House on Wheels: Episode 1
House on Wheels is a delightful new variety show from PD Kim Yoo-gon of Dad! Where Are We Going fame. It’s a novel spin the travel variety genre, with our three-member cast bring their home to new locations all over Korea and spend time with celebrity guests along the way.
EPISODE 1 RECAP
We start off with a peek at the tiny house and a mini Dad! Where Are We Going reunion as Sung Dong-il gives two of his kids, Joon and Bin, a tour of his temporary home. (I feel ancient, it feels like I was watching little Joon on Dad! Where Are We Going? just yesterday.) The kids love it, with Bin saying she thinks she could live there forever (agreed) and Dong-il promises to take them on a trip later.
We get a quick rundown on the rising prices of real estate across Seoul and an introduction on the tiny house movement. For the show, the staff are building the country’s first-ever tiny house on wheels. Wheels mean that the cast will have the freedom to roam the land and make all of Korea their front yard.
One month before filming, we see Dong-il at the stove, working on a meal for his castmates. He says he’ll finish up when the others arrive, and right on cue we see our next cast member, Yeo Jin-gu.
Aw, it turns out Jin-gu actually made his debut in a drama as Dong-il’s son (we get a bonus shot of baby Jin-gu in the drama). Dong-il eyes Jin-gu appreciatively and comments on how well he’s grown up. He suddenly says that Jin-gu’s the best-looking cast member and declares he’s the second best-looking.
As Jin-gu cracks up, we see our third-ranking cast member (by Dong-il’s estimate): actor Kim Hee-won. With everyone gathered together, the show sums up our cast: down-to-earth Nation’s Dad Dong-il, Hee-won, the surprisingly sensitive villain expert, and passionate heodang Jin-gu.
Dong-il interviews that meeting up with his hoobaes at home versus a public place just feels different, in a good way. Since they’ll be inviting guests “home,” he’s hoping to make good memories with good people.
Back at their pre-filming meeting, PD Kim gives the cast their first look at their house. The staff custom built it with wheels. Everyone is wowed, and the PD assures them it really is a regular, functional house. Just, you know, tiny and on wheels. It’s even been officially registered and certified as road-ready.
Dong-il muses that being out on the road is going to be great, they can park on the beach and it’ll be like something out of a coffee ad. Hee-won breaks the spell by saying they’ll probably end up parked in the great outdoors and gaming online.
They get into how they’ll divide up the work and Hee-won’s confident they’ll eat well since they have Dong-il. Jin-gu’s eager to cook but says he’s nervous because compared to Dong-il he doesn’t think his skills are up to par. Dong-il smiles at the compliments and says they should eat each meal like it’s their last (it sounds sweet rather than sinister in Korean).
Hee-won offers to do all the dishes, and says Jin-gu can handle any errands. Dong-il puts a stop to that and says for “fetching things, going out to buy stuff, that’s all you Hee-won.” He chides Hee-won for wanting to send Jin-gu out into the world when he’s the youngest and has so much life left to live.
Jin-gu pipes up to say it would be a relief to just do errands but Hee-won tsks-tsks and gets a big laugh when he says that “errands” means just about everything. But in a sneak preview, we get a medley of Hee-won-ah’s taken from future episodes, so it looks like Hee-won might end up being the team’s errand
ajusshi boy after all.
Talk turns to who’ll drive, and Dong-il says it’s incredible that “you two” passed the driving exam. We see the entire cast had taken classes and a truck driving exam in advance of filming. Jin-gu passes easily, as does Hee-won.
Back in the meeting, Dong-il says he’s going to try to learn how to drive a truck but he’s just in such poor health. Jin-gu’s face darkens as he listens to Dong-il list his “ailments” (farsightedness, dry eye sydrome, difficulty distinguishing colors, night blindness) and his somber reaction cracks up his sunbaes.
Aw, Dong-il’s jokes are to cover the fact he actually failed his driving exam, despite having practiced. But having two drivers isn’t too shabby.
It’s finally D-Day! Dong-il gives the other two a minute to take in how cool their new house is, and Hee-won wins the honor of being the first to unlock the door. He also volunteers to be the main driver, so he’s given the honor of christening the car (a.k.a pouring alcohol on the wheels) while Jin-gu does the house christening (stepping on a gourd while carrying in a rice cooker).
It’s sweet to see how excited they are about everything, from the tiny bathroom to the fully stocked kitchen. I’d wondered how they’d film inside such a small space but they managed to fit cameras in every nook and cranny, including one running on a fixed track on the ceiling.
Once they’re done exploring, it’s time for Hee-won, to take the wheel. After a couple of hiccups, they’re on their way to Goseong, Gangwon Province. The visual of seeing an actual house hitched to a car is hilarious and they get tons of stares as they roll along.
They’re all a little nervous about being on the open road and they get scared every time the house bumps the car (lol, Hee-won says it’s unnerving to see a house following in the rearview mirror).
After a couple of hours, they pull into a rest area for snacks and a quick break. Dong-il offers to treat everyone to some snacks, but then gets a glint in his eye and suggests they play a little card game. They’ll throw their credit cards on the ground, and the person whose card goes the shortest distance has to both pay and be deliveryman too.
Hee-won has terrible luck; a gust of wind actually curves his card’s trajectory and costs him the game. The poor guy can barely believe what’s happening, but he heads off when Dong-il tells him to go. Jin-gu looks so anxious and he starts to slowly follow Hee-won before Dong-il calls him back.
Dong-il ushers him into the house and they lay back with the windows open and wait. As they kick back on the sofa, Dong-il gives one of their guests a call. From the start, she calls him “dad” and we see it’s none other than one of his Answer Me 1988 daughters, Hyeri.
They’re in mid-convo when Hee-won arrives and he’s clearly tired, but not too tired to joke around. I love their chemistry already. Big hyung Dong-il is all tough love and jokes with Hee-won, while he’s all about spoiling Jin-gu. Hee-won seems to have the same sense of humor as Dong-il and baby Jin-gu seems to always be laughing, then wondering if it’s okay to laugh at his sunbaes.
LOL, when Hee-won gets back, he tries to casually walk into the house and Dong-il jokingly gives him a hard time before letting him in. After finishing his call with Hyeri, they call their second guest, Ra Mi-ran. Hee-won and Mi-ran seem close as she calls him oppa, while Dong-il is sunbae.
Mi-ran jokes about not knowing about the show, and they tell her not to rush since they’re still a few hours away. After they finish the call, they hit the road again and arrive in one piece. Just in time too, as Hyeri is already at the camping/housing location.
They have a little bit of trouble connecting and though she manages to miss the literal house rolling past her in the background, she spots them pretty quickly and heads over.
Everyone says hello and Hyeri announces she has special housewarming gifts but warns she’ll take them back if their reactions aren’t big enough. They look in the bag and…it’s a bunch of board games. Hee-won and Dong-il are loud in their faux appreciation, which makes up for Jin-gu’s hilariously terrible attempt at faking joy.
They head out for a quick supply run and as they chat in the car, Dong-il talks about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected him. It’s made him realize how precious people are and what a precious thing it is to be able to meet up with the ones you care about.
Cut to Mi-ran, who’s wandering the streets alone, trying to find them. Whoa, she’s called 21 times but no one picked up. She manages to get through to Hee-won, and asks where they are. He laughs and says, “You can’t see the house that’s parked on the beach?” She finds it and makes her way inside has a lot of fun turning on the light switches and poking around while she waits for the others to get back.
Dong-il is the first to greet her, and when she attempts to get a lifted hug, he drops her in surprise telling her he has bad knees. She gives Hyeri a big hug too, only to literally push her away to say hi to Jin-gu lol. She looks thrilled to get a hug when she expected a handshake from him.
While Mi-ran is giving them more housewarming gifts, Hee-won realizes that a horde of mosquitoes made their way inside and are concentrated by the “upstairs” sleeping spaces. But there’s no time for worry and Mi-ran keeps him busy with pre-dinner tasks. Aw, Dong-il’s knees really must be bad, he’s kind of dragging one leg a bit as he helps set up the table and the grill.
Inside the house, Jin-gu starts on gochujang jjigae, and we get a reel of him practicing his cooking skills pre-trip. He’s studying under the tutelage of the Youtube and he looks like a decent cook.
As Jin-gu sautees and chops, Hee-won peeks over to ask if he’s working off a recipe (no). Jin-gu adds in broth and waits for the soup to boil. Except…nothing’s happening. He panics and searches for a lid but comes up with nothing. He tries to think on his feet and asks Hee-won for his opinion on his version of a lid–cheesecloth. You know it’s bad when even the captions make fun of you.
Outside, Dong-il starts grilling (special Korean beef from brindle cows that that are only available in two provinces in the country). Jin-gu’s still with his jjigae and it looks like he’s trying to will the soup hot enough to boil. Aw, when one cut of meat is finished cooking, Dong-il feeds everyone outside while Hee-won hand-feeds Jin-gu in the kitchen.
Dong-il eventually manages to coax Jin-gu away from his soup, assuring him that it’ll cook fine on its own without him standing watch over it. With everyone seated, they raise a glass and dig in.
The beef looks so good; everyone eats with such relish and Dong-il does his best Salt Bae impression. (Variety shows really need to get food warnings, like parental advisory warnings.)
After an hour of leaving the jjigae to “boil” in the kitchen, Jin-gu eventually ends of bringing it outside and heats it up on a portable gas range. Jin-gu adds in the gochujang and some veggies and after letting it boil he gives it a taste. His expression is unreadable and he just says that it needs a little more time. (Hee-won: “You could’ve boiled an entire cow in the time it’s taking you to make this jjigae.”)
In the privacy of the tiny house, Jin-gu checks Youtube again to see where he went wrong. He keeps working on the soup, and by “working on,” I mean he adds what looks like every spice in the kitchen. He keeps running back and forth, adding in ingredients until Hee-won offers to help determine what else it needs. His verdict just confuses Jin-gu: It’s sweet.
Ultimately, Jin-gu doles out servings and there’s such anticipation and nervousness on his face as everyone gives it a taste. From the way everyone takes a sip, then a beat to react suggests it doesn’t taste all that great. After a pause, Dong-il says it tastes like Jin-gu used every spice except for curry powder. Hee-won says, “There’s no crab in this but I can taste crab.”
The post-dinner cleanup and tent setup is going smoothly until Mi-ran spots a water leak. Thankfully it’s not major, and they can enjoy some downtime. Sort of. Mi-ran is craving a drink so Jin-gu offers to make coffee but says it would take a couple of hours to grind it. (Come again?)
Hyeri volunteers to take care of the drinks instead and heads to their car to grab Jin-gu’s barista supplies. While looking for the coffee in Jin-gu’s bag she finds a bunch of instant coffee (Dong-il: “This is what he was going to grind?”) and makes another discovery.
She has bad news for Jin-gu: his things are all mysteriously wet. He thinks for a beat and realizes his homemade shikhye must have leaked. Hye-ri asked why he brought along shikhye and he replies, “For dessert.” Oh you sweet boy, but why didn’t you refrigerate it right away?! Aw, he even watched Youtube to make it himself. When he grabs his bag, he’s thrilled to see there’s still enough left to serve.
Hye-ri takes a sip of her shikhye…only to sneak away to Mi-ran and ask if it’s gone bad. Mi-ran gives it a sniff her drink and declares she’ll have coffee instead. Jin-gu hears her and reflexively apologizes, but starts to realize something’s amiss.
Hee-won tells Hyeri he tried the shikhye earlier and it’s fine to drink, it just tastes bad. Jin-gu eavesdrops, as Hyeri gives Hee-won another sip to try and he says it actually tastes better now that there’s ice in it. At that, Jin-gu rushes over to confiscate his precious shikhye, saying he’ll drink it all. Hyeri gives him hers, and LOL he actually makes a face after tasting his own concoction.
Jin-gu looks defeated for a minute or so, then he calls out to Hee-won, “Sunbae, would you like me to make you a caramel macchiato?” Hee-won just barely manages to get out a yes before cracking up. This is turning into a never-ending cooking challenge that no one wants Jin-gu to do (but I love it).
It looks like Jin-gu is doing everything correctly, but I’m still nervous for him. He pulls a shot of espresso, foams milk, and drizzles caramel on top before giving Hee-won the drink.
Jin-gu looks so anxious as Hee-won passes the macchiato around to Dong-il and Mi-ran to taste. The judgement: it tastes watery and weak. Even adding in more espresso doesn’t change the taste. But does Jin-gu give up? Nope. He decides to make a cup of pour over coffee instead.
Thankfully, this time the coffee tastes like proper coffee and Jin-gu looks so proud. I’m relieved, mostly because I had visions of Jin-gu furiously whipping up food into the wee hours until someone enjoyed his cooking.
Hee-won says he learned a lot today, mostly that he’s lacking in a lot of areas and has a lot to learn. He takes a little U-turn from being heartfelt to tease Jin-gu, “He kept trying at stuff that clearly wasn’t working. His shik-hye went bad, but he made it work with passion. Why don’t I have that passion?”
Mi-ran says he can develop that passion and learn. Hee-won gives her a firm no. “I’m not going to learn anymore. I learned everything I need to know all already.” He gives everyone one last laugh, “None of this suits me.”