The footage of Conan O’Brien’s visit to South Korea aired in an hour long special episode of his show on April 9th. The episode featured Conan having cultural experiences including food, shopping at a fish market and starring in a Kpop video with JYP himself, all while being helped along with a series of increasingly unhelpful yet adorable tour guides.
It all started with a letter that Conan received from a fan in South Korea, Sunny Lee, who wrote that she had been watching episodes of his show online rather than studying for university entrance exams. She also included local snacks—which is a good way to get anyone’s attention. Conan then decided to visit South Korea so that he could thank her personally. During the trip, Conan took over the Teamcoco Instagram keeping fans updated on his adventures and promised to show the footage on his show. I had expected to see the tidbits of the trip in a montage video of sorts as a part of one of his regular weeknight episodes, but no. They decided to make it an hour long episode all its own.
The special began with Conan’s arrival at the airport and being greeted by a ton of fans. He greeted them, signed autographs, accepted gifts and met the fan that made it all happen. By the look on his face when he walked out of the gate, I think that he may have been surprised at the number of people wanting to welcome him to South Korea. Conan greeted the crowd in Korean through a megaphone and even cracked a joke about needing a shower after his flight.
Next up Conan attempts to learn Korean, which proved to not be an easy task. The tutor tells him that his hand movements are “dirty” and after she tells him he is weird, he asks if she looked him up online as he makes a living being weird. It’s only after he fails to write his own name on the first try, that he is told that no one would be able to teach him Korean. In the end, they remained friends, even if she felt that he held onto her hand too long during their handshake. She then takes him to a fish market where he interacts with the people selling the seafood and even purchases a new friend: an octopus that he named Samuel. Sadly, Samuel could not come to the U.S., and so Conan donated him to an aquarium where he also found out that Samuel was in fact female. Good thing that “Sam” can also be short for Samantha!
Conan also experienced trash talking online players (and snacks that he joked were “whatever was found during low tide”) while trying PC games at a gaming café. He was given a crash course in taekwondo, where he was treated to an incredible demonstration by the class and he was even able to break five boards by the end of the hour. Almost without flinching.
The Walking Dead star Steven Yeun joined him and the two enjoyed an authentic Korean meal. Conan trusted that Steven would be able to tell him what each dish was and, unfortunately, that did not happen as planned. He gave Steven a hard time stating that he was to be his ambassador for the trip and the two spent the rest of the time figuring out the dishes together while Steven joked that he didn’t know the dishes, it was just what his mother made.
During the trip, Conan and Steven visited the border between North and South Korea. There were jokes made, such as Conan stating that one of the North Korean guards was staring at them because he was a fan of Conan and also The Walking Dead. The one thing that I really enjoyed about the special is that Conan took time to address facts such as the fact that the two sides are still at war, but under a cease fire, so there are only certain areas where officials meet together. In one of these buildings, Conan interviews Steven while on the North Korean side of the border. He mentions that while they have been joking around, it is a very big thing that they are able to speak freely while in North Korea, something that many are not able to do today.
How could Conan visit South Korea without partaking in the entertainment that we fans know and love? Not only did he share the screen with Jang Na Ra in an episode of One More Happy Ending, but he was also in a kpop video with JYP. The footage of him on the drama showed Conan being made into a goldfish and also smiling as he repeatedly had to be coached on the pronunciation of his lines and he seemed to be having a great time. I think he did a great job—he definitely did a better job that I would have done.
Conan learning kpop and meeting JYP proved to be the headliner to the special. The two had to have had a blast together with their personalities. Conan not only learned all about the kpop industry first hand, but he and Steven also learned choreography, were fitted for costumes (where he quipped that the industry was not used to someone with his leg length) and starred in the video for “Fire” alongside Wonder Girls and TWICE. The video premiered on the episode.
Seeing Conan (and Steven) doing kpop dances and wearing eyeliner was the icing on the cake that was this episode. I loved that he really embraced so many aspects of the culture. He was his typical self in that he made jokes for the show, but he was respectful to the people and fans that he met along the way.
What do you think? Did you see the episode of One More Happy Ending? Did you see Conan’s special? You can view it on the Teamcoco website if you missed it when it aired. Be sure to check out the video for “Fire” below and let us know what you think in the comments!