Just Bananas About: Week of 11/14/14

After some recommendations from my cousin and fellow reader Sia, I decided that my day at a Korean spa last weekend was the perfect time to load up episodes of Abnormal Summit and watch them all at once.  I failed miserably as the warmth of the ondol floor drifted me off to sleep.  However, I liked what I saw so I’ve been on an Abnormal Summit marathon this week.

While I didn’t watch every single episode, especially the ones in the beginning, I selected episodes based on either the topic or the guest and in total I’ve watched approximately 10 episodes since last Saturday.  I loved the show.

Due to the foreign panelists debating topics on the show, there are a lot of metaphors made to the U.N.  MCs Jun Hyun Moo and Sung Shi Kyung are given the title of Co-Chairmen while Yoo Se Yoon is the Secretary General.  Each episode, the members tackle a subject or question based on their own experiences and cultural background and discuss whether something is normal or abnormal.  They vote once after they hear the question and then debate about it.  At the end of the show, they vote again and see if any of the votes have changed.  They are all pretty fluent in the Korean language was vital for them being casted on the show and the members are all living, working and/or studying in Korea.

In no particular order, the members of G11 are: Guillaume Patry from Canada, Alberto Mondi from Italy, Zhang Yuan from China, Enes Kaya from Turkey, Daniel Lindemann from Germany, Julian Quintart from Belgium, Tyler Rasch from the U.S., Robin Deiana from France, Sam Okyere from Ghana, Takuya Terada from Japan and currently they’re rotating guest panelist members in the eleventh spot.  Previously, James Hooper from Great Britain was one of the members but he left to study in Australia.  Germany’s Daniel took his place.  Also, Australian panelist Daniel Snoeks was included as a fixed member of G11 but he also went back to Australia to continue his studies recently.  In his place, they have visiting representatives and this week it was Sam Levano from Peru.

Of course, as a viewer, I’m not going to see eye-to-eye with everyone in the group.  I find that Enes and Zhang Yuan is the most conservative out of everyone.  Enes is known for always have a Turkish proverb at the ready to explain his point of view while Zhang Yuan always seems to have a definite idea about his future and his life except how to pronounce the word 이까짓 (ee-kka-jit meaning a trifle thing) properly.

My favorite members are U.S.’s Tyler and Germany’s Daniel.  Is it just me or does anyone see a young Hugh Jackman in Daniel?  Anyways, I digress.  Obviously, it apparent that the group researches and studies the questions and come prepared for the filming but I think Tyler and Daniel are so good at phrasing things well and explaining them with reasoning that I can follow.  For the most part.  I’m amazed at Tyler’s Korean because he’s far more fluent than I am and sometimes finds that I don’t understand some of the words he uses as they’re words you use when discussing diplomatic policy or philosophy at the university level.  That probably explains why he’s attending Seoul University. I’m glad that Jun Hyun Moo has the same confused look that I have.

Some people might remember Sam from other variety programs.  He’s goofy and has a lot of aegyo and he’s known for using various buzzwords on the show such as, “아닌데에~ (No, it’s not~)” with the slight tilt of his head.

Julian came to Seoul to study and always trying to pump up the assets of Belgium.  He garrulous and tends to spit while talking, which always is uncomfortable for the person sitting next to him.  Currently, that’s Zhang Yuan.  I love that as Sam was giving a background to his country they compared Julian to llamas.

Robin’s a model and I think I need more time getting to know him as he hasn’t had a whole lot of opportunity to talk on the show.  However, he and Guillaume are competing against each other about who can learn Korean faster.  Guillaume is a Star Craft pro-gamer and loves meat.  He’s hoping that one day Sung Shi Kyung will treat the group during one of their nights out.

Alberto is known for being a ladies man.  He came to Korea after meeting a Korean woman and marrying her.  Currently, he works for the Fiat car company in Korea.  Takuya is a member of the Cross Gene idol group.  I don’t know much about the group except that one of his songs has the word “amazing” and that it requires him to shake his hips ’round and ’round.  Ha.

The first part of the show is usually where the group talks about different attributes  in their country so they discussed jinx or bad luck omens.  While in Korea it’s bad luck to stick your chopsticks and spoon in a bowl of food as it represents putting the utensils in food on an ancestral rites table after they have passed, in Turkey it means that the son is seeking permission from his parents to get married.  I was surprised to learn that sharing a pear in China was considered bad luck.  Apparently the word for pear in Mandarin sounds relatively close to death.   Breaking a mirror seems to be bad luck in several different countries around the world.  Saying Merda (shit) in Italian seems to be a way to ward off bad luck before a big match.  Koreans also believe that if you dream of stepping on shit or as Yoo Se Yoon put it, eating it, it means that a great fortune is in your future.  My mom told me that if I have a dream like this I should always play the lottery the next day.

This week’s guest was Model and Radio Host Jang Yoon Jung.  The topic she brought to the table was about love and relationships. She’s now in her 30’s and often finds it tiring to date people, is that abnormal?

It was interesting to see how they all viewed relationships and how their cultures influenced their views.  Obviously, Zhang Yuan thinks the way Asian conduct their relationships and arranged marital plans is more normal than the American standard of dating around, living with someone before marriage.  It’s fascinating to see the mindset of people.

Sometimes the debate does get a little heated.  To the point where the MCs jokingly walk off the set.  Like why are they even there when the G11 are perfectly capable without them?  However, it appears like even with a difference of opinion, they’re all friends and respect each other’s differences.

The most hilarious thing was watching Zhang Yuan to try and hit on Jang Yoon Jung as an exercise.  He immediately went with some awful pickup line but Jang Yoon Jung was really nice about it in her retort.  She politely told him that while she would refuse him, she felt that he came across very innocent.  While the attempts of the “pickup” artists cracked everyone up, Italian Love Expert Alberto appeared very serious.  I don’t think even he was that serious but upon his attempt to pick Jang Yoon Jung up, he was very smooth about it.

My only complaint about the show is that it’s all men.  I wonder if Turkish or Chinese women think the same way that Enes and Zhang Yuan does when it comes love and marriage.  I can guarantee that they probably do not.  There’s a whole perspective that’s left out because the panelist is completely made so I’m hoping at the very least the show’s producers will invite more female guests to fill that sorely needed gap in this debate.

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