Time to loosen those vocal chords and get that tambourine ready for a noraebang experience you likely won’t ever forget. The godfather of variety pays our cast a visit to train their sharp wit, fine-tune their physical gags, and bring out a new persona. Some things don’t ever change, and perhaps someone’s bad luck is really a sign that the variety gods have a bright future ahead of them.
EPISODE 143. Broadcast on April 28, 2013.
A mysterious man checks his watch as he waits on the rooftop. He whips his head around at the sound of footsteps. Meet Lee Kyung-kyu, who is pretty much the dae sunbaenim of varietyland. And you don’t keep a variety veteran waiting.
Haha yells for the others to haul ass in order to properly greet their guest, and Kyung-kyu even picks up a megaphone to drive the point home. One by one, they each arrive and all are nonplussed in his presence.
How cute is it that the mat-hyung is totally prepared for today’s filming – he even wore sneakers! Kyung-kyu is fully aware of how rigorous this show can be, but he’s confident that he can at least take on Suk-jin.
I’m surprised that for someone who’s been so active in the biz for so long, this is his first time on an SBS Sunday variety show. Then again, he’s pretty busy with his other shows, which include Healing Camp and Star Junior Show. But today, he’s going to give Running Man his full, undivided attention.
Count on Jae-suk to lay down the ground rules when it comes to dealing with Kyung-kyu. It indirectly gives us a nice intro to the man’s MC and variety persona and it boils down to this: He doesn’t put up with pointless or unfunny humor.
I have heard in the past from other celebrities about his no-nonsense aka scary way of handling variety, and he doesn’t hesitate to scold his hoobaes. So basically, you’ll have to earn your entertainment creds with him. Just think of him like a variety barometer.
That isn’t to say that the man is all cold, since he’s also known as a considerate host and has built a respectable reputation over the years.
But Kyung-kyu gets thrown off when Mr. PD suddenly gives him the floor. He agrees that they’ll have to split teams, but before they do, he blurts out: “Don’t you think that we’d need at least ten people?”
The cast is quick on the uptake and asks if the mat-hyung brought other guests along with him today. It’s a hilariously awkward exchange as Kyung-kyu tries to initially coolly play off the moment, and then just gives in and introduces our guests.
Say hello to actors Kim In-kwon and Ryu Hyun-kyung, who are here to promote their movie The Singing Contest. Ah, and Kyung-kyu is the movie producer, which also explains his “Producer” chair in the beginning of the episode.
In line with his “purely innocent” reason to appear on Running Man today, Kyung-kyu passes on the opportunity to talk about the movie and jokes that he feels like the PR person who tagged along with the movie stars.
Then when Mr. PD announces that they’ll split teams, Kyung-kyu’s like, Already?
Our teams are split in half and it really does seem like it’s Gen X (Kyung-kyu, Jae-suk, Suk-jin, Ji-hyo, and Kwang-soo) vs. Gen Y (Hyun-kyung, In-kwon, Jong-kook, Gary, and Haha). Ha – maybe it’s just the mat-hyung trio that tips those scales.
Thus it’s by no coincidence that today’s theme is entitled “Superpower Noraebang,” where our teams will collect coins at each station, and the team with the highest score in their show’s own singing contest will win it.
In the car, Jae-suk worries that Ji-hyo’s busy drama schedule has already taken a toll on her health. Looking out the window, Kwang-soo wistfully agrees with that statement and quips, “You can’t hide your age.”
Kyung-kyu interjects, “You know I’m turning 60 soon right?” Then he impresses the cast on how much he knows about Kwang-soo, like his incredible popularity overseas.
The conversation turns to the past rumors of how scary Kyung-kyu used to be, so Jae-suk gives him the opportunity to clear the air. Suk-jin starts laughing at the first rumor (that he would make the female staff cry) as Kyung-kyu insists that they only cried when they had to exchange goodbyes.
He continues that the female staff writers were so scared of him at one point that whenever he walked down the hallway, they’d part like the Red Sea. Kwang-soo mentions that he heard that some people even threw salt at the dae sunbae and Kyung-kyu seethes, “It wasn’t salt!”
(Traditionally, salt is thrown to drive out evil spirits or to purify someone. In this case, throwing salt at a person would be considered as an insult.)
Jae-suk mentions that Kyung-kyu was always nice to him over the years. Kyung-kyu replies, “There are a few people I hate.” Then he asks how Park Myung-soo is doing. Ooh.
At the jjimjilbang, the cast will play a series of three games. Jong-kook gives this long explanation that he and In-kwon used to be on a popular survival-type variety show back in the day.
In danger of being eliminated, Jae-suk prompted the actor to sing a song… and he belted out “Morning Dew,” which has a pretty, mellow melody. Good to relieve stress, not so much to avoid elimination.
According to Gary, Hyun-kyung can tear up the dance floor with her hip-hop skills. Kwang-soo jokes: “I can’t stand to see women dance like that!”
The goal of the first game is to get your opponent to lose their balance by tugging on a towel. Coach Kookie steps in to make sure both Suk-jin and In-kwon are in position; the only drawback is that we can’t see Big Nose Hyung‘s face.
Kyung-kyu quickly fixes that by twisting his head towards the camera. OW. They spend another good minute to determine rule specifics until Kyung-kyu finally has enough and yells, “You all sure talk a lot!”
Suk-jin warns In-kwon that he’ll put up a good fight… but less than a second into the match, he trips. HA.
After an easy win against In-kwon, Kyung-kyu calls out Hyun-kyung in hopes to keep up his winning streak. Then Jong-kook steps in. Gulp.
On the sidelines, Haha calls out: “These two are angry 24/7!” Hahaha.
Kyung-kyu dishes out the trash-talk, and admits that he’s got his eye on becoming a regular cast member. “You know what’s coming, right? Just concentrate on your singing career.”
They face-off, and both men resist each other’s attacks pretty well. And though strength isn’t supposed to be a determining factor, Jong-kook wins anyway.
Kyung-kyu is still bitter about his loss and scolds Jong-kook in the following match, citing that he’s hurting the Giraffe. Looks like some things don’t change, do they?
But that moral support disappears the next minute, and when Kwang-soo cries out in pain again, Kyung-kyu’s like, Deal with it.
We skip ahead to the final round and whaddayaknow – it’s the Monday Couple. I love how both of them are like, You again? in this playful annoyed voice.
Gary quickly cuts down the rumors that he’s a master at martial arts, but he does admit, “I have a third degree belt in the art of love.”
It’s a literal push-pull when the game actually begins and Gary quips, “Are we playing a give-and-take [or a push and pull] here too?” Puhaha.
He playfully tugs back and forth, but in a distracted moment, Ji-hyo sends him literally crashing back to Earth.
In the second game, the team who ends up with the one raw egg (out of 30) loses. Kyung-kyu claims that he can tell right away, thanks to his long history in the chicken business. He adds: “I can even tell if it’s unfertilized or not!”
Either he’s really good or he’s overconfident, and when he’s asked just how you can tell the difference, he can’t give an answer. Heh, overconfident it is then.
Suk-jin stirs up trouble when he comments on how Kyung-kyu really does favor Jae-suk. He wonders if it’s due to Jae-suk’s overwhelming popularity, to which Kyung-kyu answers that he was always a fan even when the nation’s MC was a no-name.
Suk-jin: “The Kyung-kyu I know doesn’t like those who aren’t famous.” Then Kyung-kyu lunges at him.
Each team passes the first few turns and the cast members happily eat their hard-boiled eggs. Round after round we go until we finally get to Kyung-kyu’s turn. Wouldn’t it be a hilarious karmic revenge if he ends up with the raw egg?
To his great relief, he passes. Jong-kook is up next and it’s apparent that he’s on Kyung-kyu’s naughty list. Spartakooks insists that he’s doing his best, and Kyung-kyu retorts, “Watch the broadcast. You talk more than anything else!”
We’re down to twenty eggs already and everyone grows anxious as the number continues to dwindle. It’s Kwang-soo’s turn again and he dismisses everyone else’s comments about his perpetual bad luck.
And then the raw egg explodes on his forehead. Oof. Then the others belatedly add in consolation: “This is a moment every variety star dreams of!”
The next round starts off with twenty eggs and everyone is speechless when Kyung-kyu says that they should have these eggs for lunch and wrap up filming as quickly as possible. Jae-suk: “Do you plan to go home afterward?” Kyung-kyu: *shakes head*
So Kwang-soo starts off this round as calm as you please because what are the chances he’ll end up with a raw egg again, right? The answer is pretty good and ends up with an egged forehead.
AHAHAHAHA. Am dying of laughter. You just cannot make this stuff up. Both the cast and the staff are astonished, and we hear a collective “Oohhh~”
The cast members praise Kwang-soo, saying that the variety gods have poured their favor upon him… and then Kyung-kyu barks that the Giraffe ended the game too quickly.
Their last game at the sauna requires the cast to roll a coin so that it gets stuck between fork prongs. Jong-kook gets scolded for his comment that these games simply call for a living, breathing person without discrimination of age or strength.
Then his sincere remark gets misconstrued as condescending, and Kyung-kyu finally blows up: “Don’t call me ‘hyungnim’! Call me ‘ajusshi’!”
The cast finally gets around to practice and Kyung-kyu keeps catching the other team’s coins. They yell back: “Ajusshi!”
In-kwon starts off the game and though he gets the coin to zip down speedily, he’s not that accurate. Haha comes pretty close, but he too misses.
Ji-hyo runs into trouble getting the coin to roll in a straight line. But then to her luck, one of her coins gets stuck between the prongs. Beginner’s luck or not, it’s daebak.
Then the team acknowledges that their Ace Ji-hyo and their black hole Kwang-soo just cancel each other out. Jae-suk:”That’s why we can’t gain anything!”
But Kwang-soo turns his luck around and successfully adds a coin to his team’s count. Yay!
Jong-kook is just out of luck today – everything he says earns him a lecture. Then before Kyung-kyu’s turn, Haha jokes that if he succeeds, it will mean that his movie will be a hit… and the coin rolls right in between the prongs.
Kyung-kyu does a happy dance (with thrusting?) and Jae-suk adds, “There are only two ajusshis in this world. Won Bin and Kyung-kyu!”
So the Gen X team wins the first game and after much debate, they choose the gold coin.
Our next mission takes place at a field where each team will need to protect their respective ‘kings’ in dodgeball. Huh, today’s rules seem refreshingly straightforward and simple.
The teams settle on the king of comedy (Kyung-kyu) and the king of singers (Jong-kook). And just to make sure that we know who reigns supreme around these parts, the staff makes them wear beanies. Heehee – it makes Kyung-kyu look like an elf.
Suk-jin is eliminated as soon as the game begins, followed by Gary. To everyone’s surprise, Hyun-kyung catches the ball and turns around to throw it back at the opposing team.
Kyung-kyu barely misses a shot by Gary but that puts him in the direct line of fire for Hyun-kyung, who picks up the ball, her target in sight. Ji-hyo takes the hit.
Poor Kwang-soo is left as the lone bodyguard and he continues to take hit after hit. Then Kyung-kyu takes possession of the ball and he revs up to throw the ball, which falls short. HA.
Then Kwang-soo tags Jong-kook out to score the first point.
Hyun-kyung is ready to go for another set whereas Kyung-kyu already looks exhausted. So they go again and as expected, Hyun-kyung doesn’t hold back. Even though her attacks miss, it’s safe to say that she’s tougher than she looks.
More cast members are tagged out left and right and some time later, Hyun-kyung is left to protect Jong-kook. With the Bodyguard soundtrack playing in the background, Hyun-kyung jumps around to block any incoming attacks.
She tries her best to intercept Jae-suk’s throw, but alas Jong-kook is hit and Jae-suk’s team wins again.
With two victories under his belt, Kyung-kyu is in a jolly mood and to everyone’s astonishment, he asks Kwang-soo which coin he should choose. Suk-jin: “I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard him say something like that!”
Mr. PD announces the third mission as an Avatar 1 vs. 1 nametag rippin’ game where each player must follow the specific directions of their host. This setup brings back memories of another discontinued variety show, Hot Brothers.
The Gen Y team chooses In-kwon as their first avatar. But before they send him in, the team teaches him the “proper way” to tear off nametags. So remember – use your left hand to prevent your opponent from turning around and your right hand for rippin’!
Thankfully In-kwon is a quick study and he easily rips off Gary’s nametag in practice. Given that your opponent is Suk-jin, I’d say you don’t have much to worry about.
The two run into each other as soon as they step outside, and now I get the appeal of this game. Neither avatar can act out of their own accord, and Haha instructs In-kwon to find a hiding place and wait.
But thanks to the cameras, the Gen X team keeps a close eye on In-kwon’s movements. When Kyung-kyu suggests a face-off, his team members gasp in surprise (“Already?”), and then he immediately second guesses himself. Ha.
So he instructs Suk-jin to wait, which lures In-kwon back downstairs. The two meet and they circle around each other as the hosts simultaneously shout instructions. Then In-kwon gains the upper hand and eliminates Suk-jin.
Kyung-kyu considers it a missed opportunity that Suk-jin could have feigned injury in order to buy a few precious seconds. They send Kwangvatar out next, and it’s no surprise that the role fits him like a glove.
Kwangvatar is told to proceed with caution and a few moments later, we get why: In-kwon jumps out from his hiding place and attacks. Then it cracks me up that Haha suggests to In-kwon to pretend to be hurt if he finds himself in a tight spot.
But what’s more surprising is that Kyung-kyu orders Kwang-soo to retreat. The expression on Kwangvatar‘s face is like, Hyungnim, say what?
Then after Kwang-soo’s inevitable elimination, he marches back inside, yelling: “I had his nametag in my hand!” Kyung-kyu: “Well it looked like you were losing from over here…”
Everyone is on alert now that Ace Ji-hyo is out on the field. As per her host’s instructions, she chases after In-kwon up the stairs. They meet at the staircase and Ji-hyo is flabbergasted to hear that Haha is the other avatar’s host.
Kyung-kyu observes the exchange and thinks aloud: “Should I tell her to smack him?” And then he does.
The two stand around awkwardly at the mercy of their hosts and In-kwon yells at Ji-hyo. Then we see Ji-hyo slowly back away and In-kwon is instructed to give chase.
But as soon as he reaches the stairwell, Ji-hyo spins him around and eliminates him.
The two ladies meet right outside headquarters, and Haha orders Hyun-kyung to start dancing then and there. Turns out that her dancing skills are a real thing and she’s pretty good.
Then Hyun-kyung steps forward and the ladies attempt to grab at each other’s backs. When that doesn’t work, Hyun-kyung takes another dance break.
What the – did Ji-hyo just tear off her own nametag? Everyone is shocked by the act, but we soon find out that it’s all part of the plan, and Jae-suk immediately heads out. Not only that, eagle-eyed Jong-kook immediately zeroes in on this plan.
So Hyun-kyung frantically tries to run away, but runs into Jae-suk as soon as she turns around. Jae-suk gives chase until they find themselves at the same location they started at.
Jong-kook gets ready to take her place, but she might not need her help as she grabs hold of Jae-suk’s nametag… and tears it off. Dayum.
Thus, Kyung-kyu is forced to head out himself and he doesn’t let up when he faces Hyun-kyung. It’s too bad that his efforts are for naught as she easily takes him out and secures her team’s first win. I know who’s getting MVP today.
Our cast arrives at the final mission location where they’ll participate in the in-house Superpower Singing Contest. As a refresher, the team with the highest score wins. The coins correspond to the songs they’ll be singing.
There’s also a mysterious wire hanging above them, but we’ll find out what that does later.
Up first is Mung Ji-hyo and Kwang-soo who starts us off with 2PM’s “Heartbeat.” You’d think that as the youngest members on their team, there would be a fighting chance that they’d know the song. (They don’t.)
Then their superpower kicks in as they sing the pre-chorus, and an entire choir assembles behind them. It takes both Ji-hyo and Kwang-soo a good minute before they realize the presence of 50 acapella singers singing along in harmony.
That. is. Awesome. Thanks to their help, they get a 96. Woah.
Turns out the wire is for the Gen Y team (singing Son Chan-hwi’s “Tears”), and Hyun-kyung happily volunteers herself. She and In-kwon belt out the song as the staff set her up.
Once she’s good to go, the staff hoist her up, which means InstaScream. HA – and the monitor is hooked up to wires too. At least she’ll still be able to read the lyrics?
All those screams are worth it and Gen Y scores a 96.
The Gen X hyungs start to sing their trot single (“Shabang Shabang”) as the other wait expectantly – what could the next superpower be? And then the curtain pulls back to reveal Park Hyun-bin, the singer, crooning to the song with them. Daebak.
Haha complains about this unfair advantage while In-kwon admits that the song’s so catchy that it makes it him want to dance. Ha.
It earns the team another high score (99), and Kyung-kyu is in such a good mood again that he says with a smile, “Our next song is ‘Gangnam Style’! What if PSY swung by?”
Cut to: Singing ‘Gangnam Style’ as Jae-suk and Kwang-soo peddle away on a bike to keep the monitor on. Caption: He (PSY) couldn’t come because he was busy…
The monitor keeps flickering back and forth as their other teammates sing and dance. Or try to since the audio keeps cutting off at crucial moments.
The Gen Y team gets to choose their next song and they decide on an upbeat rock song, “Romantic Cat” (Cherry Filter). What I love most about this performance is how the entire team just throws themselves into the song, with the occasional holler from In-kwon to ring out the chorus.
And yet, their score (97) isn’t enough to beat the Gen X team’s score of 99.
The Gen X team hands over the trophy to Kyung-kyu (“Is this entire thing made of real gold?”), who then gives it to Hyun-kyung instead. Not before pocketing the actual gold coin attached to the trophy for himself, of course.