5 Korean Reality Shows That Newbies Would Love

For when you want to take a break from K-dramas and K-pop!
PHOTO: YouTube/KBS World TV

The Land of Morning Calm has got no chill when it comes to creativity and entertainment. Aside from their addictive Korean dramas and internationally worshipped K-pop idols, they also have reality shows and variety shows that will keep you hooked on their humor and excitement.

Similar to local TV programs, Korean reality shows adopt different formats and themes. Check out some of the best Korean reality shows you can stream online right now!

1. The Return of Superman (2013 to present)

Recommended to: People who enjoy watching videos of Scarlet Snow Belo, Primo Arellano, and other uber-cute celebrity babies.

This reality show features celebrity dads tasked to take care of their child (or children) for at least two days and one night. The Return of Superman gives the dads an opportunity to share the child-rearing load with their wives (who usually get their private me-time during the show's filming days).

The best part is, they don't just cast cute kids—the babies and toddlers usually have adorable personalities. A few standouts are the rowdy Song triplets, Sarang, the Lee twins, Daebak with his sisters, and Ko Seung Jae.

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Every now and then, popular uncles and idols get tasked to babysit the kids. Among the most notable ones are samcheon Lee Dong Wook, the girl groups SNSD and TWICE, some members from EXO, and Big Bang's G-Dragon.

 

Available on Viu and YouTube (KBS World TV).

2. Running Man (2010 to present)

Recommended to: Anyone who loves hilarious party games, mystery games, and relays with a twist.

Starring a mix of emcees, actors, and singers, Running Man is a reality-variety show where the cast is given various missions every week. These range from physical games that test their agility to mystery missions that bring out their wits and their betrayal instincts.

The current "runners" include "National MC" Yoo Jae Suk, comedian and reggae artist Haha, radio DJ Ji Suk Jin, singer Kim Jong Kook, actor (and practically a comedian) Lee Kwang Soo, actresses Song Ji Hyo and Jeon So Min, and comedian Yang Se Chan. Previously, rapper and DJ Kang Gary, actor Song Joong Ki, and former girl group member Lizzy (from After School) were also cast members.

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From time to time, Running Man recruits famous guests and subjects them to funny challenges and punishments. Search for the epic episodes starring Lee Sang Yeob, Lee Da Hee, Gong Yoo, Lee Dong Wook, Jackie Chan, Choi Min Soo, Han Hyo Joo, and Winter Sonata leading lady Choi Ji Woo.

 

Available on Viu.

3. Knowing Bros aka Men on a Mission (2015 to present)

Recommended to: K-pop and K-drama fans who want to see a more candid side of their idols.

The concept of Knowing Bros has been consistent throughout the years. The cast of male comedians act like they're in a high school class and welcome A-list "transfer students." Throughout an episode, the cast interviews the transferees and uncover their personalities.

Men on a Mission is led by TV host and comedian Kang Ho Dong with entertainers Lee Seo Geun, Kim Young Chul, and Seo Jang Hoon, Super Junior's Kim Hee Chul, and singers Min Kyung Hoon and Lee Sang Min.

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Some of the top-rated episodes featured idols like BTS, TWICE, Apink, SNSD, and GOT7. Actors from huge Korean dramas have also made appearances such as SKY Castle's Kim Seo Hyung and Oh Na Ra, Lee Seung Gi, and Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo love team, IU and Lee Joon Gi.

Available on Viu and Netflix.

4. 2 Days & 1 Night (2007 to present)

Recommended to: Anyone looking for hidden gems or must-visit South Korean tourist destinations, and fans of K-drama actors.

In this show, a group of entertainers (and occasionally some special guests) spend a couple of days together in an outing around South Korea. Aside from showcasing the country's breathtaking destinations, the reality series also highlights the local delicacies, which the cast members fight for in certain games or missions.

The current members are Kim Jong Min, Defconn, Yoon Shi Yoon, and Lee Yong Jin. 2 Days & 1 Night has been on an indefinite hiatus since March 2019, when some former cast members  involved in controversies either were removed (Jung Joon Young) or left the program (Cha Tae Hyun and Kim Joon Ho). However, the show is in talks to return soon.

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While waiting for its return, you can watch old unforgettable episodes featuring your favorite stars. Look for the episode with Hwarang boys Park Seo Joon, Park Hyung Sik, and SHINEE's Minho. Other noteworthy guests include Park Shin Hye, Park Bo Gum, Choi Ji Woo, Park Bo Young, and Han Hyo Joo.

 

Available on Viu and YouTube (KBS World TV).

5. Produce 101 (2016 to 2019) 

Recommended to: Fans of talent search shows like The Voice, America's Got Talent, Philippine Idol, and the like.

Recently concluding its fourth season in South Korea, Produce 101 is a "survival reality show," where contestants compete to become part of a new K-pop group. The first and third season (Produce 101 and Produce 48) featured female trainees, while the remaining two (Produce 101 Season 2 and Produce X 101)  featured male idols-in-the-making.

The first installment of the series in 2016 produced the girl group I.O.I, who are behind the LSS-inducing hit "Pick Me." Actor Jang Geun Sik was the host (or the "National Producer Representative"). Season two, on the other hand, was hosted by BoA. It formed the sensational group, Wanna One, whose biggest star was Kang Daniel.

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IZ*ONE was the product of Produce 48, the season hosted by Lee Seung Gi. Lastly, the new boy group called X1 was formed by the winners of Produce X 101, which was hosted by Lee Dong Wook.

 

Available on Viu.

Other Korean Reality Shows You Might Like

  • We Got Married (2008 to 2017) - The kilig-filled series paired up K-pop idols and other celebrities (such as Joy and Sungjae, Leeteuk and Kang Sora, and Yonghwa and Seohyun) to act as married couples while doing some missions; Available on Viu
  • Infinite Challenge (2005 to 2018) - A top-rated variety show in South Korea where the cast members had to complete immensely difficult challenges (like box with Manny Pacquiao, play basketball with Stephen Curry, and perform a song with EXO); Available on Viu
  • All the Butlers aka Master in the House (2017 to present) - Celebs like Lee Seung Gi and BtoB's Yook Sung Jae spend a couple of days with "masters" around South Korea and gain various skills or knowledge from them; Available on Viu
  • King of Mask Singer (2015 to present) - A unique talent search show where celebrities (including BtoB's Sungjae, EXID's Solji, GFRIEND's Umji, EXO's Chen, BTS' Jungkook, and Super Junior's Kyuhyun) wear an elaborate mask, perform songs, and get judged purely on their talent; Available on Viu
  • Law of the Jungle (2011 to present) - It's almost like Survivor but featuring Hallyu celebrities. Over the years, some remarkable guests were BTS' Jin, EXID's Hani, Red Velvet's Seulgi, AOA's Seolhyun, and TWICE's Jeongyeon; Available on Viu
  • Reality shows or docus starring K-pop idols: Weekly Idol (2011 to present), M Countdown (2004 to present), Inkigayo (1991 to present), Run BTS! (2015 to present), TWICE TV (2015 to present), Blackpink House (2018), Real GOT7 (2014 to 2017), and SVT Club (2018)
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