Hands up for Super Junior, as they become lab rats in the name of science! Korean SBS aired a weekly variety show from November 2007 to February 2008 featuring the popular Korean boy band and Shin Dong-yup, Exploration of the Human Body (인체탐험대/人體探險隊), to answer questions related to the human body, like its some mysterious walking block. As a future medical student, I highly recommend this show for its mix of educational value, curiosity, and humor. Each of the 13 episodes follows a theme connected to how the human body works. And Super Junior’s function? To be obedient donkeys as they are literally experimented on to answer interesting, curious, sometimes bizarre questions. It’s amazing to see these singing and dancing sensations learn science with the public. Plus, I do not think some of the silly nature or content of the show would be acceptable here in America, or anywhere outside Asia. Come Episode 2, some members will test out limits of their body with kilograms of food and beer chugging and X-ray exposure, for fun.
Goal: To determine how sensitive Super Junior is to different tastes
Background: Tongue, the gateway into the inner body, with over 6000 taste buds, is sensitive to 4 basic tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salty). It’ll be the first SJ experiments with.
Tea Tasting- Shindong starts: “Our outfits make us look like a whole bunch of doctors came together for a party!”
One by one, they think they’re drinking and toasting to delectable tea, since tea is a healthy, prized component of daily life in Asia. Amidst the happy mood, one by one, beginning with Eunhyuk, each member tastes a shocking wave of tangy pain, known as Yong Dam herbal tea (han yak). Herbal? More like a cruel dose of punishment for the naughty on Christmas Eve. As each person drinks, the others wait down the line, looking like they are doomed for the worst end. Their faces are classic Kodak moments: smiley Eunhyuk turns sour (but he gulps it down anyway), Shindong looks like a buck-tooth beaver gasping for air, Hankyung cringes in twisted pain, Siwon actually relishes it, Donghae looks like a writhing baby, Sungmin reminds me of a skunk (with his blond mohawk) that has laid stink bomb on himself, and lastly Kibum the brave lad who downs the bitter tea like it’s soju. Of course, MC Dong Yup has to do it too to be fair, but his face scrunches up like prunes!
*BUT Yong Dam is not such a bad guy… it’s a special restorative tea that can cure diarrhea and itchiness. Upon hearing this information, Ryeowook and Heechul reach out for more!
Taste Numbing- Shindong complains the bitter taste lingers in his mouth. This segways into the next segment to experiment with ways to dull the tasting sensation. To numb the taste of medicine, you can freeze or dry the tongue. Bewildered Kangin chimes in, “So you have to put your tongue in the freezer and take it out?” XD Thinking their brilliant scientists, Suju hypothesize on which is the more effective method and why. Following through the experiment, they organically split into 2 teams (reminiscent of Moses splitting the Red Sea), a Reaction and Lacking Action team. Reaction freeze by using an ice cube, while Lacking Action dry with a hair dryer.
Dongyup goes around with a dropper to all their tongues, beginning with Leeteuk and Heechul. Suddenly, Heechul screams like he’s in a horror movie. I think the taste of the tea was enhanced with the coldness. Heechul and Kangin both cringe with the taste, then we see Shindong furiously scrub his tongue with more ice, but to no avail. He screams like a child anyway and his face scrunches into a pulp. Certainly, Reaction team chose the worse of the fates and a name that suited their response. After they scramble around from their suffering, they realize that freezing is a failure.
Man, Kibum is cute and all, but he has a long-ass tongue! The Lacking Action team takes the bitter tea in stride. They look like good, happy boys. So drying your tongue, removing all moisture, helps numb the taste buds.
In addition, they test out Gymnema Sylvestre herb from India. After chewing this plant, you actually bizarrely do not experience a specific taste- sweet, salty, sour, or bitter (here, Ryeowook asks, “Forever?” xD). Siwon, Ryeowook, Donghae, and Yesung volunteer to test out which flavor… and yes, Siwon and Ryeowook get a spoonful of sugar and salt, respectively. I would not be thrilled if I got a spoonful of salt either. They put on their best poker face as the others try to guess which taste is gone. The others choose salt, because Ryeowook looks the most awkward, as he did not swallow his salt. Boy were they in for a surprise! Also not a good idea to try it with Yong Dam bitterness either…
Turns out, it’s the sugar. Kangin goes, “The feeling is… you’re chewing on the sand.” The funny part comes when they try chocolate, the sweetest of all sweets. Imagine eating the crunchy, creamy Twix or colorful, milk chocolate M&Ms, and not tasting the sugar. Candy IS sugar, and when the sweet is gone, what IS left??!! Well, SJ experiments, and Heechul goes, “I lost my sense of flavor!” (eyes bulge). Judging from everyone’s reaction, it’s best to never try that exotic Indian herb, because you just might never again enjoy your favorite candy bar.
Why would anyone want to consume Gymnema Sylvestre? In Japan, it’s primarily used for dieting, to suppress the urge to indulge in sweet foods. The anti-sweet activity is attributed to gymnemic acids, glycosides, lasting up to 2 hours. It’s also good for diabetes (to decrease blood sugar).