Aside from Korean Dramas, the Korean Entertainment industry also takes pride in the creation of Variety Shows. Variety Show, is a form of theatrical show with a diverse possibility of contents for the sole purpose of entertainment.
In the Philippines, the most common form of variety show focuses on prize money driven contests. On the other hand, Korean Variety shows focus on content production and with actual celebrities as cast members. Over the years, different Korean network channels have produced a number of great shows such as Running Man, Infinity Challenge, 2 Days & 1 Night, XMan, Star King, Strong Heart, Return of Superman and many more.
Recently, cable channels have been producing variety shows that are at par with major network channels. This is in terms of production quality and content. To help you, here is a list of the cable channel variety shows that you should watch right now:
1. New Journey to the West (TVN)
The show was initially intended for online broadcast and was headed by the former 2 Days & 1 Night production director Na PD. It was first shown in Naver TVCast as a five – part video episode that are 5 – 10 minutes long. The first season was so successful that the broadcast was moved to TVN starting season 2.
It is considered as a Travel variety show. The main format of the show revolves around the classic Chinese novel “Journey to the West”. The show contents are mainly comprised of the 5 days and 4 nights travel of the casts to certain destinations.
The show’s original casts includes Kang Hodong, Lee Sugeun, Lee Seunggi and Eun Ji Won (Sechskies). In season 2, Lee Seunggi enlisted in the military and was replaced by Ahn Jae Hyun. Soon after, Super Junior’s Kyuhyun and Winner’s Mino was added as new characters. Recently in season 5 & 6, Kyuhyun also enlisted to the Military and was replaced by Mino’s bestfriend, Block B’s P.O.
2. Traveller (JTBC)
Traveller is a currently ongoing (As of April 3, 2019) Travel Variety Show that follows actors Ryu Jun Yeol and Lee Je Hoon while they freely “backpacks” Cuba. The term “freely” means that they are doing everything by themselves and with no interference from the production staff.
3. My Daughter’s Men (E Channel)
My Daughter’s Men or 내 딸의 남자들 is a Talk variety show where Celebrity dads watch prerecorded clips of their daughters going on blind dates and dates with their boyfriends. Aside from the real blind date scenarios of the daughters, the genuine reactions of the fathers makes this show a must watch for everyone.
4. The Great Escape (TVN)
Also known as 대탈출, The Great Escape is a good example of an Escape Room type of variety show where cast members solves puzzles and missions in order to successfully escape the set location. Here you can see cast members rack their brains and test their lucks while they try to “escape and survive“.
5. Let’s Eat Dinner Together (JTBC)
한끼줍쇼 also known as Dining Together is a Food – Travel variety show that presents the episodic journey of MC’s Kang Ho Dong and Lee Kyung-kyu together with celebrity guests as they roam around assigned neighborhoods to find free dinner. The goal is simple, ring a random house’s doorbell (6:00 – 8:00 PM only), with a spoon in hand, and ask if they already ate dinner. If the house owner haven’t eaten yet, the MCs will ask if they can share their dinner with them. You will be proven wrong if you think that a celebrity will have it easy doing this task as you would witness the MCs struggle every time.
6. Life Bar (TVN)
Popularly known in Korea as 인생술집, Life Bar is a Talk Variety show with a surprising audience rating of 19 years old and above (19+) making it the only R – rated show in TVN. You might wonder why it is so, but this is only because the show’s format features actual live drinking scenes every episode. The episodes consists of candid talks about life between the guests and the show hosts.
7. Coffee Friends (TVN)
The main concept of this show is a cafe in a tangerine farm in Jeju Island run by main hosts Yoo Yeon Seok, Son Ho Jun, Choi Ji Woo and Yang Se Jong. The unique thing about their cafe is that there is no price of the items on the menu, allowing the customers to give the amount that they want to donate. At the end of the show, all of the cafe’s profit of 12,093,977₩ was donated to disabled children.
The show was famous for having popular “part timers” such as TVXQ’s Yunho, B1A4’s Baro, Nam Joo Hyuk, EXO’s Sehun and Kang Daniel.
8. Hidden Singer (JTBC)
Hidden Singer is a Music Variety Show where the audience members try to find the real celebrity singer among the pool of impersonators of the featured singer. Every episode will have you wondering how and where they were able to find the singer’s impersonators.
9. ________ Over Flowers Series (TVN)
This is another famous variety series by Na PD. Basically, it’s a Travel – Reality type of variety show that follows the backpacking trip of the cast members. The first installment of this franchise is the Grandpa Over Flowers that stars veteran actors in their seventies. A spin-off was created afterwards and was titled Sisters Over Flowers. It followed the same backpacking format but this time starring middle-aged actresses.
Another spin-off entitled Youth Over Flowers was created in 2014 . The best thing that was added in this installment was the element of surprise. It was very entertaining to watch how the cast members ended up in a plane to another country after being kidnapped from some random time. This spin-off series currently have five editions (Peru, Laos, Iceland, Africa and Australia). Trust me, you’ll never regret watching this.
10. Knowing Brothers (JTBC)
Currently considered in Korea as the “top variety show, 아는 형님 also known as “Ask us Anything” and “Men on a Mission” had a really rough start. The original concept of the show was a variety show “without an actual format”. It proved to be difficult without any solid goal or anything to guide where the contents were going. The show was almost cancelled after airing for just a couple of months due to low viewership ratings. Miraculously, the show was able to redeem itself after the format of “Brother School” was introduced. Continuously, the show ratings took flight and they are now enjoying an average rating of 6%, a huge feat given that this is being aired on cable TV. You can read about the show’s highest rated episodes here.