8 Korean Variety Shows
You Should Watch
By Jerica Chingcuangco
If you grew up in the Philippines, you’ve probably watched a variety show at lunchtime. Pinoy variety includes skits, song and dance numbers, lots of crying, and up to millions worth of cash and prizes given away.
Korean variety is a whole different ball game—and yes, sometimes it does include the presence of actual balls. K-variety has evolved to have different formats like game-variety or the popular reality-variety, which involves challenges, unpracticed stunts, and only a simple script for the hosts. Post-production, the shows are edited to add funny captions and effects.
Celebrities often appear on variety shows to promote and instead of just singing/dancing/giving their promo spiel, they actively participate in the show proper from start to finish—this means anything from seeing your favorite celeb exposing secrets, putting stockings over their heads, to rolling around in mud. Saya, no?
Celebrity guests are separated into two teams to compete with each other, with one guest assigned the role of the “Xman”. The Xman is tasked to subtly sabotage their own team while keeping their identity a secret. At the end of the show, teams vote on the identity of the Xman—whoever guesses correctly wins.
Hosts: Yoo Jae-suk, Kang Ho-dong, Kim Je-dong, Gong Hyung-jin/Park Kyung-lim/Lee Hyuk-jae
Format: Variety with game segments. The most popular game segment was the “Of Course” game. Two people from opposing teams will face each other and give verbal attacks (common tactics are using insults, landian, absurd comments, or spilling secrets) and the opponent has to agree with “Of course”, no matter the statement.
7. I Live Alone
I Live Alone follows the lives of the cast and guests who… live alone. It’s a simple format, but it works as the show has been on for five years, and is even climbing ratings. Viewers get a peek not only into the homes of K-celebs, but to their daily routines. The footage shown makes celebrities relatable, from an actress who starts her day by opening her curtains with her foot, to seeing idols’ cooking skills (or lack thereof), to an actor’s excitement at having friends over.
Hosts: Jun Hyun-moo, Kian 84, Han Hye Jin, Lee Si-eon, Park Na-rae, Yoon Hyun-min, Henry Lau, Sung Hoon
Format: Reality-variety. The cast and guests film a day in their life. After this, the rest of the cast and the celebrity guest film a segment where they watch the filmed footage and give side comments as the footage plays.
6. Weekly Idol
Weekly Idol exclusively guest stars idols. The show began in 2011 and has a variety of segments, which vary from episode to episode. Their most famous segments are Random Play Dance and the 2X Speed Dance. The show recently changed hosts, ending Defconn and Jeong Hyeong-don’s seven-year run.
Format: Variety with various segments like relay races, listening to fan messages, 2x Speed Dance and Random Play Dance.
Hosts: Lee Sang-min, Yoo Se-yoon, Kim Shin-young
5. The Return of Superman
It’s mom’s weekend off! Celebrity dads take care of their kids for 48 hours, which results in loads of laughter and heartwarming moments between dads and their kids. Dads and kids complete tasks, try new activities, and sometimes hang-out with dad’s celebrity friends.
Format: Reality-variety, with majority of the cast between 5 months to 10 years old.