Isip: Hyori’s Homestay and the Curation of Guests

I’ve been riding the Hallyu wave over this quarantine period and aside from binge-watching K-pop variety shows, I was fortunate to watch a very wholesome show called “Hyori’s Homestay” aka “Hyori’s Bed and Breakfast.” After months of finishing it, there is something about the show that I just can’t help but write about.

It only has two seasons so I resisted the strong urge to finish an entire season in less than a day. I decided to digest it longer by only watching one episode daily. That gave me a good chance to really enjoy and reflect on each one in just the right pace. I’d recommend this tactic for watching a series because it worked quite well for me.

Our main characters for season 1 || Photo from JTBC

Anyway, this isn’t meant to be a review, but I highly recommend the show for those looking for something new to watch. It’s a reality show where K-pop legend Lee Hyori and her husband, Lee Sangsoon open up their private residence in Jeju island to the public as a homestay. In every episode they have to deal with guests from different walks of life and provide them with the best “vacation experience” they can.

There are already loads of reviews online that can better articulate why it resonates to me, so I recommend you read them here, here, and here. It’s the perfect show to live the good life vicariously, and also as a change of pace especially to people like me living the fast-paced city life.

But what I wanna discuss here is my most important takeaway from the show. Aside from the usual lessons (be a good person, we need a break every once in a while, everyone is different, celebrities are people too) that this show tries to imprint on it viewers, there’s something that I haven’t heard mentioned yet.

It’s the lesson of curating the people that you let in your life.

Obviously, this is a show. It has cameras everywhere so people tend to be on their best behavior at all times. But aside from this, there was also an audition process that was made to determine the people that will be staying over at Hyori’s house. This was only glossed over in the first episode, but it was this crucial process that determined the success and entertainment value of the entire series.

I loved that there was no conflict in the show at all, aside from the internal feelings of Hyori, Sangsoon, and the guest helpers, IU, Yoona, and Park Bogum. And even then, the conflicts are about their different experiences as celebrities and the fears and worries they carry. But in the end, they are able to confide in each other and find a temporary relief through the show.

Hyori teaching IU some basic Yoga positions || Photo from JTBC

The guests themselves (ranging from an elderly couple to young siblings, from surfer dudes to archeologists, and more) are able to live harmoniously together. In a sense, Hyori’s Bed and Breakfast became a perfect microcosm for an ideal life that I would like to live. People from different walks of life coming together to enjoy Soju and samgyupsal over a campfire in the most beautiful island in Korea? Count me in!

New friends, good meat, cold alcohol, warm fire || Photo from JTBC

And so, herein comes the importance of the audition process. I’m sure that a chance to get into Hyori’s personal living area would attract all kinds of people. But somehow, the show was able to give guests that are interesting, funny, wholesome, and most of all, kindhearted.

Now, the reality we live in is that not everyone we meet wants the best for us. Our world is not as perfect as a TV show. But we can always take the time to hold a small “audition” in our heads where we take note of the people that we give access to our time, resources, and life in general. Pretend that your peace of mind is your own personal homestay and curate those that you would let in.

Of course, this doesn’t mean shutting yourself completely from everyone. There is one scene in the series where Sangsoon and Hyori help out a stranger whose car gets stuck in ice during the harsh Jeju winter. This wasn’t a scripted event and the guy they helped wasn’t even a guest. Not to mention that helping might have even caused the taping to be delayed. But Sangsoon still offered to help. This is also an important lesson. If you can, be kind to everyone.

This advice is in no way easy, but that is why it is all the more important to be reminded that we are capable of doing this. This will never be just a one-time process. People change over time. Some guests in our homestay may become more toxic as time passes, or vice-versa where people we refused a space have shown themselves to be better than they were before. We might get a point in our life where there is a sudden influx of guests, or there might be a time when there are no guests at all!

And another thing: We might not have the star power of Lee Hyori, but it’s also important that we take care of our personal homestay. Hyori and Sangsoon modified their house to accommodate their guests, even to the point of sleeping in their music studio. They bought a lot of things to make sure the guests are comfortable and even rented out a camper van at one point. Sangsoon had to drive some guests around and even pick them up from the airport. So it isn’t just a one-way street when it comes to letting people in. We must also take care of the people inside it. Make sure your homestay is always in the condition you are satisfied with. And put some effort so that your homestay attracts the kind of guests you want. Remember that you are not only the owner, but also the caretaker.

Park Bogum and Yoona cleaning the dishes || Photo from JTBC

Our life isn’t just two seasons. Nor is it a show that’s been carefully planned out and scripted. But it can be curated. We can choose the people to let in our homestay. Especially in the times we are in right now, it is all the more important to protect and cultivate our personal space. And whether people actually want to be guests in our homestay, that is also up to us.

That’s about it for now. I really recommend that you watch the show. It’s the best show to watch when winding down. Each episode is long (1 hour and 20 minutes in average), but that’s just the right amount to spend when you’re looking for an escape. And if you do watch it and find some other things that I haven’t mentioned, let me know. I’d love to discuss the show with others.

Season 2 now has SNSD’s Yoona as the celebrity helper || Photo from JTBC

Let your homestay grow to be the one you want.
Stay safe and be kind.

Here’s a drawing of Samsik, Hyori’s pet cat that you will see (and fall in love with) when you watch the show.


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