I’ve been watching this Netflix show called Hyori’s Bed & Breakfast. It’s a reality TV show that stars Lee Hyori (a popular Korean singer), Lee Sang-soon (her guitarist husband), and the hired staff Lee Ji-eun (also a very popular Kpop idol known as IU). It’s a reality TV show but at the same time it doesn’t feel like a reality TV show. There’s a sense of peacefulness that the B&B host and staff exude by living on Jeju Island. Perhaps through the magic of TV editing, the first few guests that arrive all seem to have this desire to get away from that “city life” and explore Jeju Island.
After watching a few episodes, the guests that were chosen to stay at this B&B are are extremely lucky and fortunate because these guests literally get to interact with Ji-eun the hired staff and not IU the Kpop star. I didn’t realize how amazingly lucky the guests were until after Googling IU. She is very popular in Korea as a singer-songwriter, collaborator, actress and performance artist. I looked her up on YouTube definitely I liked a few of her songs (You&I, Good Day). Her music spans multiple genres from R&B to very pop rock. Her vocal range is amazing as well with the ability to hit the high octaves in Good Day as a great example. With all that IU star power, the guests still treat her as if she’s an ordinary person. It’s an experience of a lifetime for both IU and the guests. You certainly won’t find that type of treatment in US.
While watching the last episodes, I finally realized what the nagging feeling was that I couldn’t verbalize when I initially wrote this post. Throughout the show, Hyori/Sangsoon/IU displayed this sense of humanity that is lacking in many reality TV shows (at least in the US). Of course this could be a total TV edit job, which if so, that was very good editing.
But hear me out… Unlike the competitive nature commonly seen in US reality TV shows (think Survivor, Bachelor, Amazing Race, Big Brother, etc), Hyori’s B&B centered around the human element when random strangers meet other random strangers. Throw in some background knowledge from Hyori chatting with the guests and you get a sense of a human connection. You have the 3 siblings. You have the young married couple/hairstylist. You have the long distance couple. You have the four male friends on vacation. Every single interaction between these guests and Hyori/Sangsoon/IU reveals some aspect of the staff that normal TV wouldn’t see.
Throughout the show, you see Hyori showing an empathetic side that not many Kpop star would probably show. I think she realizes that if she can just listen to the people who are distraught/hurting is in itself helping heal the person. I saw it pretty clearly with the 3 siblings group when the eldest (who is in her 30s) asked Hyori for some advice. And then you saw it again with the “musical duo” group when the two were just worried about their future. I don’t remember the exact words Hyori said, but after reading the subtitles, I got the sense the Hyori wanted to let these two girls know that being yourself is the best type of person you can be. It may seem that other people are judging you but in reality they have the same exact concerns that you have. She knows because she herself went through this with the microscopic spotlight of being a Kpop star.
And finally, watching IU in this show, I got the sense that she just wanted to be treated as a normal everyday Korean girl. I don’t know if the producers knew/planned for IU to work there and subsequently warned the guests ahead of time to not be star struck. But you certainly saw the “wow” factor in many of the guests while all IU wanted was to just wash dishes. In some ways, the show was her release from stardom. I’m glad the guests treated her as a regular girl. I’m pretty sure she has at least 39 life long fans.