The Best Korean Variety Shows of 2016

I often get asked for show recommendations, so I’ve compiled a list of my favorite variety shows. The main factors I took into consideration were show ratings, cast member chemistry, and brand recognition.

The Best Korean Variety Shows of 2016 This ratings blockbuster is a challenge-based reality television program and is the longest running variety show in Korea. It's an unscripted show that relies on the charms and interactions of its cast members as they deal with a wide variety of challenges that are often silly, absurd, or impossible to achieve. Some popular challenges are music festivals, athletic competitions, movie parodies, and public awareness campaigns. Running Man was initially a show where the MCs and guests completed missions at various landmarks to win a race, but the show has since shifted to a more standard variety show concept focused on various games. Many of the games include spies, betrayals, or eliminations. Running Man is known for its iconic name tags. Players are eliminated or receive penalties during games when they get their name tags ripped off by competing players. Radio Star is a talk show that generally has three to five guests per episode. It's known for its cut to the chase and snarky banter. True to its name, all of the guests sing a song as the final segment of each show. Currently on its third season, the show's motto is "Real Wild Road Variety." Its main purpose is to recommend various places of interest that viewers can visit in Korea. While travelling, the cast members will often play games in order to earn food or lodging. Three Meals a Day is a reality cooking show where a semi-fixed cast lives in a little rural farming or fishing village three days a week and uses the food they find there to create three meals a day. So far, there have been six seasons Three Meals a Day: Jeongseon Village 1 Three Meals a Day: Fishing Village 1 Three Meals a Day: Jeongseon Village 2 Three Meals a Day: Fishing Village 2 Three Meals a Day: Gochang Village Three Meals a Day: Fishing Village 3 CAST MEMBERS Lee Seo-jin, Ok Taec-yeon, Cha Seung-won, Yoo Hae-jin, Son Ho-jun, Kim Kwang-kyu, Nam Joo-hyuk, Eric Mun, Yoon Kyun-sang Due to being a relatively new show, Knowing Brothers does not currently have a fixed format, however it usually starts with a classroom scene with the hosts in the role of students welcoming the guests as transfers. King of Mask Singer is a singing competition program where celebrities compete while hiding their identities behind elaborate masks. Each competition lasts for two episodes with the singers competing one-on-one in three elimination rounds. T The winners of each pair are selected by the audience and panel of judges. The identities of the singers are not revealed until they have been eliminated. This show is about celebrity dads taking care of their kids for 48 hours without the help of their wives. During the 48 hours, the dads and children complete a task the wives have left for them or go on new adventures. The children on this show are so adorable that most of them have become CF stars following their appearances of The Return of Superman. Law of the Jungle is a reality-documentary show where a cast of celebrities travel to less-habitated, natural places such as Siberia and Madagascar to survive on their own and experience life with local tribes and people. The cast is led by comedian Kim Byung-man. The rest of the cast changes for each location. Hello Counselor is a talk show that invites four regular people each week to talk about their problems such as an overbearing husband or an obsession with video games. The MCs reenact the problems in a short skit and then counsel the guests on their issues. Audience members vote for which person has the biggest problem, and the winner gets a cash prize.

Leave a comment below to share which shows are your favorites. 🙂

10 Comments

  1. KpopBlog

    IC and RM are my favorites. I’m sad that Happy Together isn’t in the list.

    Reply
    • Korean Variety Recaps

      Happy Together’s Late Night Cafeteria was legendary. The old version would have made my top ten list, but I’m not a fan of the lasest rendition.

      I’m still willing to give it some time though. Maybe the cast just needs to get to know each other better.

      Reply
  2. M

    As of now I’d say Knowing brother and New journey to the West 3 are at the top ( for me atleast) KB is my favorite variety talk show in the past half decade actually. It’s rare to see a show that runs solely because of the cast (their jokes, chemistry etc.) and even if the guest isn’t funny the cast fill in the spaces.

    Their production value and film set is really simple and that’s refreshing. Some people might find the jokes a bit too harsh but I’m fine with it.
    More than anyone, Kim Heechul and Lee Sooguen duo rule the witty/funny adlibs though every member fills their spot.

    NJTTW3 is a beautiful travel/culinary/game survival show which also shines as the chemistry between the cast intensifies. Mino Jaehyun and Kyuhyun bring a wonderful maknae youthful flavor ( i also enjoy the SM&YG interaction between kyu and mino)

    Reply
    • Korean Variety Recaps

      NJTTW4 is coming out this June, which is too bad because Lee Seung-gi is getting discharged in October. I want to see him interact with Kyuhyun and Ahn Jae-hyun since they have that weird same age but not really thing going on.

      I was also pleasantly surprised at how good Mino was at the maknae role. 🙂

      Reply
  3. karecity

    I was expecting PD101 S1 here haha. The impact.
    I’m surprised Running Man is on no.2. Personally havent watched it for years but many people have been saying it’s no longer fun

    Reply
    • Korean Variety Recaps

      There are so many trendy shows on cable these days. I think I’ll make a new list soon. P101 and Youn’s Kitchen will definitely be on that list.

      Running Man is either going to have a long, slow death, or it might be able to manage to rekindle the magic with the two new members.

      Reply
  4. random nobody

    I think running man has really improved with the new changes and i love Jeon
    Somin and Yang SeChan <3

    Reply
  5. noiha

    i agree with your picks. it’s been a long time since i’ve abandoned RM but i heard it’s getting better now so good for them. now i follow only IC (not every episode, just when it’s interesting enough but usually after that i can’t stop lol) and KOMS (stopped after ha hyunwoo lost but picked again and regularly watch until now). currently adding Knowing Brother to the list too.

    Reply
    • Korean Variety Recaps

      Running Man has gotten really good these days. The show started improving during Members Week which was back when the show was getting cancelled and they decided to dedicate an episode to each cast member as a last hurrah sort of thing. Then, after the decided to uncancel it, it got even better with the two new members. I highly recommend it.

      Reply
  6. Syana

    I think whatever is good or not, it matter of personal taste or creativities of everyone (how they catch and intrepret that show). Sometimes i am burst in laugh but sometimes i got boring. Sometimes i feel ‘WOW’ but sometimes i feel ‘so so’. If one day longer than 24 hours so i have more spare time definitely i am going to watch all of that Kshow. So many Kshow worth watching and bring joyful to my life and refresh my brain too.

    Reply

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