It’s a numbers game this week on Running Man as they fight the odds against their favor. They’ll have to use their brains and brawn to tackle the puzzling clues to figure out who’s who, which gives us a nice little spin on the classic nametag game. Then to top it off, another actor sheds his serious image for the sake of variety with his competitiveness and ever-amusing short temper.
EPISODE 158. Broadcast on August 11, 2013.
We open in front of a shopping mall with everyone except Kwang-soo, who’s still filming on set for Goddess of Fire. They toss a few light-hearted jokes in his absence, like how Kwang-soo will stick to variety if that acting thing doesn’t work out for him.
Then we’re introduced to today’s guests, who all star in the upcoming movie Hide and Seek: Sohn Hyun-joo (Empire of Gold, The Chaser), Moon Jung-hee (Just You), and Jeon Mi-seon (Pure Love). Suffice it to say everyone’s jaws drop in surprise.
I’m personally excited about Hyun-joo’s appearance ever since we saw a snippet of him in a previous episode. Suk-jin points out that Hyun-joo is wearing his microphone over his pants, which I didn’t even notice. Aw, then Hyun-joo says that he saw the episode when his former The Chaser‘s co-star Kim Sang-joong was a guest.
Jo PD wastes no time to introduce today’s aptly named Hide and Seek Race where it’s every man or woman for themselves. They’ll pick up number clues during today’s games to figure out each other’s identities for the final mission.
Hyun-joo seems upset to hear that Kwang-soo won’t be joining them until later today, but then we see Kwang-soo hiding inside, just a few yards away. Wait, this can only mean one thing…
One hour ago. Kwang-soo breaks into a huge, ear-splitting grin when he meets with Jo PD. It’s pretty adorable how excited he gets and asks if this mean he’s the hero today. I love how reluctant Jo PD is to admit it, all, Well, if that’s what you want to think…
We don’t get to hear what his secret mission is, but we do see Kwang-soo’s overly eager expression evolve into nerve-wracked anxiety. Hahaha.
When the rest of the cast arrives, they’re immediately suspicious to see Kwang-soo already waiting for them. Kwang-soo sits them down and comes right out with it about how today’s mission is dedicated to him. Everyone’s reaction? A matter-of-fact “okay.” Ha, not quite what he was going for.
Kwang-soo launches into a long-winded explanation about today’s setup, and he gets so caught up in his excitement that they have to stop him because they’re so confused. He starts over, and basically it’s the cast’s job to protect him while he remains hidden during the games.
When Kwang-soo tells them that the worst part is their punishment should they fail (i.e. extra filming), Jae-suk retorts: “The worst about all of this is that you’re the hero!”
Then Jo PD steps in to explain the rest: today’s four games require certain tools in order to play, so while the cast is busy looking for them, Kwang-soo will need to pass these games without being caught by the guests. Everyone’s like, Ohhh, *now* I get it.
The cast has been together for over three years now, which means they know each other (and their variety personas) all too well by now. They worry about Kwang-soo’s tendency to be overly dramatic in the spotlight (i.e. ‘hero syndrome’), because although they know what it takes to be entertaining on variety, they’ve also got a game to win.
Kwang-soo gawks at their suggestions, which range from semi-helpful (“Stay in one spot!”) to kinda ridiculous (“Stay in the dark!”). At the last one, Jae-suk points out that Kwang-soo won’t be able to appear on camera then.
Finally, Kwang-soo sighs, “Then I’ll just stay at home and you all tell me how it goes!” Aww.
Everyone heads inside to play the overarching ‘game’ Empire of Gold Medal, where the first three cast members to succeed will receive medals. We know that it’s just busy work to buy Kwang-soo some time, and he already looks frightened hiding in the corner.
The first game is gonggi or Korean jacks, and everyone heads out to find the teeny objects. Hyun-joo is already a hoot—he asks his VJ about the jacks, and he gets annoyed when he doesn’t get an answer: “Why won’t you say anything?”
While the guests are busy looking (Mi-seon walks past a set, ha), the cast worries about where Kwang-soo is. Or you could find the gonggi for him. Just sayin’.
HA, the first thing Haha says when he finds Kwang-soo is: “You look so pitiful.” Kwang-soo’s head-to-toe disguise does makes him look that much more conspicuous. Kwang-soo: “Can you tell it’s me?” Answer: Yes.
Haha discovers a set soon afterwards, but he’s picked up a tail and runs to get it to Kwang-soo. And with the game zone completely abandoned, now’s his chance.
Haha keeps a lookout as Kwang-soo plays in a corner. Things are looking good for him, and then he messes up. But then Hyun-joo comes running over, forcing Kwang-soo to hide away again.
It turns out that Hyun-joo is surprisingly good at the game, and he plays with a look of determination. The cast can’t afford to let the guests win, so Suk-jin tries to distract Hyun-joo a few times, which only sparks his short temper. Then when he does it a final time, I’m kinda afraid that Hyun-joo might actually hurt him.
Ji-hyo checks up on Kwang-soo, and tells him that she’ll signal him once the coast is clear. Missing the action, he whispers: “It sounds fun!”
Meanwhile, the cast does anything and everything to buy some more time, like how they tug on the tablecloth or Gary fake-sneezes, knocking Hyun-joo over. Ack, know who you’re dealing with first!
It’s rather brilliant of Haha to make off with a few of Hyun-joo’s gonggi, since that creates a perfect opportunity for Kwang-soo. Ji-hyo cries, “Toad! Toad!” Puhahaha. Unfortunately, Hyun-joo shows up again before Kwang-soo gets the chance.
Oh dear, Gary succeeds first. It doesn’t even occur to him what his win means for the rest of the cast, and Kwang-soo whispers: “He passed? Then what about me!” Whoops, so much for securing a spot for the giraffe!
Back at the game zone, it looks like Hyun-joo might come in second. So Jae-suk thinks fast and takes off with a gonggi, to Hyun-joo’s surprise. HA.
They do the same with all of their guests over and over and over again. It’s hilarious every time.
At least it gives Kwang-soo another chance, and this time he hides under the table to keep out of sight. And after a few tries, he does it. Yay! Aw, and then Haha casually pushes a water bottle underneath the table for his troubles.
Now the cast is at ease as Suk-jin and Hyun-joo, who wears his gold medal with pride. Poor Kwang-soo is stuck under the table until everyone leaves.
We skip ahead to the third game where they’ll need to kick a hacky sack five times. Gary signals Kwang-soo over after he finds one, and I’m thinking that holding that heavy camera can only work against you.
Kwang-soo tries over and over again as the rest of the cast keeps an eye out. But then Hyun-joo arrives with a hacky sack in hand. Eep, time to run!
It just so happens Hyun-joo’s good at this game too. So I’m with Ji-hyo when she asks, “Sunbae-nim, what can’t you do?”
I crack up every time someone catches the hacky sack mid-air with the excuse: “It was just about to hit my face!” Then the cast grows nervous when they spot Kwang-soo hiding among the staff.
HA, did the cast create a new rule to speed-walk just because? Meanwhile, Kwang-soo gets to work at the game zone, and despite his best efforts, he misses another opportunity.
Thankfully, the cast manages to clear the game zone again. And this time, Kwang-soo passes. Woot!
Kwang-soo hides in a stairwell once everyone leaves. He’s sweating and exhausted by now, and he can hardly believe that no one has suspected him in his disguise. Then he squeeezes the sweat out of his jacket. Ew.
He cries, “But I’m the hero today!”
When he hears about the fourth game (Animal Masks Limbo), he wonders how the heck he’s going to succeed without getting caught. Then whaddayaknow, he actually discovers a giraffe mask. Gah seriously, what are the chances!
He practices on a rack, and for a second there, it looks like he’ll do just fine. That is, until he gets caught at the giraffe’s face.
It’s adorable to see how excited Hyun-joo gets when he discovers a mask. But limbo is another thing of itself, and he collapses onto the court.
Jae-suk does a pretty good job at stalling for time at the limbo pole. Then Hyun-joo uses Jae-suk’s approach-and-backup approach, to hilarious results.
How is it that a man who plays such serious roles look so cute in a tiger mask? Also, Suk-jin’s horse mask looks like it was made for him.
Elsewhere, Ji-hyo gets annoyed when Kwang-soo refuses to take her mask because “I’m the giraffe!” Ha. That may be true, but you’ve got a game to win!
But they’re running out of time because Jung-hee succeeds first. Then Mi-seon follows suit. Ohhh crap.
Hyun-joo’s battle stance against the limbo pole cracks me up. I could watch that man try to overcome his inflexibility all day. The others try to help, shouting tips on the sidelines (“Bend more!” “Turn your head!”), but alas, he falls again.
After Kwang-soo eventually blends in with the crowd again as a VJ, the cast suggests that they have VJs try out the task. It’s pretty clever, though I’m surprised the guests haven’t picked up on some obvious clues like “Where’s that tall VJ of ours?” Enter Kwang-soo.
The cast keeps talking to distract the guests as Kwang-soo does his best to keep his face hidden. He hits the pole numerous times and even covers his face like he’s camera-shy. And the guests have no idea it’s him.
Kwang-soo nearly gives himself away when he raises his arm in the air like he does for his trademark “Giraffe Power” pose. He gets a whack on the head for that, ha.
Kwang-soo tries one more time, and slowly but surely, he passes under the pole. And the guests still have no idea. Hahaha.
But then the cast instructs him to greet their guests. The look of astonishment on Hyun-joo’s face is priceless. The guests are debriefed about the secret mission, and Hyun-joo reacts… by whacking Kwang-soo over the head with a mask. Puhahaha.
Back to the numbers mission which was introduced at the beginning of today’s episode. As winners of the secret mission, the Running Man cast is given one hint each, and everyone heads out.
In the car, Mi-seon mentions her son wanted her to do the “Cross” move with Jong-kook. They do it, and it’s adorable. Haha looks over his hint (“8, 9, 10 all have one child each”) and we see Jong-kook’s (“1 and 9 use stage names”).
We get a few more clues (“1, 2, and 9 are singers; 8, 10 are comedians”) (“1 and 3 have something to do with Mondays”). And even more clues (“1 and 2 are single”) (“4 and 5 are in currently airing Mon/Tues dramas”).
Hyun-joo’s schedule sounds packed with a drama, movie, and family life going on. Aw, his kids are fans of the show and he sends a cute little shout-out to them, wave and all. “I even got a gold medal!” Adorable.
The cast is greeted with a hopscotch court built upon an acupuncture mat. Here the teams will have to throw a stone into a number. Jong-kook suggests they go barefoot, and everyone wholeheartedly agrees.
I… can’t tell you this is better or worse than the prickly floor they’re usually subjected to. But I’m going to say it’ll probably be worse.
It’s worse. Gary: “It’s different!” Jong-kook: “What this feels like is like getting bruises on your feet!”
That comment sparks another round of bickering between Jong-kook and Jae-suk, and it’s Hyun-joo who puts a stop to it: “[to Jong-kook] Why are you being so argumentative?”
Hyun-joo is up first, and I love how the staff roll these clips of him oozing charisma onscreen in the dramas, and then it’s cut with Hyun-joo crying in pain. Ha. Then Jae-suk all but cries real tears of pain, but it’s no good.
It’s no surprise that Jong-kook doesn’t even break a sweat for the first few steps. But the pain belatedly kicks in, and I’m feeling sympathy pains over here. Owww.
Then when it’s Ji-hyo’s turn again, she yelps, “Aiishhiii…” and everyone teases her for almost-cursing on TV. (If Ji-hyo had added another syllable ‘bal,’ it would turn into “shibal,” and thus be the equivalent of crying out “Oh, fuck!” in English.)
Hyun-joo passes with flying colors, but it’s Gary who doubles over in pain.
Jung-hee gets a bit more screentime when the Easy Brothers point out that she can and will dance on command. It’s cute, but it doesn’t help all that much on the court.
Jong-kook utilizes a new strategy of screaming “Pat!” with every step when it’s his turn again. Maybe it’s an effort to distract himself from the pain because it works well enough for him. For Haha, not so much.
I’m getting another wave of sympathy pangs when Hyun-joo literally jumps on the court every time. Gah, it just looks so painful. Everyone tells him that there’s no need to work so hard, and then he finally crumbles.
It’s raining by now, and the cast worries that the court will be too slippery. Jong-kook uses his “Pat!” strategy, and then it’s up to Haha to clinch the win. He gets pretty close, but then steps with both feet at the very end. Twice.
Is the show really comparing Hyun-joo’s torture on the hopscotch court to Park Ji-sung’s battered feet? It’s all about the editing, and the moving music makes this both a hilarious and touching moment as he endures the pain for his kids.
Gary follows with a decent showing, but it’s Jae-suk we want to worry about as he winces with every step.
Jo PD offers a handicap to the teams, but Suk-jin surprisingly declines, claiming that his team can do it the more painful way if everyone else can. His teammates complain, and Kwang-soo quips, “What confidence do you have to say [that]!”
It turns out Suk-jin does have the confidence to say it, and his team succeeds first. And then Jae-suk turns to the camera to apologize to Hyun-joo’s son on behalf of his father.
We barrel though the next game, where the cast members are sent out to fulfill various tasks undetected. Hyun-joo succeeds; Kwang-soo doesn’t. Then it’s off to the final mission location!
Here, they’ll have to guess each other’s number while sitting in chairs suspended over water. If they get it right, the other person will fall into the water. If they guess wrong, then the guesser will fall in. Simple enough.
Holy crap, the staff wasn’t kidding when they said the cast will be suspended high above the water. Jae-suk gets to guess first. Problem is, none of his clues contained any information about Number 1. He’s going to fall in, isn’t he?
Jae-suk makes a wild guess (“Gary!”) and waits. And then Gary falls.
That empty seat next to Suk-jin looks pretty scary, but now it’s Kwang-soo’s turn. He’s told to guess Number 10, and I honestly thought that he didn’t know when he let out a panicked scream. But then takes Jae-suk’s hand. Uh oh.
Off comes the glasses and down Jae-suk goes. Jung-hee incorrectly guesses Jong-kook for Number 8, all thanks to Suk-jin, who let her jump to the wrong conclusion.
All alone, Kwang-soo hollers: “Both of my friends are gone!”
Suk-jin’s got a fifty-fifty shot at the right answer for Number 9 (Haha or Jong-kook). He calls out Haha’s name… and gets it right. But Suk-jin doesn’t last up there for much longer because Mi-seon correctly names him as Number 8.
Jong-kook doesn’t look too confident about who Number 3 might be. With a mere 20% probability, he yells out Ji-hyo’s name…. and she falls in. Now that’s a lucky guess.
Jo PD reassures the remaining players that their chances of winning are pretty good. Jong-kook cries: “It’s okay if I don’t win!”
Hyun-joo confidently shouts out Kwang-soo’s name for Number 5. Kwang-soo barely has the time to register this before he’s cut loose.
With only three players remaining, Mi-seon is asked to guess Number 4, so she takes a shot in the dark by calling out her own name. It’s incorrect and she falls.
It’s Jong-kook’s turn to guess who Number 4 might be, and he realizes that no one has figured out Jung-hee’s number yet. He thinks out loud, but the height and anticipation is getting to Hyun-joo, who snaps: “Stop talking!”
So Jong-kook guesses Jung-hee, leaving it up to chance once more. He falls in.
This means that Hyun-joo is today’s winner, and he cries a victorious cheer. He dedicates his win to his family (aw) and is presented with three gold rings.
In high spirits, he cheerily tells his fellow guests, “Let’s come out once more.” Please do; you’re most welcome.