This is another one of my favorite episodes. We did most of this with the new crew, and they were very efficient. This is a good food episode. We travel down the Nakdong River and hit Andong and Busan, two of my favorite towns. Here are some highlights and commentary.

  • The shots of me on the train were the last ones we did.
  • I don’t know what “Korean Smiles Along 500 Kilometers” means
  • We shot the train opening for this episode the same time we shot parts of the Han River episode. We set everything up and waited for a train to show up. While it was transferring passengers, I quickly got on the train, waited for the director to yell, “Cue,” and did my opening bit (lotsa memorization). We did it three times. The one that was kept included my only flub, but it was minor.
  • At Hwangji Pond, even though we were supervised by a park official, there were still old men who took it upon themselves to tell us we couldn’t film at the pond. We filmed a lot there, and very little ended up in the final cut. We were also fighting sporadic showers.
  • Anyone who follows this blog knows how much I love Andong and Hahoe Village. I was so happy to return there.
  • I think this is why the second crew took over in the middle of this episode. The opening and Hwangji Pond were shot by the original crew. But there was a lot of talk about their inefficiency. Or rather, issues with time management. The Hwangji Pond bit took the whole afternoon, shooting a lot of stuff that was really unnecessary. Only two shots made it into the final cut. What really bugged us was that we traveled all the way down there by bus one day to meet the crew and shoot a scene in the mask museum near Hahoe Village. We then went to a place to go fish for catfish. Now, all of us knew that the weather was bad that weekend, but the director insisted. When we got there, the catfish fishing organizers said that they couldn’t do any fishing that weekend, so we cancelled the shoot for that whole weekend and went all the way back up to Seoul. Also I should note that the director was so hardcore in getting all this done that we couldn’t eat the whole time. Just one meal a day and maybe some kimbap. In the end, that entire weekend was a bust. The entire mask museum scene was cut out. I just assumed that was the way that productions worked. But when we worked with the second crew, it was much different. Locations were organized well and shot quickly. And only one scene the entire time I worked with them didn’t make a show.
  • It was HOT the day we went to Hahoe Village. I rode the ferry a few times, and we got footage. Then the director and camera guy decided to go up the mountain to get some more shots of Byeongsan Seowon. That was dedication. I stayed behind with the others and got hooked on orange slushies.
  • We shot a lot of nice little scenes in the mazelike walkways of Hahoe Village. Since I had just been there a few months ago, I knew some good places to film.
  • The mask dance was very cool. Though, yeah, since I was a foreigner and a foreigner on TV, I was the center of every gag and embarrassing bit. Look closely, and you see the bull pee in my face. They had a French guy (who briefly appears) and me go up there and dance. I would do it again, though–without the peeing-in-the-face part.
  • Next–FOOD! And we ate most all the stars of Andong cuisine–JjimDalk (braised chicken), Shikhye (red rice punch), Gan Godeung-eo (salted mackerel), Heot Jesatbap (fake ceremonial food), and Andong-style Bibimbap. The cook let me film the entire process for making JjimDalk, which I will edit and post in the future.
  • Miryang–home of the scariest love motel room I’ve ever seen. The scene that was cut was one where I made some buckwheat jelly with school kids. It was a dull scene anyway. But the fish catching scene was amusing. As always, we used a stunt fish. The bottom of the pond was made up of slippery round stones, so it was almost impossible to get your footing, and it was very possible to twist an ankle. So I was trying to be careful despite my new friends’ carefree attitude. But those guys said they had been doing this since they were kids. After the fishing scene, we went to the riverbank, where a bunch of families were camped out. One tent had some roasted dog meat, where I got my second taste of this–nah, I wouldn’t call it a delicacy. But the ginger salad was good. My friends cleaned the catfish in the river and skewered them on bamboo spears. They cooked them over a campfire like hot dogs, and they were seriously the best fish I’ve ever tasted in my life. The muddy catfish meat was the perfect sponge for the wood smoke. That was up there in my best meals of 2011 list.
  • That night they had me go into this mushroom looking house-slash-hotel-slash-restaurant. It was surreal looking. They had me say some lines after opening the window in just the right way. We had to do that bit a few times because I couldn’t always open the window perfectly.
  • We went straight down to Busan, got out on the beach a bit, checked into our motel, and went out for  a few beers. Fun crew.
  • I was originally supposed to do some jet skiing. Then I was supposed to swim in an aquarium tank with some sharks. That all got changed. Instead I just wandered around the film festival area eating street food. A crazy old man kept dancing in front of the camera. He then went up and stole my hoddeok. The director chased him off and told us to hide in this building until they were finished filming.
  • We went to Jagalchi Fish Market. Stinkier than Noryangjin but still cool. I had a great time there. Check out the surprise on my face when that octopus started clinging to my arm.
  • The seafood feast was the other great meal of the trip. I had my fill of raw fish for a long, long time. This was the scene where everyone really scratched their heads on what the writer was thinking. Obviously she had never spent any time outside of Korea, and her concepts of foreigners were based on stereotypes, what is called a “frog in the well” perception of the world. The script called for me to eat the sashimi and mention something like how it tasted like my mom’s food. That was a fun line to rewrite.
  • The rest of the trip was a blur. We woke up early, and the camera guy went to the top of a tower to film me on a beach. That was some good coordination in cueing. We then went to some ecological areas and monuments. I just remember how beautiful the Busan cityscape was and the heat.

Photos from the episode are here.

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