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Which Korean variety shows should the American television industry try to remake next?

Infinite Challenge
Infinite Challenge was the longest running variety show in Korea. Pic credit: Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC)

As the new year kicked off, a new competition television series aired on Fox featuring contestants singing popular songs while in mask and costume. The Masked Singer is sweeping the nation in popularity but what some may not know is that it has roots in Korean television.

What makes this competition unique is the contestants are actually famous personalities in their respective fields (mostly entertainment) and it would be up to the panel of judges as well as viewers to figure out who the contestant is.

Many people might be surprised at the popularity of The Masked Singer unless they follow Korean television and the Hallyu Wave.

The Masked Singer is based on the original made by the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) titled King of Mask Singer.

As shown in the video above, Ken Jeong — one of the panel judges on The Masked Singer — was a special guest on the show.

As for other popular American personalities to appear on the show, Ryan Reynolds made a surprise appearance while on tour to promote Deadpool 2.

Prior to Fox remaking King of Mask Singer to The Masked Singer, NBC was the first to remake a Korean variety show for American audiences.

Better Late Than Never is based on Grandpas Over Flowers. That series, featured William Shatner, Henry Winkler, George Foreman, and Terry Bradshaw.

The four would travel around the world and partake in various events, sometimes of a comedic nature. It too was a success just like The Masked Singer.

With American adaptions of Korean variety shows being two for two, many wonder what other Korean variety shows would do well on American television.

Thankfully, South Korea has a wide array of K-variety for American television to dive into. One believes some would even be breakout hits in the United States if they find the right production and cast for them.

Don’t Walk, RUN!

Despite South Korea having a multitude of variety shows for American television to pick from like The Return of Superman and 2 Days, 1 Night, there are two that really stand out.

The first one is probably the one K-variety show to have the biggest impact with Hallyu or the Korean wave, Running Man.

With the current cast featuring Yoo Jae-Suk, Haha, Ji Suk-Jin, Kim Jong-Kook, Lee Kwang-Soo, Song Ji-Hyo, Jeon So-Min, and Yang Se-Chan, they partake in a themed weekly competition that usually has them split up into teams.

The teams would need to complete “missions” which would, in turn, lead up to the famous Running Man Challenge or the Name Tag Elimination Challenge.

Sometimes special guests, mostly K-pop and Korean actors but sometimes international stars like Tom Cruise would be invited to participate.

The current cast of The Running Man
The current cast of Running Man removes Gary and adds Jeon So-Min and Yang Se-Chan. Image Credit: Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS)

The American remake would most-likely be a bit more serious as constant over-the-top comedy may be a bit much for American viewers.

Maybe they could utilize a hodgepodge cast of comedians and athletes to even out the comedy and physical fitness. Whatever they do, just make sure it still utilizes the spirit of the original.

3-D: Dirty, Dangerous, and Difficult

Running Man may be the most recognizable K-variety show in Hallyu today, but it is not the most-popular in terms of establishing what Korean variety shows are today. That honor belongs to Infinite Challenge.

Infinite Challenge is recognized as the first “Real Variety” show in Korean television history.

Most of the time, the program is largely unscripted, filmed in almost-secrecy, and follows a similar format of challenge-based reality television programming that other shows like Running Man aspire to be.

Unlike Running Man, the challenges are often absurd or impossible to attain thus taking on a satirical comedy aspect of a variety show instead of a traditional real one.

In the early days, the hosts and staff would continuously claim to achieve its comedic purpose, Infinite Challenge had to be “3-D: Dirty, Dangerous, and Difficult.”

Jack Black on Infinite Challenge
Jack Black is the most memorable guest on Infinite Challenge. Image Credit: Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC)

If American television were to remake Infinite Challenge, they already have the perfect individual to be the host, Jack Black.

For starters, Black has guest starred on two episodes of Infinite Challenge. Needless to say but his appearances were amazing.

He and the rest of the Korean cast got along naturally despite the language and culture barriers and his form of comedy fit well for the K-variety show.

What show will be next?

The aforementioned K-variety shows are the two most popular variety shows in Korea during their time which is why they’ve been pointed out as great shows to introduce to an American audience.

However, as mentioned earlier, there are numerous K-variety shows American television can choose from. Which ones would make an excellent remade adaption in American television?

For those interested in seeing what made Running Man and Infinite Challenge so popular, both shows can be viewed for free on Rakuten Viki.

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War Omega is an entertainment news writer and painter that specializes in Asian entertainment. On Monsters & Critics, he writes about K-pop, K-dramas, and Chinese... read more
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