05 April 2021

K Shows Review: Youn's Stay (2021)

We loved Jung Yu Mi (Train to Busan)  and Choi Woo Shik (Train to Busan and Parasite) in Summer Vacation. So we were thrilled to know that they were going to have a new variety show. And to make things even more exciting, the show would also include Park Seo Joon (who is on my Oppa List and whom I loved on She Was Pretty). So yep, we were definitely going to watch this one. And yes, we loved it too!

The Show

This is the third season of the Youn concept. The first two seasons were called Youn's Kitchen, where the hosts managed and ran a Korean restaurant in a foreign country (Indonesia for the first season and Spain for the second one). 

The original hosts who were there from the first season were Yu Mi, Youn Yuh Jung (The Producers, Wonderful DaysWorlds Within, and Ireland), and Lee Seo Jin (who played Yuh Jung's son in Wonderful Days). Park Seo Joon joined them in season 2. 

Due to the pandemic and the travel restrictions, however, the show could not continue its original concept of running a restaurant in a foreign country. Having a restaurant where guests can walk in anytime would also pose logistical problems especially for contact tracing purposes. So the show decided to do something different for its third season. 

This time, the hosts will manage and operate a traditional hanok guesthouse where foreigners who live in Korea can stay overnight, inclusive of dinner and breakfast. The four hosts from season 2 returned and they were now joined by Woo Shik. 

There were six batches of guests in all. Three came towards the end of autumn. Then the hosts took a short break and they re-opened to welcome the last three batches of guests during winter some time in December. 

Youn Yuh Jung

Yuh Jung was the designated CEO. The guesthouse was also named after her. As CEO, she was in-charge of checking in and out the guests, taking their orders for meals, and explaining the dishes on the menu. She also helped in the kitchen once in a while. 

The guests loved Yuh Jung because she had great rapport with them. I believe every group of guests commended her for being caring. 

Yuh Jung didn't strike me as an authoritative CEO. She treated her staff as equals. But they respected her just the same. Most of the time, she was actually more grandmotherly/motherly instead of acting like a boss. I especially enjoyed her moments with Woo Shik like when the latter would serve her food in a very regal/royal manner. Yuh Jung would act as if Woo Shik was making her uncomfortable but she actually looked thrilled with the special attention she was getting. 

I also loved how she'd sweetly ask Seo Joon to make her ramen and how she'd praise the delicious ramen non-stop until she finished everything. 

And despite Yuh Jung repeatedly apologizing to guests because they were "not professional," I actually felt that they were very professional. They were responsible even if they were not really the owners of the guesthouse. They even gave a discount to a guest who was not able to take a shower before checking out because the shower had no water. I hope to see Yuh Jung in more seasons of the Youn's franchise. 

Lee Seo Jin 

Lee Seo Jin was the guesthouse's Vice President. If Yuh Jung was a meek boss, Seo Jin struck me as one who was very authoritative and meant business all the time. It's a plus that he has a degree in business management from NYU. 

Initially, Seo Jin might be misinterpreted as bossy. But the more I watched him, the more I appreciated how firm, reasonable, systematic, organized, and very decisive he was. He was very logical in making decisions about how to divide the tasks and the procedures they need to follow. Every group needs a leader to call the shots and that was definitely Seo Jin's role. 

As VP, Seo Jin was always on top of things and he made sure things ran smoothly. He was also in-charge of making the fresh juice for breakfast and the dessert for dinner. His clear manner of speaking especially in English was very helpful in entertaining guests too. 

When Seo Jin is your boss, you wouldn't want to slack off. He's very punctual. He usually arrives first after their midday break. And he's very passionate about everything he does like when he made the beef broth soup. And he always works so well even under pressure like when he kept burning the waffle desserts. Woo Shik was pestering him because some of the guests were done with dinner and were about to leave. Instead of panicking, Seo Jin just carried on and he was able to make perfect waffles moving forward. He's thoughtful too. He came up with the idea of buying chocolates and some toys for the kids. 

Although Seo Jin appears stiff and strict, he's actually a very caring boss. He buys food for the staff like pizza, chicken, etc. He makes sure everyone's well-fed. And he has a funny side too. It was hilarious watching him being forced to do crazy poses for the show's poster. I also had fun listening to his story about his shrinking feet while they were drinking makgeolli. 

Lee Seo Jin was a revelation here. I was neutral about him on Wonderful Days. But I have a much better appreciation of Seo Jin after watching him on Youn's Stay. Now I'm thinking about re-watching Wonderful Days because I might also appreciate him more there this time. 

Jung Yu Mi

Yu Mi was the show's main chef. And for someone who's not really a chef by profession, she did everything so well. I loved how calm and collected she was despite all the chaos in the kitchen. She was always smiling and happy even early in the morning. And that happiness and positivity really radiated even in the dishes she prepared. They all looked so delicious. Yu Mi would stare into space sometimes when things got busy but I never heard her complain about having to prepare many ingredients, cooking a lot of dishes, or washing a lot of stuff. She just did her job. 

We've always loved how Yu Mi looks fresh all the time and this show was no exception. Her skin would glow even at 6 in the morning before she even takes a bath. This little ball of happiness with a radiating smile really brightens up everyone's day. 

It was cute to see Yu Mi very shy around guests. She barely talked to them. She would just smile quietly and nod all the time. I suspect she might not be comfortable speaking in English. But the few times I heard her converse with the guests, she was doing okay actually. 

The kitchen staff was probably the anchor of the show. They probably did 80% of the hard work. And it was amazing to see Yu Mi remain cheerful after doing all of that.

Park Seo Joon

Seo Joon was the sous chef. He was like a more chill version of Seo Jin but he was equally responsible in doing his job. His work ethic is admirable - he made and ate tteokgalbi for three days straight prior to filming because he wanted to perfect it for the guests. 

Seo Joon was also like a more serious version of Yu Mi in the kitchen. He was all business whenever he cooked. I loved his strong command and presence in the kitchen. He was very resourceful too. He would find alternative means if plan A didn't work like that time when they ran out of charcoal. 

And Seo Joon was not only systematic and organized in the kitchen. I guess he just really lives that way. He even makes Woo Shik's bed when the latter forgets to do it after getting up. 

And he's a very caring colleague too. Seo Joon would make coffee for everyone, including the show's staff. And he would always make his special ramen for Yuh Jung. 

So yep, if you think you already love Seo Joon because he acts well and he looks really good, be prepared to love him even more after you see how great he is in doing his job at Youn's Stay. 

Choi Woo Shik 

Woo Shik, being the newest host, was appointed as the intern. He had to pick up guests from various places like temples, train stations, etc. He had to take them to their rooms. He had to set the dining areas, serve the food, clean up the dishes, deliver stuff to the lounge, etc. In terms of number of tasks, Woo Shik probably had the most. And he was probably the most exhausted too because he had to run around and go up and down that very huge place. So I can't really blame him if he tends to dilly dally sometimes as his way of resting/catching his breath.

Although he appears close to Seo Joon and Yu Mi, Woo Shik probably didn't feel that comfortable right away because he was the only new host. He had to prove himself to more senior actors like Yuh Jung and Seo Jin. But the moment he got the hang of things, he fit in really well. He was like a playful grandson to Yuh Jung, an errand boy/buddy to Seo Jin, a naughty and annoying little brother to Yu Mi (who would move her not-so-flattering portrait around, haha), and a partner in crime to Seo Joon. I really hope they'll retain Woo Shik for the succeeding seasons of Youn's. 

Woo Shik also did really well in entertaining the guests. Despite his many tasks, he still found time to chit chat with them. And I loved how giddy he was whenever someone recognized him, haha. 

I loved how they gave Woo Shik a 2-in-1 black and white uniform because his tasks overlapped. Black was the reception uniform worn by Yuh Jung and Seo Jin, while white was the kitchen uniform for Seo Joon and Yu Mi. 

In Summer Vacation, Woo Shik talked about having a Winter Vacation version. And in a way, he did get his wish, with a bigger and more fun bunch this time. 

Execution


The first thing I noticed when I started watching the show was how huge and picturesque the place was. It was old but very well-maintained. I loved how historical and natural everything seemed to be. My favorite places were the lake and the lounge area. 

I can just imagine how challenging it must have been for the staff and hosts to transition from running a lunch time restaurant to a full service guesthouse. They must have done a lot of adjustments and I really commend them for that. 

And I loved how throughout the season, the hosts also kept on adjusting to make things easier for them and make the guests' stay more pleasant. The first dinner was quite hectic. They started preparations and cooking quite late. But they eventually made a system where they were able to prepare ahead of time that all they had to do during dinner time was to reheat food and plate them. The biggest challenge was their penultimate batch of guests where they had to serve 13 people with various food restrictions/allergies. But because they've almost perfected their system by then, they managed to do things smoothly without any mishaps.  

The hosts also made little changes along the way like serving welcome drinks, giving treats to the kids, or even introducing the kitchen staff during check-in to give them proper recognition for all the hard work they did. 

I also loved the funny side comments and the trick Woo Shik played on his bosses. I couldn't stop laughing whenever Yu Mi's portrait would come out all of a sudden, thanks to Woo Shik. A priest guest made portraits for everyone and they didn't really resemble the actors so much. Woo Shik's probably looked most different. But because Yu Mi's was displayed a lot, it became the center of Woo Shik's jokes. I just hope the  priest was not offended. :)

Although Youn's Stay was a full service guesthouse, I don't think the hosts did everything all the time. There were episodes when they would set up the rooms and wash the dishes but there were days when they didn't. I guess it depends on what time they finish doing their main tasks. They can do extra work if they finish early but if they end late, they're allowed to go to take their midday break. 

My only problem with watching Youn's Stay was I initially watched it on tvN and it aired at 10:30 or 11:30 p.m. I'm on bed, ready to sleep, and they would bombard my TV screen with all these pretty and delicious dishes. They all looked so irresistible and I can't help but feel hungry whenever I watched it. Later on, I discovered that episodes were also uploaded on Viu so I was able to watch the show during a more decent time of the day. But I now wish to go back to Korea and taste those colorful and crunchy fritters, Seo Joon's tteokgalbi and dumpling soup, Yu Mi's sweet and sour chicken and pumpkin soup, and Seo Jin's waffle. 

Once in a while, it's also nice and refreshing to watch variety shows like Youn's Stay. I love seeing actors outside dramas because I get to see the real them more and I learn to appreciate and respect them more too. It's nice to see how they handle exhausting and stressful situations. And for "non-professionals" as Yuh Jung calls her group, I know they did a very good job. Their guests' happiness is proof of that. It was truly a nice once in a lifetime experience for foreigners stuck in Korea because of the pandemic. Now I can't wait for the succeeding seasons of Youn's. 

Oppa says...4.7

Noona says...4.8. 

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