Running Man

Running Man is a South Korean variety show that places the cast and potential guests in various landmarks and locations throughout South Korea (and sometimes around the world) competing against each other to complete missions and ultimately becoming the winner at the end of the episode.

Originally aired June 16, 2013

Cast

Yoo Jae-Suk

Kim Jong-Kook

Song Ji-Hyo

Gary

Haha

Lee Kwang-Soo

Ji Suk Jin

Guests

Chansung & Taecyeon (2PM)

MMA fighters Choo Sung-Hoon (Yoshihiro Akiyama) &  Kim Dong-Hyun

Martial Arts master and movie star Jung Doo-Hong

I’m a fairly big Running Man fan. Initially, I only watched the episodes with guests (usually K-pop people) I know and like. But overtime I began to enjoy the core cast by themselves, and I was hooked. The show itself has recently eclipsed 200 episodes. If I was more diligent (read: not lazy) I would probably be close, if not caught up with the show. But I am liking my leisurely pace on watching every episode, so perhaps the only time I will be caught up with the show is if/when Running Man stops being on the air. In any event, I decided to take a shot with our Random Viewing feature to see whether or not I could take my quest of watching all of the show and make it into a regular feature on Selective Hearing.

Although this episode is old, spoilers will be in effect. 

Courtesy and thanks to KShowNow for the English subtitles.

The episode beings with Yoo Jae Suk and Kim Jong-Kook being brought in by the Field Director Dong Wan as Dong (Nick) Fury. He tells the two of them to gather the rest of the RM cast to form teams, and go into training to gain superhero memberships (Probably an accidental reference to the Civil War Marvel arc). So the two of them go driving to their locations to pick them up and form their teams.

My favorite reoccurring theme is the Monday Couple loveline between Song Ji-Hyo and Gary. They film the episodes on Mondays and their on-screen on/off relationship truly warms my soul. There’s a good early moment where when the cast goes to pick up Ji-Hyo, she is singing Our Meeting, a LeeSsang song, a duo that Gary is one half of. She is dressed in all black singing beautifully horrible, and Gary grabs the mic and beginning rapping and rocking with his Monday Girlfriend.

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I re-watched this scene multiple times.

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She looks at you, you follow.

Once the crew picks her up, it appears that only Haha has joined Jong-Kook on his team. As Jae-Suk’s team enters the car, Monday Couple pulls a fast one and ditches Jae-Suk for The Commander. They keep stacking these Monday Couple moments one after another.

Their first mission is a paintball fight. Jong-Kook’s team has to grab the flag, while Jae-Suk’s team has to defend it and eliminate the other team. Whoever wins gains their superhero memberships. They wear large white nametags and if the opposing team gets hit there, they are out. After Kwang-Soo’s antics and a lack of ammo, Jae-Suk’s team pulls the upset and win the game, gaining their superhero memberships, and becoming exempt from having to participate in the next mission.

The second mission occurs at the Seoul Action School, where they see a demonstration of stunt actors doing what they do best, a highly coordinated, wire-work filled fight scene. It’s impressive and quite a scene to behold. Jong-Kook’s team is introduced to the next mission: a three-stage mission where if they succeed in any of the three stages, they will gain their membership. The first stage is a dodgeball game against the stunt actors. They must survive  for two minutes. Not sure if the stunt actors have something to prove, but they really put some muscle in their throws. Unfortunately, they lost. Jae-Suk’s team had to “demostrate” how to succeed at the mission, but after a surprising catch by Suk-Jin, they fell as well.

Sacrifice for the team, Gary.

Sacrifice for the team, Gary.

The second stage are Loyalty sit-ups. Collectively, the team has to beat the number of sit-ups one stuntman had done in one minute, which was 71. Their first try they came two short of beating the number. With a flurry of Gary sit-ups, the team finally get 72 sit-ups and gain their memberships as well.

This is where the episodes gets really good. The cast arrives at the Incheon S Shopping Mall, where one by one, they walk into a shipping truck and gain their superhero costumes and superhero abilities. Running Man fans will note that this isn’t the first time an episode was centered around each member having some sort of superpowers to help them gain victory, but it is the first where the Avengers gimmick was invoked.

The teams are now dissolved, and it’s each member for themselves. The remaining person with their name tag is the winner.

The list goes as follows:

  • Yoo Jae-Suk as Captain Running Man – Spray water on a name tag to enlarge it, making it easier for elimination
  • Lee Kwang-Soo as Girin (Giraffe) Eye – If his arrows land, something “unfortunate” will occur to them
  • Ji Suk-Jin as The Hulk – When he raises his heartbeat to a certain point, he becomes The Hulk
  • Kim Jong-Kook as Kkook Thor – If he shouts, “By the power of thunder! Rumble, crash!” and smashes his hammer in the Thor Zone, he will blind his enemies
  • Haha as Iron Ha- He can levitate, shoot fireballs and has tracking equipment at his disposal
  • Song Ji-Hyo as  Black Blank (Mong) – If she leaves a black fingermark on someone, she can use their superpowers once they are eliminated
  • Gary as Spider Gary – He can throw spiderwebs and has another secret ability

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After entering the mall and making fun of each other’s costumes, the guests enter one by one.

  • Chansung & Taecyeon (2PM) – One of them has the real name tag, if the real one is pulled they are both out. One of the has the fake one, if the fake one is pulled they both remain in the game
  • Choo Sung-Hoon (Yoshihiro Akiyama) – If he is facing someone, he can force them to a one vs one battle for one minute
  • Jung Doo-Hong – Can’t fool the master, he knows everyone’s abilities

The reveal of the guests forces the RM cast to band together to eliminate the “villians.” But it’s Running Man, they end up not trusting one another once they discover Ji-Hyo’s thumb marks on Gary and Suk-Jin. Jae-Suk also strikes by changing the name tags on both Kwang-Soo and Jong-Kook. Now everyone is on edge, slowing find ways to win.

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She strikes…

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She acts…

Song Ji Hyo

She celebrates.

Gary is soon pursued by 2PM, and deploys his spider web in defense. It doesn’t work. He gets his name tag removed. We then find out that Gary’s other ability is his name tag is attached to his suit by a web and he and reel it back and remain in the game. Until someone rips that web, Gary is immune from elimination.

Sneaky.

Sneaky.

Out of all the superheros, Haha as Iron Man is the best. Dude gets to fly from the 1st floor to the 2nd. He also has a glove that shoots sparks. He’s a big kid in an Iron Man suit. How I envy him.

When Sexyama (One of Sung-hoon’s nicknames) challenges someone, a ring crew complete with corners and ropes comes and sets up the ring. It’s absurd and great. Hopefully those dudes got paid well. Sexyama fails to eliminate Gary in fear of not knowing what Gary holds in his backpack.

One of the best moments is when Suk-Jin becomes The Hulk. When his heart rate reached 170, he “transformed” into The Hulk, who is played by Kim Dong-Hyun. After five minutes, Dong-Hyun leaves and Suk-Jin comes back into the game. I didn’t think my MMA itch would be scratched in this episode, but I got it twice. The hits keep on coming.

Gary out.

Gary out.

The Hulk does what The Hulk gon’ do. He attacks Gary, ripping his name tag and the web attached to it, officially eliminating Gary. At this point in the show, I’m solely rooting for Ji-Hyo to win. I tend to want Monday Couple to win, so if one goes down, I support the other.

Eliminations quickly occur, with 2pM getting rid of Haha, and Sexyama takes out Jong-Kook. Sexyama catches Suk-Jin trying to transform again and promptly pulls his name tag. At this point, Ji-Hyo has both Gary and Suk-Jin’s abilities. Kwang-Soo is betrayed by Jae-Suk, proving again trust is fragile during Running Man.

The episodes is edited to make it appear as though both 2PM and Jae-Suk were eliminated simultaneously. This now leaves three people: Sung-Hoon, Doo-Hong, and Ji-Hyo. As steep as the odds were, my faith in a Ji-Hyo victory grew stronger. Then Ji-Hyo makes a suggestion.

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Then they battle.

Fucking awesome.

Sung-Hoon is the victory of the episode after entering the ring against Doo-Hong and ripping his name tag.

The episode ends like the second Iron Man movie, with Kwang-Soo meeting Dong Fury funding out who has been appropriate  to join the Avengers. Ji-Hyo was the only one that was approved. This ending sets up a future episode where “a big war” is coming.

I’m glad I wrote about this episode since it was not only the 150th episode, but also jam-packed with guests, and a cool gimmick that I think could work for at least another episode.

Although the work to write about the episode was a bit more than I expected, I did enjoy it. Taking the screencaps were also fun. We shall see if I decide to use Running Man to create a new feature, or I might just keep using Random Viewing as my soapbox to talk about the show. Should I do this again? What could I do different? Should I do a podcast? Let me know in the comments.