When it had its premiere in 2011, “Now on My Way to Meet You” was a tear-jerking reunion program featuring families separated by the Korean War, but before the show had a chance to reunite anyone, it underwent a transformation. The way the producers tell it, in their scramble to recruit separated families, they kept running into a new generation of defectors. So they made the rather canny decision to reorient their show around appealing young women, whom they took to calling “defector beauties.” The show’s on-location backdrops of humble homes and noodle restaurants gave way to a glitzy game-show-type set, and estranged septuagenarians were replaced with girlish defectors. Pretty soon, the only thing left of the original program was its name and the desire for reunion. A typical 90-minute episode might veer wildly from a report on rice shortages to a joke about face cream. The aesthetic is loud and frenetic, featuring sound effects and cartoon thought bubbles. At center stage sit a dozen guests, many of them women in short, colorful dresses, their legs all canted in the same direction. The two hosts engage the group in rapid-fire patter, while an all-male panel of B-list celebrities called the South 4 tosses out oohs, aahs and sexual innuendo.One detail that struck me was the fascination of some South Koreans with a transcontinental railroad. Apparently in 1936 a South Korean competed in the Berlin Olympics for Japan and took a train all the way from Pusan to Berlin. If North and South were at least on speaking terms then that route could be re-opened and South Korea would no longer seem so cut off from the rest of Asia.
Wednesday, May 8, 2019
"Now on My Way to Meet You"
Weirdly fascinating article in the Times about the fusion of Korean politics with sexuality, comedy, and schlock television: