I have to admit, I’ve been on a dry spell with 1N2D for a while. Usually my sunday mornings are coloured with watching these guys braving the cold or sleeping outside, but lately I tuned in to the competition show Heroes more regularly. Sometimes I watch 1N2D after Heroes, sometimes I just went to watch something else. I think it had been at least 2 months since I last watched the show.
After MC Mong left, the energy level was sliding slowly. Even though I know the casts and crew have been working extra hard to fill his void, it is still different. And while I admire the show for constantly discovering itself, never letting itself and the members being boxed into particular “characters” (like Eun Jiwon as Choding, or Lee Sugeun as Apjabi), I find myself missing the original elements of the show, the things that made me first fell in love with it: like drinking fish sauce, a distinctive wake up song (Snake song!!), and most of all the members sticking together, driving somewhere to their destinations. But then again, perhaps, I also have a 1N2D fatigue after almost 2 years watching it every week.
So last week, a friend tweeted me saying that I definitely needed to watch the recent episode with lots of tissue at hand. The episode was about the foreign global workers, so I did. I did so, without actually watching the preceeding two episodes, just the last tail of it.
But within the first 20 minutes, I was already sniffing. It was so heart rendering to see these men who are away from their family and missing their family really badly.But at the same time, I felt weird watching the workers and their family reunite, because it was something so personal. There’s that guilty feeling that you’re witnessing such personal moments of people you don’t even know. Even the members didn’t go with the workers to meet their family, yet here we are the viewers who watched every single moment. It felt a little intrusive.
Jiwon’s partner Akhil is only 23 and has been in Korea for 2 years. He’s so young yet he’s so far away from his country, busting his ass in a factory job in a place that is completely different from home. Pork ranks as one of the things Korean consume the most, Akhil, he can’t eat pork. He has to pray 5 times a day, but that’s misconstrued by his boss as him slacking on the job. It’s hard to imagine how tough it must be for him when he first came to Korea.
So each member is paired up with a foreigner, each from different country, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Their language proficiency is varied as well. Sugeun’s partner Khan has been in Korea for 15 years and has done a Korean movie and won a Korean National song award. But on the other hand, Jongmin’s partner Ssowan has only been there for a year and speaks pretty minimal Korean.
I loved the part where they were all discussing what to eat that night. Akkil and Khan can’t eat pork, Karrki, whose religion is Hindu, can’t eat beef, and Seunggi’s partner Yeyang can’t eat sashimi. I guess for a country like Korea whose demographic is pretty homogeneous, people almost never encounter this kind of issue but at one point in my life, this was actually everyday life, deciding what to eat so everyone can eat. I’m glad that 1N2D touches on this part of multiculturalism.
My favourite pair is hands down, Kang Hodong and his same age counterpart Karrki. How can two 41 year old ahjussis be so freaking adorable together?? They do ice cream love shot, fail the Human Zero games over and over again, and are just sweet to each other. I am really glad Kang Hodong got to pair up with someone age similar. It’s an interesting dynamic to see. Both are really polite toward each other, but I love how they warm up to each other right away . Karrki shrivels up when Kang Hodong told him to use banmal because he was older than Hodong. He’s only been in Korea for 6 months, but his korean is surprisingly really good.
Karrki is someone who tears up at the mention of his daughters and wife. He prays to the ocean so he can see his family soon. Yet, he’s also someone who sees Kang Hodong and not having the slightest clue who he is. He sees Kim Jongmin and asks him what country he’s from, lmao. He eats more than Kang Hodong and he absolutely must eat too, lol. I was curious as to how he would take the show, with the possibility of not eating and stuff. This was when Kang Hodong’s people skills were tried as well. He needs to keep the show’s rules intact, yet he also has to appease his guest. I think when the show has guests, these kinds of rules (not eating and stuff) are kinda pointless, they’re just there to show the guests how things are done on the show.
Jongmin and Ssowan are a quiet bunch with great language barrier. Ssowan dreams of building a school back in Cambodia because he couldn’t afford to go to school when he was young. He and his boss genuinely seem to have a good relationship. He’s younger than Jongmin but already a man with a family. He was soooooo shy when he saw his wife again, it was like he met her for the first time. Yet, he was crying so much when he took them to airport. Seeing him breaks my heart. One of my favourite Jongmin moments ever was when he dove to the water (it was MINUS 20 celcius!!!!!!) so his guest can eat something. I actually went to that beach around April last year, and just dipping my feet in the water was crazy mothereffing cold. I can’t believe Jongmin went full body in the water at that wheater, god. Just like Lee Seunggi and Park Chanho who went to have a fantastic year after diving in the winter water in 1N2D, I hope 2011 can become Jongmin’s year as well.
I gotta hand it to the Happy Sunday team. Not only do they constantly find something new to add to the show, they are also bringing awareness to the issue of multiculturalism, foreign workers in Korea, and other asian countries. In some cases, foreign workers are related to some negative sentiment like illegal immigration, criminal activities, and stuff. So I appreciate 1N2D is shining positive light on these workers and their own culture.
With all the problems that have been surrounding Happy Sunday, what with MC Mong’s military scandal and Kim Sungmin’s drug crime, I truly wish the best for the program this year. The program as a whole is still among the highest rated variety show, but I hope it can continue to improve.
“We are family.”