South Korean Variety Show ‘New Journey to The West’ Off to a Strong Start
kpopluv, Sept. 4, 2015, 9:06 a.m.
"New Journey to the West," an online variety series featuring actor Lee Seung-gi, rapper Eun Ji-won, comedians Kang Ho-dong and Lee Soo-geun from a highly popular variety show in the past, successfully distracted millions of South Koreans who tuned in for the inaugural episodes posted earlier Friday.
The first five episodes, each spanning between five to 10 minutes, were uploaded at 10 a.m. Friday. As of 4 p.m., more than 50,000 people had subscribed to the channel on Naver's video streaming website TVCast, where the show is broadcast. The first episode has been viewed more than 850,000 times, with the five together recording a combined 2.6 million views. "New Journey to the West" is also the most searched keyword on the portal website.
"New Journey to the West" is the first South Korean variety show created by a TV network, tvN, to be broadcast exclusively online. It drew inspiration from the 16th-century Chinese classic "Journey to the West," which follows four characters on a trip to India. Actor Lee plays the Master; rapper Eun is Monk Sha; comedian Lee the Monkey King; and Kang the Pig Guy. The quartet's return from the successful first season of KBS 2TV's entertainment program "Two Days, One Night" in 2010 has been much anticipated.
In the first episode, actor Lee confers scandalous nicknames on Eun and the comedian Lee, who he calls "Yeouido divorcee" and "Sangam gambler," respectively, because of their past. Yeouido and Sangam are names of Seoul districts where the two live. Sitting next to the actor is a visibly uncomfortable Kang, who isn't used to the brutal openness that would have been flagged as inappropriate by South Korean TV officials.
In the remaining episodes, the four are given a mission to find their way to their guesthouse from the airport in the central Chinese city of Xi'an with just 50 yuan (US$7.87) and 10 percent of their phone batteries left. Hilarity ensues. Producer Na Yeong-seok of the show had earlier said his goal is to achieve 20 million views in total. "New Journey to the West" is uploaded five episodes at a time on Naver and the Chinese portal website qq.com every Friday.