trouble using the elevator! Maybe it’s telling him something.
girlfriday: The receptionist tells him they can actually separate the beds, though they’re having some issues communicating, because Il-sub halbae doesn’t see how they’ll turn one bed into two.
javabeans: It cracks me up how he just reverts to Korean like there’s any expectation she’d understand.
girlfriday: Somehow, they get through it, and he gets them to split the beds now.
javabeans: It’s funny how you can pretty much see the receptionist figuring it’s easier to go upstairs and split the beds rather than trying to explain this. So they go up and literally just take off the bedcover and show the twin split.
girlfriday: This is just true of all situations involving grandparents. It’s less work to just get up and do the thing they want, instead of getting into a whole conversation about it. It’s pointless. They get what they want in the end anyway.
javabeans: Meanwhile, Seo-jin is finally getting to have the European vacation that comes to mind when you say “European vacation.” He wanders freely, without worrying about anybody else (now that he doesn’t have to worry about dinner menus all day), and just happens upon a choral rehearsal in a neighborhood church, which he gets to watch from the back pews and enjoy at his leisure. I’m so jealous.
girlfriday: He’s having the best day ever. I want this life. Though it’s really cute that the entire time, he keeps mentioning things that the halbaes would like.
javabeans: It’s adorable. “Teacher Park Geun-hyung would love this” and “Teacher Lee Soon-jae ought to be feeding those swans.”
girlfriday: I’m increasingly impressed with Soon-jae halbae. He gets to the bus stop to try and figure out which bus they have to take, which is understandably confusing, so then he asks a guy nearby (using pretty damn good English) how to get where he wants to go.
javabeans: Now I think he gave Seo-jin the day off because HE wanted the European vacation he’d been dreaming of. The stranger is really nice, too, telling him when to get off the bus and giving him walking directions from there. They arrive at the famous lion sculpture, and I love Il-sub halbae’s habit of taking photos of everything by sel-ca-ing it.
girlfriday: They even take a sel-ca together, which is super cute. And then Il-sub halbae sits down for a break while Soon-jae halbae checks out the funhouse of mirrors on his own. It’s freaking hilarious. He just keeps walking into mirrors, and I can’t stop laughing. I’m concerned he’s never going to find his way out.
javabeans: It’s funny the first time, but way funnier as it goes, especially the more careful (even paranoid) he gets with subsequent hallways, and how he still runs into them despite it. I think the giggling PD really makes it, as she’s gasping, “We’re trapped!”
girlfriday: They totally get lost in the maze, and then a worker has to escort him out, only then the VJ gets equally lost, running into mirrors and crying that he left them behind.
javabeans: Did the employee really say “We’re closing now”? He was literally stuck there till closing? The VJ really is the icing on the cake. They’re always the silent characters, but here you see the guy putting out his hand as Soon-jae halbae’s dozen reflections grow smaller and smaller, and he’s all, “Wait!”
girlfriday: I’m crying.
javabeans: And even when you can see the exit door right in front, Soon-jae halbae still bangs into one last mirror on his way out. The PD jokes that he cruelly left them behind, and he quips, “Every man for himself.”
girlfriday: “This is a matter of life and death!” LOL. Outside, Il-sub halbae asks after Seo-jinnie, and when Na PD asks if he misses him, Il-sub halbae just hedges, “I’m just curious…”
javabeans: It’s hilarious how Seo-jin is pressed up against the display window of a closed store, like those sneakers inside are the most amazing thing in the world. A PD marvels, “This is the most excited I’ve ever seen you get.”
girlfriday: He gets all geeky about them, ‘cause they’re a limited edition sneaker or something.
javabeans: The absolute best thing is his rationale: “I’ve suffered so much I think I need to give a present to myself!” First of all, I agree that he’s suffered and deserves it. Second of all, that reasoning is totally my life story.
girlfriday: Dude, it’s the thing that drives pretty much all of my spending. But also, it’s a slippery slope, y’all.
javabeans: I argue not even a slope but a cliff. Once I’m off, I am OFF. Somehow it makes it so extra adorable that it’s sneakers, though. Of all the things for a top actor to get geeky about, it’s athletic shoes.
girlfriday: The halbaes head out to find a Korean restaurant for dinner, but I’m starting to get worried with Soon-jae halbae’s directionless wandering. He just keeps walking in circles, and Il-sub halbae already has a long face, but then even Na PD suggests they take a taxi. You figure it’s pretty bad if Na PD wants to call a cab. But Soon-jae halbae refuses, dead-set on figuring this out for himself.
javabeans: At least Soon-jae halbae manages to inquire with a concierge, who gives him a map with Korean restaurants marked on it. Phew. I didn’t worry they’d come to dire ends, but I did worry for harmony’s sake.
girlfriday: Yeah especially when Il-sub halbae just stopped following him at some point, with his characteristic Eh, I’ll just wait right here. The problem is, he does this without warning whenever he feels like it.
javabeans: Right? He just plants himself with that stubborn face on. There’s this distinct tone of joy in Na PD’s voice when Soon-jae halbae comes back on their radar, and the crew starts walking in the direction of the Korean restaurant. Il-sub halbae is still grumpy and suggests a taxi ride on the way back, but it’s cute how he breaks out into song when he sees the all-too-familiar Korean flag hanging out in front of the restaurant.
girlfriday: Lol, so difficult, and yet so easy. They sing-song their way up… and then OH NOES. It’s closed!
javabeans: Closed Sundays. Were there ever sadder words? Il-sub halbae literally just hunches down right then and there. Like he can will the place into being open. But as it turns out, a producer calls another restaurant, and the owners actually offer to come in and open just for them.
girlfriday: Oh thank goodness. Il-sub halbae looked like he was about to cry over his shattered samgyupsal and soju dreams.
javabeans: Cut to: Seo-jin, practically giddy over his wine and pasta dinner, eating up a storm. A producer asks whether he’s worried about the grandpas, and he’s all, “No way, not with Soon-jae halbae. The problem isn’t whether they’ll get lost, but whether he’ll lose Il-sub halbae.” Back to the halbaes, who have totally taken a taxi to the second Korean restaurant. Na PD isn’t even trying anymore is he?
girlfriday: At this point I think HE’s tired and wants food too. I think he got a tiny taste of being Seo-jinnie for half a day and just said to hell with it.
javabeans: So then they finally sit down to eat, and Na PD’s with them, all smiles, and Il-sub halbae is all, It’s the little things in life. I do love the song choices, like Jang Kiha’s “Let’s Walk Slowly” in this scene (with the line, “You’re walking too fast, I can’t follow you”), since that’s all I wanted for this trip in the first place. Leisure and fun and Europe, vicariously enjoyed!
girlfriday: It’s so his theme song. You wouldn’t think Il-sub halbae could get any cuter, but he totally gets aegyotastic when he’s drunk.
javabeans: I love how he just is unabashedly, “I love Korea.” He’s not necessarily touting it as the best in everything—like, he isn’t saying the Garden Expo is better than Versailles, ha—it’s just his favorite thing ever and nothing can take its place.
girlfriday: And you totally get the sense that if kimchi and soju came from France, he’d love France.
javabeans: On the way back to the hotel, Il-sub halbae is in a great mood and suggests stopping for wine and bringing Seo-jin along.
girlfriday: This is so funny. Na PD calls Seo-jin on the halbaes’ orders, and Seo-jin basically barks at Na PD to get lost, with zero intention of returning. So then Na PD hands the phone to Soon-jae halbae, and immediately Seo-jin’s voice goes up a pitch and he says he’ll be right there.
javabeans: LOL. Caption: “Lee Seo-jin’s vacation OVER.” He joins them at this gorgeous riverside bar, and don’t you love how Na PD has become the fourth character now?
girlfriday: Yeah I love this foursome. It’s like two bickering hyung-dongseng carbon copy pairs. In the morning, Il-sub halbae doesn’t budge, so Seo-jin and Soon-jae halbae head out on their own. And just as Seo-jin predicted yesterday, the first thing Soon-jae halbae wants to do is feed the swans.
javabeans: He really is an animal lover. Seo-jin explains, “He’s the kind of person who would go up to horses eating grass and offer them more grass.”
girlfriday: They take a nice leisurely stroll around the city, talking about marriage and life plans, like a real father and son.
javabeans: Il-sub halbae, on the other hand, went to bed early and gets up late, and sits around the hotel room. Somehow I don’t think he minds so much. While touring a church, Soon-jae halbae and Seo-jin get approached by a young Korean man who’s on a backpacking trip of his own. The reactions: For eight months. Oh my god how and why.
girlfriday: Crazy. Soon-jae halbae is especially impressed that he saved up money for a year by working part-time jobs so he could take this trip on his own, and says that when he was young, going to Jeju was a big feat. At the hotel, Il-sub halbae finally gets hungry enough to make his way down, and has this hilarious conversation with the receptionist where I swear, he only speaks Korean and she only speaks English, but they manage to communicate.
javabeans: It’s hilarious because to her, he’s saying, “Good restaurant blah blah blah” and to his ears her response is “Down (pointing downstairs) good food, mumble mumble blah blah.” Haha, he’s all, “I don’t understand but it’s making me hungry.” He wanders out in a cheery mood, and says that he watched Soon-jae hyungnim and Seo-jin walking around through the window, but the way he explains it, they were two fools just wandering uselessly around forever and ever.
girlfriday: Hahahaha. They crossed the river, and crossed it again, and then took the old bridge to cross it again. WHY. WHY? like it’s incomprehensible that someone would do that for fun. On purpose.
javabeans: For some reason (maybe because Na PD plants the idea), Il-sub halbae gets it into his head that his meal MUST be fondue, because it’s just got to be fondue, and he heads down the street intent on finding it.
girlfriday: I know, I can’t for the life of me figure out why he’s obsessed with fondue. But it cracks me up that it’s now become “bbong-dieu.”
javabeans: The hilarious thing is that he doesn’t even do any research or anything, all he does is wander into every single restaurant going, “Menu… fondue…” and gets pointed outside to some imaginary place down the road. This continues for a while until he finally arrives at Fondue House, ha. I really really hope he hasn’t hyped it up in his mind, since it’s just, yunno, cheese. Delicious cheese, but still. Cheese.
girlfriday: Yeah I suspect he’s going to be cranky. Soon-jae halbae and Seo-jin take a boat cruise, and man, everywhere they go in Lucerne is just beautiful.
javabeans: They take a trip to a nearby village, and there’s a moment when Seo-jin rides one of those playground horsies, and you can literally see a couple in the background laughing at him and then backing away. It cracks me up.
girlfriday: That moment is just indescribably funny. The long silence, him just swinging back and forth on the horsie…
javabeans: Soon-jae halbae eats some ice cream and feeds sparrows, and then they head back in time to join the fondue party. There’s this funny beat when they sit down and Seo-jin and Il-sub halbae simultaneously order with the server. One says, “Do you have an English menu?” and the other says, “Fondue. Three.”
girlfriday: After lunch they say that it’s their last day, and start giving each other knowing looks… Cut to: one last Go Stop rematch. They start the game at the hotel, and then we cut over to an interview with Il-sub halbae that’s much more serious in tone. The PD asks him if he has any regrets in his life, like when he was in his 20s to 40s, and he thinks long and hard. “Regrets? *serious pause* Yeah that Go Stop game earlier. I shouldn’t have done that last Go.” LOL. I literally spit out my drink.
javabeans: It’s a great editing moment. Back to the interviews, though, the halbaes are asked to describe getting older. Soon-jae halbae says that the question suggests they’re approaching death, and that nobody gets to that point having lived a perfect, regret-less life. Il-sub halbae says that he’d love to live the rest of his life with this feeling of having worked hard and enjoyed yourself, which is a pretty good way to look at your future. We get a montage of scenes from this entire trip, with the captions reading, “Because we can’t turn back time, this time is even more precious.”
girlfriday: And then there’s a collection of answers from each of the halbaes on what traveling is to them. Gu halbae: “Youth.” Geun-hyung halbae: “Happiness.” Il-sub halbae says that backpacking was a lot like being in the army, but that he has happy memories. Heh. And Soon-jae halbae: “Travel is joy.”
javabeans: And then, a question about errand boy Seo-jin. “He got thinner.” “He’s a good guy.” Caption: “The perfect luggage boy.” We get a series of comments from Seo-jin himself: how he feels greeeeat on his last day, how he isn’t sad AT ALL to be leaving, and how, if given the chance to go on another trip with either a girl group or the halbaes, would he? Seo-jin: “No. I would not!” Famous last words.
girlfriday: Muahahaha. PD: “Wouldn’t it be funny if after this we cut to you at the airport for the next trip?” Cut to: Seo-jin at the airport for the next trip. LOL.
javabeans: What puts the cherry on top is that his reaction in the moment is utter incredulity, all, “LIKE HELL” and “DREAM ON.” Like it’s the most ridiculous notion in the universe. Then we segue into a preview of the next season with the Taiwan trip, replete with the hilarious reaction shot of Seo-jin realizing that his traveling partner is Sunny of SNSD. I particularly love the clip of Na PD telling the halbaes that Seo-jin has left them to go off with her somewhere, and the halbaes cursing, “Rude punk!”
girlfriday: I can’t wait. I really hope they end up doing this at the end of every trip—asking Seo-jinnie if he’ll come back, him swearing up and down that he’ll never do it again, and then starting all over again at the airport, all What’d Na PD promise you this time?
- Grandpas Over Flowers: Episode 6
- Grandpas Over Flowers: Episode 5
- Grandpas Over Flowers: Episode 4
- Grandpas Over Flowers: Episode 3
- Grandpas Over Flowers (and Seo-jinnie) head to Taiwan next
- Grandpas Over Flowers: Episode 2
- Grandpas Over Flowers: Episode 1