According to evil genius Na PD, the Laos installation should be the last in his Over Flowers series. (though i don’t really trust him anymore) I’m not sure whether he originally planned to start with halbaes, then gradually reduce the age group (and increase the action) to young men, but the progression works really well. The halbaes in Grandpas over Flowers have this wide eyed, child-like wonder on their first ever, long distance trip(s) overseas, but we also get heavy doses of pensiveness and acceptance of mortality from them. Not surprising, since they have already lived three quarters of a century (or more).
We regress in age to the recent Youths, which comprises of a group of middle-aged men facing their personal middle-age crises. They show us that age is really juz a number, and anyone can still play and have fun — once they stop being scared shi*less from being pulled out of their comfort zones.
In Noonas, we have a mix of halmonis and mid-lifers. The women have a totally different dynamic from the men — they are coolly efficient and there is really no “single” leader in the group. Unlike the men (who assign one guy to be pack leader), the women pass on the leadership baton amongst themselves, depending on whose “talents” or “needs” are required at the moment. (hilariously, the only guy in the group — Lee Seung-gi — is the hapless, but entertaining, baggage)
However, nothing can compare to the ENERGY we get in Youth (Laos) where our beloved boys (Yoo Yeon-seok (Chilbongie), Son Ho-joon (Hai-tai) and Baro (Binggeure)) from Answer Me, 1994 are conned to take an impromptu backpacking trip to Laos. And Na PD doesn’t even feed them beforehand! (those pathetic packets of snacks don’t count, imo) At least Yoon-Sung, Hee-yeol and Lee-juck get to eat SOME jiggae before they are sent off.
Like with the previous all-male groups, the guys decide (unanimously, and without bloodshed) on their Alpha — in this trio, “Mommy” Yoon-seok. I can understand why kooriyuki is all swoony (and moony-eyed) over her Yeon-sookie, cos like Lee Seo-jin, he is protective, efficient, reliable and has a good head on those (super broad) shoulders. Since he is the only one who has backpacking experience (to Cambodia, for volunteer relief work), the other two happily let him make all the major decisions, such as where to stay, where to go, how to get there, and even what time to wake up. That is not to say Mommy Yoon-seok is authoritarian, he allows his puppies to make some decisions — like what to eat and where to play, for examples. (hurhur)
The funny guy in the Laos team would be Ho-joon, imo. He admits that Laos is his virgin trip overseas. (as in REALLY overseas…Jejudo doesn’t count — though he made a passport for his Jejudo trip?!) I was initially worried for him, cos he was the only one who had this shell-shocked expression when he first heard about the trip. And on his first morning, he wasn’t exactly eating or behaving normally. To be fair, being sent on a rough and tumble backpacking trip as your first overseas holiday can be overwhelming. More so, when Ho-joon admits his “idea” of a holiday is mainly staying indoors in a posh hotel or sun bathing at the hotel’s poolside. (something he picks up while watching films, most likely) Luckily, Ho-joon manages to get over the initial discomforts, thanks mainly in part to the mothering from Yeon-seok. But he still can’t help going slack-jawed and saucer-eyed when face-to-face with “stuff he only sees on TV” — like having airplane food (?!!), and being with a bunch of partying Westerners. (rofl)
Baro, the distinct Gen Z-er, rounds up the trio. Being only 22, he is still fascinated –with himself, mainly — and thus, like most young adults, a little narcissistic. Shown all too clearly with his obsession with the monopod (that selfie stick thingy, which is all the rage in Asia now) and his need to take selfies everywhere and anywhere. The other two hyungs, in contrast, are pretty meh about it. Maybe cos they don’t see a need to take selfies when they have cameras, hidden videos, blahblah, aiming at them during the entire holiday. I muz point out though, that Hee-yeol the selfie(r)-cum-videographer in Peru, had better response with HIS monopod than Baro. At least Lee-juck and Yoon-sung played along in his silly, round-the-bush chants. (that’s why i said age is only a number)
Another pretty amazing thing in Laos is how touchy-feely those young men are. Even the Noonas can’t compare with them — the ladies only link arms, or hug — occasionally. Whereas, there’s (ahem) more going on around here. Especially when Ho-joon seems like Yeon-seok’s sasaeng fan — only he’s the successful type, cos he manages to cajole his idol to call nightly. I bet if there’s a Yeon-seokie cult (or is there already one?!) he will be the undisputed cult leader. (move aside, fangirls! [kooriyuki: yes, YeoNiverse agree we should find a way to get to know Ho Joon personally to know more about Yoo Yeon Seok])
In case you are inspired to watch, kooriyuki [kooriyuki: I’m one of the translators from YeoNiverse, and we’re teaming up with Banasubbers] is eng-subbing the Youths (Laos) series, and Dramabeans has recaps.
EDIT: Episode 8 with English subs is out here!!