5 must-watch Korean variety shows for K-pop fans

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Casts of Running Man and New Journey to the West (Images via SBS and tvN)
Casts of Running Man and New Journey to the West (Images via SBS and tvN)

Watching Korean variety shows is the best way to relax after an extremely tiring day. People who get drawn into Korean entertainment through K-pop or K-dramas sooner or later find their way down the Korean variety show rabbit hole as well.

Korean variety shows consist of various entertainment programs where comedians, actors, and K-pop idols perform certain skits, activities, and even quizzes, usually for some prize. Such programs don’t have any fixed format and are considered to be a huge part of Korean television entertainment in the country.

Variety shows can range from cooking programs such as Youn’s Kitchen to lifestyle shows such as All the Butlers. K-pop idols also have their own variety shows, such as BTS’ show Run BTS, where they try new activities and games and show off their charms.


Running Man and four other Korean variety shows that should be on every K-pop fans' watchlist

1) 2 Days & 1 Night

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The Korean variety show, 2 Days & 1 Night, is about visiting little-known places all over Korea and spending two days and one night there. During their stay, the cast explores the local culture, cuisine, and interacts with the people who live there.

It’s not all fun and games for the cast as they’re also given a number of challenges to complete by producers, and winners of these challenges get rewarded with food or money while the losing team has to suffer an enormous punishment such as swimming in a freezing cold lake.


2) Home Alone

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Home Alone follows the lives of various Korean celebrities who live by themselves or have recently bought their own place. Viewers get a glimpse into the personal lives of their favorite celebrities and witness how they spend their leisure time as well.

A set panel of reactors is joined by various celebrities each week, whose lives are being followed during that time, who gather to watch the recorded footage. Home Alone is a lifestyle show that allows viewers to relate better to Korean celebrities who usually seem well put together by showcasing a different and more regular side of their personality.


3) The Return of Superman

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Anyone who adores babies should tune into the Korean variety show The Return of Superman. The show follows the lives of celebrity fathers who are left alone to take care of their children for two days, while the mothers enjoy a much-deserved break.

The variety show captures the interactions of fathers with their children and how well they are able to cater to the needs of their kids. Taking care of one's children is a full-time job, and these celebrity fathers are in for a rollercoaster ride throughout the filming of these episodes.


4) New Journey to the West

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New Journey to the West is a Korean variety show that is in a league of its own. The comedic sense and chemistry between the cast as well as the devilish minds of producers who put the cast through hellish tasks is guaranteed to make viewers burst out laughing.

The show has various seasons, and each season takes place in a different Asian country. The cast members, who have to dress-up as a particular character based on the theme of the season throughout filming, try to find all seven dragon balls to be able to fulfill their wishes. However, getting these dragon balls is no easy task and usually leads to a lot of punishments and adversities for the cast.


5) Running Man

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Running Man has been dubbed one of the best Korean variety shows of all time and has been on-air since 2010. The regular cast is greeted by special celebrity guests every week who band together to play various games and complete in certain missions assigned to them by the producers.

They’re usually divided into teams, and the winning team is rewarded with a small gift while the losing team receives scary punishments. While Running Man originated in South Korea, due to its extreme popularity, the show has been able to have spin-offs in Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia, among various other countries.


A spin-off of Youn’s Kitchen called Seo Jin’s is set to be released on February 24 starring Park Seo-jun, BTS’ V, Choi Woo-shik, and Jung Yu-mi. Alongside this show, be sure to check out the aforementioned ones to have a good laugh!

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Edited by Susrita Das
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