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Two top MCs set out to discover Korea’s forgotten ‘Sugarmen’

Yoo Jae-suk, Yoo Hee-yeol team up for new entertainment show

Rediscovering old songs, talking about music, and recreating old songs into new versions -- at first glance, the format of JTBC’s new entertainment program “2U Project -- Searching for Sugarman” seems familiar. But according to the chief producer Yun Hyun-joon, it’s something different.

“The idea for the program began with the documentary ‘Searching for Sugar Man,’” he said at a press conference Tuesday, referring to the 2012 film about Rodriguez, a singer who faded into obscurity in the U.S. but somehow ended up as a megastar in South Africa. “We didn’t think of it as an old concept. In the process of turning that idea into an actual program, we ended up bringing in those familiar elements.”

The basic framework of the program is a battle in which each team brings back a “Sugarman” -- a singer who was a one-hit wonder, but has since disappeared from the public eye. After talking about what the Sugarmen have been up to and listening to their songs, the two teams recreate their songs with today’s hottest artists to relive their glory.

Yoo Jae-suk (left) and Yoo Hee-yeol on the set of
Yoo Jae-suk (left) and Yoo Hee-yeol on the set of "2U Project -- Searching for Sugarman" (JTBC)

Each team is led by a “Yoo (U)” -- Yoo Jae-suk, who is making his first appearance on JTBC, and Yoo Hee-yeol. The producers reinterpreting the old hits are Shin Hyuk (of EXO’s “Growl”) for Yoo Jae-suk, and Shinsadong Tiger for Yoo Hee-yeol. For the first pilot, the two artists who will be recreating the songs are EXID’s Hani and Girl’s Day’s Sojin -- those artists are slated to change every episode. 

“We wanted to find people who could recreate these old songs and make them appealing to today’s music market,” Yun said. “Some people might be surprised at the choice of Hani or Sojin because they aren’t necessarily known for having powerful voices or wide ranges. But they’re great singers, and they can pull off the type of songs we’re creating in a trendy way.”

Both Yun and producer Jung Hyo-min said the newly created songs were what would set “Two Yoo Project” apart. “We gave the producers a ton of freedom,” Jung said. “They were allowed to experiment in new ways, without necessarily being tied down to the original song.” 

“2U Project -- Searching for Sugarman” has finished filming its first two episodes, which will air on Aug. 19 and Aug. 26 at 11 p.m. on JTBC.

By Won Ho-jung (