Youths Over Flowers: Episode 1
javabeans: It’s another Flower Males traveling show! This one really snuck up on me—maybe it had less of a profile as Grandpas or Noonas, or maybe (more likely) I’m just a little bit… I don’t mean to say tired of the show, but used to might be more accurate. I fully expect to enjoy Youths Over Flowers, but I wasn’t really excited about it like I was with the others.
girlfriday: Yeah I think once you recycle the concept for the third time, it loses the excitement factor.
javabeans: The one thing that did manage to hook me (just as I was ready to suggest that we take a pass on recapping this one and just watch it casually) was hearing Yoo Yeon-seok say that he was “kidnapped” (or conned, scammed, snookered) into this trip with the lie that he was flying overseas for a CF, only to find he was on a variety show.
girlfriday: Some cons never get old, which is why Na PD always manages to reel me back in every time.
javabeans: In the promo lead-up to this show’s launch last Friday, Na PD swore that this is the end of the People Over Flowers franchise… which you half-think is his way of setting up the long con for the next one.
girlfriday: Of course it is. ‘Cause that’s exactly what he said after kidnapping the first group in Youths, only to kidnap a second group. In broad daylight. Aren’t people more suspicious of him by now?
javabeans: Right? Like how does he have friends who will go anywhere with him? I’m curious to see how this show is going to work, since you have two separate casts going on two separate trips, and as far as I can tell the trips don’t intertwine storylines.
girlfriday: I was hoping they’d be intercut, but the plan is apparently to air the Peru trip in four episodes, then the Laos trip in the next four episodes.
javabeans: I don’t get why. But maybe it’ll make sense once we watch it?
girlfriday: We’ll see…
javabeans: So Episode 1 starts out with a clip from the end of the last Grandpas trip, with Gu halbae mulling over the meaning of travel and saying wistfully that he and his generation never got to do these things while they were young, and how it would be nice to have started seeing the world in their youths.
girlfriday: And then we cut to Yoo Hee-yeol… who I guess is young compared to Gu halbae?
javabeans: He’s 44, which is young enough that a grandpa would make him carry his luggage for him. Haha, I was just about to say that seeing Yoo Hee-yeol on variety is so weird for me because I knew him for a decade as a faceless, sentimental singer-songwriter, which is so jarring compared to his slightly skeevy ajusshi vibe—and then the show very pithily captions him as the “sentimental pervert.”
girlfriday: Lol, now I feel bad for his music fans who don’t know his pervy ajusshi side.
javabeans: I mean, imagine if Sung Shi-kyung had the personality of a pervy ajusshi instead of being the perfect gentleman you want to marry. It… just doesn’t compute.
girlfriday: Na PD explains to Hee-yeol that the concept of the trip is youth and friendship, and Hee-yeol just laughs at being called young. He starts naming the friends he might want to travel with: Yoon Jong-shin, Shin Dong-yub…
javabeans: Next we skip over to 41-year-old Lee Juck, and it’s a good thing that Juck also names Hee-yeol. I mean, imagine if none of them named each other as friends! Awk-ward.
girlfriday: They both go through their list of friends and both get to Yoon Sang, and independently complain about the fact that he complains a lot. It’s funny how they have this long laundry list of his bad traits, like the fact that he whines and bad-mouths other people, but in the end they both say that they respect him so much as a musician that the other stuff never matters.
javabeans: The upside of casting these musicians is that they all seem to be part of the same tight-knit community, and because they’ve worked with Na PD before, there’s this camaraderie that you can feel, just from the way they talk in their interviews—they’re just chatting to their friend who happens to be by the camera. It’s very unselfconscious, which by extension makes me very curious to see how the youngsters will be when it’s their turn, because they’re all up-and-comers to whom images are so important.
girlfriday: Yeah already in the flash-forward previews, there’s endless snuggling, bleeped-out talk about porn, and requests that a male staffer be the one to edit their footage. Now I’m wondering if they only got four episodes out of this trip because half of it wasn’t fit for broadcast.
javabeans: Okay, the intros are done and now it’s time to cover the first official meeting with everybody, and the youths (er, ajusshis?) start trickling in. Ha, so Na PD apparently didn’t tell anyone who their castmates are, because when Juck walks in, he sorta droops to see Sang. He insists it’s not because he dislikes Sang… it’s because Juck is younger, so he’ll have to take care of his hyung. LOL.
girlfriday: Totally unprompted, Juck says that if for example Hee-yeol walked in right now, the cast would turn into Yoo Hee-yeol and Kids. So then of course two seconds later, Hee-yeol struts in, and they bust up laughing.
javabeans: I love that Na PD seems the most abashed out of them all, because the casting is “so obvious,” though he defends that it has to be obvious if they’re going with friends.
girlfriday: Juck complains in an interview about the lack of freshness in the cast, though Hee-yeol does say that despite the years of friendship, they’ve never traveled together. Back at the table, the guys ask when the trip will be happening, and Na PD plays coy and says that their agencies have been told.
javabeans: …they’re not boarding a plane right after this meal, are they? I half-expect it.
girlfriday: That would be awesome.
javabeans: We cut to a black screen as we hear the recording of the phone call. It’s Na PD talking to the managers, saying, “You have to really lie well.”
girlfriday: Na PD says that they all asked to go to Northern Europe, “So we’re going to South America.” Pfffft.
javabeans: Then they start thinking about luggage for their ten-day trip, and what they’ll have to pack with them.
girlfriday: As they talk, a staffer slips Na PD a few sheets of paper, and he just hands them out to the guys. Na PD says that they should prepare for their trip now that they have their plane tickets, and then suddenly Hee-yeol wonders what the date is today, and checks his phone. He checks twice before exclaiming, “It’s TODAY!”
javabeans: Na PD’s stone face is epic. Juck: “But… but… I need my cell phone charger! And underwear!” They have under three hours till departure, and it’s dawning on them that they don’t even have time to go home.
girlfriday: Rewind to Na PD’s phone call to their agents and managers: “Our trip concept this time is to throw them in Peru with nothing but the clothes on their backs.”
javabeans: It’s hilarious how Na PD directs the call like a mastermind ransom artist, saying, “Are you in a place where we won’t be heard? Go to a place where we won’t be disturbed.”
girlfriday: And then we watch the footage as their managers hand Na PD their passports before they walk into the restaurant.
javabeans: They can get a few important things messengered over, like eyeglasses and medicine, but not clothing or shoes or anything—those, they’ll have to buy with their allowance money. There’s this whole round of “But.. wait..” and “THESE PEOPLE ARE CRAZY!”
girlfriday: I love how Na PD just keeps this smile on his face as he says, “You can just buy new underwear and have a happy trip!” *smiley face* Hee-yeol: “I’m already unhappy!”
javabeans: That’s the best part, because it totally throws them to not have a suitable reaction from Na PD, so they’re flailing on their own. “Don’t we have to leave for the airport? RIGHT NOW? Why are we even still boiling this stew?” Sang calls his father-in-law (looking for his wife) and has to explain what he doesn’t even understand: “This show… it’s… extreme.”
girlfriday: This is freaking hilarious. They actually don’t have time to eat the food in front of them if they’re going to make it to the airport in time.
javabeans: They each make these frantic last calls to their wives, and Hee-yeol’s requests have the staff literally rolling on the ground laughing. He asks for red ginseng and medicine balls—you know, the kind you eat when you’re old, which makes him seem suddenly ancient. It’s hysterical because he’s aware of how silly he sounds, but it’s more important to get the stuff than preserve his image.
girlfriday: I love this part: “A suitcase? WHY WOULD I NEED A SUITCASE?” Now we know why they don’t need a luggage boy. They can’t even take underwear! They each scramble to grab whatever is useful out of their vans, and Hee-yeol starts eyeing a staffer’s sneakers, like he’s about to steal them off her feet.
javabeans: “Say, what size are your feet?” Sang and Juck at least have bags in their cars (even if the only thing in them is a baseball cap and hair product) but Hee-yeol has nuthin’. Na PD needles him, and he just snaps, “Shut up will you?!” Hahaha.
girlfriday: It’s pretty funny that the other guys at least try to grab sunglasses or something, but Hee-yeol has given up and literally has nothing in hand. On the way to the airport, Na PD tells them that the show has graciously paid for their admittance to tour Machu Picchu, as if he’s doing them a favor.
javabeans: Are Sang and Hee-yeol even going to survive the climb?
girlfriday: I suddenly feel really sorry for Juck. Na PD gives them their allowance and says that they’re free to spend their trip doing whatever they like, just as long as they end up in Machu Picchu on the last day.
javabeans: They rack their brains trying to figure out the conversion and hear they have 100,000 won per day, so about a hundred bucks. Sang thinks that includes lodging and Hee-yeol says, “No, it can’t be!” which means Hee-yeol is gonna be pretty pissy in about ten seconds.
girlfriday: Na PD: “This includes food, lodging, public transport, underwear.”
javabeans: When they get to the check-in counter, the clerk is all, “You mean you have NO luggage?” I’m just glad they’re not in the States, where that would probably get them flagged as suspicious and held by TSA for, like, weeks.
girlfriday: They board the plane for the thirty-hour flight ahead, and surprisingly the staff films the whole time as they fly.
javabeans: Hee-yeol browses a hotel reservation app on his phone looking at lodging choices in Lima. Na PD points out that he’ll have to turn off the phone soon, and all of a sudden it’s this stress-filled race to click buttons and reserve rooms before the plane starts moving. How can watching a man fiddle with his smartphone be so nerve-racking?
girlfriday: Because the pace of his fingers means the difference between sleeping in a bed or on the street!
javabeans: After the fact, he wonders half-jokingly, “That place was in Lima, right?” They’re staying in a hostel where the only thing they’ve technically reserved is one bed each, which should be interesting.
girlfriday: They spend the rest of the flight eating and then pretty much talking nonstop, which the captions point out is at beauty-salon-ajumma levels of chatterboxy.
javabeans: No joke. Juck says that out of the 13 hours of their first flight, they talked for 10 of them.
girlfriday: And while the others sleep, Hee-yeol stays awake studying guidebooks. He seems like the one who would take charge, even if Sang is the hyung.
javabeans: They land in Peru to zero fanfare, and Juck negotiates a pretty sweet deal from the taxi driver by insisting on a discount.
girlfriday: It cracks me up now to think back to Seung-gi flailing about at the airport when these hyungs don’t even break a sweat.
javabeans: I had the exact same mental flash. He had a month to prepare, while Hee-yeol studied a guidebook he probably bought at the airport. Also, these ajusshis have far less shame.
girlfriday: They end up having to spend the original amount on the ride anyway, because the cab driver insists that he doesn’t have change, and then their night gets worse when they arrive at the hostel… which looks like a prison. Safety bars have a way of making you feel very UN-safe.
javabeans: Are you keeping people out, or me in? They have to settle themselves into the dorm-style room in the dark, because it’s late and the other guests are already asleep.
girlfriday: I don’t think they actually need to travel quite this cheaply, but maybe they were scared from the lack of underwear and whatnot.
javabeans: I totally don’t think they need to, because this place is about 7 bucks per person, and they have 100 a day. But you know, since none of our backpacking trips have actually been very backpack-oriented, I like that these ajusshis are going for that as their default setting.
girlfriday: It’s true, because they’ve been calling it backpacking but the other casts have hauled giant suitcases around and stayed in really nice digs.
javabeans: Even when you had non-fussy cast members who would totally have done the cheap backpack trip, it was never an entire cast of them, so you still ended up higher in the comfort zone to accommodate everyone. (Or had Seo-jin, who declared anarchy and just started paying for everything out of pocket to get around Na PD.)
girlfriday: I guess Na PD learned that the only way to force the cheap travel is to take away luggage and prep time (which also eliminates the extra suitcase packed with Korean food). Once they look around the hostel, they realize that they have no toiletries to wash up, so then they return to the front desk for a funny sequence of charades to get directions to a supermarket.
javabeans: It looks like a mime gag. They make it to the convenience store, and realize that the tiny window is a protective measure from armed robbers, which strikes a bit of fear into them.
girlfriday: Juck: “It’s like the pawnshop in Ajusshi!” They manage to use English and more mime to buy some toothbrushes and shampoo and stuff, and then it’s not until they get back to the hostel that they realize they have no towels. Why does showering seem like such an insurmountable feat right now?
javabeans: The hostel manager gives them one towel to share, and the hierarchy comes into play as Juck offers to use it last. Aw.
girlfriday: Omg, they’re talking about dividing the towel’s real estate into thirds. This is so sad. And so funny.
javabeans: Don’t you enjoy the sageuk background music, like this is some great life tragedy?
girlfriday: Yes, like this is the most difficult thing they’ll ever experience.
javabeans: Though you can’t blame them for feeling adrift. At least in real life there’s a lead-up and a follow-through to a bad event, so even when life sucks you kind of understand what’s going on. Not so with an evil dwarf-god jumping in to throw obstacles at you. Hee-yeol jumps into the shower, and since there’s no hot water, you just hear this litany from behind the shower curtain: “Cold! Cold! Cold! Cold!”
girlfriday: Why is Sang just watching him shower? Oh ha, he walks away with narrowed eyes and explains to the camera that he was watching to see what part of the towel Hee-yeol used.
javabeans: I’m glad when morning comes, because all that talk of how desperately they needed to shower had me feeling itchy.
girlfriday: They must be feeling better too, because in the morning they’re suddenly singing the hostel’s praises, about how it looks much nicer in the daylight and it’s a good deal, plus half their room was occupied by women, which is Hee-yeol’s favorite part.
javabeans: The mood suddenly turns ominous when Na PD is alerted to something by a VJ—a discovery has been made that has Na PD’s face darkening. Turns out… Hee-yeol was hiding a credit card! HA.
girlfriday: Rewind to the van ride to the airport, when Na PD confiscated their wallets: Hee-yeol totally slips a credit card out like a master pickpocket, right under Na PD’s nose.
javabeans: Hee-yeol chides the VJ who found the card on the ground, like it’s a betrayal of trust that he gave it to Na PD instead of himself.
girlfriday: Hee-yeol says that he learned the trick by watching Seo-jinnie do it on Grandpas (he was planning to get cash and mix it into the allowance stash), but yeah, he totally failed.
javabeans: We get advance footage of Yoo Yeon-seok admitting to the same plan, and now I get why the Gap-dong song is playing—’cause you’ve got your originator and your two copycats. LOL.
girlfriday: HA. How does Na PD manage to make Seo-jinnie the evildoer when he’s not even here? Caption: “The axis of evil: Lee Seo-jin.”
javabeans: They even get breakfast included in the seven dollars (okay, that’s a steal) and Hee-yeol is warming up to this place, saying that he could do another night. Cut to: Sang’s stricken face as he says he’d like to wash decently “like a human.”
girlfriday: They agree to stay elsewhere tonight for Sang’s sake, and then head out for sightseeing. Unsurprisingly, the first thing they do is go buy underwear. Are they really just buying one pack of three? They know they’re here for ten days, right?
javabeans: Maybe this is just their desperate stopgap measure, ’cause it’s there and it’s cheap. I’m going with that explanation.
girlfriday: They sit in the park, and Hee-yeol starts explaining the local sights like a tour guide. He decides that they’re just going to find the market by walking around until they get there, which doesn’t sound like much of a plan. But they seem to trust his sense of direction implicitly.
javabeans: More than his sense of direction is his confidence, since he just decides to find it, asks a bunch of locals on the way, and ends up there. I can see why he’s the leader-man. Once there, Juck finds great pleasure in buying a coin wallet, and we flash back to the moment Na PD confiscated theirs. Juck’s has this almost-emotional explanation of the sadness of carrying around loose money in your pocket, without a thing to hold it. He is so fixated on that wallet, it’s adorable.
girlfriday: I don’t know why, but he makes it sound so pathetic to carry around loose money.
javabeans: They get positively existential, talking about how with their wallets and cards and IDs, they carry around so much and how it’s actually all unnecessary and all you really need to live is one small coin wallet. Is this what it’s like to read Eat, Pray, Love?
girlfriday: If it is I think I prefer the version with unkempt ajusshis splitting a three-pack of underwear. They have a big plate of ceviche for lunch and get smoothies after, and now I’m wondering if the hostel stay was so they could eat everything they wanted. After lunch Juck and Hee-yeol are eager to go sightseeing, but Sang insists on finding a new room for the night to wash up properly, which is their first major point of contention.
javabeans: You can tell how much it bothers Sang, and the others can too, which is why they cede to him. Sang says that he’s grateful that the other guys were considerate when they aren’t as picky. They find a good compromise with a hostel that has a private bathroom, but that’s when the music turns eerie and the captions keep telling us, “Something feels strange…” Well, yes, now it does because you made it strange!
girlfriday: They make it seem like it’s a hostel full of serial killers, when the problem turns out to be that there isn’t a private bathroom. I love when they get to the room and Hee-yeol gets super excited that they each get their own towel here, and then catches himself for being so moved by something so small.
javabeans: Haha, there’s a minor clash when they have to decide between a private bath that costs more and a shared bath that’s cheaper. Hee-yeol says that price is the most important to him, while Sang is worried about not being able to poop. So Juck schools Hee-yeol a bit on how pushing his point on Sang is insensitive, since pooping is important. So they decide to take the private bath that costs more, instead of making Sang feel bad, aw.
girlfriday: Juck is important for this trio, as it turns out. The other two are so different in personality that if left alone, they might actually fight, whereas Juck is always looking to smooth things over between them.
javabeans: Finally they arrive at the other hostel (and Sang lights up, just beaming), only to find out that the private bathroom doesn’t exist. It’s like looking for a freaking unicorn!
girlfriday: Lol. It’s like an endless loop! No matter which way you turn, you end up at the Flying Dog, and there’s never a bathroom.
javabeans: Juck even asks suspiciously whether the crew is behind this. And of course this room isn’t as nice as the one they just gave up, and Sang says so, and Juck just looks at him dumbfoundedly, all, B-b-but… we moved for you, hyung!
girlfriday: Hahahaha. After all that effort, in the end it’s Juck who gets mad at Sang hyung. This is hysterical. He did all those backflips to keep Hee-yeol and Sang from fighting, and now he’s the one upset because his efforts have gone unappreciated.
javabeans: Thankfully, an employee arrives with good news and shows them to a triple with a bathroom. More than anything, I’m glad for Juck, who didn’t have to blow his top, and Sang, who didn’t get his top blown off. But when picking beds, Juck says he’s the maknae and will choose last, and Sang points out that Juck took the bottom bunk yesterday. Juck: “But… I took the bottom bunk because it’s the worse bed.” Sang: “But I don’t like the top bunk.” Oh my god. This is terrible and entertaining.
girlfriday: Right? It’s a little too real and emotional not to be terrible, but it’s also funny because we’ve all been there, traveling with someone who is just more demanding and unaware of the effort you put behind trying to keep the peace.
javabeans: This would totally have been my breaking point. Sang laughs it off as a joke, but Juck is so stricken that he admits in interview that he couldn’t hide his reaction, and I swear he’s teary-eyed. Suddenly I have lots of sympathy-love for Juck. I love his analysis of it, too, saying that if he’s going to do things out of care for someone else, he has to do it without ulterior motives, and that means he must have secretly been hoping for acknowledgement or praise.
girlfriday: A preview of their dinner following the room debacle is uncomfortably tense and silent. But it looks like Sang opens up and shares some stuff with the guys, because by the next interview, Juck is bursting into tears. D’awww.
- Kids will be kids on Youths Over Flowers
- Answer Me, Youths Over Flowers
- Na PD’s next travel variety spin-off Youth Over Flowers sets sail
- Chinese version of Grandpas Over Flowers gets green light
- Grandpas Over Flowers in Spain: Episode 1
- Na PD on grandpas, money, and Seo-jinnie the con artist
- Noonas Over Flowers: Episode 1
- Grandpas Over Flowers: Episode 1