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What Keeps Me Calm: My Nightly Virtual South Korea And Laughter Trip with 2 Days & 1 Night

"As I watch the cast of 2 Days & 1 Night go to different destinations in South Korea, I was surprised of my restlessness’ absence"

Welcome back to What Keeps Me Calm, essays each week on the television shows, movies, books, music, and other works of media that, especially on the darkest of days, are a balm to our sad, weary souls.


My escapist self has always relied on my constant travels to keep me sane. As a friend pointed out, it’s my “bisyo” – something that I didn’t realize myself until one night that I was packing my bags feeling exhausted because a few days ago, I just came from another trip. But no matter how tired I am or how tight my budget would get, I was happy. It made me feel alive, more than anything else, and that’s what mattered to me.


So imagine how it was like to a travel addict like me to be stuck at home when the pandemic happened. My dreams would be filled with ideas of my next trips, even if I know it wouldn’t be happening anytime soon. I busied myself trying to get refunds of my canceled flights, which really broke my heart. I incessantly watched theme park ride POVs and tried recalling the thrill of the Hollywood Dream or the magic in Hogwarts. I binged on countless Korean and Thai dramas to keep my mind off of my never-ending longing to leave. And in my quest of looking for more distractions to cope with the situation, I tried playing travel shows just to satisfy my wanderlust, even for just a little bit.

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It wasn’t until I pressed play on 2 Days & 1 Night that a change occurred in me – as I watch its cast go to different destinations in South Korea, I was surprised of my restlessness’ absence. My feelings that would normally turn into envy before was replaced with uncontrollable laughter and anticipation on which spot they would visit next, or what game they would play, or what food specialties they would devour. It’s as if, amid virtually, I was tagging along with them, and the show quickly became a friend to me.

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I started in the latter parts of Season 3, who were complete strangers to me (I am a K-drama fan first, sorry). But like how I would like to meet people for the first time, I quickly got attracted to their mind games and wit – and next thing I knew, I find myself looking forward to capping off my day with an episode of 2 Days 1 Night. Just as I was getting attached to this group, especially my favorites, actor Yoon Shi-yoon (or known in the show as Yoon Dong-gu), and the rather latecomer, comedian Lee Yong-jin (I love how he managed to quickly blend in with the cast), this season was cut due to a controversy.


Come Season 4 and I have mixed thoughts and feelings about going forth this chapter. I loved the previous cast, but I wasn’t sure if having these new people on the show would retain the calm that I found. I gave it a try anyway, and at first I wasn’t really convinced that I would stay for good – it was awkward and less funny, but I kept myself engaged. After all, those stunning fall and winter views are especially splendid and alluring that my mind returned to my South Korea daydreams.

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But the daydreams did not last long, and before I know it, I was pulled in deep into Season 4. Traveling with Yeon Jung-hoon, Kim Jong-min, Moon Se-yoon, Kim Seon-ho, Dindin, and Ravi became downright hilarious yet cozy and heartwarming, especially after getting past the awkward stage. They tried to show competitiveness but fail at most of the games; they hurl insults to each other that’s not degrading, but affectionate; they let loose and just have fun, and in the process brings this fun to their audience.


How could I not roll on the floor laughing at the iconic Pass the Flour challenge, with a flour-smothered Jong-min and Se-yoon at the end of the game? Or whenever Dindin gets flown around during strength-related games? Or when Seon-ho used his Wish Card to throw off Jong-min’s attempt in escaping his fear of heights? Or whenever Jung-hoon gets called a “Trash Card”? Or when the Kim brothers – Jong-min, Seon-ho, and Ravi – plots yet another betrayal? Or whenever the LSS-inducing catchphrase “Jebal jipjung jom hae! (please focus!)” comes into frame?

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Then there’s the food. The Ramyeon Heaven Special is easily unforgettable that I literally thought, the next day, that I ate ramyeon the night before. Of course, I’ve craved for snow crabs, samgyetang, tteokgalbi, suyuk, kalguksu, samgyeopsal (of course), bungeoppang (Moon Se-yoon’s fault), and weirdly, cilantro (Kim Jong-min’s fault). I also feel a deep satisfaction whenever Se-yoon and Ravi goes full mukbang mode – a wonder (in their words, daebak).
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2 Days 1 Night basically made me settle down, without exactly limiting me to my desire to “just go”. Through the show, I found a compromise that doesn’t lead me down to a depressing state just because the situation has limited me from going after what my heart desires. It inspired me to go places even, to look forward to every night’s episode, and beyond those episodes, in real life. What’s more, instead of dwelling in sadness and feeling sorry for myself, I was able to just laugh and feel lighter, with the crazy company that are the cast members. I feel supported. I am happy.


What Keeps Me Calm comes out on Mondays.


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Photos from @kbs_unicorn on Instagram