Hello! ‘Tis I, Valerie! For now, forget about K-pop and K-dramas. We’re talking about K-variety shows today, specifically, 5 must-watch k-variety shows hosted by Yoo Jae-Suk, the Nation’s MC.
K-Variety shows…What’s that?
Korean variety shows that’s what! From what I’ve seen of them though, they are way better than variety shows from the U.S. They’re a lot more fun and there are so many kinds of shows that there’s sure to be something for everyone. Like singing competitions? They have them. Want to see people play crazy games? Sure! Talk shows? Right this way! And that’s not all. There are shows about the lives of celebrities who live alone, on-screen marriages, and babies. My favorite thing about Korean variety shows though is that celebrities guest on them, providing more content for their fans. Most K-pop fans or fans of Korean actors/actresses end up watching variety shows because of the fact that their favorite idol or actor guested on the show. I know that’s why I watched some variety shows.
Yoo Jae-Suk; Big Respect! Big Respect!
First of all, Yoo Jae-Suk is great. He’s hilarious and if you’ve watched at least one thing with him in it, you’ll understand why he’s called the Nation’s MC.
Yoo Jae-Suk is a comedian, host, and television personality. Due to his quick wit and appeal across a wide range of demographics, he has established himself as one of South Korea’s top comedians. He was born August 14th, 1972, and made his television debut on the KBS Comedian Festival (for college students) in 1991. After nine years of being relatively unknown, he rose in popularity when he co-hosted the program The Crash of MCs. Yoo Jae-Suk later hosted the show X-Man, which would become one of the highest-rated shows in South Korea. It was through this show that he became known as the Nation’s MC.
Before starting, I would just like to say that I have not watched all of the shows Yoo Jae-Suk has hosted. Therefore, this list consists of my top five chosen out of the programs I have watched that are hosted by Yoo Jae-Suk. So, without further ado, let’s get it!
1. Running Man
Running Man first aired on July 11th, 2010 on SBS. This will be its 10th year. When the show first started, the hosts and guests competed in various games at a landmark to win the race, with the winners receiving a prize. It has since changed its format to a more reality-variety show. There is still a race in each episode where the hosts and guests compete to win the prize, but this new format allows more variety in the races. The main point of the show—apart from the race—is the name tag that the members wear. These name tags are big tags placed on the backs of the members, attached with velcro.
These name tags were an important part of the races at the beginning of the show, where they had name tag eliminations—a game similar to tag, but the goal was to eliminate the enemy team by ripping off their nametag. After the change in format of the show, the name tag elimination became less frequent, but the name tags remain as a unique feature of the show. The show has gone through a few member changes and some controversies throughout the years, but nothing too bad. Although the program wasn’t as popular as others in Korea, it is probably the most popular k-variety show internationally.
This is the first-ever k-variety show I watched and the only one that I continuously watch. I started watching it after watching a few episodes with Benner, and it was the best thing I did since this show is actually what led me to get into k-dramas and eventually k-pop. But that’s a story for another time. This also introduced me to Yoo Jae-Suk and he became my favorite member of the show. He is the main host of the show and does a great job of leading the show. He has also had various great roles on the show such as Yoo-mes Bond, and Yoo Hyuk. The games and the other members are also great, so this is definitely a show to check out if you haven’t yet!
2. Infinite Challenge
This comedy-variety program first aired April 23rd, 2005 on MBC. Infinite Challenge focuses on challenges that the members must complete, many of which seem very difficult or impossible, hence the name. It is recognized as the first “reality-variety” show in Korean television history, due to the fact that it is largely unscripted, and followed a similar format to challenge-based reality programs. The challenges were often difficult and absurd. In other words: greatness! Many programs later used similar formats to that of Infinite Challenge. It was one of Korea’s top-rated variety programs and was dubbed the “National Variety Show” in Korea. Unfortunately, the show came to end on March 31st, 2018 after 13 years.
I’m going to be honest with you, I’ve only watched a few episodes of Infinite Challenge. However, what I have watched has been good. This is one of the reasons I put it on the list. It reminds me of Running Man because of the missions they have, although the format is different. The impact and popularity of this show also contributed to it being here. If it’s done this well even after all these years, it must be great. I might just have to binge watch it!
This is Netflix’s first original program consisting of an all-Korean cast. This show consists of two seasons, with a third in production. The first season was first released on May 4th, 2018, and the second on November 8th, 2019. The third season is set to be released on November 2020. Busted! is a unique program because it is about a group of detectives who solve cases. Some parts of the cases and some character’s lines are scripted, but the hosts still solve the case on their own. Guest celebrities appear as characters with the same name as the guests themselves. They are involved in the case the detectives are solving in some way, or simply help with clues which help the detectives in the case.
This show is great! I watched it mostly for EXO’s Sehun, who is one of the detectives, but I was happy to see Yoo Jae-Suk there as well since he’s always great. It may sound like the show being scripted will make it boring, but it is actually hilarious despite some of the lines being scripted. The script actually adds to the humor at times. Another reason I love this show is because we get to watch them solve the mysteries. I love watching shows where there is a puzzle that has to be solved, and this is a show that’s full of it!
4. Happy Together
This show, man! Happy Together is a KBS2 show that ran from November 8th, 2001 to April 2nd, 2020, with a total of four seasons. A whole 19 years! Happy Together is a talk show, with each season including different corners. It was the most popular show on KBS from 2002-2003 and its success continued into further seasons, consistently earning high ratings. It became one of the longest-running talk shows in Korea.
Despite only watching some episodes of this show here and there, or some random clips from episodes, I’m sad it ended. For talk shows, having a good host and interesting guests is important, and I believe this show was a great example of this. At least what I watched of it. The guests always had good stories, and Yoo Jae-Suk was great at hosting, as expected. The different corners they had in the first three seasons were entertaining as well. I especially liked the sauna segment.
Two Yoo Project: Sugar Man
This show aired its two-episode pilot on August 19th & 26th, 2015 through JTBC. Its regular broadcasting for Season 1 began October 20th, 2015. Season 2 aired starting January 14th, 2018, and Season 3 November 19th, 2019. Yoo Jae-Suk and Yoo Hee-Yeol host this show. Two Yoo Project revolves around the battle of two teams which are led by Yoo Jae-suk and Yoo Hee-Yeol. Each team recreates a song from a “Sugar Man”, a one-hit-wonder who has since disappeared from the public eye. The song is recreated to fit into today’s music market by guest artists who change each episode.
I watched one episode of this program…the episode EXO members came out in. I also watched clips from some of the other episodes, but not much. It was funny, most of the songs I watched were great, and watching shows where songs are remade are always fun.
So there you have it! The top 5 must-watch K-variety shows hosted by Yoo Jae-Suk, in my opinion. As I said, there are many shows out there, so go forth and watch my friends!!