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The Weekend Binge: "Young Actors' Retreat"

Producing Director (PD) Kim Sung-yoon's ambitious project, Young Actors’ Retreat (2022), is an eight-episode TVING k-variety show that brings together the casts of his three k-dramas, namely, Love in the Moonlight (2016), Itaewon Class (2020), and The Sound of Magic (2022).

GwenchaNoona | The Weekend Binge: "Young Actors' Retreat" featuring the cast of "Love in the Moonlight," "Itaewon Class," and "The Sound of Magic"

Photos from My Drama List

The Plot

For three full days in Boryeong, Chungcheongnam-do, Young Actors’ Retreat reunited 15 of the main actors from PD Kim Sung-yoon's three dramas. The first day was set up for meet-and-greet and ended with "horror training," a nighttime haunted school challenge. Next, the actors got to choose whether they wanted to just chill at a hanok (traditional Korean house) base camp or fill their day with outdoor activities such as zip lining by the sea. Both groups then reunited at Daecheon Beach for an entertaining round of "flying chairs," where a participant is ejected from his seat into the pool as an unwitting guest makes a particular gesture or says a certain phrase.

In between major activities were fun games but with consequences—winners were given the highest budget for meals, served the most sumptuous dinner, or provided the largest grocery money for their tent bar ingredients. On the last day, the actors served 100 customers for free from three food carts, one for each k-drama cast, thus ending the retreat by showing gratitude to their fans.

The Review

Young Actors’ Retreat is part-fan service and part-"plot to lure k-drama fans into k-variety.” The ambitious undertaking successfully locked in the schedules of top actors (save for Kim Da-mi of Itaewon Class who had a schedule conflict) of not just one, but three, TV series! This is truly unprecedented.

GwenchaNoona | The Weekend Binge: "Young Actors' Retreat"

Photos from Soompi

Fans were treated to the raw reactions and off-screen personae of different actors. The lone female team captain Kim Yoo-jung has a good sense of direction, organization, and management. Park Bo-gum is considerate of the crew and is adorable as a big eater. The haunted school activity revealed Ji Chang-wook's fearlessness but exposed Hwang In-yeop's fearfulness—making both of them more endearing. Unlike most actors on the first day, Ahn Bo-hyun initiated conversations with actors from other dramas since he joined the retreat late. Lastly, the food truck activity demanded leadership skills, and Park Seo-joon effortlessly delivered, steering the Danbam team back to recovery. All of them showed great teamwork in providing meals to their fans, one of whom exclaimed in excitement that they act well, look good, and cook well—life is unfair!

GwenchaNoona | The Weekend Binge: "Young Actors' Retreat"

Photos from My Drama List

It was surprising to find out that many of them are introverts. While cast members remained close many months or years after their k-drama ended, they were awkward at their first meeting around actors from another TV series. But after many mixed-group activities, they got closer to one another. The show’s alternate title, Youth MT (where “MT” stands for “Membership Training,” a Korean expression that refers to a retreat for relaxation, group activities, and bonding) is an apt description of how their friendship developed during their three-day stay in Boryeong.

GwenchaNoona | The Weekend Binge: "Young Actors' Retreat"

Screenshots from Viu

Throughout the eight hours of the show, scenes from the k-dramas were referenced as needed to provide context to those who haven’t watched or have forgotten the relevant scene. Some tracks from the k-drama OSTs were also played, but "The Fairy Tale of Youth" by Jongho (ATEEZ) from the Young Actors’ Retreat OST is catchy in itself, reflecting the youthful energy and upbeat mood of the show. Finally, the most entertaining aspect of it all is that many activities had unexpected outcomes, similar to the twists viewers enjoyed in their dramas.

Available on Viu

Stream If: You want to see most or all of the casts of Love in the Moonlight, Itaewon Class, and The Sound of Magic together in a more relaxed setting.

Skip If: You are not a fan of these k-dramas or if you like extreme games in your k-variety shows.

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