Dad, Where Are You Going? – season 1 (review)

When this show first aired a year ago, the producers and the cast themselves weren’t expecting it to garner the amount of attention it has today. Two months back, DWAYG earned itself a Daesang at the MBC Entertainment Awards. I think the real reason this show clicked with so many viewers was not just the trips and the father-child relationships but the kids themselves. They were undoubtedly the stars of this show; they said what they wanted to say and never worried about charming the audience. The kind of sweet, innocent things those kids say never fail to make the viewers laugh.

The concept of the show is for dads to travel all over the country (and out of it, in some episodes) with their kids, experiencing new things together and attempting to have a better relationship with them. The dads were all part of the entertainment industry or famous people so it was rather interesting to see them be like any other parent who loves and cares for his kids. I went in because I was curious about Sung Dong-il and Lee Jong-hyuk since they were the only faces I knew but I was pretty much in love with all the dads at the end of the season.

Things felt a little awkward between the dads at first and the “activities” for the first couple of trips were somewhat lame, in my opinion. I remember starting to really enjoy the show around the fifteenth episode so it gets better early on. By that time, the roles have been established -who cooks best, who does the MCing, the evil ahjussi- and the dads had better rapport with each other. I think the initial awkwardness is inevitable when you throw five people who don’t really know each other well together on a trip somewhere but, by the end of the show, they felt like actual friends or at least people who get along really well.

Clockwise, starting from top-right picture: Sung Joon, Yoon Hoo, Lee Jun-su & Song Ji-ah, and Kim Min-gook

Hoo and Jun-su were my personal favorites though the kids were all lovable. Hoo sometimes talks like a much older boy (though I have a feeling he doesn’t really understand what he’s saying half the time) and is so sweet-natured and thoughtful you can’t help but love him. Jun-su is the kid who is always daydreaming, who is so involved in the process of building whole universes in his head (or pondering the meaning of life, who knows?) he’s often out of the conversations going around him. He had the best relationship with his dad, Lee Jong-hyuk, from the beginning in that his dad often played with him and attempted to draw him out of his thoughts.

I thought Kim Min-gook was the biggest crybaby and it made things worse for him that the other kids did not cry as often as he did in the show. He was pretty spoiled at first and my least favorite. It’s granted that kids cry a lot but it felt more like a knee-jerk reaction to him in order to get what he wants. As the year wore on, he matured a lot and fully embraced his position as the eldest of the kids and their leader. I feel like that bit of responsibility (taking care of the kids when they were out scavenging/shopping for food) made him mature positively.

Joon, on the other hand, was Min-gook’s polar opposite. He rarely cried or showed what he’s feeling, and although he’s around Hoo’s age, he displayed a remarkable maturity–so much that the editors of the show nicknamed him ‘Seonbi’, which means ‘scholar’.  But the rare moments when his shield did crack and he let his frustration and tears show, it made me think, “Ah, that’s right. He’s only a child after all”. I feel like he was the kid who showed the least of his true feelings among the five.

Lastly, Ji-ah. Ji-ah was the only girl in the show and who was unwittingly involved in multiple love triangles that kept shifting with her ever-changing feelings. Her dad is also the living, textbook-definition of what a girl’s daddy means. On their last trip together in the show, when asked who he wanted as his son-in-law among the four boys to be, daddy Jong-gook chose Min-gook (the ex-crybaby) because he thought he would be the easiest for Ji-ah to control. I am not kidding. Throughout the season, she’s often been carried and toted around by her dad, and  one of the show’s most painful of all scenes to watch was when he had to hike through a mountain with a seven year old girl in his arm. Ouch. Still, although she has a nasty temper when evoked and hates separating from her dad to the point of tears, she’s also sweet and charming and likes to help around.

And thus ends my long-winded review and the first season. I can’t wait to watch season two with the old and new cast.

I leave you with a ridiculous but funny parody of the show done by 2PM (though our scholar Joon is missing):

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