Running Man (TV series)

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Good Sunday - Running Man
RunningMan.jpg
Don't walk but run!
Genre Game-variety show, Comedy
Starring Yoo Jae-suk
Gary
Haha
Ji Suk-jin
Kim Jong-kook
Lee Kwang-soo
Song Ji-hyo
Country of origin South Korea
Original language(s) Korean
No. of episodes 206 (as of July 27, 2014) (List of episodes)
Production
Producer(s) Jo Hyo-jin
Im Hyung-taek
Running time 85-95 minutes per episode
Broadcast
Original channel SBS
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
Audio format Stereo
Original run July 11, 2010 – Present
Chronology
Preceded by Family Outing 2
Related shows Good Sunday
External links
Website
Korean name
Hangul
Revised Romanization Reonningmaen
McCune–Reischauer Rŏnningmaen

Running Man (Korean: 런닝맨) is a South Korean variety show; a part of SBS's Good Sunday lineup, along with Roommate. It was first aired on July 11, 2010. This show was classified as an "urban action variety"; a never-before-seen new genre of variety shows focused in an urban environment.[1] The MCs and guests complete missions in a landmark to win the race.[2] The show has since shifted to a more familiar reality-variety show concept focused on games. It has garnered attention as being the come-back program for Yoo Jae-suk, the main MC of the program, after leaving Good Sunday's Family Outing in February 2010.[3]

Airing at the 5 pm KST time slot for most of its run, Running Man switched to the second part of Good Sunday (which happened May 22 and May 29, 2011 with Kim Yu-na's Kiss and Cry but was quickly switched back due to low ratings) beginning May 6, 2012, airing after Kim Byung-man's Law of the Jungle 2 at 6:10 pm and airing against KBS2 Happy Sunday's 1 Night 2 Days Season 2 and MBC Sunday Night's I Am a Singer 2.[4]

The show has been popular in other parts of Asia as well, and gained online popularity among Hallyu fans, having been subtitled to a number of languages by volunteers, such as English, Spanish, Thai, Malay, Vietnamese and Arabic.

Format[edit]

Current[edit]

As of episode 48, the members take part in a series of missions (see Missions below for details) to become the winner(s) at the end of the race. The format of the show moves away from the "race mission + other missions" format into strictly one long race with continuous missions during the race.

Previous[edit]

Special Series[edit]

Throughout the history of Running Man, special series have progressed with storytelling and movie-like episodes. Many of these series have been praised for their thrill and excitement, and are considered some of the more higher quality episodes of Running Man.[10]

Missions[edit]

Missions form the basis of Running Man as members try to avoid punishment in earlier episodes or win prizes. Multiple missions are presented in each episode, with the highlight of Running Man being race missions.

Personnel[edit]

Cast[edit]

The original members of Running Man are Yoo Jae-suk, Ji Suk-jin, Kim Jong-kook, Haha, Lee Kwang-soo, Song Joong-ki, and Gary.[20] Song Ji-hyo was originally a guest for the second (episode 2-3) and third landmark (episode 4-5). She officially joined the program in the fourth landmark (episode 6) but was unable to attend until the fifth landmark (episode 7).[21] Lizzy was also originally a guest for the eleventh (episode 13) and twelfth landmark (episode 14). She officially joined the program in the sixteenth landmark (episode 18).[22] However, she has not been seen since episode 26. In February 2011, it was revealed that she was only a long-term guest and has left the program. Producer Jo Hyo-jin has stated that she is welcome to return at any time.[23] In April 2011, Song Joong-ki recorded his last episode in May, and has left the program to focus on his acting career but returned on episode 66 as a guest after leaving for almost half a year.[24]

Current cast[edit]

Name Nickname(s) Duration Notes
Yoo Jae-suk Yoo-ruce Willis (유르스 윌리스)
Yoo Hyuk (유혁)
Yoo-mes Bond (유임스 본드)
Grasshopper (메뚜기)
Episode 1 – present The main host of the show and known during the race missions for his escaping abilities. He is shown to have a closer relationship with a lot of the guests on the show, which he often boasts about to the other members. He is also often referenced to the color green throughout the show and is also known for his nickname "Grasshopper" from his first television appearances. Although initially a weak player during the race missions, he later becomes one of the strongest players in the series, and is, along with Kim Jong-kook, considered to be one of the two main powers in the race missions.
Gary Peaceful Gary (평온개리)
Monday Boyfriend (월요남친)
Straight-Going Gary (직진개리)
Gary-sswi (개리쒸)
Wild Gary (야생개리)
Episode 1 – present Introduced alongside Lee Kwang-soo and Song Joong-ki as one of the "variety rookies" due to his lack of experience on variety shows prior to Running Man. He is shown as the most gullible but honest member. Throughout the series, he has been involved in the official loveline of the show alongside Song Ji-hyo. Although shown to be quite clueless at times, he is known as "The man full of surprises" and the "dark horse" of Running Man during race missions, highlighted when the show held the Best of the Best Match with him winning on two occasions.
Haha Haroro (하로로)
Roro (로로)
Penguin (펭귄)
Playboy (난봉꾼)
Kid (꼬마)
Episode 1 – present The primary joker of the cast and is usually picked on by other members because of his height and his similar appearance to Pororo the Little Penguin. He also has a tendency to feel as though he is the main lead in a movie created by his imagination. When things don't go his way, he lashes out verbally, causing great laughter among the cast. He is also the playboy of the cast, as he always confesses his love to female guests. However, this ended when he became engaged to singer Byul, changing to a "married man" and becoming rough to female guests. He was initially a weak player during the race missions, occasionally being picked on even while on the chasing team, however he has improved over the course of the show.
Ji Suk-jin Big Nose Older Brother (왕코형님)
Impala (임팔라)
Race Starter (레이스 스타터)
Episode 1 – present The oldest member of the show and one of Yoo Jae-suk's closest friends, knowing each other for more than 20 years. He is shown to be jealous of the good relationship between Yoo Jae-suk and Kim Jong-kook. During the race missions, he is shown to be one of the weakest members and is the easiest and most frequently eliminated out of the cast, so easily that the other members would declare that the race has officially started after his elimination.
Kim Jong-kook Sparta-kooks (스파르타국스)
Commander (능력자)
Kookie (꾹이)
Tiger (호랑이)
Coach Kook (꾹코치)
Episode 1 – present The strongest man on the show, Kim Jong-kook is known for his strength and skill during the race missions. During the missions, he is known for his sudden appearances that are often accompanied by the soundbite "Sparta!" taken from the movie, 300. His smart tactics are often successful to eliminate the other members and as a result, he is known for having both brains and brawn. He is also shown at times to act cute and show off his aegyo. His only apparent weakness is women and he is often teased for having a particular fondness towards Yoon Eun-hye.
Lee Kwang-soo Framer Kwang-soo (모함광수)
Giraffe (기린)
Kwangvatar (광바타)
Icon of Betrayal (배신의 아이콘)
Prince of Asia (아시아 프린스)
Kwang-ja (광자)
Episode 1 – present The youngest and tallest member of the cast and initially introduced alongside Gary and Song Joong-ki as one of the "variety rookies" due to his lack of experience on variety shows prior to Running Man. During the earlier episodes he was known for framing his fellow members with embarrassing and often absurd rumours. He is often picked on by the rest of the cast, particularly Kim Jong-kook, due to his timid nature. He is one of the weakest players, often the first to be eliminated during race missions. However, he has grown to easily betray his fellow members without concern. Due to his immense popularity when the show is filmed in other Asian countries, he has since been known as the Prince of Asia.
Song Ji-hyo Blank Ji (멍지)
Miss Blank (미스멍)
Ace (에이스)
Bad Ji-hyo (불량지효)
Monday Girlfriend (월요여친)
Gold Ji-hyo (금지효)
Episode 2 – 5 (guest)
Episode 7 – present (regular)
The only current female member of the show and initially only appeared as a guest but was added to the main cast in episode 6. During the earlier episodes, Song Ji-hyo was often known to swear during broadcasts especially towards Haha and Lee Kwang-soo. She is also known to be often seen with confused or blank facial expressions a lot of the time. Throughout the series, she has been involved in the official loveline of the show alongside Gary. She is one of the strongest players during race missions with similar running and catching capabilities as well as comparable intelligence to Yoo Jae-suk and Kim Jong-kook.

Former cast[edit]

Name Nickname(s) Duration Notes
Lizzy Busan Girl (부산 소녀) Episode 13 – 14 (guest)
Episode 18 – 25 (regular)
Initially appeared as a guest in episodes 13 and 14, but later joined the main cast in episode 18. Lizzy is known for her cute looks and "aegyo". She is also shown to have a country accent when speaking Korean since she is from Busan where they have a slight accent. As of episode 25, Lizzy has left Running Man due to scheduling conflicts between the show and After School activities.[23]
Song Joong-ki Flower Joong-ki (꽃중기)
Brain Joong-ki (브레인 중기)
Active Young Man (적극청년)
Episode 1 – 41 (regular)
Episode 66 (guest)
Episode 71, 97 (cameo)
Introduced alongside Gary and Lee Kwang-soo as one of the "variety rookies" due to his lack of experience on variety shows prior to Running Man. He is shown as being the smartest and also having the best looks out of the cast. He is known for being able to figure out puzzles and strategize during the race missions. He is also shown to be very optimistic and is often seen attempting new things but ultimately failing. As of episode 41, he has left the main cast to focus on his acting career.[24] However, he reappeared in episode 66 as a guest and also in episode 71 in a short cameo as part of his promotion for the drama, Deep Rooted Tree. He cameoed on episode 97 as a soccer player for the 2012 Asian Dream Cup.

Relationships[edit]

Members Relation Details
Kim Jong-kook, Haha, Gary Kim Jong-kook and Two Kids (김종국과 아이둘)[25] A twist on the name of the former Korean band Seo Taiji and Boys (서태지와 아이들). In earlier episodes, Haha and Gary were often found in the same team, and were usually under the control of the domineering Kim Jong-kook. Thus, they are often shown as being afraid of Kim Jong-kook.
Gary, Song Ji-hyo Monday Couple (월요커플)[26] The primary loveline of the show, they show interest in each other on Mondays, which is the day the show was filmed. It became a major loveline after Song Joong-ki left the program.[27] (Later, the show was filmed on both Mondays and Tuesdays, leading to jokes about the couple not being in effect on Tuesdays.)
Song Joong-ki, Song Ji-hyo Song-Song Couple (송송커플)[27]
Song-Song Siblings (송송남매)[28]
Another popular loveline, it first attracted attention from episode 15 when Song Joong-ki kissed Song Ji-hyo on the cheek. They later evolved into a siblings relationship as the Song-Song Siblings.
Kim Jong-kook, Song Ji-hyo Commander and Ace (능력자&에이스)[27] The two are considered to be the strongest team in Running Man since they first worked together from episode 21.
Lee Kwang-soo, Song Joong-ki Same-Aged Friends (동갑내기)[29] Lee Kwang-soo claims to be close friends with Song Joong-ki due to their same age (both born in 1985), but Song Joong-ki would often deny their close friendship, leaving Kwang-soo appearing depressed. Song Joong-ki finally admitted to their close friendship in his leaving speech during the filming of his last episode (Episode 41).
Ji Suk-jin, Lee Kwang-soo Easy Brothers (이지 브라더스)[30] The New Dumb and Dumber relation was first depicted in episode 65, when they became a duo, acting similarly to the Dumb and Dumber couple of Family Outing. Later, they were known as the Easy Brothers when they were designated spies for episode 68, and a clue was offered to the other members that threatened to reveal their identities. The clue was "Easy", a combination of their surnames 이(Lee, pronounced ee) and 지(Ji). Whenever they are paired up, they are also known for performing their "Feel, Touch, Cross!" (필, 촉, 크로스!) cheer before each mission.[31]
Yoo Jae-suk, Lee Kwang-soo Yoo-Lee (유이)
Lee-Yoo (이유)[32]
This was formed when Yoo Jae-suk and Lee Kwang-soo was paired up as a team in Episode 90 by combining both their surnames together, 유(Yoo) and 이(Lee, pronounced ee). Throughout episode 90, Yoo Jae-suk and Lee Kwang-soo often does the "Yoo-Lee" cross. Often at which, Lee Kwang-soo would state that it sounds like the name of After School's UEE. They would say that they miss her. They would finally meet and become one team with her in episode 137.
Yoo Jae-suk, Ji Suk-jin, Lee Kwang-soo Jail Regulars Trio (감옥 단골 3인방)
Lee-Yoo-Ji Brothers (이유지 브라더스)[32]
In earlier episodes, this trio was often eliminated the earliest during Bells Hide and Seek, and met each other at the jail. They are also known as Lee-Yoo-Ji, an evolved form of Easy Brothers. It was created when Ji Suk-jin was getting jealous of Lee Kwang-soo being close with Yoo Jae-suk, and calling themselves Lee-Yoo in episode 81. Asking whether Lee Kwang-soo was with Easy or the new Lee-Yoo, Yoo Jae-suk replies "that is the reason" ("the reason" is "Lee-Yoo-Ji" in Korean), and Ji Suk-jin reluctantly joins them to become Lee-Yoo-Ji, which is their last names put together.
Yoo Jae-suk, Ji Suk-jin Suk-Brothers (석브라더스) The two MCs have been close friends for more than 20 years and that they both have "Suk" in their name. However, Ji Suk-jin is always jealous of the good relationship Jae-suk has with Kim Jong-kook. In episode 27, Ji Suk-jin was referred to as Yoo Jae-suk's "sunflower" (always facing towards him) and was officially christened as such in Episode 40.
Kim Jong-kook, Haha My Big Brother and My Little Brother (우리 형, 내 동생)[33] These two are often on the same team and they have an endearing older brother/little brother relationship throughout the show and often address each other as such in a playful manner.
Yoo Jae-suk, Haha Yoo-Ha (유하) This "loveline" was formed after the announcement that Song Ji-hyo was dating the CEO of her company in episode 82. Ji Suk-jin commented that a new loveline was needed in the show. Following which, Haha commented that he was preparing for a love line and Yoo Jae-suk immediately jokingly replied, saying that he couldn't sleep because he has been thinking about Haha too much. They often argue with each other with the superpowers given on episode 74. "The one who controls time" and "The one who drives me crazy" are the top two said by Yoo Jae-suk and Haha.
Kim Jong-kook, Lee Kwang-soo Tiger and Giraffe (호랑이와 기린)[34] This was formed in episode 82 when Lee Kwang-soo and Kim Jong-kook were paired into a team. Since Kim Jong-kook resembles a tiger and Lee Kwang-soo resembles a giraffe, their relationship is known as Tiger and Giraffe. This happened again in episode 84 where Lee Kwang-soo and Kim Jong-kook were chosen by the opposing team to pair up together with paper handcuffs, leaving both of them stuck to each other for the rest of the episode. The two show a Tom and Jerry-esque relationship.[35]
Haha, Ji Suk-jin, Lee Kwang-soo Traitors Club (배신자 클럽)[36] After Haha and Lee Kwang-soo became betrayal masters, Ji Suk-jin was added and they became the Betrayal Team. In episode 146, there was an episode featuring them, where they were listed as the Traitors Club who attempts to steal a treasure.

Production staff[edit]

The staff both run the games and often show up influencing the outcome of various missions and sometimes even actively participate or show up on camera. This includes the personal cameramen (VJs), production directors (PDs), floor directors (FDs), stylists, boom operators, and so on.

Chief producer, Nam Seung-yong, is responsible for the production of the program, with PD Jo Hyo-jin, Im Hyung-taek, and Kim Joo-hyung[37] mainly responsible for the directing and production of the recordings of the program since inception. Other PDs have joined the program to assist as the program shifts from a single landmark to multiple locations for recording, notably Hwang Seon-man and Lee Hwang-jin. FD Ko Dong-wan assists in the recordings of the program and is known to be shown on camera many times, as well as delivering and assisting the members in missions. Producer Kim Joo-hyung has left the show as of episode 182 as he was reassigned to The Music Trend.[38]

Each member has their own personal cameramen who follow them around exclusively during recordings. Notable cameramen include Ryu Kwon-ryeol (Yoo Jae-suk’s primary VJ), Kim Yoo-seok (Ji Suk-jin’s primary VJ), Choi Yoon-sang (Lee Kwang-soo’s primary VJ), Yoon Sung-yong (Haha’s primary VJ), Sung Gyu (Song Ji-hyo’s primary VJ), Ham Jung-hwa (Gary’s primary VJ), and Kim Ki-jin (Kim Jong-kook’s primary VJ).

List of episodes and guests[edit]

Many guests have taken part in Running Man. The following is a compilation of guests and the number of time they have been on the show. With regards to guest-turned-members (Song Ji-hyo and Lizzy), only the times they were a guest are counted.

Reception[edit]

The first episode of the show received mixed reviews, according to Asiae the show concept was promising but the crew could not use the location to full potential and the pace was not fast and dynamic enough.[39]

Despite a slow start, Running Man became increasingly popular in South Korea and throughout Asia.[40][41][42][43][44] In its home country the show is watched by 2.1 million people on average.[45] Due to the existence of fansubs, it is watched outside of Asia as well, being translated into English, Spanish and Arabic, among others.[46]

According to the The Straits Times, the popularity of the show is due to its unpredictability, the comedy involved, the celebrity guests and the chemistry between the regular cast members.[47] Assistant professor Liew Kai Khiun at the Nanyang Technological University attributes the appeal of Running Man to the ability of using public space in a creative way: "Running Man is about taking audiences to the various corners of not only South Korea, but the region as well. In the rather fast-paced urban societies in Asia, the show helps to provide release from the daily tensions that such streets and buildings are associated with."[47] Liew thinks that the cast members are not particularly good looking, thus have nothing to lose, even if they "wrestle with one another like children".[47]

According to producer Jo Hyo-jin, the show is popular because the concept of having to choose a winner is culturally easy to understand. He also named the good relationship between the regular members as one of the reasons for the show's success.[48] Celebrity guests like Super Junior or Girls’ Generation play an important part in the success, as well, although they sometimes induce criticism, too. For example after the airing of the Big Bang episodes some viewers complained that the band won too easily, Jo Hyo-jin, however, denied any special treatment of the celebrities. Jo explained that fans are also highly critical of the games, therefore it is not possible for the crew to reuse games without changing them.[48]

The regular members of Running Man have held several fan meetings throughout Asia. In October 2013, their Singapore meeting drew a crowd of 3000.[49] When the show arrived for shooting in Vietnam, they were greeted by thousands at the airport.[50]

Ratings[edit]

In the ratings below, the highest rating for the show will be in red, and the lowest rating for the show will be in blue each year.

2010[edit]

2011[edit]

2012[edit]

2013[edit]

2014[edit]

International[edit]

In November 2011, the rights to air the show was sold to nine areas in Asia, namely Taiwan, Thailand, China, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Cambodia, and Indonesia proving Running Man’s rise in popularity as a Hallyu program.[53] In January 2013, SBS announced Running Man in Asia as one of the big projects of 2013. Producer Jo Hyo-jin, stated that the program would be touring two countries in Asia in the first half of 2013. The program has previously travelled to Thailand, China, and Hong Kong for filming. Jo Hyo-jin has also mentioned interests raised by Singaporean television stations in purchasing the Running Man format,[54] which reiterated Running Man’s popularity in Asia.[55]

Producer Im Hyung-taek confirmed that the program would be filming in Macau, China and Hanoi, Vietnam in early February,[56] and the respective episodes were aired on television in late February and early March. In February 2014, Jo Hyo-jin announced that the program was invited by the Australian Tourist Commission to film in Australia, and did so in mid-February which aired in March.[57][58]

In May 2014, SBS announced a Chinese version of Running Man being coproduced with Zhejiang Television to air in the fourth quarter of 2014. Staff from the Korean version will participate in the Chinese version as well.[59]

International Episodes[edit]

The popularity of Running Man throughout Asia provided the opportunity to take the show outside of South Korea. Running Man has traveled to various countries including China, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and Indonesia. International episodes are notable for their ability to draw large groups of fans to mission venues.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipients and nominees Result
2010 4th SBS Entertainment Awards[60] Variety New Star Award Song Joong-ki Won
Gary Won
Lee Kwang-soo Won
Variety Special Award Song Ji-hyo Won
Best TV Star Award Kim Jong-kook Won
Netizen Most Popular Program Award Running Man Won
2011 5th Mnet 20's Choice Awards Hot Variety Star Song Ji-hyo Nominated
5th SBS Entertainment Awards[61] Newbie Award: Variety Category Lee Kwang-soo Won
Broadcast Writer Award Park Hyun-sook Won
Best Entertainer Award: Variety Category Haha Won
Most Outstanding Program Award Running Man Won
Outstanding Award: Variety Category Kim Jong-kook Won
Song Ji-hyo Won
Netizen’s Most Popular Award Nominated
Yoo Jae-suk Nominated
Grand Award (Daesang) Won
2012 48th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Female Entertainer Song Ji-hyo Nominated
DramaFever Awards Best Couple NOT Meant to Be! Gary & Song Ji-hyo Nominated
Remarkable Awards Best TV Show Running Man Won
6th SBS Entertainment Awards[62] Outstanding Award: Variety Category Gary Won
Ji Suk-jin Won
Viewer's Most Popular Program Award Running Man Won
Viewer's Most Popular Award Yoo Jae-suk Won
Grand Award (Daesang) Won
2013 49th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Female Entertainer Song Ji-hyo Nominated
Best Male Entertainer Yoo Jae-suk Nominated
Grand Award (Daesang) Won
Best Variety Show Running Man Nominated
Yahoo! Asia Buzz Award Asia’s Most Charismatic Korean Host Kim Jong-kook Won
4th allkpop Awards Best Variety Show Running Man Won
NATE Awards Won
Best Couple Gary & Song Ji-hyo Won
7th SBS Entertainment Awards[63] Friendship Award Lee Kwang-soo Won
Best Couple Award Ji Suk-jin & Lee Kwang-soo Nominated
Gary & Song Ji-hyo Nominated
Viewer's Most Popular Award Running Man members Won
Most Outstanding Program Award Running Man Won
Male Outstanding Award Haha Won
Kim Jong-kook Won
Female Most Outstanding Award Song Ji-hyo Won
Grand Award (Daesang) Yoo Jae-suk Nominated
2nd Annual DramaFever Awards Best Variety Show Running Man Won
Best Kiss Gary & Song Ji-hyo Won
Best Couple Not Meant To Be Nominated
Best Bromance Kim Jong-kook & Lee Kwang-soo Nominated

References[edit]

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