House on Wheels: Episode 9
This week our tiny house family stays close to Seoul, and makes their home in a nearby campground. An interesting mix of characters are invited to join them, and the day (and night) are full of everything from awkward moments and bad cooking to dear friends and conversations about the craft of acting.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
It’s a rainy day, with only Hee-won and Dong-il in the car and on the move. Hee-won’s in a good mood because the rain means lower temperatures and no mosquitoes. They stop to pick up Jin-gu, who’s been waiting patiently at a bus stop for them and they continue on to their destination: a campground just outside of Seoul.
For the first time ever, Hee-won is the one who’s invited guests along and he says his friends are all similar to him in certain ways. The friends in question are all familiar faces: Lee Jung-eun, Uhm Tae-gu, Park Hyuk-kwon, and Go Chang-seok.
Hee-won’s going to take charge of the kitchen today (also a first!) and he’s planning on making soupy dukbokki, which — yeah — he’s never made before. He tells the guys that he’s going to make a broth first, then add rice cakes, and then… black bean paste. And with that, Hee-won’s lost his audience. Dong-il: “I’m nervous.”
The campground is completely deserted thanks to the rain, and it’s lush with some small mountains in the background.
There’s no time to rest, though — there’s a brand-new, huge tarp that needs to be set up. However, everything feels off. The anchors aren’t going in because the ground is too hard. While they’re working, crows keep cawing and Jin-gu says it feels ominous. Hee-won gets a call from one of his guests, and announces that Uhm Tae-gu’s arrived.
Tae-gu approaches as a silent figure all in black — but the menacing aura breaks as soon as he starts bowing and softly saying hello. In what’s likely the most bashful House on Wheels entrance ever, Tae-gu just stands around, looking a lot like a confused meerkat as he tries to get his bearings.
Tae-gu stands off to the side, sighing to himself and Hee-won notices how nervous his friend is. Hee-won puts his arm around Tae-gu’s shoulders and Tae-gu whispers, “It’ll get better in a bit, right?”
After the tarp is up, it’s time to set up the deck and Tae-gu gets put to work right away. It’s a stark contrast with the guests Dong-il and Jin-gu invited, but Hee-won is loving the extra set of hands. Once the deck is in place, Hee-won starts to think it’s too small to fit everyone. Dong-il’s on the fence and asks Tae-gu for his opinion on whether or not they should leave the deck or move it back. Tae-gu laughs and quietly says, “It’s all okay… I’m sorry.”
In the end, the deck is put away and just chairs come out. Dong-il checks out Tae-gu’s housewarming gift: ten bags of scorched rice. Tae-gu’s personality is such a contrast to all his acting roles. He’s very shy and soft-spoken (with this really unique, husky voice).
They all sit and snack, and Tae-gu takes the tiniest, dainty bite of his scorched rice. Dong-il asks what Tae-gu normally does on his days off. He replies, “I just stay home, clean, and don’t go out much.” Hee-won jokingly pleads for Dong-il to stop talking to Tae-gu as Tae-gu gets sweaty if people talk to him too much. He does seem a little anxious, and he keeps rubbing his forehead.
Instead of stopping, Dong-il lines up another question (of course) and asks what he and Hee-won do since neither man drinks alcohol. They hang out at cafes, drink coffee, and sometimes go to another cafe. He comments that Tae-gu’s famous in the industry for being shy and quiet (Tae-gu keeps rubbing his knees and forehead all the while), so how does he always end up playing tough characters?
Dong-il: “You like action films, right?”
Tae-gu: “Action? My body’s pretty weak so I don’t really like action.”
After thoroughly cracking everyone up, Jin-gu and Tae-gu head inside to put away the food. Tae-gu quietly checks out everything in the house, and when he sees the mounted camera zooming towards him, he actually takes a step back like he’s hoping it won’t come closer.
Hee-won gets a call from his noonim, Lee Jung-eun. She wants to know if they’ll get fed and he replies that all they do is eat. He lets her know that lunch will be sujebi; she shares that she’s a big fan of dukbokki and potato pancakes.
With Jung-eun on the way, Hee-won gets ready to cook. First up is the broth he’ll use as the base for both the soupy dukbokki and sujebi. Hee-won tries to do it all himself, but Dong-il ends of taking charge and putting all the ingredients together. All that’s left is the daikon that needs peeling and chopping.
Dong-il does the first segment and then passes the knife for Hee-won to try and he’s… not great at it. Hee-won’s not just slow, he’s only taking off small bits at a time. Ha, Hee-won admits he’s not being meticulous, he’s just bad at peeling. Tae-gu’s next up to the chopping board, and Dong-il’s convinced he’ll be great. Tae-gu takes the knife and proceeds to slice the tiniest sliver off lol.
They move onto the dough and Hee-won pours a ton of flour into a bowl (without measuring!). Jin-gu tries to help by telling him which ingredients to use, but Hee-won’s not the most receptive chef-to-be.
Jin-gu: “Put in a little salt.”
Hee-won: “Salt? Why?”
Jin-gu: “Put in a little cooking oil, a little water, and mix.”
Hee-won: “Put in cooking oil? Why?”
Hee-won takes his dough outside to knead, and while he’s dealing with the sticky mess, Dong-il can only sigh at Hee-won and turn his attention to Tae-gu. He seems fascinated by their friendship. “Do you speak your mind when you meet up with Hee-won or do you follow his lead?” he asks.
Poor fidgety Tae-gu, “I think…I think I have. I think I speak up.” The longer the conversation goes on, the sweatier Tae-gu gets and he starts to laugh at one point while grabbing his head. Dong-il asks if his head hurts and Tae-gu just cracks up and apologizes. Dong-il gets a big laugh from both of them when he asks Hee-won, “You hang out with Tae-gu because you think he’s a pushover, don’t you?”
When Jin-gu gets started peeling potatoes, Tae-gu quietly urges him to be careful and pitches in. They have a nice conversation about Jin-gu’s little brother (also named Tae-gu) and being a fan of each other’s work. Seeing them fanboy, Hee-won asks if they’re newlyweds and Jin-gu tosses back that they’re brothers, the Gu Brothers.
The hyungs take a quick music break to listen to some oldies and a song request from Tae-gu, which is Rooftop Moonlight’s Two People.
Two more guests arrive together — Lee Jung-eun and Park Hyuk-kwon. Dong-il says he’s honored to meet Jung-eun and she gets really giggly and says she’s honored too. (He and Hyuk-kwon already know each other.) Hee-won and the two of them go way back; Hee-won and Jung-eun are theater buddies, and Hyuk-won went to college with Hee-won.
Jung-eun came bearing gifts: an air fryer, spices, and food. Tae-gu peeks over everyone to see what the gifts are, and then whispers to Jin-gu, “I only brought scorched rice.”
Jung-eun gets a house tour, and Jin-gu starts grating potatoes for the potato pancakes. Tae-gu offers to help and he’s very deliberate in his actions. He focuses completely on his potato chunk and keeps going till there’s only a tiny hunk left.
Hyuk-kwon offers to help out, and eventually gets to take a spin with the grater, and he’s so much faster than Tae-gu. Jung-eun even comments on the difference, heh. Help is needed for the sujebi’s hand-torn noodles, and Hyuk-kwon and Jung-eun are happy to assist Hee-won. Thank goodness for that, because in the time it takes Hyuk-won to make four noodle pieces, Hee-won manages to make one.
Hee-won fills the others in on Chang-seok, and says he’ll arrive after he’s done at practice for his musical, Kinky Boots.
As the sujebi boils, Tae-gu’s tasked to taste the noodles and check if they’re done cooking. He takes a bite and shakes a little from how hot it is… but he doesn’t speak. Are the noodles cooked? “I think they’re fine… they’re a little… I think they’re fine.” Dong-il asks him what he means, and Tae-gu says, unconvincingly, “I think it’s tasty,” then starts laughing.
That reaction’s taken as a sign it needs to cook a little longer. The second time around, Tae-gu says without hesitation that the noodles are done. Dong-il ladles out portions for all the guests, makes a bowl for himself, and then tells Hee-won and Jin-gu to help themselves lol.
Jung-eun seems surprised that the sujebi tastes good, and she says that it tastes exactly like restaurant sujebi.
While they eat, Jung-eun asks if the others know about Hee-won’s goosebump acting. Basically, Hee-won can act with his whole body and give himself goosebumps at will. He brags that he can do it whenever, and gets ready to show off his talent. Hee-won closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, as Tae-gu and Jin-gu lean forward to get a better look.
Hee-won gets goosebumpy and basks in the accolades until Hyuk-kwon brings him down to earth: “Didn’t you used to be able to do that faster?” (Hee-won blames the heat for his lack of speed.)
There’s a drawback to his talent, though — Hee-won says you can’t really see it on camera, and there’s usually not much reason for a closeup on his forearm, so he can’t actually use his talent anywhere.
Because of another rain burst the tarp has to be tightened again, but with Hyuk-kwon on site, they finish in no time (he’s seriously handy).
Dong-il gets a phone call from Chang-seok, who’s on his way and wants to know if there’s anything he can bring. Awkward turtle Tae-gu gets put on the spot and manages to tell Chang-seok that some fruit would be nice, all without sweating too much.
When Hee-won gets up to do the dishes, he’s persuaded by his friends to rock-paper-scissors who will have to do them. Tae-gu surprises everyone (even himself) by winning and after a beat, and he says the winner should do the dishes (he’s the youngest as well, which is probably why he volunteered). Aw, but Hyuk-kwon steps up to help Tae-gu anyway.
Jung-eun tries to put the air fryer to use, but when the electricity shorts out, Dong-il says they need to adjust the circuit breaker. Hyuk-kwon actually manages to take care of it within a couple of minutes and Jung-eun starts a batch of dumplings.
Last but not least, Chang-seok arrives with lots of fruit. He salutes Dong-il on sight (they’re very close) and takes off his mask. Dong-il’s fascinated by how clean-shaven he is and Chang-seok admits not having facial hair feels awkward. He’s actually shooting a movie right now with IU and Park Seo-joon (it’s about a team of homeless people who take up soccer) so he has to stay hair-free.
Dong-il talks about the movie he and Hee-won are filming with Ha Ji-won currently, and when he praises Hee-won’s acting ability, Hee-won gets shy. Jung-eun pipes up to say Hee-won can even do goosebump acting, and that’s something he’s not shy about at all. He gets ready to show Chang-seok, but despite two tries, he can’t activate his bumps. He thinks he may have goosebumped himself out and promises to show Chang-seok next time.
It’s time to get dinner started, so Hee-won goes to work on his broth again and Jin-gu gets help preparing the rack of lamb that’s on tonight’s menu. Hyuk-kwon and Chang-seok are both very at ease in the kitchen and everything’s ready to go in short order. Suddenly the camera pulls out and we see Tae-gu just standing behind everyone, blinking quietly. He wants to help out, and he feels bad about not working even though Hee-won tells him to sit and relax.
Jin-gu asks for help making potato pancakes together, so the Gu Brothers get to work. Jung-eun hangs out with them and comments that the king is making their pancakes. Jin-gu’s made lots of potato pancakes before for his family. The most important thing is not to break the pancake — and then he promptly breaks the pancake he’s flipping.
Tae-gu tries his hand at flipping, but he ends up folding the pancake over. He tries so, so hard to straighten it and it’s adorable.
Jin-gu takes over again and Tae-gu can’t tear his eyes away from the frying pan. Jung-eun notices and hands him chopsticks so he can eat a pancake. Tae-gu tries to first feed Jung-eun, then tries again with Jin-gu, but they both tell him to go ahead and eat.
He finally decides to just eat it himself, just as Dong-il chips in to say that he’s the oldest. It really looked like Tae-gu was about to spit his food out!
Jung-eun worries about how much time Hee-won is spending on the dukbokki, so she tries to convince him not to continue, but he can’t be dissuaded.
She lets him know she’s a member of an online dukbokki club and spends her spare time visiting the best dukbokki spots. Hee-won says with conviction that his dukbokki will blow them out of the water and heads into the kitchen. But just seconds later, when he’s back in the kitchen, he’s much less confident.
Tae-gu suddenly grabs a potato pancake decisively. He locks eyes with Hyuk-kwon and walks over to feed him the pancake of friendship. But they both start to feel awkward and it looks like a crazy comedy skit, with Hyuk-kwon looking like he’s about to kiss the potato pancake (he keeps tilting his head). Tae-gu looks like his energy’s been depleted and he actually wipes his forehead afterward, lol.
The grilling gets underway while Hee-won is still in the kitchen, Jin-gu at this side. Watching Hee-won prepare the dukbokki seasoning makes me nervous — there’s so much garlic and so little gochujang. He and Jin-gu get super excited when they have a telepathy moment over wanting to use pepper, so at least they’re enjoying themselves.
Hee-won wants to add all the ingredients he can, and he tells Jin-gu to trust hyung. He says he’s killing it, and the smell and visuals look amazing. He then informs Jin-gu, “I haven’t tasted this yet. It doesn’t need a taste test, right?” Jin-gu replies, “Trying it won’t hurt.” But Hee-won says tasting it now won’t change anything. LOL.
Chang-seok’s grilling the lamb and oldest hyung Dong-il gets the first bite. The lamb is great, with no gamey smell, so it’s thumbs up all around. Chang-seok is grilling as well as making sure the cooked lamb gets to his friends, and Dong-il hand-delivers some lamb to the dukbokki crew in the house.
At long last, Hee-won comes out with his giant pot of soupy dukbokki (lol Hyuk-kwon rushes over to look at it). Everyone at the table takes a quick sip. They all have really blank faces except for Tae-gu, who just blinks extra hard. Oh no, no one will look at Hee-won.
He says it looks like everyone’s unhappy, so Dong-il says he’s not, he’s just savoring the aroma. Hee-won asks Jung-eun noonim for her opinion and she kind of stutters that yes, it’s good, but looks like a deer caught in headlights all the while.
They all dig in anyway, but when Hee-won overhears Dong-il and Jung-eun say they’re going to add some cumin salt to their bowls, he orders them to eat it they way he cooked it, lol. Hee-won keeps selling the dukbokki as they eat, and tries to convince them that the more they eat, the more they’ll like it. Dong-il says he sounds like he’s trying to sell them a pyramid scheme.
The grill flames up all of a sudden, and Chang-seok, Hyuk-kwon, and Jin-gu start to run over. Dong-il says not to panic, but Chang-seok takes that a little too literally by returning to his seat. (Dong-il: “But you shouldn’t just sit back down!”)
Hyuk-kwon calmly fixes the grill, and Hee-won says his friend is a great fit for the show because he doesn’t panic.
At one point during dinner, Hee-won pops back into the house and Dong-il tells Tae-gu that since Hee-won’s gone, he doesn’t have to keep eating the dukbokki if he doesn’t want to. Tae-gu laughs softly and says he’ll try to eat it anyway. When Hee-won returns, he’s feeling put out and says he can’t cook anyway because whenever he hears laughter he thinks people are dissing his food.
Dong-il suggests adding in ramyun noodles to the dukbokki, so Jin-gu and Tae-gu get on that to create ra-bokki. When it’s all done… everyone stays perfectly still. They only start moving when Hee-won asks why no one’s eating.
Jin-gu helps himself to some ra-bokki and then tells Hee-won that it’s good enough to be sold as a new ramyun flavor. Hee-won double checks what Jin-gu is saying, and then tells him he can stop now.
Chang-seok offers some wisdom: “Jin-gu, once an actor’s sincerity comes into question, it’s over for them.” Dong-il comments that Tae-gu’s quick to laugh, which Tae-gu confirms while laughing bashfully and quietly.
Dong-il says that meeting Tae-gu’s opened up a new world for him and he’s glad they got to know each other. Tae-gu takes the opportunity to say that he still remembers how Dong-il gave him advice on how to stand out more during a movie that they filmed together years back (S.I.U.). Aw, Dong-il remembers that scene and the advice, but hadn’t put together that it was Tae-gu.
There’s lots more conversation between our cast and guests as they eat into the night. When it’s finally time to part, they end the night with a lovely group photo.