On the 1st and the 7th of February, the two famous TV entertainment shows, MBC’s Hangout with Yoo and ComedyTV’s Tasty Guys, respectively aired a common and special episode titled “[the best] Ramen in My Life” or “[the best] Restaurant in My Life.” Since January 31, a series of previews and broadcasted videos had been also uploaded on the official YouTube channels of both programs.
This small but stunning encounter just began when the Fat 4 (Kim Joon Hyun, Yoo Min Sang, Kim Min Kyung and Moon Se Yoon) of Tasty Guys saw some strange staff (they were actually the production crew of Hangout with Yoo) on the set and wondered who they are. A few minutes later, the Fat 4 came into a restaurant where they would have meals without any thought and ran into Yoo Jae Suk, the one and only host of Hangout with Yoo, who was preparing for his business of the day. Of course, all of them were greatly astonished because the production teams of both programs didn’t tell their cast the truth at all!
The awkward but welcome atmosphere lasted only for a while at the beginning. The Fat 4 relentlessly pushed their point-blank opinion on food, saying, “We don’t talk without food.” Yoo Jae Suk consistently exposed his “too much talker” instinct in the mode of a friendly owner, but he could hardly get used to their extraordinary appetites. In the process of cooking ramen, “Mr. Yoo” quietly groaned―but the Fat 4 heard it clearly―at Kim Min Kyung’s request to put a fried egg on the noodles.
He also made the guests laugh even more when he shouted, “Ahh, so hot, Yi-See (it’s a Korean exclamation similar with “owie”) !!!”, too loudly as hot water in the pot splashed on his arm. Especially, when other Fat 4 members except for Kim Joon Hyun―he got the penalty called “Han-yip-man (just a bite)”, which literally means he should have only a bite of food on the day―ordered three bowls per dish (there were three kinds of remen on the menus of Yoo’s “Ramen in My Life” restaurant, Yoo Jae Suk got exhausted after quickly sending out total six bowls of the two dishes. Drawing breath outside the store, he just said a single sentence. “This is hell!”
Despite the annoying situations, Yoo Jae Suk, who had accomplished all of the hardest missions through MBC’s old variety show Infinite Challenge, eventually completed all nine bowls of “Ramen in My Life” dishes for the Fat 4, showing off his new nickname “Rasek (a sexy man who cooks ramen).” Thanks to the guests who sincerely praised him by eating up not only the solid ingredients but also the entire soup, Yoo Jae Suk must have been happy for learning special recipes from Lee Yeon Bok and Park Eun Young, the two prominent chefs in Korea, to bring out a fresh and healthy flavor.
Although many of his fellow celebrities had already visited the “Ramen in My Life” restaurant, the fact that the cast of Tasty Guys, which perform an unrivaled mukbang (an eating show) across the terrestrial networks, comprehensive programming channels and cable ones throughout the Republic of Korea, may have meant something different to Yoo.
The perfect match of both sides reached the climax when Kim Joon Hyun, the man who’s earned the nickname “Kim Pro” due to his cooking skills and values only second to the professional chefs, made bibim ramen for Yoo and other Fat 4 members. Even compared to Yoo’s dishes, Kim Joon Hyun’s bibim ramen has no weakness both in its appearance and taste. As there’s an old saying that “give back as much as you received,” if Kim Joon Hyun hadn’t rewarded Yoo Jae Suk, who struggled alone to prepare meals for the Fat 4, with his delicious delicacy, this special episode would have felt funny but a little bit vacant.
Unlike Yoo Jae Suk’s previous hit programs such as Infinite Challenge, Running Man and Happy Together, Hangout with Yoo is technically a one-man show Yoo runs on his own. No matter how versatile he is, Yoo must have felt a lot of pressure to lead a cookbang, a cooking show he’s tried for the first time ever in 30 years since his debut, by himself through several episodes. In this sense, the surprising collaboration between Hangout with Yoo and Tasty Guys Yoo brought a 200 percent “win-win” to both sides. Yoo Jae Suk chatted with his close acquaintances at work, while the Fat 4 satiated themselves thanks to the special guest who they can rarely meet in the other days.
Their collaboration was far more brilliant as each of their distinction was fully demonstrated in video editing. In case of Hangout with Yoo, Yoo Jae Suk’s one-man show, the shots are delivered to the viewers based on his sight. To meet the purpose of the program, every camera on the set should capture Yoo Jae Suk, who serves guests and leads conversations, rather than food.
On the other hand, all the conversations and games are food-oriented in Tasty Guys in accordance with the reputation of the Fat 4, who are called the “Mukbang Avengers.” Just like all of its previous episodes, the cameras elaborately focused more on the dishes than on the cast in the collab episode made with Hangout with Yoo. Even though the same people appeared in the same scenes with the same dialogues, I felt different depending on which program I watched.
The collaboration of the two programs also achieved a huge result in terms of ratings. According to the data provided by Nielsen Korea on February 2, the ratings of “Ramen in My Life” episode in Hangout with Yoo, which was broadcasted on the 1st, rose to 10.1 percent, the highest mark in the program’s history. Tasty Guys also broke its own record of the highest ratings, hitting 1.279 percent through its “Restaurant in My Life” episode aired on the 7th. That number was up 0.43 percent from the previous episode, while it’s also the first time that the show has surpassed the 1 percent mark in 2020 since the episode (rated as 1.189 percent) aired on December 6, 2019.
In the past, many viewers looked forward to a collaboration of the major entertainment programs such as Infinite Challenge and KBS’s 2 Days & 1 Night. It didn’t come true to the last, however, probably due to the implicit atmosphere of the broadcasting industry trying not to cross the boundaries. Overshadowing those concerns, Tasty Guys and Hangout with Yoo succeeded in vitalizing both the meaning of each program and the features of the characters. I hope their performance will continuously inspire the following collaborations of other entertainment shows that may happen in the coming months and years.
Editor Jeon Gyeong Ju: A natural-born media geek who is physically Korean and mentally multinational. All dramatic stories are my favorite sweets for life. TVs and streaming platforms are not only the playgrounds but also the weapons.