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“Adult World of Slander and Envy? That’s Enough of That!”

“Adult World of Slander and Envy? That’s Enough of That!”

Posted October. 13, 2005 07:06,   


“Hello! I’m Choi Jae-uk, the class monitor for Grade 1 Class 3.” (In a trust-inspiring tone of voice)

“Hello there! I’m Kim Hong-jun, the most adorable boy in Grade 1 Class 3.” (In a mawkishly sweet voice)

“Hullo fellas, I’m Park Gyu-seon of Grade 1 Class 3.” (In a mischievous voice)

These so-called first graders, whose unique personalities come through even in a simple hello, are becoming the talk of the town. The segment of SBS’s “People in Search of Laughter” known as “Grade 1 Class 3” has cemented its place as the trademark segment of the show in just six months since debuting in April of this year. The catchphrases the cast members have popularized—“That’s enough of that!” and “Look who’s talking!”—have become everyday habits on the tongues of the young and old alike.

So why are people paying so much attention to their “juvenile” conversations? Dong-A Ilbo met with the stars of the segment, Choi Jae-uk (24), Kim Hong-jun (20), and Park Gyu-seon (20), at the open auditorium of the SBS compound. Their real voices, surprisingly, were low and masculine.

Park: These days, even really young people debuting in the entertainment industry try to act mature and sophisticated. We’re going against the times, and that seems to have appealed to audiences. Our segment mixes gag and satire with the “kidult” culture.

Kim: I once joked on the show, “My mom has had work done on both her eyes and her nose, but every time she sees a celebrity on TV, she berates them for having had their faces surgically altered. But even my dad says he can’t recognize my mom any more.” Adults tend to be oblivious of their own errors. I wanted to remind them of that through the mouths of children.

The signature notes of their comedy routine are: mutual envy and backbiting despite appearances of close friendship, scenes in which a much put-upon Park astounds his friends by crying, “That’s enough of that!” and moments of secret derisive laughter in between seemingly affectionate interchanges. The heart of the segment is incisive satire targeted at the affected lives of adults, filled with endless vacillation between conflict and reconciliation.

Park: I think people feel a sense of familiarity with me because of the popularity of the catchphrase “That’s enough of that!” Just two years ago, nobody wanted to sit next to me even in a bus jam packed with people. My face was that unprepossessing. But now everyone says my charm comes from my cuteness. (Laughs)

Choi: Kids have such high voices that it’s hard for an adult to imitate them. I condition my voice by eating bacon fat. My family runs a barbecue restaurant, you see. Hong-jun drinks vinegar so that he can hop up and down like a child.

Park: It wasn’t that hard for me, actually. Loving food, being anal, and coaxing others in a fey manner—that’s the story of my life! Now I come up with my own ideas for the scenes where I get bullied.

The three cast members of Grade 1 Class 3 constantly strive to retain their childlike mindset. They even note that sometimes they really want to go back to being first graders.

Park: My family is poor, so I still give my earnings to my mom. I got allowances from her when I was a kid, so I had no clear concept of money. Now I’m a little bit embarrassed to see myself counting my pennies. Whenever I feel like I’m becoming too knowledgeable about money, it makes me want to return to being a first grader again.

The atmosphere becomes suddenly glum. But Choi and Kim give Park a friendly poke.

Choi: Hey, you’ve still got us. We’ll stick together and keep being an inseparable comedy team. We’re pals, you know, pals!