The Hallyu wave rides on strong in Singapore with our steadfast love for all things Korean! From their fashion and makeup, to the yummy food and swooning over Oppas in heart-wrenching dramas, there’s also Korean variety shows that are a definite quintessential to show us the side of our favourite celebrities. With a love for the voyeurism of getting to watch our favourite stars lead seemingly normal lives, we’ve listed down the 11 best Korean variety shows that you definitely have to watch to keep up with the K-Wave this 2020!
At the top of the rating charts sits MBC’s I Live Alone, a variety programme that gives viewers a sneak peek into the inner lives of Korean celebrities living a life of singlehood. Known for its appeal of “Real-Variety”, the show was inspired by the growing number of single people in Korea. The main cast aka The Rainbow Club is made up of Kian 84, Park Na-rae, Han Hye-jin, Lee Si-yeon, Henry, Sang Hoon and Hwasa.
Follow their adventures each week as the leader of the club (currently Park Na-rae) directs the whole episode with occasional guests popping by to showcase their stay-at-home lives. I Live Alone really highlights the fact that behind the glitz and glamour of being a celebrity – they are just as human as we are and enjoy lounging at home in their PJs too.
Since its debut in 2010, Running Man is Korea’s longest-running variety show! With almost 11 years of broadcasting, it is a marvel that the writers are still able to come up with unique game mechanics that constantly entertain and wow viewers! On top of that, the cast chemistry brings about tons of ROFL moments, particularly thanks to Lee Kwang-Soos’ comedic and dramatic actions that has crowned him the “Prince of Asia”.
Originally only based in Korea, the Running Man game show has expanded with the cast travelling overseas to complete missions, also regularly featuring top Korean celebrities and Kpop groups such as the Penthouse Drama Cast (EP 542) and TWICE (EP 506). Definitely one of the best Korean variety shows that has captivated the hearts of both Korean and international audiences!
Watching babies can trigger the release of oxytocin and dopamine, thus it’s no surprise that everyone is addicted to watching The Return of Superman! Winner of the KBS 2019 Viewers’ Choice Best Program Award, watch as these superman dads juggle their careers, and take care of their children for 2 days without the help of mum.
One of the best Korean variety shows thanks to its intention to break the common stereotype of a father’s role limited to bringing the bacon home, it features famous celebrities such as comedian Sam Hammington, professional soccer player Park Joo-Ho and actor Yoon Sang Hyun of the famous Secret Garden drama. If you’ve been a fan of the show since its pilot episode, you’ll also be familiar with the famous Song Triplets – Daehan, Minguk and Manse!
For new parents, you can learn a tip or two that you can apply to your parenting techniques while watching the children grow up on screen. You can even witness the miracles of their first steps and words. The series is also filmed via various hidden cameras all around the stars’ own apartments, so be prepared for many heartwarming and non-scripted moments that will make you go “awwwwwwwww”!
With a show motto that is “Real Wild Road Variety”, you can be sure that 2 Days 1 Night is really out to impress and entertain! Travel with the cast all around Korea as they showcase places of interest you can check out, also injecting a series of exciting activities and games that allow viewers to get to know them better.
Unlike your usual mission-based variety shows that sees cast members competing amongst each other, a lot of the show is based on Bok Bul Bok games aka the games of luck. Burst out laughing at the series of unfortunate events that befall different cast members each week, with meme-worthy reactions to use for your next Telegram sticker pack.
Season 4 starts with OG member Kim Jong-min and a renewed cast consisting of Yeon Jung-hoon, Moon Se-yoon, Kim Seon-ho, DinDin and Ravi (VIXX). Apart from the fresh chemistry between the cast, the team dynamics with the show’s cast (and first female main PD – Bang Geul Yi) will definitely be an interesting aspect of the show to watch!
Hang out with the Nation’s MC, Yoo Jae-Seok with Hangout with Yoo! Follow Jae-Seok as he takes on different projects and adventures on his off days including his now very popular alter ego, trot singer Yu Sanseul.
With witty banter and out-of-the-world adventures you’d never imagine this veteran host taking, Jae-Seok embarks on trying everything the producers challenge him to do so! In the recent episodes, he even forms a new co-ed dance group, SSAK3 featuring superstars Rain and Lee Hyori! How will the group fare? Watch on to find out!
If you’re a foodie, Baek Jong Won’s Alley Restaurants is the best Korean variety show you need in your life! Follow top South Korean Chef and food researcher Baek Jong Won as he heads over to alleys all over Korea. With a mission to help them revitalise their business and attract more crowds to keep business going, how will things play out?
Witness the life transformation that Baek brings into restaurants, particularly helping clueless yet talented chefs bring light into their dark tunnel of running a food business. There’s definitely lots to learn especially if you enjoy cooking or are interested in running an F&B chain yourself as he gives out tons of tips that will benefit anyone in the industry! Definitely one of the true-blue, best Korean variety shows that gives you the full picture (and reality) of running a business in an ever saturated market.
King of Mask Singer is one of the best variety shows that is so popular, the Americans have their own version of this unique South Korean singing competition. Singing shows have always been a popular variety type that many enjoyed.
However, the King of Mask Singer is the first with its unique style of masking the vocalist. Judges and audiences are thus forced to vote solely based on vocals. Disregarding external factors such as their identities as celebrities.
The masked singers compete in pairs with three elimination rounds. Their identities are also not revealed until they have been eliminated. Time and time again, the audiences are wow-ed by the vocal ranges of these singers. Many of these singers also take this opportunity to belt out songs that are not their usual style. Thus, making it extremely difficult to identify who is underneath the mask! Will you be able to tell who is behind the mask? Popular singers include Joohoney from Monsta X, Hyerim from Wonder Girls and more!
Enough of Korean celebrities blowing their own horns! Why not get their mothers on board to share their children’s secrets? That’s exactly what Mom’s Diary (also known as My Little Old Boy) is all about as the mums of Kim Jong-Kook, Kim Hee-Chul, Park Soo-hong, Lee Sang-min, Hong Jin-young and Lee Tae-Sung sit around the table and give us the inside scoop as they follow the lives of their celebrity children. They too sometimes discover secrets and things that they never knew about their children!
Hosted by veteran MCs Shin Dong-yup and Seo Jang-hoon, prepare yourselves for stories and little titbits about these celebrities!
This mystery game show is highly popular both in Korea and around the world, and we can definitely see why. In to it’s eighth season, the show’s aim is to correctly identify the good singers and eliminate the tone deaf singers through a series of challenges. We guarantee you will be bursting out into fits of laughter watching the tone deaf singers sing, and be awed by the amazing voices of the good singers as they crooned to popular Korean hit songs.
You will find yourself guessing alongside the panel at the sidelines who will provide their opinions on the participants, and depending on how you infer from their advice, you might be clearer on your decisions or even more confused!
10. Youn Stay (2021)
There seems to be a couple of travelogue variety shows in Korea, but each of them remains equally exciting and interesting with their own story to tell. Youn’s stay for example, is a spin off from the previous show Youn’s Kitchen, where the cast members travel overseas to operate a pop-up kitchen. This show focuses on cast members Parasite actor Choi Woo-Shik, Lee Seo Jin, Jeong Yu Mi, Youn Yuh Jung and Park Seo Joon as they operate a traditional Hanwook inn for foreigners.
We absolutely loved every scene of this feel good variety show, be it the amazing mouth-watering dishes they whip up or just the witty and light-hearted banter amongst the casts as they go about their daily tasks. This show will be perfect to binge on during a lazy weekend afternoon under your blankets for sure!
Men On A Mission, or also known as Knowing Bros, is a popular variety show that started in 2015. The show takes on a classroom setting which sees the casts Kang Ho Dong, Lee Su Geun, Kim Hee Chul, Seo Jang Hoon, Lee Sang Min, Min Kyung Hyun and Kim Yong Chul play a variety of games with invited guests and discuss certain funny stories of the guests’ lives.
The show’s appeal comes from the great chemistry of the cast which enables them to lead the show with ease and have fun all together as they play games such as the popular favourite Mixed Music Quiz where lyrics of a song is jumbled up and they have to guess the right titles.
Can’t wait to start binge-watching on these best Korean variety shows? You can start watching them even while on the go with a Viu subscription plan! From 3-months to 12-months subscription plans, there is something for everyone. With a premium account, you can not only watch your videos with no advertisements (Hooray! Uninterrupted viewing!) but also download unlimited videos for offline viewing. Besides this, premium members also get to enjoy priority viewing and an all-access pass to all of Viu’s content.
Which variety show will you binge on next? Let us know in the comments section below!
This article was updated on 9 April 2021. Additional research was done by Jaslynn Yeo.
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