[Herald Review] ‘Non-summit’ sees fresh change of pace

By KH디지털2

Further cultural insight, nuanced discussions and more laughs brought with six newcomers

  • Published : Jul 7, 2015 - 18:10
  • Updated : Jul 7, 2015 - 18:14

Popular JTBC variety talk show “Non-Summit” welcomed six new cast members into its fold Monday, marking a new beginning for the show with more cultural diversity and loaded discussions.

The new cast members -- Andreas Varsakopoulos (Greece), Nikolai Johnsen (Norway), Przemyslaw Krompiec (Poland), Carlos Gorito (Brazil), Yuta Nakamoto (Japan) and Sami el-Baz (Egypt) -- proved to be a multitalented bunch, introducing fresh insights into different cultures and displaying entertaining personal skills. 

Promotional image for "Non-Summit" (JTBC)

“Non-Summit,” which features a panel of men from different countries who debate social and cultural issues in Korean, announced the replacement of six of its original cast members -- Julian Quintart (Belgium), Robin Deiana (France), Takuya Terada (Japan), Blair Williams (Australia), Sujan Shakya (Nepal) and Ilya Blyakov (Russia) -- on June 29, drawing mixed reactions from viewers.

But in the first episode with the new cast, the show, which has previously gone through a number of controversies, chose to meet sensitive issues head-on rather than tread lightly around them -- an effective tactic that resulted in discussions that were more candid and, conversely, less controversial. 

National stereotypes and heated current issues such as the Greek financial crisis, the tension in Sino-Norwegian relations over the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner and the history of Japanese Imperialism were dealt with in open and levelheaded conversations. By showing that a multinational group could engage in a thriving political debate without taking personal offense or inciting viewer outrage, “Non-Summit” demonstrated tact, a seasoned maturity and the potential for a significant impact beyond simple entertainment.

The viewer share jumped as well, to 4.68 percent, according to Nielsen Korea, up 1.39 percentage points from the show’s previous episode.

(Top, from left) Andreas Varsakopoulos (Greece), Nikolai Johnsen (Norway), Przemyslaw Krompiec (Poland); (Bottom, from left) Carlos Gorito (Brazil), Yuta Nakamoto (Japan), Sami El-Baz (Egypt) (JTBC)

The fun was not lost, either. Johnsen, who is a graduate student of international studies at Korea University, introduced the cast to exotic Norwegian cuisine, including head of lamb, venison and moose steak. Varsakopoulos, a high school English teacher in Cheongju, displayed, in a friendly arm-wrestling match, a level of strength reminiscent of his Spartan ancestors. Krompiec, a Chung-Ang University doctoral student and model, gushed over Korean actress Ha Ji-won. Nakamoto, a pre-debut K-pop entertainer trainee with SM Entertainment, showed off his soccer skills on set. El-Baz, a graduate student in Korean language and literature at Seoul National University, and Gorito, an educational adviser at the Brazilian Embassy, got caught up in an engaging discussion on dating and relationships. 

Granted, the youthful energy of Quintart, Deiana and Terada will be missed in a group that is slightly older and more serious, and it will take some time for the new members’ own brand of entertainment to gain a firm footing.

All in all, however, the new cast combination saw a dynamic mixture of fresh cultural insight, nuanced discussions on a wide range of social issues, a good level of Korean language and many laughs -- in sum, everything “Non-Summit” aimed to bring.

The remaining representatives from the original cast are Guillaume Patry (Canada), Alberto Mondi (Italy), Zhang Yuan (China), Daniel Lindemann (Germany), Tyler Rasch (U.S.) and Sam Okyere (Ghana).

By Rumy Doo (bigbird@heraldcorp.com)