It’s April already? Welcome to yet another edition of My Favorite Things, a blog linkup by Raisa and Eirene. I’m still waiting for Eirene to post hers so I can submit this, however, I’m going to write ahead while I wait.
I’m only going to feature only one thing for this month, mainly because I’m a bit in a rush to write about my Timeless Thoughts linkup in the very near future. So anyway, let’s proceed!
The Return of Superman (Sarang’s House)
I am probably one of the few people lingering around the internet who isn’t quite phased with the whole Hallyu Wave. I’m no longer a fan of K-Pop since Fin K.L.‘s (unofficial) breakup, plus I think that today’s K-Pop sound like they’re imitators, rather than originators.1 However, I do, from time to time, watch some K-dramas and some Korean variety shows just for the sake of random entertainment. However, this particular reality show really sparked my interest.
I speak of the Korean family reality show, The Return of Superman (sometimes called Superman Returns), in which a select group of male Korean celebrities, whether they’re actors, comedians, athletes, hosts, etc. showcase how they live as fathers to their very young children. The show began airing back in 2014, and it had been a success in South Korean TV. There are also some video clips that you can watch on YouTube at the official KBS2 YouTube Channel. The show also began airing in a few countries outside South Korea. This, includes their controversial heated next-door neighbor, Japan.
Why did I mention Japan here? Even though the show mainly focuses on male Korean celebrity fathers, there is one particular family that truly skyrocketed this reality show to fame.3 I’m speaking of the family of famed Japanese-born Korean martial artist Choo Sung-Hoon, a judoka and currently an MMA4 fighter who earned his name and reputation as one of the best in the martial arts/MMA world. He is a 4th generation Zainichi (pure-blooded Korean born and raised in Japan) who was born and raised in Osaka. His father, Choo Gwei, was a sensei (teacher/trainer) in Judo, and began to train his young son in one of the world’s most popular martial arts. Sung-Hoon began his sport competition career as a representative of South Korea. Due to some controversies back in 20015, he decided to abandon his representation (and probably citizenship) and obtained his Japanese citizenship. As a Japanese citizen, he now goes professionally by his Japanese name, Yoshihiro Akiyama. But for the sake of the show, he uses his original Korean name.
In the late 2000s, Sung-Hoon became a lucky man when he met and eventually married Japan’s hottest model, Shiho Yano (professionally known as SHIHO). Then in 2011, after a few struggles with miscarriage, the couple became blessed when their only daughter, Sarang, finally came to their lives. The show debuted with Sarang-chan at age 3. The family currently lives in a lush apartment in Tokyo, and, in the beginning of the show, the entire family spoke only Japanese to one another. However, both Sung-Hoon and Shiho had a common goal for being in the show, which is to assimilate Sarang to the Korean side of herself, having her learn the Korean language and immerse herself in Korean culture, while maintaining her original Japanese self at the same time. The best thing also is that Shiho herself is also learning the Korean culture including the Korean language as well. If you take the time to watch a lot of the clips, you’ll see how Sarang grows up a well-raised, athletic, and very smart little girl.
The highlight of Sarang’s House segments isn’t just about her learning her Korean side and meeting the rest of her relatives (from Sung-Hoon’s parents and sister in Osaka to Shiho’s mom, 90-year-old energetic grandma, her younger brother, and Sarang’s very pretty older cousin, Yume-chan), but also the ongoing shoujo manga-esque relationship with her best friend/boyfriend (?) named Yuto-kun. They laugh, they fight, they make up, they play, they compete, and yes, they kiss LOL.
Here are some of my favorite Sarang-Yuto moments. This video is when Yuto and his mom visited the Choos in Korea while they were having their summer vacation. Yuto himself got introduced to the Korean experience and even began learning how to speak Korean too. This can only mean one thing.
The two promised that they would marry at age 17 in Hawaii. Sung-Hoon seems okay with it, but also believed that Yuto’s head is a little big LOL.
This one was Sarang’s and Yuto’s first experience in the Japanese bamboo sword-fencing martial art, Kendo.
… and of course, their duel against each other in Kendo LOL.
And finally, Sarang’s birthday song for Yuto. ちょう～可愛いね～！ (Chou~kawaii ne~!)6
The funniest thing about this series is that, although it is a Korean show, I actually learned and refreshed in my Japanese and really learned a whole lot more about how Japanese kids were being raised. It seems that the way they were portrayed in a lot of shoujo manga (or any other manga anyway) about little children speaking so maturely is true. Again, if you do take the time to watch, you’ll see what I mean.
Of course, I’ve learned quite a lot about the Korean culture and picked up a bit of the language from this show too. The English subtitles are there, but without the subtitles, I could probably still be able to pick up Korean from the Japanese that the Choos speak on a daily basis.
One thing I am a bit worried about though. Shiho wants Sarang to be as pure and delicate as most (Japanese) girls, while Sung-Hoon wants her to get more active, as in sports. On the “Sarang’s Song” video, she refers to herself using boku (I), which is the Japanese male version of watashi (formal version of “I.” The informal male version is ore.) She must have picked the boku a lot from Sung-Hoon and Yuto, seeing how close she is to them.
A sad ending is that Sarang and the Choo Family already left The Return of Superman and back to their normal private lives again as of March 2016. Eventually, Sarang will start attending elementary school in Japan, in which as far as I know of, Japan is very serious when it comes to the privacy of their own people. I learned that many Japanese were shocked to see Korea having a reality show featuring children of their celebrities, as Japan is very serious in protecting their celebrities’ children from the public eye and the paparazzi. Choo Sung-Hoon/Yoshihiro Akiyama is a very renowned and respected celebrity in his home country more than he is a celebrity in South Korea, but it seems his popularity rose over there, thanks to this show.
And I wish the Choos the best in their careers and their family life. And to my message to Sarang-chan: サランちゃんの未来に頑張ってね！(Good luck in your future, Sarang-chan!)
- I know some of these so-called Koreaboos would be offended for me for saying this, but sorry it’s true… [↩]
- Korean Broadcasting Corporation [↩]
- in South Korea and all other countries [↩]
- mixed martial arts [↩]
- he faced harsh racism from his own race when he won the gold medal in Judo, with one South Korean judge stating that a “pure Korean” (a Korean born and raised in South Korea) should deserve the gold medal instead. [↩]
- How cute! [↩]