I have been a big fan of the Korean variety show, Running Man, for over two years now. I’ve watched almost all of their episodes (so far there are 163). Compared to the Western-style reality TV shows, I find Running Man absolutely hilarious and not in a ‘it’s funny because the cast is doing stupid things’, but in ‘it’s funny because the cast is doing funny things’.
Running Man has gathered millions of viewers domestically and internationally. Their popularity in other Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China, and Hong Kong can be compared to Hallyu stars up to the point where the airport is crowded with fans and they follow them as they go from one filming location to the next. The show itself has already run for 2-3 years and there doesn’t seem to be any hints of it ending any time soon.
Running Man members go through each episode without much prior notice of how the day will go. Each episode usually centers around a theme such as “Superhero” or “Story of a First Love” and the games and missions fall under that story line. The highlight is usually the name-tag ripping game where members must remove other peoples’ name tags in a survival of the fittest mentality. That is mainly the gist of it, but of course the production crew for Running Man has expanded this series in ways I could have never imagined. They incorporate spy roles with secret missions, psychic powers and advantages in games, and sudden twists to spice up the plot. I also give props to all the camera men and VJs that run with the actual cast members throughout everything. The production process for this show must be on a much larger scale than what I see.
Running Man has a cast of seven people:
- Yoo Jae-Suk (Comedian, “The Nation’s MC”)
- Kim Jong-Kook (Singer, “SPARTA Commander”)
- Haha (Singer, “Pororo the Penguin” – a Korean Children’s cartoon)
- Gary (Rapper, “Monday Boyfriend”)
- Song Ji-Hyo (Actress, “Ace”)
- Ji Suk-Jin (Comedian, “Race Starter”)
- Lee Kwang-Soo (Actor, “Giraffe/ Betrayer”)
The cast does a lot to make the show better simply by developing and adapting to the flow of the show. Over the many episodes they have all formed popular characters, identities, and nicknames. My favorite is the Monday Couple (Gary + Song Ji-Hyo loveline).
Watching Running Man members make me envious. Through the show they get to travel to a lot of places and experience a lot of things. If the episode’s theme is “super heroes”, each member actually receives a “power” and they make it legitimate during the game. If your power is duplication, they get tons of extras to wear the same outfits and name-tags as you and run around the building. If the theme is horror, they make members receive missions such as “If you look behind you, you’re out.” through bloody mirrors. If the theme is Olympics, they participate in sports activities against a guest team of idols. Being a Running Man member is like being in a different world each time. You can be a pirate one week, a secret agent the next, and then something completely different again. It’s like you becoming an actual person out of hundreds of books, cartoons, and movies.
Example: Running Man Episode 150 – Avengers Special
I want to be a superhero. I want to be a spy. I want to escape from a zombie apocalypse. I want to go back in time to 1960’s and be reincarnated. I want to be able to see the future and change it. I want to be a detective and solve mysteries. I want to fly in a helicopter over the landscape of Vietnam. I want to play the thrilling name-tag ripping chase in famous landmarks.
I want to be a Running Man.