It’s a popularity contest for the men to find out which celebrity women would most want to date. Even though they’re hoping for a better rank than the guy next to them, they still display some impressive teamwork for a such a large group. Then it makes for a nice surprise when there are fans out there who consider them dating material, though the rejection is sure to sting.
EPISODE 176. Broadcast on December 15, 2013.
Welcome to the 2013 Running Man Popularity Contest, emceed by none other than our lovely Miss Mung Ji-hyo. Our male contestants strut down the runway, which Kwang-soo owns like a boss (he used to be a model).
Their intros are pretty hilarious too, like how Haha is the World’s Cutest Dad (aw) or the closeup shots to Yoo Hyuk’s butt. But then Jong-kook gets his own separate music break to his 2004 hit “One Man,” to much grumbling.
Jae-suk: “I thought you were a man of few words back then!” And then Haha adds in a Yoon Eun-hye joke. Pffft.
There are five more contestants in today’s lineup: ballad singer Lee Juck, who used to be part of the 90s duo Panic. As he serenades everyone, Jae-suk remarks that the singer needs to sit a piano to be considered attractive: “If I have my glasses, then Juck has his piano.”
Then they’re joined by Potato Star 2013QR3 co-stars, actor Kim Kwang-kyu and indie singer-songwriter Jang Kiha. Aw, I love Kiha’s literally off-beat character in the sitcom. Pfft, MC Jeon Hyun-moo’s intro to SHINee’s “Lucifer is a running joke itself (the captions helpfully tell us the joke is in its third year, heh).
I honestly don’t know too much about music producer Muzie, aside from the fact that he’s part of the music duo UV (with entertainer Yoo Se-yoon). But I have seen him once in Happy Together and found him amusing, so hopefully we’re in for a fun group of guests.
A thousand women were surveyed for today’s ranked popularity race, and were asked the following question: If you were born again, which man would you want to date the most? Ooh fun, it looks like the staff wrangled some female celebrities (is that Noh Sa-yeon?) to answer, as well as the public.
It’s the 11 contestants versus the staff today; all they have to do is play games, acquire hints, and place themselves in the correct ranking to win (gold, of course). Or else suffer punishment. Is it just me or does it feel like forever and a day since we’ve seen punishment on this show?
On the bus, Ji-hyo asks if the men have already separated themselves between best and worst, to which they reply, “We just sat down.” “There weren’t enough seats.”
Haha remarks that Jae-suk is a shoe-in for first place: “Public opinion doesn’t change; it’s Jae-suk.” So true; he’s not known as the nation’s MC for nothing. But Jae-suk reminds everyone that the important thing is get the final ranking right and part ways with their gold.
With so many talkative guests, they agree to try and share the spotlight amongst themselves (Muzie chimes in: “Don’t leave anyone out!”). The conversation then turns to Muzie using a stage name, which Kwang-kyu hilariously calls a nickname before sharing that he has one, too: “Ramses.” Ha, then the camera zooms in on his shiny, balding forehead.
The contestants will need to work together for their first game, where basically the number of feet on the ground after the time limit must match the number called. So for instance, if the number is 9, then only nine feet should be on the floor at the end.
Kwang-soo is slightly flummoxed when Jae-suk tosses out an arbitrary-sounding 30 second limit, joking that they decide on the game rules every four years. They run with the joke (Haha: "Let's extend it to 35 seconds in the next episode!") and decide on 30 seconds and hold the position for additional 5 seconds.
But there’s always a catch, and everyone cringes at the sight of that dreaded acupuncture floormat. Haha asks if there’s a product placement endorsement to this, which is a pretty good question come to think of it, considering how many times we’ve seen it on this show already.
Myuk PD swears that it’s good for their health, and I love how they’re all like, “Pfft, there are plenty of OTHER healthy things out there.”
To make matters worse, their first number is two, and Kookie immediately goes into strategy mode. The task at hand scares a few of their guests, but the cast tells them to get it together, even encouraging quiet Kiha to vent his rage.
It’s total chaos at the start, but they eventually organize themselves in two lines and each lift one leg, and it looks like they’re going to succeed in one go… and they do. Then they all collapse in pain. Aww.
Lee Juck shows them his reddened hands, to which Jae-suk replies, “You only need your fingers to play the piano.” Ha.
Because the group finished so quickly, MC Ji-hyo offers to raise the stakes—one chance to have one foot on the ground. Hyun-moo is caught off-guard when he’s asked how he feels about it, and Haha quips, “We’ll be back in 60 seconds!” Hyun-moo: “That’s not my catchphrase!” HA.
They get overly excited and stressed at the prospect, their voices growing louder by the second until Ji-hyo finally bursts and tells them to settle down. The men all work together to complete the task, but what sells the moment is the river of tears afterwards, as if they just won a world championship.
They obtain three hints for their efforts, including a few children’s sketches for the lower-ranked contestants, and Kwang-kyu asks for a pain relief patch.
They assess the hints on the bus, and Lee Juck lights up to find out that he’s been ranked higher than Jong-kook. Using two hints, they deduce that Muzie is in tenth place (he was born in ’82 and there’s one drawing that’s undoubtedly him.)
Lee Juck uses his deduction skills to point out that Jong-kook’s picture isn’t included in the drawings, which means that they’re both in the top half. When he repeats that he’s ranked higher than Jong-kook, Muzie pipes that he should be focusing on winning the game, not Jong-kook. Ha.
They’re off to a beauty salon for their next game: a knowledge quiz. They need a total of at least 30 points to gain three more hints, so the men strategize which person should tackle each subject.
The topic about women is widely popular among them, but the men give the toughest subjects to the guests with prestigious college backgrounds. Kiha volunteers to go first to solve an English question worth five points, taken from an actual college entrance exam.
It’s seems like they’re in good hands because Kiha says he used to be a translator when he was in the army. Turns out the problem is pretty tough since it requires both listening comprehension and math skills, and at the end of it, Haha proudly declares: “I recognized five words!” Hee.
To everyone’s amazement, Kiha gets it right and accurately explains how he arrived at the answer, which is pretty impressive.
Jae-suk tries for another five-pointer on the economy, and the others both cheer and taunt him from the sidelines. “Is there anything Yoo Jae-suk doesn’t know?” “Jae-suk and the economy.”
Even though the pressure mounts, Jae-suk gets it right, earning a round of praise from his fellow contestants. They decide to keep sending out their brainiest members, and Lee Juck gets his question right too, bringing them up to fourteen points.
Suk-jin chooses another five-pointer history question, and I’d nearly forgotten than he emceed Star Golden Bell (a knowledge quiz/talk show with celebrities) back in the day.
His question is about the first Korean novel written in Chinese, and Kwang-kyu makes a guess from the sidelines, but his answer is the first document to be written in Hangul. Then Haha interjects if Kwang-soo can take a stab at it, and Kwang-soo does seem rather confident…
…and gets it wrong. Aww. Turns out his answer is a Sechskies song, and the hyungs grumble at losing three points for taking that chance. The actual title contains the characters “shin-hwa,” to which Haha jokes, “So it was Shinhwa, not Sechskies!” LOL.
That starts their losing streak, and end up losing the first round. So Jo PD strikes a deal to offer one hint for every ten points they get.
Gary steps up first, and he looks perplexed at the sports question that requires a bit of knowledge about French. To everyone’s amazement, he gets it right (the answer is tennis), and when they ask how he figured it out, he answers that he thought of Wimbledon. Which is in London, England. HA.
Unfortunately Muzie gets his easy-ish question wrong, so they sent out Ace Kiha for a tough history question. There is something attractive about watching a brainy man (Kiha graduated from Seoul University) use his noggin’, and Haha points out as much, though, he whispers, “It’s only sexy if you get it right!”
He does. Oh gosh, now his sitcom character as an off-beat space cadet and his real-life smartypants persona is going to mess with my head. Ack, mind cannot compute!
Impressed, Gary asks if they can’t do quizzes for the next four weeks because he finds it more exciting than nametag ripping (gasp) AND he feels like he’s learning. Aw, well I can respect that. Kwang-kyu sighs that his schedule isn’t free. Heh.
We skip ahead where the men have gained 20 points with two contestants remaining. Vying for the thirty points, Jo PD offers to give them full marks if they get it right, but at the risk of losing a point if they’re wrong.
They take the deal, and Haha sits down for his difficult nonsense quiz question: “What’s the easiest number?” Unfortunately, he gets it wrong, and they all groan at the corny answer: 190,000 or ship-gu-man or “That’s easy.”
So it’s down to Kwang-kyu, and I love how they all oppose the idea for him to tackle a harder subject. He goes for a two-pointer (Q: The first astronaut to step foot on the Moon), and answers: “Will Armstrong.”
Needless to say, it’s wrong, but it’s the fact that he answers the question with such a clear conscience that cracks me up. They acquire one hint, in which the staff will read off everyone’s places in a rap.
Resident rapper Gary listens carefully, but it’s at chipmunk speed, and leaves everyone both angry and confused.
Both groups brainstorms in their respective cars, and Ji-hyo wonders if Lee Juck’s popular “It’s Fortunate” would place him high on the list. Lee Juck agrees, and Kiha asks, “How could you say something like that yourself?”
But Lee Juck does have a point since given their current clues, he and Jong-kook are either in first and second places or fourth and fifth places. To that, Gary quips, “I guess you do need to use both brains for cases like this…” Heh.
The other car seems to get a pretty good list going, but they can’t figure out the order of the bottom half, so they vow to make sure to get enough hints in the next game. At the same time, we see a group of female college students casting their own popularity votes, and it looks like Gary is super popular here on campus.
The cast arrives on campus, and they’re told to find one of two flags. Lee Juck mentions that he used to be the go-to singer at this women’s university, but that all changed after Sung Shi-kyung dropped by. Ha.
The men are immediately mobbed by the ever-growing crowd, and here, they must each find someone with a different surname within five minutes. That’s easier said than done in a sea of Kims, Parks, and Lees. To which I say, find an international student!
Haha is already on top of that idea, and we check back in with Jae-suk and Lee Juck, who make small talk with their students. One of them explains that she was about to go drinking, and when Jae-suk mentions that it’s a weekday, she answers that she failed a job interview today. Aww.
I’m not quite sure why neither man shares the surnames of their respective students (is it part of the rules?), since they could take the time to find someone else if both ladies happen to share the same name.
They start sharing when about half of them have arrived. Things look good at the start, as the first five all have different surnames. Kiha’s student happens to be a huge Jae-suk fangirl (cute) and reveals her name… which is also different. Whew.
Suk-jin’s student shares his surname (Ji), and even Jong-kook finds another student with a rare surname. Kwang-kyu looks pretty confident, and yay, he’s also brought a different name.
They take a short filming break, which is when one of the ladies stop to redo her makeup: “I might be on TV.” Lol. The men’s amazed reactions crack me up: “Her eyes are bigger now!”
Both Hyun-moo and Gary assure the others that their students have particularly unique surnames. But so do the other nine before them, and there are five hints on the line.
Whoa, Gary’s student has an extremely rare two-character surname, and now it’s down to Hyun-moo… who also has found a different surname. Seriously, what are the chances?
After they explain today’s theme, they open the floor to the ladies to choose their own favorites, which leads to a selca session to score some final points. D’aww, they even take a group photo together.
Jae-suk reminds the ladies that there are no hard feelings and are free to leave afterward. Then the first student names Hyun-moo as dead last and walks away without a second glance. HA, that’s awesome.
The other students follow suit, and most of the votes for least favorite are directed at either Hyun-moo or Kwang-kyu. Their petty fight about it is downright hilarious, as one cheers whenever the other’s name is called.
The score is tied at 4:4 when Hyun-moo’s own guest names him as her least favorite. Oof. Hyun-moo: “I was the one who brought you here!” Then to add salt to injury, the last student casts the final vote at Hyun-moo.
The cast lets Hyun-moo choose their hints in an effort to lift his spirits for being the least popular today, even encouraging him to dance to his trademark SHINee “Lucifer” dance, which he does with gusto.
Hyun-moo still worries that he’ll come out dead last in the rankings. Kwang-kyu jokes, “You’re right.”
But all of that subsides when they arrive at their final mission location and see water cylinders looming over where they’ll soon be standing. Eek.
Now it’s time to guess their rankings, and given their clues, they deduce that Gary must be in second place, followed by Kiha, Lee Juck, and then Jong-kook. Aw, Kwang-soo seems disappointed to possibly be in sixth place, but it’s a pretty big shock to Haha that he could be in ninth place.
Either Hyun-moo or Suk-jin are in seventh or eleventh place, and when they find out that Kwang-kyu is in eighth place, Haha gapes, “I lost to Kwang-kyu?!”
Hyun-moo is told to take one for the team and stand in for last place, since he’ll only feel better if they get it wrong. But he’ll be wet!
After they line up, they toss in their final arguments (Hyun-moo: “Women in their twenties don’t really like me.” Suk-jin: “I believe that middle-aged women love me.”) Haha puts an optimistic spin on it, saying that they’ll still be popular in the entire country even if they come out last here.
With one last switcharoo between Hyun-moo and Suk-jin, they put their guesses to the test. One by one, the lights switch on to confirm their correct guesses. It’s down to Hyun-moo and Suk-jin, and only one of them will end up last…
…And Ji-hyo tells the men to stop yapping already. Ha. Then it’s the moment of truth… and the lights switch on and confetti falls around them. Yay, they got it right!
Jae-suk thanks everyone for their incredible teamwork, and each of the men receive their well-deserved gold prizes. Then last place Suk-jin asks, “Aren’t we leaving yet?” Aw.