Superpowers against real life superstar athlete. The Running Man cast face off Park Ji-sung in an epic soccer match of the ages using their newfound abilities to challenge the national athletic icon. But while they’re busy fighting and running around, I’m sitting in a corner fangirling over how cute Ji-sung is instead.
EPISODE 96. Broadcast on May 27, 2012.
So the Running Man cast flips their lid over Park Ji-sung’s appearance and doubly ecstatic to learn that he’s an avid RM fan. Though the Manchester United coach (Sir Alex Ferguson) doesn’t tune in, their spirits lift when they hear that Evra watches the show.
Today’s victors get the chance to participate in the 2012 Asian Dream Cup in Thailand. What better way to exercise those muscles than with a superpower soccer match. Ji-sung has seen the Superhero episode and Kwang-soo excitedly asks if he knows about Death Note. Ji-sung: “Wasn’t it dead last in popularity?” Aww and then the captions remind us of the fact.
But before the game kicks off, there’s another special guest – IU. Not only was Ji-sung NOT aware that he was the only guest but his cheeks flush a bright pink at her entrance.
HA – Ji-sung gripes that he’ll be the only one without a power. He wants to be the Space Controller so the cast encourages him to try the “I wield power over space!” catchphrase. As expected he can barely imitate the motions. He eventually does with a little boost of confidence and it sends everyone crumpled to the ground in laughter. You are so adorably earnest.
Surprisingly, IU picks Death Note (which gets a high-five from Kwang-soo). Then she oh-so-matter-of-factly ices, “That way I can write Ji-sung’s name…” She covers that if they’re on different teams but you can practically see that gushing crush freeze over into instant fear.
Jong-kook and Ji-sung are chosen as team leaders and the latter grumbles that he can only have one teammate. No superpower and a 7:2 disadvantages were probably not in his fantasy to participate in Running Man. Where’s the fun if you don’t have a power?
In true Running Man fashion, he’s instructed to send off his eliminated choices by ripping off their name tags. Suk-jin happily starts, “I’m really looking forward to—” then rrrrippp off goes his name tag. And that look of shock on Jae-suk’s face mid-MC mode is priceless.
More surprised rips later, (Haha: “It feels like I got dumped!”) it’s down to Gary and Kwang-soo. They try to impress with their soccer skills with an imaginary soccer ball (Gary makes a variety foul by turning his back to the camera, heh) and ultimately, Ji-sung makes his choice – Kwang-soo.
After our teams line up, each player except Ji-sung drinks the contents of their bottles to acquire their unique superpowers. What could they be?
The soccer match is divided to two halves of 15 minutes each and right before the whistle blows, Jong-kook reveals his power at the start: to pull out a Red Card to a teammate who’s dragging them down.
And when it does, the cast immediately hesitate once Ji-sung has the ball. The man needs no superpower, he’s already got superabilities with a soccer ball as he dribbles it effortlessly down the field.
Ji-sung’s team misses a shot at goal but when Ji-sung receives the ball again he spots the other end of the field and kicks the ball into an empty goal. Kwang-soo celebrates and the RM team points fingers at each other.
Haha marches backwards, his movement limited by the harness (ha!). His superpower becomes apparent once the ball is in his possession and he soars over the field with fear-stricken panic written all over his face. Needless to say, he’s relived once he’s on the ground and unfortunately the flight does little to aid his team.
So Ji-sung intercepts the ball and suddenly Gary’s power spills out a number of soccer balls into the field. Heh, is this Duplicator: Soccer Edition? And here I was wondering what that oversized large green backpack was about. Downside? He’s gotta put ’em back each time.
Thanks to some fancy footwork and Kwang-soo’s butt, the next goal bounces in. The score’s 2:0 to Ji-sung.
I’m starting to think that Haha’s power isn’t all that useful because his second flight doesn’t fare much better and after he flubs at the same spot, Jae-suk shouts that he’s got a whole crew tirelessly working for his “power.”
Suk-jin’s power could come in handy (he can move the goal with an “Oo-swa/Jwa-swa” call). But so far the match is a mess as the RM team try to learn their powers but are stupefied at Ji-sung’s superb soccer abilities. The ladies shout in fear and that split looks like it HURTS, Gary.
The score’s 4:0 now and Jong-kook’s fury is now in full rage. He finds himself face to face with Ji-sung with the ball getting ready to kick…then Ji-sung just kicks it away with ease. Damn, I’m so impressed I might go starry-eyed.
What the – Kwang-soo did you just KICK Spartakooks? How is that not a penalty?! Thanks to Suk-jin, the RM team scores their first goal.
Ji-hyo stumbles in the initial revelation of her power: “My feet…my hands!” (She can hold the ball with her hands for 10 seconds). Kwang-soo gets confused by Gary’s power and level-headed Ji-sung scores another goal.
Thankfully, they soon learn to use their powers in combination with each other but it doesn’t stop Ji-sung from intercepting their passes with ease. Which is when IU calls out her power, chanting a line from her song, “Good Day.”
PUHAHAHA – and a group of ajusshi fans rush onto the field to protect IU. The IU fanboy shirts plus the gruff “IU” grunts has me in a fit of tickles.
Three minutes left with the score now 5:4 against the RM team and Jae-suk shouts out his catchphrase only to forget it midway: “The wind…what is it?” Pfft. By the time he remembers, Ji-sung’s put in another goal.
At least Kwang-soo’s power this time is pretty cool too. He shouts to stop time and the other team freezes in place. While Ji-sung takes his time (and sends the ball in with a lazy heading), Kwang-soo’s got other plans and kicks Jong-kook some more. Oh boy, I hope you don’t regret that.
Poor Haha calls upon his power again but before he lifts off the ground, Referee Maknae FD blows the end of the first half. Ji-sung’s 7 to Running Man 4.
Man, it’s only been 15 minutes but everyone’s already pretty beat (no thanks to the heat). Each team strategizes for the second half.
Kwang-soo asks about Manchester United’s team cheer and when he hears that they don’t have one he jokes, “Do you not want to do anything with me, hyung?” Oh Incriminating Kwang-soo, I’ve missed you. I’m not quite sure if Ji-sung makes up the “Huzzah!” on the spot but it warms my heart that he makes the effort towards team bonding with Kwang-soo.
Ji-sung claps to initiate the second half and it’s Kwang-soo giving him the pointers this time to announce his actions. Ji-sung playfully pushes him away and he confidently does it correctly. So cute.
The teamwork in the RM team seems to flow better in the second half. Ji-sung shoots from halfway across the field to calculate against Jae-suk’s powerful winds… but it hits the corner of the goalpost instead.
Now the RM team has learned to use their powers to their advantage. The gusts help score another goal in their favor and Suk-jin moves the goal to prevent the other team from scoring.
Haha fixes his minor issues by ordering his superpower crew how high he needs to be hoisted into the air. He positions himself for a heading. Gary cornerkicks it towards him but they miscalculate and Haha is left there hanging.
Despite their improved teamwork, Gary kicks the ball into IU’s ribcage by accident. She’s fine and the boys overreact while Jong-kook threatens to take out his Red Card.
A little later, Kwang-soo collapses to the ground by another one of Gary’s kicks. At first you think it was just his stomach but when he’s immobilized for a few minutes you know that it’s the manhood.
The score’s now 11:10, Ji-sung calculates his next kick with new determination. Suk-jin calls to move the goal… and the ball goes in perfectly. Daebak.
Then Ji-hyo earns a penalty kick (Kwang-soo tried to usher her out of the field) and just when you think she’s going to kick, she picks up the ball in her hands and chucks it. Ji-sung block it and then fluidly transitions to play in the game. Double Daebak.
Moving the goalpost is useless now because Ji-sung simply estimates where to kick so he scores. Triple Daebak.
The game ends 13:10 with Ji-sung’s team as the winners. Ji-sung picks his next teammates and picks up on Kwang-soo’s hint to choose him. He explains, “Kwang-soo was my teammate… so I’ll take him out [of the running].” HA and aww.
Everyone gathers the next morning and Ji-sung literally gets sandwiched between his new teammates Jae-suk and Jong-kook both physically and verbally. They continue to bicker until Big Nose Hyung has heard enough and explodes, “Let’s talk together!”
Mr. PD introduces today’s race where they’ll need to complete missions to acquire suitcases full of cash they’ll need later in Thailand. So they’re off!
Stuck with the two most talkative out of the bunch, I worry that Ji-sung might regret his decision on his teammates. Jong-kook and Jae-suk continue to argue in the car trying to make Ji-sung as comfortable as possible.
Jae-suk informs him that he didn’t call last night in case Ji-sung was too tired but he’s got a pretty witty comeback: “That’s why I kept my phone off.” Hee, you are too cute.
The conversation turns a serious leaf about Ji-sung’s life overseas in England and the difficulties like overcoming the language barrier. Ji-sung admits that it didn’t matter on the field since sports, especially soccer, is universal. But when it came to team meetings and interacting with his teammates, he didn’t have a translator so he’d have to use gestures to get his point across.
They ask about when the coach would talk strategy and Ji-sung replies, “I would just go mung (blank)…” He used to pretend to understand and just nod along. Aww, it’s so funny but so sad.
Ji-sung’s team is the first to arrive at the first mission location. Mr. PD is surprised to hear that they’ve already eaten breakfast. Ji-sung’s teammates promotes that their athlete always eats breakfast like they’re his PR team.
Mr. PD instructs them to freely order their breakfast (Jae-suk pipes: “I’ll have Kim Jong-kook!” ’cause “kook” means “soup” in Korean). Ji-sung proves once again that he’s an avid fan by listing some previous rules about the food missions (e.g. memorizing the order the dishes comes out).
Soon the other teams join them and they order breakfast without suspicion. So does the staff. Mm, my suspicion radar is on high alert.
Haha mentions IU’s recent birthday and Jae-suk suggests that everyone pitches in for a gift. Though it looks like he wants to swallow his words when Haha says that she needs a car because she just got her driver’s license…
It turns into this hilarious running gag as Jae-suk initially pretends not to hear and then gives up, “All right! Everyone put in $10,000 each!”
Everyone happily digs into their food and Jae-suk spins a tale just from their posture that Ji-hyo and the Easy Brothers resemble a typical family where Kwang-soo is the disgruntled child who came in at the crack of dawn from playing video games all night.
Mom Ji-hyo remains silent about her misfortune while Dad Suk-jin thinks everything is harmonious in their family.
IU visits Jae-suk’s table to share food and Jae-suk jokes about her birthday gift again to which she replies, “I’ll use it well.” Jae-suk must still be recovering because he mistakenly sticks his butt in front of the camera. HA.
After Haha jokes that IU is concerned about what color to pick (black), the members start adding what features they’ll chip in for. When it’s Ji-sung’s turn, he coughs in response. He offers to get seat covers and Jae-suk asks: “Do people even use seat covers anymore?”
They continue to joke around as Jae-suk takes a pretend phone call from IU’s mother and tells her that it’s April Fools’ Day. Ji-sung playfully keeps up the act only to contradict Jae-suk’s previous words and assures her that IU’s car will arrive next month. Then Gary asks: “Was that really her mother?” Oh, innocent Gary.
Okay I absolutely adore Ji-sung’s laugh. Maybe because it reminds me of Leeteuk’s laugh (daydreams about Leeteuk). Uh, so anyway the teams all complain when they receive their mission (Jong-kook: “You said the blackfish was tasty earlier!”) and immediately regret their meal.
It’s exactly what you think: they’ve got to earn back the money they’ve spent. What’s worse is that it includes their staff’s bill as well.
Their jaw drops at the totals. IU’s team needs to earn about $120 but that’s not nearly as bad as Ji-sung’s team. They don’t blink an eye at their own bill ($90) but their staff ordered just as much bringing the grand total to $186. Ji-sung buries his face while his teammates berate their VJs who just keep on eating.
The ajumma they work for is completely biased towards Jong-kook as if he can do no wrong but openly scolds Jae-suk and Ji-sung enough for Jae-sung to rename the place the “Turbo Store.” (Jong-kook used to be a part of a ’90s duo called Turbo).
Aw, Ji-sung earnestly tries to keep up with the rush of customers even though the ajumma yells at him mid-sip. She then turns to Jong-kook to take his time.
The other teams use their female teammates’ presence as a selling factor (IU’s aegyo helps to reel in some male customers). In what seems like a blink of an eye, IU’s team earns enough to move on first.
Back in the car, Jae-suk and Jong-kook informs Ji-sung that thought they’re already having fun, he’s still hasn’t experienced the thrill of being thrown into a battle of wits, the taste of betrayal or that feeling of a water gun in your hand.
Ji-sung simply laughs as the other two continue to concoct ideas about some of the Manchester United athletes: “Maybe [Wayne] Rooney will get angry [if you tear off his name tag]. Or that Coach [Alex] Ferguson is a spy.” Pfft.
At their second mission location, all the teams scramble to enlist volunteers who are wearing their team color. It’s a tug-of-war and IU’s team is astounded that they’ll have to go against Jong-kook.
Even with Jong-kook’s handicap of using one arm, each team wins one round (Kwang-soo helps by twisting Jong-kook’s arm). But it’s Ji-sung’s team who advances to face off the Ace and Easy Brothers.
Ji-sung’s team wins the first round (Kwang-soo kicks in retaliation then immediately falls to his knees apologetically). Ji-hyo’s team wins the next and in the final round both teams tug with all their might as the crowd cheers Ji-sung on…and with that last burst of energy, Ji-sung and his teammates tug the rope to victory.
Ji-sung’s breathing pretty heavily now and when they ask for a comment, he replies, “It was the hardest point in my entire soccer career!” Man you know it’s tiring when you’ve wiped out a national athlete’s energy.
But in the car, Jong-kook explains that he can’t shake off this nagging feeling – is Ji-sung a spy? He bursts laughing, asking if they think he would make a good spy. He adds that he’d probably be found out right away but something doesn’t quite fit.
Sure enough we rewind to earlier this morning as Mr. PD sits down with Ji-sung. His mission is to eliminate the Running Man cast but he can scout out an accompliance. Unfortunately, he can’t choose anyone he likes (Mr. PD: “What if you could?” Ji-sung: “Then definitely Jong-kook!”) but can buy out a member for a price.
His 7 previous goals in the soccer game earned him 3500 Baht (Ji-sung: “If I knew that I would have scored all the goals!”) and Ji-sung peruses the menu of the Running Man cast.
Now the question is: who did he choose?