I have to admit, when I first started up this blog, I really didn’t expect myself to delve into entertainment or lifestyle topics. However, since I decided to start writing about anything and everything that interests me, one of the most prominent and beloved topics that I decided to cover was, of course – South Korea’s unique variety show, Running Man!
|Members From Left to Right - Ji Suk Jin, Lee Kwang Soo, Kim Jong Kook, Song Ji Hyo, Yoo Jae Suk, Kang Gary, Ha Dong Hoon (HaHa),|
|Kim Jong Kookie~|
What really makes Running Man so popular? Currently, it seems that most of the youth in Singapore are fans of or have at least heard of the popular Korean show. In fact, the show is quickly garnering international recognition – a booming popularity that may even be a root contributor to Kim Jong Kook’s apparent interest in participating in a world tour! Kudos to the original Kim Jong Kook fans out there (maybe from the Family Outing era?), but it really is an honest truth that most of his fans now have probably come to know about him through of his dynamic role on Running Man. Not that that’s a bad thing in any way! Whatever the case may be, I for one thoroughly enjoyed his enthusiastic visit to our sunny shores which happened not too long ago.
|Running Man Members united against Idol Team!|
Anyway, just a brief introduction to ‘Running Man’! The South Korean ‘Urban Action-Variety’ show consists of a seven-member strong cast, all possessing their own adorable monikers and personalities. Idol guests are not uncommon to the show, and these guests along with the permanent members participate in ‘missions’ throughout the hour-long broadcast. Missions are undertaken either in teams or as individuals, with occasional reversals where ‘spies’ are identified within the teams or through other unexpected situations. Missions usually consist of the tearing of nametags (though not always), which explains why a ‘nametag’ is always associated with the term ‘Running Man’. Hence the show motto – Walk, not run! More than a handful of Korea’s top artistes and idols have appeared on Running Man at least once, and the show is always increasingly entertaining with the appearances of especially memorable guests like Jung Yong Hwa from CN Blue or Choi Min Soo, the official Running Man Hunter!
|Ji Suk Jin 'Helping' from Jail after he has been eliminated.|
Honestly, every member of the cast is an integral part of the show - even ‘Big-Nosed’ Hyungnim (term of respect for an older male) - Ji Suk Jin - the show’s beloved ‘Impala’! Ji Suk Jin is the oldest member in the cast, initially known as ‘Yoo Jae Suk’s Sunflower’. While he isn’t exactly a formidable contender in terms of physical strength (which is actually incredibly important in the show), he does make up for it with his brains and occasionally valuable intuition. In fact, he even surprised everybody recently by taking out the show’s most lethal member, Kim Jong Kook, in episode 130! I for one was incredibly proud of our dear Impala, and I honestly thought that he should have received a little more recognition for that feat. However, the fact remains that Ji Suk Jin will probably retain the role of the show’s one-and-only ‘Race-starter’ (the participant to always be eliminated first in every mission) for a very long time – one-time miracles and occasional shining moments not withstanding.
|Lee Kwang Soo|
However, this doesn’t seem to be the case for the other half of the ‘Easy-Brothers’ component, Lee Kwang Soo! Kwang Soo is occasionally part of the ‘Easy Brothers’ pairing (a couple nickname Lee Kwang Soo shares with Ji Suk Jin, dubbed so because ‘Lee-Ji’ sounds like ‘Easy’ – appropriately describing the pair’s ‘weak’ reputation. JYP even made them their own ‘Easy’ theme song!). He is affectionately referred to as the ‘Giraffe’ or ''Kwangvatar" (due to his astounding height of 193m), and is the youngest member of the cast - recently starting to amaze viewers with the results of his strong determination and hard work. Proudly bestowed with the title of ‘Asia’s Prince’, Lee Kwang Soo is known to be surprisingly popular amongst international fans (though the other members are too!) and is known for his prey-predator relationship with the show’s ‘Commander’, Kim Jong Kook. Lee Kwang Soo often provokes his Hyung (a term of respect which means ‘older brother’), Kim Jong Kook, whenever he finds the opportunity, and Jong Kook is always quick to respond with a scolding or a physical apprehension. Don’t misunderstand, though – Kwang Soo and Jong Kook are very close friends off-screen and neither of them really possesses any negativity towards each other despite what their actions on the show might suggest. Kwang Soo often comes off as ‘weak’ or ‘pathetic’, but there have been many instances in which Kwang Soo has surprised viewers with his will and strength. Another interesting ‘component’ that Kwang Soo is often associated with is the ‘Betrayer Team’, which consists of Ji Suk Jin, Lee Kwang Soo and Haha (Ha Dong Hoon). Kwang Soo is also known to be close friends with Song Joong Ki, a cast member that has since pulled out off the show due to a conflicting drama schedule. Kwang Soo and Joong Ki are same-aged friends, a fact that often surprises guests on the show due to the pair’s differences in ‘appearance’- (Joong Ki is a renowned ‘flower boy’, meaning exceptionally beautiful, while some believe that Kwang Soo is lacking in the looks department).
|Easy Brothers and the Betrayal DNA|
|Kim Jong kook|
Kim Jong Kook is well known for his ‘bullying’ relationship with Kwang Soo, and is known to be the show’s ‘invincibly strong’ or undefeatable member - boasting impressive nicknames like ‘Commander’ or ‘Sparta-Kook’. (However, Jong Kook has recently reviewed at the Singapore Fan meet that he personally prefers affectionate nicknames like ‘Kookie’ to nicknames like ‘Commander’ as he feels that the latter puts more pressure on him). Kim Jong Kook is also referred to as Running Man’s ‘Tiger’, and is usually the main target of both guests and fellow cast members alike due to his ferocity – both in terms of his heightened intelligence as well as his well-endowed muscular body. However, Jong Kook is also a gentleman and is very gentle and respectful towards all female guests, sometimes to an extent where they even become a ‘weakness’ to him – he is also caring towards the show’s only female member, Song Ji Hyo - as seen from recent episode 138 where he pats her head with concern after she is pushed roughly into the water. Kim Jong Kook was once known for his relationship with Haha and Kang Gary (namely, ‘Kim Jong Kook and the two kids’), and is rather close to Nation MC’s Yoo Jae Suk due to previous shows like Family Outing (Jae Suk revealed in a FO episode that he used to give ‘Kookie’ an allowance in the past!). Kim Jong Kook remains the most formidable cast member, though viewers should keep in mind that, while he works out often to keep healthy, he is still essentially a singer! Jong Kook probably works very hard to defeat the younger idol guests sometimes and should be commended on his hard work, both in terms of entertaining (an example being ‘bullying’ Kwang Soo despite the repercussions) as well as dominating in all challenges.
|"Call me 'Kookie'!"|
|Nation's MC Yoo Jae Suk|
Nation’s MC Yoo Jae Suk is easily the most recognizable of the cast members in Running Man. He is well reputed as Korea’s MC (even receiving an international award of recognition!) and has starred individually in an abundance of other programs – one example being his humorous appearance in PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ video! Amongst the rest of the members, Jae Suk is the most senior in terms of experience and is always looked up to and rightfully respected by the rest of the cast. He was initially responsible for helping to sculpt and ease his fellow members into their respective personalities, and is often portrayed as an overzealous (especially to guests) and dependable member on Running Man. Jae Suk possesses a hilarious love-hate relationship with HaHa on screen, and was once engaged in a Candy Alliance (formed through the mutual presentation of sweets) with the only female member Song Ji Hyo. Jae Suk has been given endearing nicknames like ‘Yoo-Hyuk’ (dance master) and Yoomes Bond (the first member ‘spy’ on the show), and is often referred to as the Grasshopper. Jae Suk is easily the second or third strongest member on the show.
|Song Ji Hyo|
Song Ji Hyo is the only female member in the cast, and is often thought of as the ‘pride’ of Running Man. With her sharp intuition and impressively irreproachable levels of skill and ability, Ji Hyo has earned the title of ‘Ace’ and has proven that she is just as formidable as any of her male members. In fact, Ji Hyo has dominated multiple missions through her own prowess and has exhibited her shocking strength by taking out male members Haha and Yoo Jae Suk in one-to-one, hand-to-hand combat! Ji Hyo is one half of the much-loved ‘Monday Couple’ with Lee Ssang’s one-and-only Kang Gary, although she is also part of fan-developed love-lines like ‘Spartace Couple’ (Ji Hyo and Jong Kook) or, previously, ‘Song-Song Couple’ (with Song Joong Ki). Song Ji Hyo is also referred to affectionately as Blank (‘Mong’, a play on her surname ‘Song’) Ji Hyo especially by Yoo Jae Suk, which originated from her rather lackluster performances in quizzes. Honestly, you really have to hand it to the girl for being able to retain both nicknames ‘Ace’ and ‘Blank’ at the same time! Whatever the case may be, Song Ji Hyo is never to be underestimated and is always a reliable member that is highly motivated to win.
Kang Gary is the other half of the ‘Monday Couple’ love-line, and is known for being ‘innocent’ and naïve despite his extended experience on the show. However, Gary frequently surprises all viewers with the emergence of his alter ego, the ‘Sudden Commander’ – his prowess is easily exhibited in situations where he has taken out Kim Jong Kook or even Song Ji Hyo, his ‘weakness’, to emerge as the eventual winner. Gary is a moral and gentlemanly member and can always be depended on in teams because he is not one prone to betrayals. Gary does not speak out often but is always hilarious whenever he is given the chance to shine. Honestly, it is always entertaining whenever Gary is paired up with Ji Hyo and his evolution into a more sharp-witted and formidable opponent can be seen in a recent episode where he successfully lied to Jae Suk and Suk Jin in order to frame Kim Jong Kook.
|Can Gary be JiHyo's Hyunbin?|
Ha Dong Hoon (Haha) is a hilarious character that has comfortably taken on the nickname ‘Haroro’ (After the kid show protagonist, ‘Pororo’), despite being the fourth eldest on the show. HaHa is not well endowed in terms of physical prowess (his height is 170m, considerably shorter than his fellow male members), although he is not to be underestimated either (Idol guests Lee Jong Suk and Min Hyo-Rin admitted that he was incredibly strong and hard to eliminate even in a 2v1 battle). Unfortunately, HaHa is usually easily apprehended by his fellow Running Men (although he is able to handle Ji Suk Jin easily), though he is usually able to effectively fool them using his sharpened ‘betrayal skills’. HaHa is known to possess a ‘kiddy’ and ‘playboy’ character, even though it has not been long since he was happily married with actress Byul. HaHa is the dongsaeng (endearment term meaning younger sibling) closest to Jong Kook on-screen, and has always come through in situations where he is expected to trick the other participants.
|HaHa's Jekyll and Hyde complex|
Some of the renowned guests that have made an appearance on the show are:
- Big Bang
-‘Game Devil’ Kim Soo Roo
-‘Sweet and Savage’ park Ye Jin
- Nickhun (2PM)
- SNSD (Girls Generation)
- Kim Hyun Joong
- Choi Min Soo
- Jung Yong Hwa (and other CNBlue members)
- Lee Seung Gi
- Eun Jung (T-ara)
- Lee Joon (MBLAQ)
- Eun Hyuk/ Si Won (Super Junior)
- Yoon Du Joon (Beast)
- Hyun A
- Tiger JK & Yoon Mi Rae
- Sulli (Fx)
Thank you for your time! Please do not hesitate to send in your thoughts or feedback to Ordinarysgkid@hotmail.com or to follow me on twitter at @NatKathXo :) I hope to see you soon!
Credits: First pic - runningmanclub.blogspot.com, Second pic - tumblr.com, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eight, Nine Pic - runningmangifs.tumblr.com, Seventh pic - unofficialrunningman.blogspot.com, Tenth Pic - lovableoneman.tumblr.com, Eleventh pic - es.drama.wikia.com, southkoreaddict.blogspot.com, leessangkary.tumblr.com, koreanmovie.com