A K-dramaAddict's Guide To Korean Variety Shows [Part 2, Guest Post]

TA-DA! Hi everyone, I'm back with the second part of my post! Put your hands up people! And... your feet too! (and yep you gonna fall. Sorry...). And so, without further ado, let me go straight into the "guide" and continue from where I left off last time..

1 Night 2 Days

1 Night 2 Days follows 5-7 of its cast members as they made various overnight trips throughout Korea, including many offshore islands and was hosted by another famous MC, Kang Ho Dong (which you will hear a lot when you're watching K-variety) and cast members: Lee Seung-gi (My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, King 2 Hearts), singer Kim Jong-min, comedian Lee Su-geun, Uhm Tae-woong (Equator Man, Mawang), Eun Ji-won (Answer Me 1997, member of Sech Kies), singer Kim C, and singer MC Mong in its first season. Season 1 just finished its 5 year airing this year, and followed by season 2 almost immediately. In contrast to Family Outing season 2, I think the new cast: singer Sung Shi-kyung, Cha Tae-hyun (My Sassy Girl, Jeon Woo-chi), Joo Won (Gaksital, Ojagkyo Brothers, mine!), and Kim Seung-woo (The Talented Mrs Ripley, Third Ward) along with some of the old casts: Uhm Tae-woong, Kim Jong-min, Lee Su-geun managed to keep the show entertaining with their own unique characters and chemistry AND epic bromance.
Similar to Running Man, the goal of 1N2D (other than entertainment) is to highlight and explore various places of interest in South Korea and promote them to the audience in the best way possible, through various antics and adventure of the cast members.

The show is well-known for one of its segment, "Bok Bul Bok Game" or "luck or not", which is a game used to determine which members will be getting food as well as which members will be sleeping outside. Some simple games are normally held to decide the winners and the losers. The losers will receive a punishment, such as drinking salt water or soy sauce or eating other strange foods, like "Kkanari Eakjeott", "Wasabi", "Vinegar", and more. In some cases (especially if they bargain well with the PD), they are able to be exempted from sleeping outside or receive food and prizes automatically if they can pass the punishment, however this rarely happens. I never taste the Kkanari sauce before in my life, but judging from the cast's expressions, I'm sure it tastes like having molten lava force fed down your throat through a pressure hose.

The show also holds a viewers special every year, in which selected viewers who have sent their applications will get the chance to come on the show and join the cast members during their overnight trip. The huge number of applicants with wide range of age group goes on to show just how popular the show is in South Korea itself.

What makes this show even more interesting -just like many other Korean variety shows- is how the staff (PD, writers, cameramen, lightning crew, etc) is highly visible in this show. The staff and cast interact actively, and they sometimes even hold competition against each other and it t is so obvious that the staff have made it their mission to make our cast members suffer.
Watching the second season while watching Gaksital really screwed my brain. Because who would have thought that Gaksital is actually afraid of bugs?! :D

Happy Together

Happy Together is a talk show that has been airing for over than 10 years and has undergone major revamp over its 3 seasons. The third season is currently still airing and what distinguished the show from other Talk Show is that it is set up in a sauna and so it creates a casual and friendly atmosphere. The rapport between the 4 MCs (Yoo Jae-suk, Park Myung-su, Shin Bong-sun and Park Mi-sun) is great and I think it is one of the reasons that make the show stays interesting. Just like other talk show/variety shows, you will be seeing a lot of dancing, singing, scene re-enactments, etc.

What makes the show funny as well is how both female MCs seem to channel my inner fangirl side whenever they're around the good looking male guests, e.g. making all sort of excuses to get a little "skinship". Pfffttt...

Park Shi-hoo's and Shin Bong-sun's skinship moment (sorry you have to see this kakashi!)

Strong Heart

Strong Heart is a talk show which has been running for more than 3 years and over 2 seasons. The first season was hosted by Kang Ho-dong and Lee Seung-gi, while the second season is hosted by  Lee Dong-wook and Shin Dong-yeop.

Strong Heart is formatted as a talk battle show in which a set number of guest stars will take turns in telling "powerful" stories to make people cry or laugh. After hearing the stories from two guests, the audience will decide whose story is the best one. Just like a survival game, the winner then will be facing the next guest and the audience will get to decide again. The guest whose story wins at the end is the final winner.

But more than just a talk battle show, Strong Heart actually gives a glimpse into the lives of the guest stars through their stories. Over the years, most stars will come on the show and share the stories of the hardships they faced in debuting, sad, happy, strange, or funny experiences. Some celebrities also used the opportunity to clear out some rumors or even to announce their happy news.
"What?! I thought I've told mom to get rid of all of my old pictures?!"
Again, just like other variety shows, you'll be seeing lots of dancing, singing, impersonations, etc in segments hosted by the six fixed guests which include Boom, Super Junior's Lee Teuk and Eunhyuk, and other well-known comedians. In its earlier days, the Boom Academy (Boom, Lee Teuk, Eunhyuk, and Super Junior's Shindong) hosted a segment where they will reveal the old/funny/strange/lookalikes pictures of the guests. Most of the pictures are probably the ones that the celebs really want to bury deep and never uncover again and having them revealed usually provoke knee-jerk reactions of breaking the cardboard pictures, which in a way also evokes hilarity.

We Got Married (WGM)

First of all, I'm not following WGM as faithfully as other shows mentioned above, except for one couple: Adam Couple (2AM's Jokwon & Brown-eyed Girls' Ga-in). And I only caught several episodes from the first season so that I would feel a bit justified to write something on this show. In a nutshell, WGM is a show that paired up Korean celebrities to depict life as married couple. Each week, these "newlyweds" are given a mission to complete and behind-the-scene interview to reveal their perspective on the ongoing relationship conflicts and developments. The participants, MCs, and audience will then get the chance to watch all of the recorded material to add commentary or clarification.

Through its missions, WGM provides an outlook on how the idealized Korean couple should function, from how the dates are like to acceptable behavior and skinship. The addition of Julian Kang into the couples in season 4 might also shows the viewers on how intercultural relationship works and how the couple can overcome their differences and barriers and come halfway between cultures.

My favorite couple (i.e. the only couple I followed) is Adam Couple. The couple was actually a guest couple for the Chuseok special. However during their brief appearance, the couple showed a good rapport and managed to garner high rating. Later it was announced that they have joined the show as a permanent couple. Unfortunately for them, because it was planned that they would only become a temporary couple in the beginning, the couple then had to be stuck with living in their little caravan. They are probably the poorest couple (also the longest couple) in all seasons of WGM but their relationship also felt more real because watching them is like watching real newlyweds who struggle with having nothing and have to work hard each week to complete their missions and have their living conditions upgraded. Their personalities compliment each other and they have so much chemistry and hilarity. They bicker, argue, and flirt a lot but at the end of the day it still look like they genuinely care for each other.

 So... who is your favorite WGM couple? :)