Cast of Gold: A Review of Barefoot Friends

I like it. I really do. Inconsistent premise aside (hey-we all have growing pains) this is one show I will be watching again. April 21st marked the premiere of SBS’s Sunday variety show Barefoot Friends. The show airs prior to Running Man and promises to be an entertaining block of programming leading up to the Sunday night ratings winner.

Cast 1

With only one episode airing as of this post it is difficult to form a complete opinion on the show-but so far I like what I see. The first episode has raised my hopes- the cast chemistry was evident (my biggest requirement for an enjoyable variety) and the challenges were fun. On to the lineup! Cheers!

The Cast

Kang Ho Dong

Kang Ho Dong (42)

Occupation: MC (1 Night 2 Days, Strong Heart, Kneedrop Guru)

This man is a variety legend in Korea- he ties with Yoo Jae Suk for the title of nation’s MC. A former wrestler turned comedian, I am always enthralled by his exuberance for everything. And I mean everything. Barefoot Friends is one of KHD’s comeback programs; he took an extended break from the entertainment industry due to tax issues. Loud and boisterous this man never fails to make me smile- he has an infectious laugh. A master of the variety genre look to KHD to steer the other cast members in the right direction (hilariously of course).

Kim Hyun joong

Kim Hyun joong (26)

Occupation: Rapper (SS501)/ Actor (Boys over Flowers)

Meet the handsome perfect guy of Barefoot Friends. Hyun Joong has appeared as a guest on multiple variety shows- this is his first time as a fixed cast member. In the first episode we got a glimpse of his method of over complicated and confusing speech as well as his good natured optimism. Plus its Almost Paradise played a lot. And I liked it.

Yoon Jung shin

Yoon Jung shin (43)

Occupation: Singer / Songwriter

Jung Shin has appeared in variety before- he was a fixed cast member on the now defunct program Family Outing (featuring Kim Jong Kook and Yoo Jae Suk) and appeared on Golden Fishery / Kneedrop Guru with Kang Ho Dong. The Ji Suk Jin of this program- the hilarious underdog with variety skills aplenty- Jung Shin promises entertaining moments to come.

Yoon Shi Yoon

Yoon Shi yoon (26)

Occupation: Actor (Flower Boy Next Door, King of Baking)

Puppy….awww puppy. Okay, I am done. I promise. Barefoot Friends is YSY’s first foray into the variety world- apparently not one to be shy he decided becoming a fixed cast member was the best introduction. Huzzah! In the first episode viewers glimpsed his dedication and drive to succeed (in an Enrique like adorkable way).

 Kim Bum Su

Kim Bum soo (34)

Occupation: Ballad singer

I know KBS as the singer of the theme song for the drama hit Stairway to Heaven. After watching him on Barefoot Friends I had to do a little research, he is the cast member I know the least about. According to the internet (which as we know is never wrong) Bum Soo was the first Korean artist to appear on the Billboard Hot 100 (with his song Hello Goodbye Hello). I trust you internet because I have never heard that song. Bum Soo gives off a hilariously out of the box way of thinking in episode one.


Uee (25)

Occupation: Singer (After School)

As the solo female member of the cast, Uee has big shoes to fill (the only-girl-in-the-show role requires a certain personality, at least for this genre and in this watcher’s opinion). With such dynamic variety stars as Lee Hyori and Song Ji Hyo paving the way Uee has a sweetly honest charm that I believe will fit well in the outdoors- hardcore- challenge variety world. I have always enjoyed watching her on other variety programs and I have no doubt she has what it takes to make a memorable mark on this show.

Yoo Se yoon

Yoo Se yoon (32)

Occupation: Comedian (Kneedrop Guru)

Debuting during an episode of Gag Concert in 1999, Se Yoon has appeared on a multitude of comedic programming. I have enjoyed his spots on Kneedrop Guru (with fellow Barefoot Friends cast member Kang Ho Dong) and Idol Maknae Rebellion (which I highly recommend for the WTF factor). In episode one Se Yoon lived up to his funnyman image with colorful commentary worthy of his sarcastic outlook on life.


Eunhyuk (27)

Occupation: Singer / Dancer (Super Junior)

Eunhyuk is a regular on the variety circuit  (and a member of the ever popular group Super Junior). One thing I love about Eunhyuk is his endearingly dorky moments- which appear in the first episode with charm (true to his past variety appearances, ahem Strong Heart). Sure of his popularity, but not so sure that he is annoying, you can consider this cast member the token idol.

The Premise

Promoted as real outdoor hardship variety (whatever that means) Barefoot Friends has thus far shown a rocky premise. But I am okay with that. I will cut the newbie some slack, after all Infinite Challenge was not created in one episode. While the promotional materials for this show were ingeniously vague the first episode teased a live-the-hard-life premise and then gave us a guided travel show. It is apparent that BF has to figure out what it is trying to do- but that is okay. Figure out away.

The first episode gave us these tidbits of direction:

  • The cast is sent to a location unknown to them
  • They must face a challenge. The first episode challenged them to live “like a local” and earn the funds equivalent to the location’s residents’ average monies earned per day.
  • The PDs give a helping hand in steering the cast towards lodgings and giving them jobs; negating the feeling of total helplessness.


Cast 2

This is one promising cast. With a good mix of variety veterans ( Kang Ho Dong, Yoon Jung shin, Yoo Se yoon) and rookies (Yoon Shi yoon, Uee, Kim Bum soo, Kim Hyun joong) the cast chemistry features a mixture of teaching, learning, and outright funny that I love. The cast makes the show in variety land and the first episode of Barefoot Friends did not disappoint- the airport greeting alone had some awesome interactions between the cast.

Cast 4Cast 5

While the premise is busy working itself out I am enjoying the show thus far- with one caveat. I hate the split-into-two-teams dynamic. Perhaps my opinions are formed by shows I have watched in the past (probably) but I have a hard time getting onboard with the entire cast if they are separated during their initial figure-out-the-show period. I would love to see a challenge with all eight of the cast members. I think that would give viewers a better idea of how they all fit together in variety land.

I am excited to see where this show goes. The setup is something that could be expanded on infinitely to great effect. Travel, hardship, and a great cast make me want to keep watching. I hope that this show does not fall into a poorly defined sinkhole (which is a threat, due to the uncertain trajectory). If it does I will still look back and fondly remember Yoon Shi yoon’s first appearance as a variety regular. Not that I am biased or anything. No, not at all….


6 thoughts on “Cast of Gold: A Review of Barefoot Friends

    • Kang Ho Dong is hit and miss for me- when he is spot on he is spot on. Sometimes I cannot stand his exuberance. For the most part I like him when he does not beat the funny to death (so far so good in this show. His comeback shows have tended to display a less in your face version of KHD- if that is possible). I am really enjoying Yoon Shi yoon and Kim Hyun joong- as a drama fan I like seeing these two make the sojourn into variety. Only time will tell if BF lives up to its potential 🙂

  1. Don’t concentrate on KHD if you don’t like him.

    There is plenty to enjoy with all the members of Barefoot Friends. Eunhyuk translating for Hyun joong (from Korean to Korean is a hoot). HY rattles on and Eunhyuk abbreviates what he says. Bum Soo, Se Yoon and Jung Shin are hilarious and lost most of the time. Shi Yoon has lost little puppy eyes and the scruffiest hair. He is a hard worker, and a shrewd business person. When he gets underpaid he runs after his client to get paid correctly (I almost died laughing when he saw he had gotten “stiffed” and instead of 100,000 dong he was paid 10,000). Eunhyuk is such a sweety that he did not charge his client because he had gotten lost. Ohhhh! 😉 UEE is bland in this episode, but justice be done, the format is totally new. KHD speaking Vietnamese/Korean English to make himself understood is hilarious. The Vietnamese did not understand him needless to say but I doubt many Koreans and
    English speaking persons would either. He may be the most experienced, but he’s letting everyone shine on their own and not trying to be the big cheese.

    I’m looking forward to episode 2, so just forget about Boys Over Flowers Hyun joong and Flower Boy Next Door Shi yoon and I’m sure you’ll enoy the ride. Many will be surprised when they see the new versions of these two stars, and I for one enjoy the more human side of all the members.

    Have fun!

    • I agree- I love Eunhyuk’s translating abilities and KHD’s Korean / English communication split. I am still of the opinion that time will tell in regards to this show- but I have high hopes that this variety will hit its stride and do great things. One note, I cannot forget about BOF Hyun joong and FBND Shi yoon- but I will always appreciate seeing the more authentic side of these actors via BF 🙂

  2. Have watched all five episodes and love it. It’s nice to see these guys/gal working so well together. I am looking forward to the next episode with anticipation. By the way, love Kim Hyun Joong’s even more than before. He seems to be growing into a nice young man.

  3. I completely learned something new about Korean music today.
    It’s pretty amazing to see how the Kpop industry can be so widespread and venturing off to other sections
    other than music. It’s so strange to see these people start off as just Kpop rookies and seeing them reach this
    point. Totally amazed.

Ramble On...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s