[TV Series] Running Man: Don't walk but run!
Variety show is some sort of entertainment show that urm.. combine a variety of act such as comedy, stunt, and could even involves magic and circus act. But for Running Man, its mostly involves unscripted stunt and comedy. It was first aired on 11th July 2010 by SBS (Seoul Broadcast System) company. Oh, did I forgot to mentioned its a South Korean variety show? The show is in Korean.
I think this show have become quite popular worldwide, probably I don't even need to explain what the show is about. I think I would just write about the show cast members because they are the ones that makes the show as it is. The show not only full of comedy, body gags, but at the same time uses the opportunity to introduce South Korean remarkable landmarks, cultures and history. The show episode have now reach up to 180 and still keep going. That is quite a lot compared to the previous variety show, Family Outing which reach up to 85 episodes, and Family Outing 2 which only up to 17 episodes.
Now, I must say that. this article is purely my own opinion and I am entitled to my own opinion as all other free people from the free world all across the globe. My opinion doesn't necessarily reflect the choice of a demographic that I may or may not represent.
In Running Man, he is my most favorite cast member. He indeed earned his nickname as the South Korean 'Nation's MC' because when I'm not a Korean, even I understand his jokes. He's excellent with coming up with gags and comedy to ease up tensions between cast members (the show is actually very tiring, physically demanding) and he know just what to say to keep things lively.
His athletic ability is quite questionable, because he always act as a tired, babbling, chatterbox middle-aged man (he is 42 years old) but he certainly can run quite fast. It even suits his nickname as the 'Grasshopper' because of his narrow escaping skills. But his most valuable strength is not his athletic capability, but his comic side and variety skills. It doesn't escape from my notice that most of the guest that come for the Running Man's show almost always choose to be in Yoo Jae Suk's team.
With his humble and supportive (and seriously hilarious) character, it makes the guests to be more comfortable and interactive with him. Not to mention, due to his gags and never ending humor, he always end up with the most airtime compared with the rest. So anyone in his team will always gain more scene (this show is filmed for 1 or 2 days and later would be compressed to about 1 hour show) than the other. It is impossible not to film his hilarious gags and jokes. He also have a great sense of professionalism where he doesn't mind losing but still striving to win. Certainly the kind of player who loves to stay and play. He always remind the other cast members and guest that the game in the variety show, is just a game. No need for hard feeling. To me, he is the single most valuable member in Running Man. I watched the show because of him.
He was a team leader like Yoo Jae-suk in the beginning of the episode series. Even though he didn't exactly make the most contribution to any team he joined, but he is a kind of a character who always ended up helping other teams. There was an episode where his awkward acting causes his team member who was hiding nearby to be captured by the opponent, and there were times where he 'accidentally' gives out the answer to the opposing team causing them to win. I like him because just like Yoo Jae-suk, he also doesn't mind losing. He always put himself in vulnerable situation so much, he got the nickname as 'Impala', as in a herbivore that doesn't realize he is being hunted.
In the early..earlier episodes, he was in Kim Jong-kook team to balance out the team strength. Obviously Kim Jong-kook is overwhelmingly strong in physical activities which compose most of the Running Man's mission. But Kim Jong-kook in the earlier episodes was too hot-headed and obsessed with winning, Ji Suk-jin ended up in Yoo Jae-suk's team and earned the nickname of 'Jae-suk's sunflower' or 'Jae-suk's parody'. Both of them also known as the 'Suk-brothers' because of their long time friendship with the same word in their names. Later, he paired with Lee Kwang-soo and become the new Dumb and Dumber duo from the old variety show of Family Outing. Both of them are known as the 'Easy brothers', supposedly 2 of the most weakest member. But truthfully, they are not. At all. They may be weak in missions, but their hilarity is comparable to 'Suk-brothers' combo, which sometimes overlaps creating the 'Jail Regulars Trio'.
What matter is teamwork, and making the game as entertaining and enjoyable as possible for everyone. That's when he started to gain the 'Commander' nickname, because he would gives out orders in a Spartan way. Especially to his teammates which makes up the 'Kim Jong-kook and Two Kids' that includes Gary and HaHa. Jong-kook also paired up with HaHa alot and creates the 'Big brother (Hyung) and Little brother (Dongsaeng)' where (obviously) Jong-kook is the Hyung and HaHa is the Dongsaeng.
Although he no longer wish to go for 'Love/ Couple line', he started to work together with the rest of the cast members and even go for his cute(?) side which earned him the nickname of 'Kookie' though once in a while the other cast members were shown to be horrified by his act, in hilarious way of course. They not actually condemning him, but more of teasing him so that he would be included into the group gags. I think in a way, Jae-suk influenced him a bit to be more funnier. Jae-suk even tease him by saying stuff like, "Why are you so serious all the time?' or "Why are you always angry?", where HaHa would add "Are you angry 24 hours? Do you wake up in the morning and angry?". Jong-kook would smiled and the tense atmosphere would dissipate just like that. Truth to be told, I love Jong-kook and HaHa combo. I think either HaHa or Jae-suk could stand Jong-kook outburst. Compared with Jae-suk, he is the second most valuable cast member of the Running Man.
But somehow I find his grin is a bit creepy. Although I think its intentional, where he would grin like he is hatching an evil schemes in front of the cast members and guest. He later gain the nickname as the 'Schemer' because he always makes others to fell into a traps, especially when luring Suk-jin. He also good at making plans, because he is urm.. shorter than the rest. Due to his lack of athletic abilities, he compensate with his wit by making up deals with stronger members or even sneakily making deals with the opposing team.
He is incredible dangerous when combined with Jong-kook. Although in the earlier episode, he and Gary would just follow Jong-kook orders, under the 'Kim Jong-kook and Two Kids', but gradually and sneakily he conspired with Gary to overtake Jong-kook (in the episode where Jong-kok had a backache). Later he would be paired with Jong-kook and become the 'Hyung and Dongsaeng' where Jong-kook becomes the strong muscular big brother, while HaHa is the little brother who always tricked his big brother in doing the heavy lifting. His scheming and resourcefulness also makes him a valuable team member (or ally).
He is especially fond of beautiful lady guest (even expecting them in every episode) and always ask them to be his last love (as in, he would never love another woman) causing the other members to call him a 'Playboy' because he always said the same thing to the other ladies. Of course he was just playing around and right after he was married (in real life) to Byul, he stops teasing the lady guests. But still, I like the way he always scream 'Saranghea (I love you)!!' each time a lady guest appeared and Jong-kook would grab him from screwing around.
Due to his 'serious face' gag, he gains the nickname as the 'Framer or Slanderer Kwang-soo' because his face reaction doesn't change no matter whether when he is telling the truth or not about another cast member. In a way, his gag is almost the same as Suk-jin's which later they are paired up and become the new Dumb and Dumber duo called the 'Easy brothers'. Though their pairing easily looks like the weakest team match, they actually quite good. Even losing, they have so much gags, it was hilarious. They started their missions by saying "Today we will work hard and win!!" with strong conviction, only to fail terribly at the end (it was obvious even when they were planning their move).
Ever since the beginning of the Running Man show, he almost always the first person to get captured and sent to 'Jail' in hide and seek missions, thus gaining him the 'Jail-sunbae' nickname. Because in term of seniority, he is the longest serving member in the 'Jail'. Later, he is joined by Suk-jin and Jae-suk creating the 'Jail Regulars Trio' because the three of them almost always would be in 'Jail' after the missions started. They got in so early that whenever the second person is coming to the 'Jail', that person would be greeted with, "Hey, how do you do? Do you know how long I've waited for you?" or "Don't even dreams about winning, you know you belong here." Lol
During the earlier episodes, Kwang-soo had a counterpart, Song Joong-ki. Both of them usually together and known as the 'Same-Aged friends'. Their gags were that Kwang-soo always got treated differently from Joong-ki, because Kwang-soo is taller and have more facial hairs. Even his fashion sense got teased by other cast member (especially by Jong-kook) because it looks like Joong-ki's, though they both is at the same age and its actually common for a same-age friends to dress alike. After Joong-ki left the Running Man, Jae-suk still tease him by highlighting his height, giving him the nickname 'Kwangvatar' because he looks like blue alien native from The Avatar movie.
He is actually a great team member but at some point (I don't remember which episode was it) Jae-suk told him that he could choose either being a strong player in variety show (like Jong-kook) or the comedy path (like Jae-suk and Suk-jin). Of course Jae-suk told him all these to trick him into making mistakes, but in the end Gwang-soo chooses the comedy, and making more gags rather than obsessing with winning. He is so hilarious with his running gags, he gains overwhelming popularity when the show takes to other Asian countries such as China, Thailand, and Vietnam, that earns him the nickname of the 'Prince of Asia'.
He gains his 'Peaceful Gary' nickname from his own face as he always look likes he at peace. Even when he was jumping around to get his pictures taken during one of the early episode's mission. Because of him being new in variety show, he rarely do something to gains himself a nickname, but more of what the cast member sees in him. For example, he is known as 'Wild-Gary' because he loves to sleep naked. Jae-suk humorously called him 'Straight-going Gary' because when he started to run, he never looks around his surrounding (in one episode he missed the flag that he was supposed to grab, making Jae-suk who came after him to win). He is always overly focused in doing his task that he almost unaware of his surrounding, causing Jae-suk to tease him by standing besides him making him to startled "What is the meaning of this?" as a running gag.
But most of the time Gary is known as the 'Monday Boyfriend' due to his love line with Ji Hyo. I don't know why would some fans or guests feel envious to them, or should anyone felt that way? Because to me, 'Monday Couple' is more like a handicap for Gary. Truth to be told, he is actually the second most powerful player in Running Man after Jong-kook in term of athletic abilities. When he becomes the Seeker in the Paired Hide and Seek, he almost took out everyone all by himself by keep on running. It was quite awesome given that in that particular mission, the pairs didn't get any task to be completed so they were just quietly hiding and waited for the timer to run out. But Gary sniff them all out and just chase them all to exhaustion. Too bad the timer went out when he was about to take out HaHa's pair.
Gary is actually the real 'Ace' in Running Man. He didn't only won once, but twice in the Best of the Best Match mission. But unfortunately, he didn't get the recognition because of urmm.. his handicap. Without his Monday Couple love line, he could be one of the most valuable member among Jae-suk and Jong-kook in Running Man. Not to mention when a female guest was invited, Gary would almost always got sidelined because the female guest doesn't want to break his love line plot. Which is sad. But Gary probably really like Ji-hyo and he seems really persistent in attracting her attention, he even took the opportunity to occasionally tried to convey what seems to be a confession..
First of all, her variety skill sucks. And second, why is she called the 'Ace'? It was Gary who won the Best of the Best Match, twice, and he didn't even get the title 'Ace'. She lacks of athletic ability (she doesn't even know how to play jump rope which originally a girl's game), she can't dance, she can't sing, she can't cook, she's not even funny. I don't even understands why her descriptions in the internet is overly exaggerated. Even her roles in Running Man is highly exaggerated.
There were several episodes where she was made to be the team leader. And her team usually got less of airtime. There was an episode, episode 67th I think, where the guests didn't pick up Ji Hyo and just left her there. She ended up being extremely sulky (because the other left out members was the Easy brothers and they teamed up) and not much was shown what happened to the her team in the car during the race. Even at the end when her team won, thanks to Suk-jin, her team didn't even celebrate with her. It was just the Easy brothers. That was not the first time. In other episode where Sunny and Yoona came as guests, Ji-hyo appointed herself as the team leader and refused to listen to Jong-kook planning. The atmosphere in their team's car was tense and quite compared to the other teams. Ironically, the other teams didn't even appoint a team leader, they just had fun all the time.
Where the rest of the teams took their sweet time looking around at the beautiful scenery. Ji-hyo just go on straight and ripped at somebody's nametag. The game was suppose to be finding the thief, not the to eliminate the other members. Kwang-soo was eliminated before he even gets to find the thief.
In the end, the 'discussion' about who was the real thief took place in the Jail which is useless because no one can take any real action. It was really.. I was disappointed, I mean the suspense was there, the mystery and curiosity, and everything, but with everyone just sitting their asses in the Jail, they pretty much be the game show commentators.
It was one of the most boring mission in Running Man. What a waste, considering they were filming it in a foreign country. Jae-suk even took the troubles by goofying around with the Turkish ice-cream seller, buying the sunglasses, getting Jong-kook on the boat...
Other boring missions were, the Mong Water Taxi, Leader of the 300 thieves.. arrghh.. most these mission gives her absolute advantage to win. Sometimes I felt like Running Man make this missions just so she could feel good or something. In episode 40, during the mission Running Man Virus, her team win just like that, just because the judges were her fan. All those training were completely pointless..
In the Mong Water Taxi mission, Joong-ki labeled her as the 'Betrayer Icon'. A couple of episodes later, Jae-suk got a mission where he needs to betray the rest of the Running Man member causing him to hold the 'Betrayer Icon' title.
At first, I didn't think much about it, until 'Traitors Club' was made composed of HaHa, Kwang-soo, and Suk-jin. Why isn't she part of that group? She betrays her team members, like, a lot. At one point, she ditched Jae-suk (after asking him to buy some food and get her a drink) only to go to Jong-kook's team, almost causing Jae-suk to explode with anger.
And, why is she called the 'Ace'? In my opinion, she is the most useless member of the Running Man. Even Suk-jin is actually better. At least Suk-jin is funny when paired with other member. Not to mention she doesn't even belong into any group other that the Monday Couple love line. She is known to swear in the show, caught-red handed by Jae-suk, which later would earn her the nickname of 'Bad Ji-hyo'. I know some people would say that she is a badass, that why she's Bad Ji-hyo. You know she cried, right? There was an incident with Lizzy who supposedly become the second female permanent member, later changed into long-term guest, and poof she's gone. She never appeared again. Lol
I'm not saying that she shouldn't be in the Running Man cast. I'm not even saying that she should quit them. I'm just hoping that she would stop being such as selfish bastard. Wait, isn't that a bit too harsh? I'm sorry. What I mean is that, she need to do something with her teamwork skills. Be more of an effective member of the team. Stop picking on Kwang-soo, you're not funny, he is. Stop being such a sore loser, look at Suk-jin and Jae-suk, there is no shame in losing, its only a game. If you can't cook, at least be funny. And finally, let the Running Man get a second female cast member, let Lizzy come back, you cruel crazy woman!!!