There are many genres of television produced every year. From melodramas to romantic comedies, reality shows to documentaries, there is a show for everyone. A popular genre in Korea is the variety show. Variety shows are somewhat scripted, but the comedy amongst those one show is most definitely not! You are bound to have a favorite cast member from one show to another and laughter is sure to follow too! Here are some of the most popular variety shows in South Korea that you need to check out.
Currently, on the top listings of the most popular Korean variety shows, Running Man can be found at Number 1. The cast and crew of Running Man have been running since 2010 on SBS. As of 2019, some of the core members consist of “the nation’s MC”, Yoo Jae-Seok, comedian HaHa, and singer, Kim Jong-Kook. Originally, Running Man would have the members compete against one another or in teams in a “variety” of different missions with special guests. Usually, there are storylines and sometimes they are based on famous K-dramas and movies, or they come up with something special for the Running Man members. Watch on: Viki or Kocowa
I Live Alone
Ever wondered what idols do during their free time? Look no further than I Live Alone. A documentary/variety show mix that follows the lives of single Korean celebrities living alone. Airing back in 2013, I Live Alone has followed the everyday lives of each season’s hosts. The current hosts are, Seong-Hoon, Park Na-Rae, Henry Lau, Hwasa, Kian84, and Lee Si-Eon. This show uncovers how these celebrities live normal lives like most other people and is unscripted, so you never know what will happen next. There are also many guest appearances from other idols as well, making everyone even more relatable. Watch on: Viki or Kocowa
Return of Superman
If you’re in the mood for a slower paced variety, Return of Superman is perfect. It portrays the everyday lives of children who have celebrity parents. Cute and adorable, you can watch as the children grow up and witness their ups and downs through their adventures! Return of Superman has been filming celebrities and their children since 2013. Amongst those who appear on the show are a television personality, Sam Hammington, and EPIK HIGH rapper, Tablo, who can be found as busy parents, with other celebrity friends seen visiting the kids. Watch on: Viki or Kocowa
Whether or not you know it, you’ve probably heard of Infinite Challenge at one point or another. On MBC since 2005, it had grown in popularity and by 2013 it was the most-watched variety show in Korea. While the show had a changing of members over the years, Yoo Jae-Seok, HaHa, who can also be found in Running Man, Jeong Joon-ha, and Park Myung-Soo had continued on through the entire running of the variety series. Infinite Challenge is a true variety show, it can be moving and teach you about history, funny and following silly storylines, or even a music festival with top idols. One of their most well-known parts of the shows has been from their music festivals, showcasing talents like GD, IU, Zion-T, and more. Sadly, Infinite Challenge ended in 2018, but that shouldn’t stop you from rewatching this variety show. Watch on: Viki or Kocowa
Law of the Jungle
Law of the Jungle is a reality-documentary that brings celebrities to different wild locations with only the help of the hosts to survive. Comedian Kim Byung-Man is the host and only regularly occurring member on the show since it first began airing in 2011. The guests are tasked with building shelter, hunting, cooking, and more throughout their time in the location. Law of the Jungle is unscripted and depicts the raw emotions between the guests while they must survive with what limited supplies they have. It is a great choice for those who are interested in survival shows and want a little less comedic variety. Watch on: Viki or Kocowa
Also known as Men on a Mission or Ask Us Anything, Knowing Bros is a comedic, slap-stick variety show that has idols and actors appear and promote their new music or dramas while also showing off talents or sharing some of their secrets. The setting is like a school classroom and everyone is dressed in classic school uniform. Guests appearing on the show come in as “new students” and are to introduce themselves in fun and interesting ways. There is a large main cast including comedian Kang Ho-Dong and Super Junior member Kim Hee-Chul! The perfect show to help you learn more about your favorites! You’ll never know what answers you’ll hear from your idols, as well as the reactions from others. Watch on: Netflix
The King of Mask Singer
Variety shows come in all different forms, King of Masked Singer is a singing competition that has been around since 2015. Unlike singing contest shows that people go on to become an idol, this show has idols perform disguised so that people vote for them on just their vocals. One competition lasts two episodes; the format style starts with the two singers performing the same song then the other two performances they each pick their own songs. The identities are not revealed unless they are eliminated. The winner of the final round faces off against the previous winner. Some of the appearances to check out are Seolji of EXID, Sunyoul of UP10TION, and even Ryan Reynolds! Watch on: Viki or Kocowa
Take some time and check out other clips to get a taste of pure comedy and intrigue. Don’t forget, you can always count on a guest appearance at some point in any variety show. Maybe some of your favorite actors or singers have appeared on the shows listed above!
What are some other variety shows you enjoy watching? What have been some of your favorite moments from the shows mentioned above?
Cover Image: Lee Kwang-soo, Song Ji-hyo, Kim Jong-kook, Ji Suk-jin, HaHa of Running Man (SBS)
Written by Avery Souders