Let’s Find Out More about Top Korean Variety Shows!
Not only is South Korea famous for its dramas and K-pop, it has also become increasingly popular thanks to its variety shows, which are very entertaining and fresh. The concepts for their variety shows are always different, and certainly entertaining. Through its variety shows, South Korea is also able to promote itself and invite tourists to visit the country. Let’s find out more about the South Korean variety shows that you must watch!
I Live Alone
‘I Live Alone‘, also known as ‘Home Alone‘, is a South Korean reality television entertainment program, The show is unscripted, using documentary techniques with variety show elements, following the format of other reality television programs such as ‘Infinite Challenge,’ which airs on the same network. Every Friday night, this program plays footage from selected Rainbow Club members’ everyday lives, both in and out of their homes. As proclaimed on its official homepage, there are about 5 million singles in South Korea and about one-third of South Korean entertainers are not in a relationship. This program shows viewers how single celebrities live, and has attained great popularity due to the relatability of the single lifestyles of various celebrities, which are shown without significant filtering. Since its inception, each host of the program has gathered other celebrity guests to form a club called the Rainbow Club.
current cast members in this show
|Han Hye-jin||171–285, 314–present|
‘I Live Alone‘ is distributed and syndicated by MBC every Friday at 23:00 (KST), with a total of 320 episodes so far. It Directed by Oh Yun-hwan and Choi Hang-ho.
Laborhood On Hire
‘Laborhood On Hire‘ is a South Korean reality show. In this show, Yoo Jae-suk and guest celebrities head to different employers who don’t have enough employees. They work for them for a day, and at the end of the day, the guest celebrities purchase something meaningful with their hard-earned money. Yoo Jae-suk saved his earnings, and on episode 9 he used them to buy assorted goods from the businesses that appeared on the series as a gift to all of the guest celebrities. He also bought a hwamunseok which was crafted from the sedge he harvested on episode 3.
|Episode||Air Date||Guests||Occupation||Working Location|
|1||August 24, 2019||Lee Hyo-ri
|Green tea production||Moroo Farm
(Pyoseon-myeon, Seogwipo, Jeju Province)
|2||August 31, 2019||Cha Seung-won||Sweet Potato Farming
|Sweet Potato Farm
(Muan, South Jeolla Province)
|3||September 7, 2019||You Hee-yeol
|Sedge Farming||Wanggol Farm
|4||September 21, 2019||Simon Dominic
|KTX train cleaner||KTX train Depot|
|5||September 28, 2019||Jang Sung-kyu
|Shiitake mushroom farming||Mushroom farm
(Gurye County, South Jeolla Province)
|6||October 5, 2019||Im Won-hee
|Sea salt farming||Gomyeo Saltworks
(Buan, North Jeolla Province)
|7||October 12, 2019||Hur Jae
|Red clay brick production||Red clay brick factory
(Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province)
|8||October 19, 2019||Kim Won-hee||Cotton field farming||Hahoe Folk Village
(Pungcheon-myeon, Andong, North Gyeongsang Province)
‘Laborhood On Hire‘ aired on tvN from August 24, 2019, to October 26, 2019, on Saturdays at 20:40 (KST).
‘Wife’s Taste‘ is a South Korean reality television entertainment program that has a concept where Korean celebrities and their husbands are looking for ‘small achievement’ (small but surely possible happiness that can be felt in everyday life) at the table. As it is literally a real observation art, it reveals the cooking skills of the wives or husbands. it is hosted by Lee Hwi-jae, Park Myeong-soo, Lee Ha-jung, and Jang Young-ran. There are three couples in total. On the first broadcast on June 5, it recorded 3.201% (based on Nielsen Korea’s paid households), and on March 3, it recorded 3.718%, its own highest viewing rate.
Ask Us Anything
‘Ask Us Anything‘, also known as ‘Men in Mission‘ or ‘Knowing Brothesr‘, is a reality television entertainment program that has a “Brother School” format (from episode 17), which means exploring the high school concept where the cast members act like students in a classroom, while the guests would come in as newly-transferred students. Most of the segments for this format portray activities that every student would do with their classmates. Subsequently, the program would sometimes diversify at the end, with a segment outside of the school concept. This format has received praise from the viewers, which led to a significant increase in ratings and popularity for the program after several episodes.
There are at least two permanent segments, which have defined the Brother School format:
- Entrance Application – a segment where the guests filled out an application form beforehand, which one of the cast members would read and the others would comment on them. A highlight of this segment is the guests’ preferences for which cast members they would like or would not like to sit next to them. At times, the guests can show their strengths and/or weaknesses that could be shown through this segment.
- Guess About Me – a segment where the guests had prepared several questions related to themselves. Some of the questions are vague or extremely private, relating to things the guests had never revealed to the public. In another format, for idol groups with more than 5 members on their first visit, they will have their names covered, and as Heechul reveals a fact about a member, the group members would try to confuse the cast members.
The episodes may also feature either of the following segments, usually within, in between, or following the above permanent segments:
- Second Period – a segment that usually comes after the permanent segments and varies between guests. In most cases, the guests made suggestions on the activities for this segment. It varies from counseling sessions, art class, or physical education class.
- Let’s Play – a short segment when the guests would challenge the cast members on a game, which the former is confident in winning, usually by unorthodox means such as on-the-spot rules. The guests usually end it in a challenge where they need to defeat every cast member consecutively.
- Three No’s (No Concept, No Basis, No Script) – a segment that revolves around an ad-libbed skit where the cast members and guests were not given any dialogue or definite storyline. They can only rely on the overall theme of the particular week’s skit and their own comedic timing.
- Music Class (Songstagram) – a segment where the guests created a list of songs with a specific theme of their preference. The segment focused on the cast members’ efforts to guess all of them in the correct order. Hints, such as release date, characteristics, or “Jonghyun’s game”, as it was introduced in ep. 29 by the late Jonghyun (Shinee), wherein the beginning syllable/note of a verse is given with its rhythm to help the members guess the song’s name.
- Lee Sang-min Time – formally introduced in ep. 56 and formerly called Choose Your Type, this is a short segment wherein the guests (usually the females) are briefed by Lee Sang-min to choose any of the cast members (plus any accompanying male guest) as their ideal partner. The specifications are that all members are “equal” in terms of legal, socioeconomic, & civil statuses; and that the choice is based only on their physical appearances and personalities.
- Dancestagram – formally introduced in ep. 57 by Chanmi (AOA), but in an episode with Psy it became a segment where the PD plays the beginning syllable/note of a song and they have to guess the title, lyrics, and dance moves.
- 99 Seconds Teamwork Competition – a segment that is often used when a large group of people are guests on the program, such as idol groups. The segment varies with each episode in terms of missions, but the members’ team and the guests must complete them within 99 seconds. If a team manages to complete the mission in time, the other team is given a chance to produce a better time record.
- Classical Culture Class – a segment is all about pop culture references to forgotten decades.
- Imagination Time – a segment which starts with a warm-up, like drawing something from shapes, and guessing lip-synced words. The highlight of “Imagination Time” (Hangul: 상상력 시간) is Guess the Drama Line, the members and guests have to guess what the next line is of the scene from a drama shown to them.
- Knowing Lunch – a segment that comes in between the Entrance Application segment and the Guess About Me segment. The members and guests answer questions (either in an individual battle or as a team) given by the production team, and if they guess correctly they can eat one of the numerous side dishes selected, other than the white rice and light soy sauce that was already provided beforehand.
A notable aspect of the show is the usage of the banmal (Hangul: 반말; “informal language”) manner of speech used by everyone, regardless of their age or seniority, thus disregarding the Korean language’s strict seniority rules with spoken language and the sunbae–hoobae hierarchy in the Korean entertainment industry. The informal speech and casual setting also encourage the guests and cast to interact with each other as schoolmates often do, leading them to be comfortable enough to tease one another.
‘Ask Us Anythings’ original cast consisted of Kang Ho-dong, Lee Soo-geun, Seo Jang-hoon, Kim Young-chul, Kim Hee-chul, Hwang Chi-yeul, and Kim Se-hwang. Min Kyung-hoon was added to the cast formation on the second episode, aired on December 12, 2015. Hwang Chi-yeul and Kim Se-hwang left the program after the seventh episode, aired on January 16, 2016. Lee Sang-min joined the program as the newest addition to the cast, on March 5, 2016.
|Kang Ho-dong||Brother School Captain
|Ep. 1 – present|
|Lee Soo-geun||Dwarf Village Chief||Ep. 1 – present|
|Kim Young-chul||The one whose seat is always taken away||Ep. 1 – present|
|Seo Jang-hoon||207 centimeter giant||Ep. 1 – present|
|Kim Hee-chul||Psycho||Ep. 1 – present|
|Min Kyung-hoon||Ssamja||Ep. 2 – present|
|Lee Sang-min||The sad one||Ep. 14 – present|
|Hwang Chi-yeul||Kang Ho-dong’s rising right-hand man||Ep. 1 – 6 (regular)
Ep. 32, 80 (guest)
|Kim Se-hwang||Folding screen||Ep. 1 – 7|
being very popular both in Korea and outside Korea, it was inevitable that this show would cause controversy. In December 2016, the program received disciplinary action from South Korea’s Broadcast Censorship Committee for using improper remarks which included objectifying female guests on multiple occasions. The committee highlighted the use of improper language between cast members, the use of homophobic remarks, and, specifically, Min Kyung-hoon’s act of giving a handcrafted bra to a female guest (Jeon So-min) in one of the episodes. Besides a warning being given by the committee, it was reported that the program has also received numerous complaints from viewers regarding the matter.
It aired on JTBC every Saturday at 11:00 p.m. (KST), starting from December 12, 2015. It was previously broadcast at 10:00 pm, but as of January 23, 2016, it has been moved to the 11:00 pm time slot.
Three Meals A Day
‘Three Meals a Day‘ is a South Korean reality cooking show. The concept for this show is that the cast lives in a little rural or fishing village three days a week, and uses whatever food they find there to create three meals a day, while various celebrities from Seoul make guest appearances for dinner.
Producer-director (or “PD”) Na Young-seok previously directed the popular variety shows 2 Days & 1 Night, Grandpas Over Flowers, Sisters Over Flowers, and Youth Over Flowers. When actor Lee Seo-jin was on Grandpas Over Flowers, the crew gave him the nickname “Cooking King” due to his poor cooking skills. Their jokes about Lee starring in a fake cooking show titled Cooking King Seo-jinnie (a parody of King of Baking, Kim Takgu) eventually became the genesis for this show. Cast as his co-star was singer-actor Ok Taecyeon; the two had played brothers in the Korean drama series Wonderful Days.
On October 13th, 2016, a press conference was held for Fishing Village season three of the show, consisting of Lee Seo-jin, who was previously on the show, and new members Eric Mun and Yoon Kyun-sang. The new season is to set to take on a fishing village theme. On July 1st, 2019, a new season with the theme of a mountain village, starring the all-female cast of Yum Jung-ah, Yoon Se-ah, and Park So-dam, was confirmed. The first episode of this edition was broadcast on August 9, 2019.
|Title||Location||Broadcast Date||Broadcast Time (KST)||Total Episodes||Cast|
|Three Meals a Day: Jeongseon Village 1||Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do||October 17 – December 26, 2014||21:50 – 23:10||11||Lee Seo-jin, Ok Taec-yeon|
|Three Meals a Day: Fishing Village 1||Manjae Island, Heuksan-myun, Sinan-gun, Jeollanam-do||January 23 – March 20, 2015||21:45 – 23:10||9||Cha Seung-won, Yoo Hae-jin, Son Ho-jun (replaced Jang Keun-suk)|
|Three Meals a Day: Jeongseon Village 2||Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do||May 15 – September 11, 2015||21:45 – 23:25||18||Lee Seo-jin, Ok Taec-yeon, Kim Kwang-kyu|
|Three Meals a Day: Fishing Village 2||Manjae Island, Heuksan-myun, Sinan-gun, Jeollanam-do||October 9 – December 11, 2015||10||Cha Seung-won, Yoo Hae-jin, Son Ho-jun|
|Three Meals a Day: Gochang Village||Gochang-gun, Jeollabuk-do||July 1 – September 16, 2016||12||Cha Seung-won, Yoo Hae-jin, Son Ho-jun, Nam Joo-hyuk|
|Three Meals a Day: Fishing Village 3||Deukryang Island, Goheung-gun, Jeollanam-do||October 14 – December 30, 2016||21:15 – 23:00||12||Lee Seo-jin, Eric Mun, Yoon Kyun-sang|
|Three Meals a Day: Seaside Ranch||August 4 – October 20, 2017||21:50 – 23:25||12||Lee Seo-jin, Eric Mun,Yoon Kyun-sang|
|Three Meals a Day: Mountain Village||Jeongseon-gun, Gangwon-do||August 9 – October 18, 2019||21:10 – 23:00||11||Yum Jung-ah, Yoon Se-ah, Park So-dam|
‘Three Meals a Day’ drew a great response from Korean viewers and became a trending topic numerous times on Naver, a Korean search portal. It received viewership ratings of 6%, which is high for Korean cable television, for which a 1% rating is considered a success. Originally 8 episodes were planned for the first season, but the show was extended by two episodes. A “director’s cut” epilogue was also aired, for a total of 11 episodes.
This show aired on Friday nights on tvN, starting October 17, 2014, with a total 95 episodes so far. it’s directed by Na Yong-seok and Yang Seul-gi.