The Most Popular South Korean Variety Show Worldwide, Running Man
Running Man (Korea: 런닝 맨) is a South Korean variety show, forming part of SBS’s Good Sunday line-up. The show was first aired on July 11th, 2010. Running Man is classified as “a variety of urban actions”; a variety show genre in an urban environment. MCs and guests must complete missions at a designated landmark to win the race. This event has shifted to a more familiar reality-variety show concept that focuses on games. This has attracted attention as a comeback program for Yoo Jae-suk, one of the MCs of the program, after leaving Good Sunday’s Family Outing in February 2010.
Since April 2017, Running Man has been aired as the first part of Good Sunday at 16:50 KST and competes with KBS2’s The Return of Superman and MBC’s King of Mask Singer. Running Man has been aired at 6:25 p.m. on Sunday, as the second part of Good Sunday, competing with KBS2’s 1 Night 2 Days. Throughout the history of Running Man, special series have developed with stories and episodes, such as films. Many of these series are praised for their excitement and are considered a number of higher quality Running Man episodes. Here are some of Running man‘s concept episodes that have appeared on several occasions during the show.
The “Yoo-mes Bond” series is famous for its protagonist, Yoo Jae-suk playing as Yoo-mes Bond, who is known to use a water gun to eliminate his enemies in order to complete his mission. This series shows Yoo Jae-suk against other Running Man members, who don’t know Yoo Jae-suk’s identity or mission. At the end of both episodes 91 and 140, the words “Bond Bond Never Die” appear, hinting at a future episode in the series. These two episodes are praised for being like films, not variety shows.
Best of the Best Match
“Best of the Best Matches” happens occasionally as an opportunity to decide who in Running Man is the best.
Running Man-Grasshopper Hunting
“Running Man Hunter” is a nickname given to Choi Min-soo who was assigned to eliminate Running Man members. There is a competition between him and Yoo Jae-suk, who betrayed him during his first attempt at the mission. Since then, he has re-appeared in the program to hunt for members and always leaves Yoo Jae-suk to become the last surviving member. At the end of episode 118, Choi Min-soo hints at the possibility of returning to the “Running Man Hunter” series in the future.
Running Man Olympics
Running Man members compete with guests and each other to win the “Olympic” battle.
Running Man Football
Running Man members are given the opportunity to participate in charity football matches with Park Ji-sung. Every year, members will participate in a training mission with Park Ji-sung to prepare for a soccer match before the match.
In addition to episodes made by the team, Running Man members are facing challenges suggested by fans or made by the team based on their fans’ ideas.
Gary, who was easily gullible and couldn’t lie, had asked the production staff to give him a spy mission. However, when the production staff decided to give him a mission, they decided to cheat him and make a hidden camera episode instead.
Long Term Projects
Since 2017, Running Man has started a variety of long-term projects, reaching more than a few episodes with one goal, rather than the previous epic format.
This is the Running Man project designed to celebrate the hard work of the members for more than seven years, allowing members to choose themes for each week and making it possible to create episodes as they wish. During the special episode, Lee Kwang-soo was the only cast member who was not hit by a water bomb. Yoo Jae-suk was the only cast member who was hit by a water bomb twice, while when Ji-jin was bombed with water during the preparation episode for the Sunday Member project it wasn’t aired.
Global Race (Episodes 346–354)
This is the Running Man project designed to commemorate changes in new members and production staff. This involves making a film program in an overseas location with penalties involving visiting dangerous tourist attractions around the world. Penalties are given to members who have collected three Tourist Cards, which were awarded when lost during the mission.
1% People’s Recommendations (Episodes 355–359, 369–371)
This is a Running Man project where production staff asks fans for recommendations for relatively unique tourist attractions, choosing from those who only receive 1% of the total votes. Two Running Man members are selected to complete the project, which is marked by the accumulation of three I-Go Stickers.
Half and Half Tour (Episodes 365-369, 372)
This is the Running Man project where members compete against the production staff, where the first asks for a program to visit vacation spots for pleasure missions while the latter wants to send them to visit special places for dangerous missions. Each episode will have both parties competing where winners are allowed to place their recommendations on the spinning wheel with the names of members attached to complete the mission. The final decision will be made after 4 places have been decided.
Family Package Project (Episodes 392–396, 399–400, 406–408)
This is the Running Man project where 4 guests, Hong Jin-young, Kang Han-na, Lee Da-hee, and Lee Sang-yeob, are temporary members for 4 weeks. The winners of each episode qualify for the luxury package, which includes trips to popular tourist destinations. On the other hand, the losers from each episode are given a shivering package, which includes a trip to a scary tourist destination. In the last episode, roulette filled with luxury and shaky packages that have been assigned to members will be spun to decide which package will be fulfilled by the members.
Running Man‘s popularity throughout Asia provides an opportunity to take the show outside of South Korea. Running Man has traveled to various countries, including China, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates. International episodes are famous for their ability to attract a large group of fans to mission venues.\
Yoo Jae-suk (Episode 1 – present)
The main host of the show, who is known for his escaping abilities and quick thinking during race missions. As the main host, he has been featured as a protagonist in many special episodes, which presented him with the nickname Yoo-mes Bond. He is shown to have a close relationship with a lot of the guests on the show, which he often boasts about to the other members. He is also often referenced to the color green throughout the show and is also known for his nickname “Grasshopper” from his first television appearances.
Haha (Episode 1 – present)
The primary joker of the cast and is usually picked on by other members because of his height and his similar appearance to Pororo the Little Penguin. In the earliest episodes of the program, Haha had a tendency to feel as though he is the main lead in a movie created by his imagination, as well as be the playboy of the cast, as he always confesses his love to female guests. When things don’t go his way, he lashes out verbally, causing great laughter among the cast. However, this ended when he became engaged to singer Byul, changing to a “married man” and becoming very rough to female guests.
Ji Suk-jin (Episode 1 – present)
The oldest member of the show and one of Yoo Jae-suk’s closest friends, having known each other for more than 20 years. He is shown to be jealous of the good relationship between Yoo Jae-suk and Kim Jong-kook. Dubbed the “Race Starter” during the race missions, he is shown to be one of the weakest members and is the most frequently eliminated, so easily that the other members would declare that the race has officially started after his elimination.
Kim Jong-kook (Episode 1 – present)
The strongest member of the cast, Kim Jong-kook is known for his strength and skill during the race missions. During the missions, he is known for his sudden appearances that are often accompanied by the soundbite “This is Sparta!” taken from the movie 300. His smart tactics are often successful to eliminate the other members and as a result, he is known for having both brains and brawn.
Lee Kwang-soo (Episode 1 – present)
The tallest member of the cast initially introduced alongside Gary and Song Joong-ki as one of the “variety rookies” due to his lack of experience on variety shows prior to Running Man. He has grown to easily betray his fellow members without hesitation. He is also known to be one of the unluckiest and most penalized members, having earned the worst results in nearly every luck-based mission.
Song Ji-hyo (Episode 2 – 5 as a guest, episode 7-present as a regular cast member)
The bravest and luckiest member of the show. She has been involved in the official love story of the show, alongside Gary. She is one of the strongest players during race missions with similar running and catching capabilities as well as comparable intelligence to Yoo Jae-suk and Kim Jong-kook.
Jeon So-min (Episode 224 and 343 as a guest, Episode 346 – present as a regular cast member)
She is often referred to as the female version of Lee Kwang-soo because of her attitude to turn her back on her team and betray them. She is often paired with Lee Kwang-soo as partners by the other members. She has the capability to hold steel objects on her body like a magnet.
Yang Se-chan (Episode 321 and 323 as a guest, Episode 346 – present as a regular cast member)
He quickly becomes a member of the unlucky group along with Yoo Jae-suk, Ji Suk-jin, and Lee Kwang-soo. He is also referred to as the #8, in terms of appearance. He replaced Kwang-soo’s role as Jong-kook’s lackey, and became his favorite person, accidentally making Kwang-soo furious and getting abandoned.
Lizzy (Episode 13 – 14 and 292 as a guest, Episode 18 – 25 as a regular cast member)
Lizzy is known for her cute looks and her aegyo. She also uses a unique Busan dialect when speaking.
Song Joong-ki (Episode 1 – 41 as a regular member, Episode 66 as a guest, Episode 71, 97, 251, 283 as a cameo)
The visual member of the show. He was known for his intelligence, enthusiasm, and optimism, often trying out new things and attempting to figure out puzzles and strategize during the race missions; but often resulting in ultimate failure.
Gary (Episode 1 – 324 as a regular cast member, Episode 325, 336 as a guest)
The most gullible and honest member of the show. Although shown to be quite clueless at times, he is known as “The man full of surprises” and the “dark horse” of Running Man during race missions, highlighted when the show held the “Best of the Best Match” with him winning the match twice in a row.
- Episode 345 of Running Man only scored 2.8 percent. According to Nielsen Korea data, this ranking is the lowest since the 2010 premiere.
- Gary is the first Running Man member to revoke name tags.
- In the first episode, Lee Kwang-soo was the first member to be eliminated by Gary.
- Gary trusted Kwang-soo for three years until he realized that Kwang-soo always betrayed him. This makes it hard to believe Kwang-soo in real life!
- Jong Kook is more popular in China than Jae Suk.
- Jong Kook said, when he went to the gym with Kwang-soo, Kwang-soo always shook when he actually did nothing.
- Jae Suk’s super strength is a space controller that can adjust space and time, when he says he will be very embarrassed.
- Ji Hyo, according to Gary, is very easy to recognize, even with his eyes closed.
- Kwang-soo wants to have a love story in the variety show.
- Jae Suk stopped smoking when he started shooting Running Man because he felt his stamina dropping quickly and getting easily tired.
- Haha hopes Suzy Miss A will become a permanent member of Running Man.
- Suk Jin said when he felt bad, he would immediately feel comfortable again when he saw Gary.
- Episode 145 is the most controversial episode. In this episode, Running Man members fight members of Law of the Jungle. At the end of the event, the Running Man team managed to tear the entire label of the Law of the Jungle team. However, at the final announcement, the winner was the Law of the Jungle team. This made Running Man fans so angry that the director of the Running Man program had to intervene directly to overcome this problem.
- Before Gary and Ji Hyo get the Couple’s nickname Monday, it turns out that at the beginning of the episode, Haha always approached Ji Hyo and teased her.