After watching juz 2 mere eps of Youths, I’ve decided that the best cure for a mid-life crisis is to have an evil Na PD throw you on an instant backpacking trip to some faraway place. That’s what happened to the
victims cast for Youths: Yoon-sang, Yoo Hee-yeol and Lee-juck. All three are musicians and composers in their own rights — and good friends with PD Na (well, at least, before the programme). They are aware they are selected for going on a roadtrip for Youth, but what they didn’t expect is how fast they will be sent packing.
Ep1 does the big reveal, where PD Na sits them down over a jiggae lunch supposedly to discuss the details of the trip. Well, the details are: (1) you are going to Peru, (2) the flight leaves in 3h time, and yes, (3) you cannot return home to pack a suitcase — in fact, the crew will also confiscate your wallet and cards. (omg — if ANYONE does that to me, i will KILL him) So the poor trio are hustled to Incheon Airport to catch the flight to Peru without even having the time to buy a toothbrush or a towel. In return for giving up their personal wealth (aka their Amex, Mastercard, Visa, whatnots), they are given an allowance for the trip…which makes out to be a “generous” $100 per person daily, including paying for accomodation, transport, essentials (like the toothbrushes and towels), entrance fees, blahblah. Talk about being shocked silly — poor Hee-yeol can only keep giggling at their weird (or out of hand) situation.
Thus, unlike the Grandpas or Noona’s versions, Youths is a hardcore backpacking trip, with no luxuries like spiffy apartments, home-cooked + pre-packed Korean banchans or even luggage boys (well, cos there are NO luggage). Transportation is virtually all made on public transport — we will see the poor cast sitting (and wilting) through 16h of a bus ride in ep3. In contrast, Seo-jinnie and Seung-gi had it easy (minus the need to serve the elders/ the ladies), since they are allowed to rent private vehicles and the cast can comfortably be driven to their next destination. Na PD has also wised up in this installation — he made sure NOBODY can sneak in extra personal cash to top-up their daily allowances (an act committed by “Seo-genie”). And it is hilarious that Hee-yeol, and later Yoo Yeon-seok, try to copy Seo-jinnie, and get caught sneaking a measly credit card into their pockets.
Well, the advantage of being dragged through sh*t with your friends is you get to really bond and know them at a deeper level. It is easy to keep a happy smiley face and maintain peace when there are sufficient material comforts. However, when basic resources are scarce and you are forced to split a towel three-ways, you have to learn to trust that the other 2 members won’t be using your portion on inappropriate areas of the body.
Being the oldest in the trio and also having a sunbae-sensei relationship to Hee-yeol and Juck, you’d expect Sang to take on leadership like Lee Soon-jae halbae. Unfortunately, he is the one who is probably most ill-suited to hard travel. He insists on en suite toilets, has issues with bed conditions, generally doesn’t like getting dirty or crawling out from his comfort zone. He admits in the interviews that his idea of a trip is usually tagging along with his wife or letting her take the kids away so he can stay at home. To give him credit though, despite whining and disagreeing with Hee-yeol’s travel plans, he lets himself be persuaded to TRY the activities. And he clearly enjoys the out-of-comfort-zone experiences. In the post-interviews, he admits he is surprised and rather proud of himself for attempting sand dunes surfing, flying in a Cessna and even something as simple as splashing around in a lagoon. And of course, his hoobaes’ initial skepticism (and worry) of having Sang on the trip with them fades when they see their hyung enjoying himself despite his protests. They also learn about Sang’s issues with alcohol and insomnia (plus constipation), which kinda make them more empathetic towards his “sensitivities” to material needs.
Clearly, unlike Grandpas and Noonas, where the focus and laughs come mainly from the luggage boys (the efficient all-rounder Lee Seo-jin and his exact opposite but earnest, Lee Seung-gi), Youths is really about bonding between friends. It’s also about re-discovering youth, the child-like wonder and boldness to try out something new — and having fun while doing so. Since the trio are a bunch of composers, those new experiences can end up amplifying their creative juices — that is, if they survive the trip to make it back home. 😛