Youths Over Flowers in Africa: Episode 1
girlfriday: Woohoo, new season of Youths Over Flowers! Though how come past seasons are named after countries and this one is named after a continent? Technically this season takes place in Namibia, but it’s being called Youths Over Flowers in Africa.
javabeans: Maybe for name recognition? This season starts out with Na PD dropping in on the editing room in December 2015 while PD Shin Won-ho is working on an episode of Answer Me 1988. According to my calendar, it’s right between the airings of Episodes 10 and 11 — so enough into the broadcast that the drama was already a runaway hit, but still with a ways to go.
girlfriday: Wait, is Na PD masterminding the whole cast and crew trip to Phuket?! Just to kidnap the boys for his own show??
javabeans: HE IS. My jaw just dropped to see that he is the one organizing the “reward vacation” for the Answer Me crew, and informing Shin PD of the details.
girlfriday: LOL. This is crazy. I thought that trip was from the station to reward them for the ratings. I mean, I guess it still technically is, but it’s Na PD organizing the whole event all in an effort to camouflage his kidnapping plan!
javabeans: He’s so calculating yet blasé about it: “Won-ho, either you or [Sung] Dong-il hyung can just take the kids aside, say you’re taking them for massages or something, and then I’ll kidnap them or whatever.”
girlfriday: Shin PD gives no argument, either because he’s too bleary-eyed from editing his show, or because he knows it’s futile. Fast-forward to the end of Answer Me 1988, and the day that the cast is set to leave for their “reward trip” to Phuket. I love that the Youths camera can just hide among the paparazzi and blend in as the stars arrive.
javabeans: Yeah, the guys each show up in turn and have no idea anything is afoot. They just arrive to the happy fans and greet them, thinking this is vacation.
girlfriday: Our cast members are: Ryu Joon-yeol, 31; Ahn Jae-hong, 31; Go Kyung-pyo, 27; and maknae Park Bo-gum, 24. In Answer Me 1988 terms, that’s Jung-hwan, Jung-bong, Sun-woo, and Taek.
javabeans: While they’re waiting at the airport, the “spy” producer tests the waters by saying that they’re shooting them right now as behind-the-scenes footage to include in DVD bonus materials. He says it hesitantly, adding, “If you think it’ll be too much of a burden…” but they’re immediately onboard, and Kyung-pyo even bought a camera of his own, making it easy for them.
girlfriday: Pfft, the caption: “Kyung-pyo, shooting his own hidden camera.” They goof off all the way to their flight, and then the footage resumes on the beach at a cast party. The most hilarious part is the cutaway to Na PD, dressed in a mask and hat in an attempt to hide his identity, getting on a flight to Phuket.
javabeans: From the front he’s a little obscured, but from the back it’s just Na PD. Haha.
girlfriday: And then he spends 14 hours locked in his room getting food sneaked to him, so as not to be discovered by his kidnapees.
javabeans: That actually makes sense, because as we ALL must know by now, merely the sight of Na PD should make you suspicious.
girlfriday: It’s pretty funny how elaborate the schemes have to be now to pull off a surprise kidnapping.
javabeans: He’s stuck there not able to do much, so it’s a good thing the boys are so enthusiastically capturing their own footage, putting that Go-Pro-on-a-stick to good use. Future Na PD (the one editing and captioning the show) seems to get a lot of glee out of the fact that they’re doing his work for him.
girlfriday: Shin PD finally joins Na PD and they get some of the Answer Me parents to help out with the plan: Kim Sung-kyun, Ra Mi-ran, and Kim Sun-young are let in on the details so they be accomplices.
javabeans: I love the reactions of the parent-actors when they hear Na PD’s plan. They get such a kick out of it. Na PD: “I’m just putting together a small event…”
girlfriday: Doesn’t Na PD get so polite around girls? His hands are folded and everything.
javabeans: It’s an amusing contrast to the words he says, about kidnapping young men and sending them to another continent.
girlfriday: His crew sets up the hidden cameras at the restaurant where the big “event” is supposed to take place, and Na PD gets all nervous about it, going over all the details and asking, “Wait, when do I come in?”
javabeans: It feels like a spy operation in a movie. A low-rent spy operation in a low-rent movie. He puts in the calls, managers are alerted (and told to feign ignorance), and co-conspirator actors get moving. The excuse is that they’re taking group photos, and the guys are led away, then asked to wait briefly at a nearby cafe for the photographer.
girlfriday: Ra Mi-ran is cracking me up. At every mundane comment she manages to drop hints, not that the boys know what she’s hinting at. She reminds Kyung-pyo to always carry his passport on him, and when Jae-hong complains of the heat, she tells him, “You should go to Iceland. Kang Haneul went all the way there in a suit.” Kyung-pyo says that kind of situation would be the worst. Muahaha.
javabeans: Shin PD mentions doing the Laos season, and hilariously throughout all this Youths Over Flowers talk, the camera keeps showing how bored and uninterested in the topic Jae-hong is.
girlfriday: He actually kind of seems like his drama character. A little weird, but funny.
javabeans: “Mom” Sun-young asks if they’d go if they were asked, and they say it’d be an honor. She says they haven’t been to Africa yet, and adds, “You guys should go!” Joon-yeol says he was planning to go to Africa this year on his own, and they joke around a bit before Sun-young repeats, “You should go on Youths Over Flowers!” Jae-hong: “I have to be invited first.”
girlfriday: Sun-young goads Shin PD: “Aren’t you friends with Na PD? Tell him to take them!”
javabeans: Then Mi-ran says they’re related (Na = Ra), which is apparently a code phrase and Na PD gets texted that she’s said the line. Then she calls Na PD right there at the table.
girlfriday: Joon-yeol jokes, “They dated once.”
javabeans: They do this whole planned conversation about whether he knows the 1988 boys, then she puts him on speakerphone to tell him the boys want to go on a Youths trip… and Na PD walks right into the cafe behind them.
girlfriday: Joon-yeol just turns into a stone. This is hilarious. The other two boys finally notice him standing there and start staring too.
javabeans: They’re adorably, hilariously confused. They have no idea what’s going on, while Na PD and Mi-ran prattle on in their made-up backstory. Na PD’s all, “Okay, if you want to go, let’s go now.”
girlfriday: They just keep staring wide-eyed, so Na PD continues, asking about their schedules for the coming week. Na PD: “Yes, we booked you for that schedule.”
javabeans: Lol, he had Joon-yeol booked for a fake car commercial as an excuse to get him to get an international driver’s license. That’s planning. Aw, is Kyung-pyo going to cry? The truth slowly dawns, and Mi-ran chirps to Na PD, “I sold three of them so give me my money now.”
girlfriday: Even after all that, Joon-yeol asks, “Is it someone that just looks like Na PD?”
javabeans: Jae-hong says his heart is racing so fast it feels funny, and NOW Joon-yeol realizes what Shin PD meant yesterday when Joon-yeol mentioned liking to travel and Shin PD replied, “Congratulations.”
girlfriday: Na PD has to say it a million times that they’re leaving directly from here for them to start believing it, and they’re further shocked to know that their managers were in on it.
javabeans: Kyung-pyo can’t stop crying, and actually cries harder the longer this goes on. Mi-ran says knowingly that he’s been under a lot of stress and comforts him, and a little later, Na PD asks why and he chokes up again, saying that Youths Over Flowers is a show whose participants are beloved, and he didn’t feel worthy of it.
girlfriday: Awww. But you’re so beloved now! We return to them saying goodbye to the parents and Shin PD, and Kyung-pyo is practically bawling by then. Joon-yeol just sidles up to Ra Mi-ran and says, “Mom, gimme some money.” I luff them.
javabeans: They really do feel like mother-son. In the van, Jae-hong realizes he only has one pair of underwear, and Kyung-pyo one-ups him: “I’m already wearing second-day underwear!”
girlfriday: Ohmygah. The boys get into the van that’ll take them to the airport, and they’re shocked to hear from Na PD that he’s been planning this trip for months, even before Iceland, and that the guy shooting behind-the-scenes extras is really his spy PD.
javabeans: They’re told they’ll start out in Namibia, and their final destination is Victoria Falls. They pull out their phones to look it up, joking that they’re still not feeling right because they’re so thrilled and anxious.
girlfriday: They’re so in shock that they wonder how they’re going to tell their parents that they’re suddenly going to Africa and just laugh hysterically.
javabeans: Na PD hands out tourist books, and adorably, Kyung-pyo looks for the authors’ names first so he can thank them, since they’ll be hanging on their words.
girlfriday: How cute. I know they’re worried now, but judging from the preview montage, it’s going to be a really fun trip. Na PD gives them a really tight budget, though he frames it thematically as 88,000 won per person per day, because they’re Answer Me 1988.
javabeans: Kyung-pyo suggests each person handling money individually, which is the first time in a Youths show they’re doing allowances this way. They ask if he planned this all in advance with the three of them in mind, and Na PD says there’s a fourth person… which jumps us back to Korea to catch up with Park Bo-gum.
girlfriday: He has a live episode of Music Bank that day (which he MCs), and the boys laugh to hear that Bo-gum has no idea what he’s in for.
javabeans: They crack up to hear Bo-gum will be intercepted before he even gets to go home, and instructs the trio to call him while he’s on the drive home and tell him to head to the airport straightaway. Hee, it’s cute that the victims get to be the co-conspirators this time.
girlfriday: How quickly the shoe goes on the other foot.
javabeans: Jae-hong: “Bo-gum will cry too. A hundred percent, he’s crying.” So we cut to the van that’s been prepared for the kidnapping, which he gets into thinking all is normal, and the car that follows his on the road.
girlfriday: Na PD gives the boys the cue to call, so Kyung-pyo suddenly gets all calm and eerie as he asks Bo-gum where he is, and if there’s a car behind him. Bo-gum whirls around and confirms that someone is following his van, and Kyung-pyo just says cryptically, “You have to stop your car and get into that one.” Bo-gum: “Hyung, why are you being so scary?”
javabeans: Ha, Kyung-pyo just says plainly, “We’re doing Youths Over Flowers and you have to come.” And Bo-gum is adorable! His first words? “Omo. Omona.”
girlfriday: The PD greets Bo-gum as soon as he gets out of his car, and on the phone the other boys crack up to hear Bo-gum apologizing for his small car (because there’s so many of them). Na PD: “He’s apologizing to his kidnapper that his car is too small!”
javabeans: He apparently is ridiculously nice, and the boys confirm that you won’t believe how nice he is. Caption as Bo-gum offers the PDs water and keeps apologizing: “I’m sorry to have inconvenienced your kidnapping of me.” He offers multiple sodas and warms their car seats and one of the guys laughs, “We’re doing a really terrible thing to a really nice person.”
girlfriday: The hyungs shout over the phone for Bo-gummie to pack whatever he can get away with, mostly underwear if he can get his hands on some.
javabeans: Bo-gum’s reaction is actually very quiet, but it’s funny because he just shows his shock differently — he’s kind of dazed and innocent, asking things like, “Can I take that? No?”
girlfriday: I love the moment when his mom calls and he says he got almost home but had to turn around and go back to the airport. “They won’t let me take anything. It’s just like on TV!”
javabeans: At the airport, he checks in and somehow starts handing out staff tickets and doing little tasks like he’s their errand boy. He asks if the staff has eaten, hands out snacks, and helps out at every turn. Oh my god, did Na PD find the one boy who’s even nicer and more polite than Seung-gi?
girlfriday: Who knew he existed? Meanwhile, the other three boys begin their long journey from Phuket to Singapore to Johannesburg to Windhoek. Agh, that’s going to be the longest plane travel in Youths history, I bet.
javabeans: Based on the previews, it looks like Joon-yeol will be the Mommy Yeon-seok of his group, since he’s traveled a lot and speaks English readily. Jae-hong looks teary as he interviews that it was thanks to Joon-yeol that the trip was 10 times easier, and without him, they would have only seen a tenth of the things they did.
girlfriday: I’m still weirded out by the fact that Joon-yeol and Jae-hong are the same age (Jae-hong played his hyung in the drama), and in real life Joon-yeol seems more like the hyung.
javabeans: It’s a pretty long ways to Namibia, and finally 21 hours later, they arrive in Windhoek.
girlfriday: Right away they set out with a plan to exchange currency, buy a data plan, and rent a car. There’s this funny tangent at the currency exchange office, where they wonder how the guy behind the glass can hear them so well, and Kyung-pyo assumes he reads lips. What?
javabeans: Aw, is he really the lovable lughead he always plays? Since they’re handling their money separately, Joon-yeol offers to buy the data plan, and I’m not surprised (but I’m a little surprised) that they decree 1GB of data for 1 week “incredibly small.” Ah, Korea, land of unlimited data plans.
girlfriday: Seriously. Some of us have to pay for MB!
javabeans: Jae-hong tells Joon-yeol to buy some for Bo-gum too, and [um, major Answer Me SPOILER ALERT? Is that worth pointing out?] Joon-yeol quips, “He stole my wife and now I have to take care of him too?”
girlfriday: LOL. I’m laughing, but crying on the inside!
javabeans: Are you a little worried these boys are going to run out of money? I know these are essentials, but they’re kind of spending so quickly that it’s the total opposite of Iceland.
girlfriday: Yes, and I’m also worried about them splitting up their money from the start. You can lose track so quickly that way!
javabeans: I think Jae-hong already gave up. He exchanged money and groaned, “My head hurts.”
girlfriday: Joon-yeol takes the lead in asking a few rental car places if they can get a car here and return it at Victoria Falls, and they get turned away at every desk. He decides that it’ll be much easier to find a local rental company that’ll let them do this, and says they’ll go into the city and look around there.
javabeans: Joon-yeol is so knowledgeable and decisive that I wonder if Na PD is pouting in a surveillance van somewhere.
girlfriday: I know. He was doing so well with the hidden camera stuff, but I bet he’s sulking right about now. Joon-yeol even bargains with a taxi driver! (While Jae-hong mistakenly tries to climb into the driver’s seat, ha.) They luck out with a nice taxi driver who offers to take them to a few rental car places that he knows.
javabeans: I’m kind of amazed at how easily Joon-yeol just melts into travel, conversing pleasantly with the taxi driver, asking his name, chatting about their travel. It’s just not something we’ve seen in Na PD’s world much.
girlfriday: Yeah he seems like he’s backpacked around the world already.
javabeans: The car rental places are all closed and the mood starts to turn, until their friendly driver mentions one car that’s available. Should we be nervous that this sounds too easy?
girlfriday: Yes, also the way they keep calling this person (or company?) One Lady. Joon-yeol says he’s expecting a neighborhood noona who happens to run a car rental place or something, and they end up waiting outside a gated building wondering who this lady will be.
javabeans: I’m wondering who they’re renting this car from! It doesn’t exactly seem legit does it?
girlfriday: No, it’s like some backyard neighborhood deal. They literally walk up to a woman who’s sitting in her car, and there are questions flying back and forth about their plans and who’s driving, and Joon-yeol sweats a little but manages to get her to agree. Is it even her car? I’m so confused.
javabeans: Then they follow her to get the car, not even knowing how much it’ll cost… and then realize the car is a stick.
girlfriday: Thankfully Joon-yeol can drive a stick. They would literally be stranded without him. Scratch that, they’d probably still be at the airport without him.
javabeans: They run into a hitch when they see that while the car rental fee is 1,400 Namibia dollars (under $100), the insurance fee is 6,000. Whoa.
girlfriday: Following One Lady was a mistake. They’re quick to decide it’s not worth it and walk away, which is definitely a good thing. I just didn’t like the idea of them borrowing some random person’s car.
javabeans: I’m glad they’re the type to decide quickly what needs to be done. The car ride back to the airport is a little deflated, and it cracks me up that Jae-hong’s suggestion is “Let’s take a sel-ca to make ourselves feel better.”
girlfriday: Even funnier is the fact that it works and puts a smile on Joon-yeol’s face. They stop for lunch and Kyung-pyo decides to order lunch for Bo-gum as well, but right after he does that, Bo-gum calls and says glumly, “Hyung, I missed my flight!”
javabeans: Oh nooooo! We see that he’d been pleasantly whiling away his time at the airport in Johannesburg, shopping in gift shops, eating pasta dinner, and totally didn’t even realize he’d missed boarding! Did the staff not notice?! Surely they’d say something if he was going to miss a flight!
girlfriday: Ack, I have such visceral sympathy pangs when I see him running to his gate at the airport. I have done that too many times in my life. TOO MANY. Apparently the next flight out isn’t until early the next morning, and Bo-gum hasn’t the faintest clue what to do or where to stay. He’s so tiny! Bo-gum: “Hyung, what do I do?”
javabeans: There’s this sad whine to his voice as he takes all his hyungs’ advice to be careful as he spends the night there. I think Bo-gum still can’t believe he missed his flight. Ha, the guys pause outside to check out their appearances in the camera, and laugh to admit they’re a mess: “When Bo-gum gets here, it’ll be different.”
girlfriday: There’s a whole montage about how camera-friendly this cast is, and we see them adjusting camera angles very carefully for every shot, making sure to turn on lights inside cars and get the prettiest shot they can. It’s like a PD’s dream.
javabeans: Do you think that makes them too conscious, though? Added to the fact that they’re all still young and up-and-coming, and don’t want to look bad on TV?
girlfriday: Maybe? Though I wonder if it’s just a part of their selca-obsessed generation.
javabeans: They note that prices aren’t very cheap here, bummed at how much they’ve spent on taxi rides already. I love the “human versus machine” bit where Joon-yeol asks Kyung-pyo for a conversion, and then figures it out with mental math before Kyung-pyo even figures out how to type in for the conversion in his phone.
girlfriday: Okay, I find that impressive. My brain does not compute conversions. Kyung-pyo starts to stress about how much money they’ve already spent, and decides that they should re-pool their money and he’ll be the treasurer. Phew, I feel better about that.
javabeans: The sun sets during their taxi ride, and an exclamation of how it’s purple (bora) prompts Kyung-pyo to declare, all aegyo-like, “Bora-ya! I love you!” They ooh to see animals as they drive past, which kicks off a montage of all the animals they’ll come across in the following days: warthogs, lions, giraffes, meerkats.
girlfriday: So after spending all day chasing a rental car, they end up back at the airport by nightfall. I can’t believe it took them this long to get back here. Thankfully they find a rental car company still open, and they even allow drop-offs across country lines. Success!
javabeans: Why didn’t they ask before? They were… just here…
girlfriday: I don’t know. I’m tired for them.
javabeans: Maybe it was worth it for the life lesson they learned, whatever it was. I hope there was one! At least this time they ask all the important questions first, like whether it’s an automatic and how much it costs.
girlfriday: Though really, they’re just little boys and they get all excited the second they see the shiny car. Jae-hong decides they should name it, and they call it Mundongie, for their 1988 neighborhood Ssangmundong.
javabeans: I hope they got insurance!
girlfriday: Can’t wait to see where they go in their shiny new car!
- Kissing, camping, and going commando for Youths Over Flowers 1988
- Youths Over Flowers snatches up the boys of Answer Me 1988
- Youths Over Flowers in Iceland: Episode 1
- Tuxes and thumbs-up for Youths Over Flowers in Iceland
- Answer Me 1988: Episode 1
- Na PD brings back another season of Youths Over Flowers
- Youths Over Flowers: Episode 1