Pilot episode of Lee Hyo-ri's 'Seoul Check-In' leaves viewers wanting more
After the successful launch of the pilot episode of Tving’s new reality show “Seoul Check-In,” which centers around singer Lee Hyo-ri and her travels in Seoul, regular episodes will be available starting this Friday.
After the pilot was released in January, the show immediately shot to No. 1 on the streaming platform’s list of most popular shows and the total number of paid Tving subscribers tripled over the three days after its premiere.
The pilot centered around the singer who comes to Seoul to perform with dancers from Mnet’s dance survival program “Street Woman Fighter” (2021) for the 2021 Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA).
“Seoul Check-In” marks producer Kim Tae-ho’s first show since he left local broadcaster MBC in January. He is best known for “Infinite Challenge” (2005-18) and “Hangout With Yoo” (2019-).
“We were uncertain whether or not we should launch a pilot when we decided to film Lee Hyo-ri,” Kim said at an online press event Wednesday. “We decided to film her as she prepared for her MAMA performance and she stayed in singer Uhm Jung-hwa’s home. She was comfortable with this idea so we [the production staff] decided to exclude our interference and had the camera only focus on her. As we edited the footage we thought this was good content, but we didn’t want it to lose relevance with the timing. So we discussed this with Tving and decided to showcase a pilot first. It was new for me to decide if the show would become a regular after we saw how people responded to the pilot.”
Kim said his plans for the show changed once the pilot aired.
“One of the reviews that I remember about the pilot was, ‘I think this is the strength of Lee Hyo-ri. The show is entertaining even when she’s not speaking,” he said. “From the standpoint of an observer, she is the hottest and most trendy diva, [but as we focused the camera on her] she seemed to feel awkward and different [from the rest of the crowd] in Seoul. That was really interesting to us, so we decided to highlight that side of her in our show. When the emotions that she feels in Seoul contrast with the fast-changing city view of Seoul, she seemed lonely. When we first titled the show ‘Seoul Check-In,’ we [only] focused on the concept that Lee was staying in Seoul for a night at someone else’s residence, but as we filmed the pilot, we could see that visiting Seoul itself was like ‘checking in’ for Lee. So we decided to film various sides of Seoul.”
One of the scenes that went viral online was the conversation between two divas, Lee and Uhm, as she stays the night in Uhm’s home. Kim said that the scene particularly brings out the charm the singer holds over the public.
“As Lee and Uhm consoled each other, I felt that the viewers were also consoled,” he said. “I think that the viewers also seek comfort through Lee and her conversations with others. Although she’s a superstar who's always in the spotlight, it consoles people that she feels the same things that other people feel.
“I believe that Lee also goes back to Jeju Island feeling comforted,” he said. “Although she used to be the hottest superstar, because she lived on Jeju for the last eight years, she feels distance between herself and the city. But as she stays the night in Seoul, I think that she also feels that distance isn’t too far.”
The producer also gave hints about what’s to come in the following episodes.
“We’ve filmed up to Episode 5,” he said. “The show mostly follows Lee during her schedules in Seoul and the people that she wants to meet, and those she has to meet. Lee personally contacted our first guest of the show because she was curious about the person. The latest episode that we filmed had Lee come to Seoul with her friends from Jeju. I think that the viewers will be just as entertained to see an another side of the singer as she hangs out with her friends.”
BY LEE JAE-LIM [email@example.com]