Forbes Joan MacDonald
This week marks the tenth anniversary of the popular Korean reality-variety show Running Man. The SBS program is currently watched by over two million people worldwide and remains one of the top ten reality shows in Korea.
Reality-variety shows form a large part of television entertainment in Korea, with successful formulas combining fun physical challenges, gregarious host personalities and celebrity appearances. Part of Running Man’s popularity is due to its unpredictability and the entertaining interactions between regular cast members and celebrity guests. The cast has changed during the last decade. Original cast members included comedian Yoo Jae-suk; comedian and actor Ji Suk-jin; rapper, songwriter, and record producer, Gary; singer-actor Kim Jong-kook; singer and RPG member Haha; actors Lee Kwang-soo and Song Joong-ki. Actress Song Ji-hyo first appeared as a guest and eventually became a long-term cast member. Song Joong-ki left in 2011 to focus on his acting career. Gary left in 2017. Recent cast additions include actress Jeon So-min and comedian-singer Yang Se-chan.
Celebrity guests have included actors such as Gong Hyo Jin, Gong Yoo, Bae Suzy, Ha Ji Won, Im Si-wan, and Lee Dong-wook, and performers such as CNBlue’s Jung Yong-Hwa, Girls Generation, and Blackpink. Some of the highest-rated episodes featured sports figures such as professional football players Park Ji-Sung and Seol Ki-hyun and Korean-Japanese wrestler Chu Sung-hoon. Ji Chang-wook and Kim Yoo-jung, co-stars of the convenience store k-drama Backstreet Rookie, recently filmed an episode which featured laugh-provoking challenges in a real convenience store.
The variety show has a lot of loyal fans to celebrate and plans to do so on air. On July 12 Running Man will air a live broadcast, featuring all eight cast members, and also involve some audience participation. Running Man asked viewers to recommend races they want to see again, so the cast and crew could prepare for the special episode. There are a few ways to get in on the fun, whether viewers are Running Man super fans or reality show newbies.
Kocowa, a joint venture between Korea’s three terrestrial channels, SBS, MBC and KBS, will hold a Running Man Watch Party on July 12. Since the episode airs live in Korea at 1 a.m. PST, it will be rebroadcast 5pm PST/8pm EST in North and Latin America. Fans will be able to chat while they watch the episode.
For viewers who want to rewatch—or catch up on—some of the greatest Running Man hits, Kocowa will also showcase episodes featuring the program’s top 10 guest stars during the past 10 years. These episodes have not been available for a while.
Kocowa already airs the episodes starring Park Seo-joon (362), Girls Generation (363), Blackpink (330), Tom Cruise (410) and Ryan Reynolds (482). The newly available episodes feature guest appearances from Rain (214), Lee Hyo-ri (1), Song Joong-ki (12), Kim Soo-hyun (102) and IU (168).
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