In the Soop: Friendcation – Episode 1 Recap & Review

Day 1

Episode 1 of In the Soop: Friendcation (JTCB, Disney+, Viu) kicks off at the HYBE offices in Seoul where a group of friends gather to find out exactly to what they’ve casually agreed.

Winter 2022, 4 days and 3 nights in Goseong, Gangwon-do, Korea.

Unwitting Cast (and their group-presumed roles):

  • Park Seo-joon (Captain Marvel 2: The Marvels, Itaewon Class) – the father and emotional anchor
  • Park Hyung-sik (Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, Suits, Juror 8) – the kind mom, a little softer than dad
  • Choi Woo-shik (Parasite, Our Beloved Summer, Time to Hunt) – the trustworthy older son, leader of the kids
  • Kwon Sung-hwan (rapper/singer/producer Peakboy known for Gin&Tonic and last summer’s Gyopo Hairstyle) – the wild youngest daughter, always pumped up
  • Kim Taehyung (BTS’ V, and also appeared in Hwarang, BTS In The Soop) – the cute & mischievous youngest sibling

See our previous stories 1 and 2 for more background on this group of friends.

Pulled together by Kim Taehyung as a holiday for his friends, from the start the other guys feel like they may have been suckered a teeny bit. It’s a free trip one presumes, but there’s free and then there’s free. They mess with him, considering payback opportunities, but agree to go along as he quietly (read: nervously) suggests that they focus on showing their good sides.

Hyung-sik and Woo-shik disclose they both have scheduling conflicts for part of the trip, so will join separately. Then they get on with the fun bit, choosing their activities, noting campfires, fishing and ice skating. And figuring out packing. The guys continue to tease Taehyung.

They actually discuss writing memos to themselves to be sure they *do not* mention that which should not be mentioned. And wrap the meeting with Taehyung trying to force them into an all-hands-in ‘go team’ but they just sort of chuckle at his boy-scout habits. There’s definitely an age gap here and maybe an industry gap as well.

There’s a little promo break where each guy is presumed a role in the family (as noted above) and we flash forward to some of the activities and compelling moments, much like what we’ve seen in the teasers.

In the Soop: Friendcation – Day 1: Kwon Sung-hwan, Kim Taehyung and Park Seo-joon

Then we’re in the parking lot where Seo-joon, Sung-hwan and Taehyung throw their cases into an SUV and make a start, already regretting their packing choices.

As Seo-joon takes the wheel and Taehyung spins the tunes, they talk casually about the weather, menus, music, etc. Like any handful of mates. The best bit is where they discuss dramas they loved as kids and grasp just how much younger Taehyung is, teasing him again. It seems a theme is arising already.

Trip master Taehyung has mapped out restaurants and they stop for makguksu (cold buckwheat noodles) and suyuk (boiled pork belly) as they hit Gangwon-do. And it instantly becomes an eating show as the guys dig in to a number of delicacies. Then they spend a silly amount of time trying to identify the restaurant staff’s ring tone.

The guys continue on to their quite modern triangular holiday home and we get another view of Goseong in Winter. After a quick house tour and reveal of the welcome kits (including matching PJs), they take a nap. Really.

Then get up to hit the grocery store and back for Chef Seo-joon to make a pretty tempting steak dinner. They wear their producer-provided matching ‘uniforms,’ writing nicknames on them like Clown, Giant and World Star – I’ll let you guess who’s who in this.

Then it’s on to games like stone flicking where, much like a K-drama, the penalty is a forehead flick. It looks like it hurts, but Sung-hwan is a good sport while Taehyung weasels out.

They hang around giggling and making snacks until the next guest arrives. And as the doorbell rings, Woo-shik enters and the credits roll.


The Episode Review

Unlike some reality TV, this was not designed to be contentious or even particularly revealing. In fact, it doesn’t seem ‘designed’ at all, apart from organising a house and some activities. Opportunistic in its purest sense – as in, an opportunity without a plan – is maybe the right word?

To be fair, while the action is slow (it doesn’t get slower than napping), it’s kind of sweet to see your favourite Korean celebrities hanging out like normal guys talking about everyday things. They’re silly, they tease each other, they have their own personalities. There is no pretence. It’s just nice to see the real people behind characters like Lee Young-joon (What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim) and Choi Woong (Our Beloved Summer).

our beloved summer
‘Our Beloved Summer,’ starring Choi Woo-shik as Choi Woong

Like with any friend group, there’s a definite hierarchy here. This could be because of the respect habitually given to the older members of any group in Korea. Or perhaps it’s because of how they all met (allegedly through Seo-joon). Either way, as the clear pillar, Seo-joon seems to set the tone, even if a bit unintentionally. The other guys just naturally follow suit.

If you’ve watched any of BTS In the Soop, it’s a very different vibe. With BTS, even without an agenda, there’s some sort of agenda – or at least a tone. As in, we’re here to have fun and look like we’re having fun – see! There’s a specific energy with guys who are used to living on camera and pleasing their always-on audience. They do let loose, but always have their audience in mind.

Here, any one of these guys could be your brother, your neighbour, your weird cousin that’s good for a laugh. It’s all very off-hand. But the gentle direction from Seo-joon seems to be, let’s just relax. No set titles, topics, timings, roles. If it were my holiday, I’d be down with that.

But does it make compelling viewing? That depends on you. If you’re a fan of any of these guys, it’s a giggle and a chance to see behind the mask. But, for episode 1 anyway, don’t expect any big reveals.

Best moments so far: Seo-joon’s gigantic suitcase, Taehyung repeating everything the other guys say sotto voce, Sung-hwan losing gracefully at games because he knows his mom will watch, and the set-up of the family roles – the one piece that looks semi-guided.

A whole day goes by and they haven’t gone to the water yet. Perhaps they’re saving it until they’re all together? We’ll find out next week…

 

Are you awaiting In the Soop: Friendcation? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this reality mini-series of five friends taking a trip together. Who’s your must-see celeb? Care to guess who ‘Clown’ is? Scribble your thoughts below.

Need more BTS? See our story on the Disney+/HYBE offering coming this year hereFor more stories on all sorts of content from this reviewer, click here: Kristen Lazur

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3.5

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