Its not often I have to put a disclaimer at the beginning of an article I’m writing, but I’m sure that I will get some sort of feedback about what I am about to write. So please do read this little paragraph as an introduction as to the reason of what I am writing. I do not have children of my own, I do not have siblings as I am a single child, but I have cared for babies as young as three weeks old up to the age of 16. I understand I do not know what it is like to be a parent, but based on my experiences and on my own observations I will make my own thoughts and conclusions. This is in no way the thoughts of others at JaK Wave, nor that of the general public.
“Return Of Superman” is a KBS reality TV show that airs on Sunday’s and is fully available with English subtitles on the KBS World TV Youtube channel. The basis of the show is to watch Korean celebrities bringing up their children like they would in daily life, but there is a slight catch – Only the fathers will be looking after the children for 48 hours with no help from their partners. It sounds easy doesn’t it, looking after your own children and loving every moment of it. But as time goes on it becomes apparent that the work the mothers do 24/7 is a lot more than what the fathers do. Within the first few episodes there are tears galore as the children try to get used to the idea of their mums not being around for 2 whole days, sure they phone them and do facetime and such, but its not the same as having living flesh and blood to cling onto for security. As time goes on the fathers usually hit a wall in which they hit a realization point on just how much work it is to handle the children whilst their wives are working, and if I may say, I think this is the reason I like the show so much, it’s not just about the cute children and babies, its not about the celebrity status of the family, nor is it about how they raise their children. For me its about a TV show finally showing exactly what its like to be a stay at home mother, whilst the husband goes out and works, socializes and then comes home to be a father. For once a TV show within Korea, and possibly around the world, is finally showing that there are hardships as a parent, its not all smiles and roses. Though another factor is seeing how different their parenting skills are in Korea compared to that in Europe or the Western world, and this is one of the points I will be touching upon later on in the article.
Now let me introduce you to the families and give you a little of my thoughts about them as a family, their impact on the show and my thoughts about their parenting ways. First up we have Lee Hwi Jae and his non celebrity wife Moon Jeong Won along with his twins Lee Seojun and Lee Seoeon. Out of all of the families for me I feel Hwi Jae is the person who has fully grasped the whole meaning of the show. There is a moment half way through filming the series where he had a really rough day, the twins were teething and would cry constantly, he couldn’t get any time to himself and he was completely worn out. He had one baby sleeping on his back in a snug, and another in the front, they were finally quiet but he could not sit down or stop moving otherwise they would wake up. At that point tears began to fall and he began to sob, and in a private interview where the director asked him why he cried he said the words every woman with a child wanted to hear, It’s not easy to bring up a child; it’s not easy being a stay at home mum”. For me this recognition completely won me over (though I was already sold by the sheer cuteness of the children) and when he continued to express his love and recognition of what his wife has to do – juggling teething babies whilst tidying the house, preparing everything ready for when he got back home, cooking dinner – it was then that he realized what every single parent, every wife, every mother has to go through this.
We then have MMA fighter Choo Sung Hoon and his Japanese celebrity model wife Shiho Yano along with their three year old daughter Choo Sarang. In the K-pop and Korean entertainment world Choo Sarang has taken them over by storm and become more of a celebrity than her parents. Now I love the little girl, she is entertaining and fun, but this is where I get a little controversial. My love for her is not the best as I think people are over-glamorising her; when she is shouting or doing things I see as a behavioural problem, it seems the world see’s it as the cutest thing and are encouraging it. She is a cutie and seeing her as she is growing has been a delight, and something I adore seeing, but at times I do wish her parents would tell her “no, that’s naughty” more or at least discipline the child in a light matter. Another thing I would like to see if more child interaction with Sarang, she is indeed a very clingy and heavily dependent child who has show signs of anti-social behaviour from shying away from other children, to not joining in with activities. But like I said not all is bad with the Choo family; they love their daughter and that’s damn obvious, they are good parents, but i feel they just need a little guidance, and not to mention I’m a slight fan girl for Shiho as she has one of the best personalities within the series.
In similar fashion to Sarang, rapper Tablo and actress Kang Hye Jung’s daughter Haru has gained more fame than her rapper dad and actress mum. I have to say in a non-biased mind that Haru is one of my favourite children of the series. She is bright, funny, has a mean sense of humour and is more thoughtful and mature than many adults I know. She is adored by many famous and non-famous people around the world and has one of the best relationships with her parents I have seen in a long time. Something that I love about this family is how openly loving they are of each other, yet how they feel they can and will discipline Haru if she has been naughty, whether in public or on camera, if Haru has been bad they will tell her off. Its also nice to see parents telling their child off in a non-hostile way such as not shouting, grabbing or smacking their child. It seems they like to use the approach of taking the child out of the situation, explaining why they have been removed, what they have done wrong, what not to do, and what the consequence of their actions could lead to. With Haru being extremely bright and loving her animals (especially her fish – she dreams to become a fish one day!) there are times I forget she is just a child and that she isn’t an adult, at four years old she has more personality than most of the people you see on British TV, her talents as well range from writing her own songs, music and even acting and being a comedian. I am interested to see if Tablo and Hye Jung allow her into the celebrity life style, and if they do I do wonder what she will be as it seems to me her options are open far and wide.
Lastly is a new family with a non-celebrity wife Jeong Seung Yeon, actor Song Il Kook is the head of the house who has to share his time on air with triplets. you have Daehan who is cheeky yet cute, he likes to explore and doesn’t cause too much trouble though he is known for playing rough with his brother Manse who is a little devil at times, but ultimately a great child who likes to explore and is always asking questions about how things work. And lastly we have Minguk who is one sassy little boy, and possibly the most mature out of the babies. As with Haru, I tend to forget the age of these babies because their temperaments are that of adults, and at the age of two these boys are the epitome of split personalities. What I love about this family is the way Il Kook handles the children when they are naughty, or when they are together. His wife moans at him for being rough, but when you watch the videos and see how much these children laugh and play well, I cannot fault them at all. A personal favourite moment for me is feeding time, watching the boys climb their own chairs and waiting patiently for the dinner is beautiful.
On a whole the series really opened my eyes to the difference between the way westerners raise their children and the way Koreans do. The show has done wonders for the celebrities who are featured on the show and has bought them a lot of new fans who would have possibly misjudged them before hand. Although you can see parts where everything is scripted, like going to specialist places or putting the child or family in a position to see how they would react, one thing I can say is that there is no way you can stage what the children are doing. I also feel that at a young age Korean children are so more advanced than western children, they seem more aware and are treated like little adults rather than children. The show also brings out the inner child of the parents and shows a small portion of a behind the scenes look of the actors, actresses, MMA fighter, MC and singers lives which they don’t share on the stage. If you haven’t already I recommend you watch the series, and start it from the beginning to make sure you hit some of those amazing and sometimes emotional moments.
If you already watch the series, please comment below with your thoughts about the families, the show and how you feel it differs from the western standards of raising a child.