From ‘I Live Alone’ To ‘Running Man’, Here Are The Top 10 Variety Shows You Must Watch!

My Ugly Duckling

미운 우리 새끼-My Ugly Duckling

Mom’s Diary: My Ugly Duckling‘, also known as ‘My Little Old Boy’, is a reality program that focuses on the mothers of South Korean celebrities. Unlike the generic reality program, which focuses solely on the celebrity, ‘My Little Old Boy’ features commentary from the celebrities’ mothers as they watch the footage of their sons and or daughters’ daily activities.

I wonder who my son was meeting today and what he heard… Why do you look so sad today or why do you look so excited? Why are you stretching and why are you so sleepy? How much do you know about your son?” — SBS, Program Info

Current cast

Name Mother Episodes Notes
Park Soo-hong Ji In-sook 1–present He has andropause and is a club frequenter.
Tony An (Ep 3–77) Lee Ok-jin 3–present Compared to Ji-woong, Tony has a messy image and often puts off cleaning his house.
Lee Sang-min Im Yeo-soon (Ep 32–63,69–70) 32–present He has a debt of about $6 million and he’s very frugal as a result of it. He’s currently renting a part of his creditor’s house.
Kim Jong-kook Cho Hye-seon 76–present He loves to exercise and is a person who is unable to tolerate people wasting anything.
Hong Jin-young & Hong Sun-young Choi Mal-soon 118–present In early appearances, Hong Sun-young faced a weight problem. However, thanks to Kim Jong-Kook, she was able to overcome it and follows Jong-Kook’s workout habit nowadays. Meanwhile, Hong Jin-young likes to play video games.
Kim Hee-chul (Super Junior) Kim Sun-ja 153–present Similar to Hong Jin-young, Kim Hee-Chul likes to play video games. He loves watching Chinese martial arts drama series, and memorizes the dialogue of entire scenes. He is also showing his dislike of having to cook food at his home.

Former cast

Name Mother Episodes Notes
Kim Gun-mo Lee Sun-mi (Ep 1–128, 163) 1–139 He is a soju lover, bicycle maniac (he owns 7 bicycles), and has a love for printed T-shirts. He has a game addiction. He also has a large collection of drones.
Heo Ji-woong  Kim Hyun-joo 1–31[76] He suffers from mysophobia, so he spends most of his time cleaning the house and car. He’s a figurine lover, especially the Star Wars ones, Darth Vader being his favorite character.
Kim Je-dong Park Dong-yeon 1–3

My Ugly Duckling‘ is still airing on SBS every Sunday at 21:05 (KST), and is one of the most popular variety shows in South Korea today, with a total of 165 episodes so far. This show was directed by Kwak Seung-yeong, Choi So-hyeong, and Ryu Ji-hwan.

Running Man

 런닝맨-Running Man

Running Man‘ is a South Korean variety shows that aired starting in 2010. This show became extremely popular in South Korea and in other parts of Asia, and has gained online popularity among Hallyu fans, having been fansubbed into various languages, such as English, Persian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Malay, Indonesian, Burmese, Arabic, Russian, and Turkish.

Running Man‘ is currently the longest-running program on Good Sunday, surpassing X-man on February 3, 2013, with 410 episodes so far. It has garnered attention as being the come-back program for Yoo Jae-suk, after leaving Good Sunday’Family Outing in February 2010. This show is classified as a game-variety show, where the MCs and guests complete missions at a landmark to win a race.

Running Man

As of episode 48, the members have taken part in a series of missions to become the winner(s) at the end of the race. Missions form the basis of Running Man, as members try to avoid punishment in earlier episodes or to win prizes. Multiple missions are presented in each episode, with the highlight of Running Man being race missions. The format of the show has veered away from the “race mission + others” to “one continuous race + missions”.

Running Man's-members-런닝맨

There are currently eight members of ‘Running Man‘, Yoo Jae-seok, Haha, Ji Suk-jin, Lee Kwang-soo, Kim Jong-kook, Song Ji-hyo, Yang Se-chan, and Jeon Soo-min. Yang Se-chan and Jeon Soo-min are additional regular cast members, who joined in April 2017, after Kang Gary decided to leave ‘Running Man‘ in October 2016, because he wanted to focus on his music career after being a regular member for nearly seven years. His last filming with the main cast was for episode 324. However, he made a brief return in the following episode 325, as a guest.

After Gary left the group, On December 14, 2016, it was announced that Kim Jong-kook and Song Ji-hyo were leaving the show, as a new season with a new format starring the remaining cast members and new member Kang Ho-dong would air in January 2017. The initial reception was mixed. However, it was revealed that Song Ji-hyo and Kim Jong-kook were not given any notice about their removal, resulting in an overwhelmingly negative reaction. In addition, news of Kang Ho-dong refusing the offer to join the new season resulted in the possible cancellation of Season 2 of Running Man.
However, on January 24, 2017, SBS announced that the show would continue airing with all of the remaining cast members. The decision came after Nam Seung-yong, the new Vice President of SBS Entertainment Headquarters and who was involved in hiding Running Man, had further conversations with every member in regards to the show’s future. [65] [66] Subsequently, after apologizing to Kim Jong-Kook and Song Ji Hyo for all of the issues regarding the program, the former then became actively involved in convincing the other members to continue working on the program.

Even though the first episode of this show received mixed reviews, according to Asiae, the show concept was promising but the crew could not use the location to its full potential and the pace was not fast and dynamic enough. Despite a slow start, ‘Running Man’ became increasingly popular in South Korea and throughout Asia. In its home country, the show is watched by 2.1 million people, on average. Due to the existence of fansubs, it is watched outside of Asia as well, being translated into English, Spanish, and Arabic, among others.

The regular members of ‘Running Man’ have held several fan meetings throughout Asia. In October 2013, their Singapore fan meeting drew a crowd of 3,000. When the cast arrived for shooting in Vietnam and other countries, they were greeted by thousands of fans at the airport. ‘Running Man‘ had first sold the franchise to China, which became ‘Running Man China‘ in 2014. They later sold the franchise to Vietnam in 2019.

Running Man‘ is still very popular and is broadcast on SBS every Sunday at 4:50 p.m. (KST), with a total of 477 episodes so far.