We get not one, not two, but three Spartakooks likenesses to join our cast in a Children’s Day Special. Is it too early to start panicking? Then it’s time to settle the score once and for all between the two ddakji masters. Who will come out on top and flip our expectations? Will there be a new ddakji king to usher in a new era?
EPISODE 144. Broadcast on May 5, 2013.
There’s a mix of excitement and apprehension in the air from the start of today’s nametag-rippin’ race. Jae-suk is immediately suspicious – by now he knows all too well that this kind of opening can only mean that today’s guests will be strong contenders.
Then the speakers blare to introduce our first guest: actor Cha In-pyo (Gye Baek, Daemul). With brains, brawn, talent, and an overall amiable personality to boot, you could almost call him Mr. Perfect. The man sure ages well for someone who’s been in the industry for over two decades.
Our second guest, actor Ricky Kim (I Need Romance), greets Mr. PD with a smile. From what I’ve seen in Let’s Go Dream Team! (a sports variety program), it’s safe to say that his athleticism can give Jong-kook a run for his money.
After the initial wave of shock subsides, Suk-jin comments that the strongest enemy is usually announced last. So there couldn’t possibly be any more, right? Why, meet recently retired basketball star Seo Jang-hoon, who stands over 200 cm tall. Gulp.
Everyone’s reaction? Panic.
At the start of the race, Jae-suk ducks inside to avoid eagle-eyed In-pyo’s line of vision. But as luck should have it, he crosses paths with Ricky, who gives chase. And yet we learn all that running was for naught when Ricky huffs to the camera: “I just wanted to say hello [to Jae-suk]!” Ha.
Jae-suk’s momentary refuge is cut short when he sees In-pyo smiling from above in the stairwell. In-pyo’s in no rush to take anyone out, but he serendipitously runs into Jae-suk once more and swiftly rips off his nametag.
He bolts with a courteous but hurried, “Thank you!” (It’s also the name of his variety show on SBS.)
In-pyo retraces his steps to confirm whether the nation’s MC deliberately allowed himself to be caught for the sake of variety. Jae-suk humors him, but I’d bet that was a genuine look of shock and terror earlier.
He teases Jae-suk about his longstanding friendship with actor Lee Jung-jae (the two were once army buddies) and asks, “Are you going to carry me on your back too?” As in, he’ll support you as an MC today? Then he races out there with another round of “Thanks!”
It cracks me up to watch Jong-kook hoist Kwang-soo onto his shoulders in order to intimidate Jang-hoon. Then it hilariously backfires on them since Spartakooks’ nametag is now that much more vulnerable, and Gary has to fight the urge to rip it off himself.
They’re soon joined by In-pyo, who quickly thanks Gary for his charitable donations (aw!). Gary takes this as an opportunity to slip out, but a few seconds later, Jang-hoon grabs him and tears off his nametag.
Looks like even today’s guests aren’t safe from In-pyo as he tries to swipe past Ricky. He’s forced to retreat when the others give chase and zip by a much-confused Ji-hyo. Hahaha.
Elsewhere, Haha and Suk-jin whisper in their hiding place, both uneasy about the other’s betrayal blood flowing in their veins. They do, however, try to sneak up to Ricky via an opened window.
Alas, one small misstep on Haha’s part alerts his target of the attack and Suk-jin tears off Haha’s nametag. So much for a win for the Betrayal Trio today.
How hilarious is it that the mat-hyung has more energy than the rest of the cast combined? He’s like the Energizer Bunny, hopping around in an attempt to gather everyone together for one epic showdown. Then in a moment of distraction, Ricky eliminates him. Aw.
His elimination surprises everyone, and In-pyo buries his face in his nametag when he arrives at jail. His English joke about the DTA (Don’t Trust Anybody) flies over everyone else’s heads, so Haha tries to salvage the moment by asking the man to show the trademark “angry toothbrushing” scene from Daemul.
In-pyo: “I had to get my tooth extracted after [that scene]!” Puhaha.
Back outside, the others circle around Ricky until Jong-kook finally steps forward. It’s brawn versus brawn as they try to overpower the other… and it’s Jong-kook who wins the battle.
Jang-hoon worries that his fatigue is attributed to his lack of physical training thanks to his retirement. He and Suk-jin exchange silent looks of agreement on an alliance. But as the latter backs inside, Jang-hoon slyly tears off Big Nose Hyung’s nametag. Oho, look who’s been learning a thing or two from the Running Man handbook.
Our guest is also quick to shoot down Kwang-soo’s proposal to take on SpartAce together. He knows that alliances never last long on this show (see above for example), and soon both men grab for each other’s backs.
Surprisingly, it’s Kwang-soo who tears it off first, only to realize his grave mistake when SpartAce approaches. Then it’s like watching dominos fall as each man gets eliminated until Ji-hyo is left with Jong-kook’s nametag in her hand. Ha, I think I love Jo PD’s amused reaction the most.
Our cast finally gathers together for the opening as Mr. PD introduces today’s episode as a Children’s Day special. With a thousand pairs of sneakers on the line, which I presume will be donated, the cast is prepared to bring their A game.
After everyone is paired off, the cast heads out to their first mission. In the car, Haha assures his partner, Jang-hoon, that he has plenty of Running Man wins under his belt. Turns out these two are also friends off the air, and Haha is convinced that with Jang-hoon’s tall stature and his speed, they’ll be unstoppable.
Jang-hoon cocks his head, unsure that their height difference will be much of an advantage. “Won’t we meet halfway?” Ha. They settle on ‘Hoon Two’ (they both have ‘Hoon’ in their names) as their team identifier.
Meanwhile, In-pyo shows his optimistic temperament when Jae-suk thanks him for filming even though he feels under the weather. Then In-pyo suddenly asks whether Jae-suk is happy or not.
That’s just the beginning of a litany of questions on In-pyo’s part about Jae-suk’s well-being. Is this car ride turning into an impromptu therapy session?
Jae-suk interrupts and asks if In-pyo is naturally assuming his MC role in Thank You, and In-pyo smoothly directs Jae-suk to speak to the camera. Ha, I suppose this is what happens when you have two skilled MCs in one car.
Our cast arrives at our first mission location, and here they’ll complete various games at different stations on their railbikes. Woah, this course is over 8 kilometers? That’s one helluva workout.
It’s adorable how excited Ji-hyo gets about their adventure, whereas Haha tirelessly tries to elicit a reaction from his less-than-enthused teammate. I can’t tell whether he’s glad to be here or annoyed with Haha’s variety persona.
In any case, Haha and Jae-suk bicker back and forth about who has the better teammate. Haha barks, “Buy a train ticket!” (In Korean, gi-cha means ‘train’ and pyo refers to ‘ticket’). Ahh, wordplay.
In-pyo calls back: “Watch what you say! I’m a menu!” (charimpyo means ‘menu’)
As the cast enters a tunnel, Gary hilariously pretends that he’s afraid of the dark and reaches towards Ji-hyo, who pushes him away. They pass through it in no time, and Gary sighs that it was far too short. Aww.
The tunnel reminds In-pyo of a scene from the ’90s movie Peppermint Candy when the hero stops a moving train. Thus, In-pyo reenacts this line and bellows in his best rage-filled voice: “I want to go backkk!” Puhaha – it’s really the exaggerated facial expression that sells it.
Haha can’t be beat, so he turns to Jang-hoon to do something for the cameras as well. Jang-hoon shies away, so the others egg him on to spur him to do… well, something. In a separate railbike, Ricky thanks his lucky stars that he’s not paired with an overactive Haha.
There’s another tunnel ahead and Gary excitedly comments: “I hope this one is over a kilometer long!” Unfortunately, second time isn’t a charm, and his attempts to cuddle with Ji-hyo are shut down. When a staff member turns on a light, Gary’s all, Turn it off! HA.
They’re on their own once they’re out of the second club music-filled tunnel and Gary exclaims that this is a perfect date spot. Then he jokingly leans back to relax, and Ji-hyo snaps at him to keep pedaling.
Their first station is a perfect pitch game, and Gary is confident that his music background will help him out here. But you’re a rapper!
The Monday Couple flubs on their attempt and is sent off to the next station. At least they don’t seem too torn up about it as they happily share food on the way. Surprisingly, Haha and Jang-hoon are the only ones to earn stickers here.
On to the second game where our pairs are required to work together to eat a hot potato and whistle, all in a span of thirty seconds. Ricky and Jong-kook inhale their food, and get pretty close before they strike out.
As for eagle-eyed In-pyo and Jae-suk, they work hard to consume the potato, but they too are sent sticker-less.
As they tirelessly pedal along the track, In-pyo has trouble keeping Jae-suk’s plethora of variety characters straight. So Jae-suk explains his multiple personas: Yoomes Bond has a water gun, Yooruce Willis comes up in Hide and Seek, and Yoo Hyuk only when dancing.
In-pyo is itching for another nickname and his suggestions are pretty hilarious, like Chaminator or Chambo. The last one, Chaperman, initially sounds ridiculous, but this is variety and In-pyo wholeheartedly throws himself into his new persona.
We skip ahead to the fourth station where the Monday Couple pulls in to play the Pepero game. Omo, so soon? And did Ji-hyo retouch her lip gloss in preparation?
They’re both determined to complete it one go, and Gary can’t help but acknowledge his racing heartbeat though the two have done this mission before. Sure enough, they’re left with what looks like a crumb.
Filled with confidence, they puff up that the other pairs won’t be able to tackle the task as well as they did. Cut to: the Easy Brothers in mid-discussion about how to go about it. HA.
Suk-jin confesses this is his first time playing this game with another guy. So Kwang-soo offers to take the lead, completely nonchalant about the entire situation.
Then Suk-jin burns a fierce red when Kwang-soo takes him by the back of the neck as he approaches closer with each bite. Suk-jin is the first to break first, and despite their repeated attempts, they fail.
When he’s asked about it, Suk-jin can’t help but admit embarrassment, to which Kwang-soo jokingly returns, “Hyung, do you like me?” Hahaha, these two.
Now it’s time to put those hard-earned stickers to use, and Myuk PD explains the rules to shoe basketball: The team who ‘shoots’ the highest number of shoes into the yellow heart wins it. I’m not going to lie; that’s a pretty small area.
The cast is hard-pressed to believe that anyone could kick a shoe into the teeny area, let alone five. Suk-jin; “Show us a video!” Jae-suk and In-pyo are the only ones without stickers, and the nation’s MC steps in to defend the mat-hyung: “He can’t see very well AND he has a [tooth] implant!”
The Easy Brothers are up first and Kwang-soo attempts to get the crowd riled up to chant his name. Too bad those fan chants are short-lived and the crowd quickly grows silent again.
Kwang-soo does get one supportive shout from a fan, but just before he kicks, Jae-suk squeaks in: “That’s a lie.” And the shoe flies high but falls short.
The cast members try their foot to kick their shoes onto the steps, to no avail. Then it’s Jae-suk’s turn, and he has one shot to make it… and it lands perfectly within the target area, to everyone’s amazement.
The lone shoe withstands a few more rounds of kicks, until Kwang-soo’s shoe lands next to it. Unfortunately, it’s only halfway within the circle and Jae-suk’s shoe counts for the win.
At their next stop, Ricky is pleased to hear that he’ll finally get to use his strength. Here, whoever sits on the stool by the end of the time limit wins the round for their team.
It’s absolute chaos once the whistle blows as each person struggles to remain on the seat. Up to now, the cast has used tickle attacks on each other, but when they prove useless when Kwang-soo sit down, they easily unseat him by lifting his legs over his head.
Funnily enough, this new tactic works for everyone who attempts to sit down thereafter, including giant Jang-hoon. Things turn into a mess again with just under 30 seconds on the clock. In the aftermath, it’s Jong-kook who wins the round.
Now that is one awkward position to be in. In-pyo shamelessly wraps himself around the chair legs to secure Jae-suk’s spot, and stubbornly resolves to remain there. It’s madness once more as the timer ticks down, but In-pyo manages to slide into the seat to bring in third place.
Turns out Jang-hoon’s height isn’t that much of an advantage after all, and Haha takes his frustration out on his teammate. Both tired and annoyed now, Jang-hoon snaps at Mr. PD to wrap up the game as quickly as possible.
They’re up against the Monday Couple, and though Jang-hoon can’t bear the thought of coming in last, he can’t bring himself to forcibly unseat Ji-hyo either. So he tries to reason with her, but time is ticking against them, and Ji-hyo pulls in a last second victory.
Before we move on, Haha calls Jang-hoon out on a 1:1 battle. Jang-hoon fights with himself, since losing to Haha would be yet another hit to his pride. Then Jo PD starts to introduce the round anyway, and when Jang-hoon asks if he must participate, Jo PD immediately answers, “Yes.”
It should come as no surprise that Jang-hoon easily moves Haha aside for the win. When Haha naturally kicks up a fuss about it, Jang-hoon holds Haha’s head in his hands like a human basketball for a tense second before he lets go and stalks off.
We finally get to the final mission location where a thousand pairs of sneakers lie in wait to be donated. In-pyo praises the team for their generous donation and the cast use this charming opportunity to raise awareness about In-pyo’s fan club again. Heh.
Today’s final game is a ddakji showdown and both the Monday Couple and the In-pyo/Jae-suk pair are given an additional ddakji for winning the earlier games today. Each pair (equipped with two ddakjis) will face off in a knockout tournament style.
Thoroughly pleased with today’s setup, Jong-kook rubs in: “You might as well consider us victors already!” The others murmur that the first-place pair is better off, and Jong-kook corrects them: “We’re better off because it’s me! The Ddakji King!” Look who’s trash-talking now.
Gary is up first, and though he easily flips over the first ddakji, he fails to flip the second one over. Then Jang-hoon tries a hand at the game, but it hilariously falls flat on the ground. Finally, Gary eliminates them out of the game before you can say “ddakji king.”
In the next round, the original ddakji king makes an epic return as he flips over the first of the Monday Couple‘s ddakji. He gets another turn when Ji-hyo completely misses, and takes out their second. Man’s on a roll.
He reassures In-pyo that a match against Gary is no different than the final match. Jong-kook pops his head in to say, “It isn’t a final match without the champion.” And then Jae-suk knocks out the Monday Couple‘s third and last ddakji.
It’s time to take on the Easy Brothers in the semifinal, and In-pyo removes his jacket to intimidate his opponents. It’s totally badass, until the caption blows his cover, and hilariously informs us that the man’s already fighting a cold.
And then In-pyo coughs. AHAHA.
In-pyo puts on an elaborate dramatic performance to rev up for his turn… and then Jang-hoon pipes up in the background: “What if he misses?” Then In-pyo raises his arm to deliver the blow… and he totally misses. HA!
His most unfortunate attempt slays the entire cast as they cry tears of laughter at the heodang ajusshi. In-pyo then tries to save face by blaming the failure on his failing eyesight and puts his jacket back on.
Only to take it off again when Kwang-soo fails a minute later. He’s all, What should I do now?
Oh gosh, the hilarious exercise has a name: “Spine, abs, and sides.” Then he shows off another move that works off your love handles. It’s both adorable and freakin’ hilarious and I could watch this man stretch and strut all day.
As for the ddakji battle, Kwang-soo takes out one of the ddakjis and completely misses his second attempt. Then Jae-suk steps forward to settle the score and chucks the eliminated ddakji out of the arena.
Hee, Suk-jin’s bumble bee striped sleeves do make him look more adorable than badass but his one attempt is soon trumped by Jae-suk, who knocks the Easy Brothers out of the tournament.
Now it’s time for the battle we’ve all been waiting for as the staff recounts the epic tale of the ensuing battle between the two ddakji masters. The deposed ddakji king can only bite his lip as Jong-kook starts with the trash talk again.
Jong-kook fails his first attempt to flip over the hyung’s ddakji and before In-pyo’s turn, Gary gives him a word of advice: “Pour your entire life into that ddakji!”
It doesn’t work, and then Jong-kook flips over the first of the two ddakjis.
The tension rises when Jae-suk gets another shot at the ddakji (and In-pyo hilariously directs the camera from the sidelines). This battle is more than just a victory; it’s a chance to reclaim his title. Alas, no dice and neither ddakji budge.
He looks on nervously as Jong-kook prepares himself… and fails. They go turn for turn as everyone’s hearts race in anticipation. Then Jae-suk throws down the ddakji and they both flip in the air… and lands on the same side. Ooh, so close.
Again they go turn for turn as each attempt brings them closer and closer to victory. Both Jong-kook and Jae-suk take a short break before they pick it back up again for another 30 MINUTES.
Everyone is desperate to see the end of the suffering but both men are willing to see this battle to the end. They switch out for new ddakjis and it doesn’t seem like it makes much of a difference. That is, until Jae-suk delivers one final blow… and the ddakji rises and falls on the other side. Daebak.
It’s a glorious moment as Jae-suk falls on his knees and gathers himself again to succeed one more time. And he does.
All hail the return of Ddakji King Jae-suk.