What if you could create your own Running Man episode from start to finish? And the staff actually took your ideas and brought them to life? One fangirl gets her dream come true as the cast plays the games and abides by the rules she created herself.
It’s impressive how thought-out and detailed the entire day is, making these ninety minutes the funniest, most heartwarming, and downright entertaining episode this show has ever seen.
EPISODE 182. Broadcast on January 26, 2014.
For this Lunar New Year Special, our favorite MC Jae-suk introduces today’s guests as this year’s rising stars. I’d argue that Yeo Jin-gu has been on the rise for some years now, but I’m excited about his appearance and see him exercise his variety muscles.
The cast is undoubtedly impressed by his deep register; his voice alone could easily make one forget that he’s still just a wee sixteen years old (eighteen in Korean age).
Though that doesn’t stop Kwang-soo to quip: “Honestly [Jin-gu] doesn’t look 18 years old either.” Coming from the giraffe who’s often mistaken for older himself, keh.
Our next guest, Dohee, is initially hesitant to give a curse-slinging greeting à la her character Yoon-jin from Answer Me 1994. She complies with the cast’s encouragement, and the one-line satoori smackdown leaves the boys gaping. Lol.
Last but not least, we meet idol-actor Im Shi-wan, who corrects Jae-suk’s hazy memory, saying that this is only his second appearance on the show (the first being the 2012 Idol Olympics).
The others are eager to grab the MC mic out of Jae-suk’s hands at the slip-up and carry on their own interview. It’s a bit of a chaotic mess, barely letting their guest get a word in, to much laughter and frustration.
Then Jo PD introduces today’s Chinese Chess Race, constructed by a fangirl from Hong Kong, whom we saw work tirelessly at the beginning of the episode. The cast will be divided into two teams (Red vs. Green), and none of them will know which team they belong to until the final mission.
However, winning today’s games will allow them to clue in to their own identity and to switch places with another castmate. Kwang-soo quotes a saying of how today’s friends can be tomorrow’s enemies, to which Jong-kook counters: “You’re always the enemy.” Touché.
It seem silly then to know who’s on what team at present if and when those identities can easily change today. What we know is that our fangirl has outlined all of today’s games and rules—no easy feat for a whole production team who plans every week, let alone one person.
The cast must pair up before their first game, and as expected, all the boys cast their votes for Dohee, who decides to pick whoever has the best satoori (aka countrified) accent. Aw, some of their attempts are plain awful or barely passable.
And then Shi-wan surprises everyone with his bleeped-out statement. While I love that he says it with a harmless smile and that this is variety and all, but eek, you’re still an idol Shi-wan-ah!
Dohee chooses Jong-kook (who flushes bright red, ha) and Jin-gu teams up with similarly deep-voiced Haha. I realize that Haha’s high-pitched Haroro character voice might make one think otherwise, but his natural tone outside of the show is surprisingly deep.
We get another hilarious round of satoori attempts when it’s Shi-wan’s turn to pick. He chooses Pohang native Ji-hyo, a choice that puts Monday Boyfriend Gary on edge.
The teams reel in shock at their first game: a massive acupuncture floor obstacle race. Oh boy, so this is how we’re going to recycle all of those spare prickly mats, is it? Owww, I can already feel the pain from this side of the screen.
Gary and Kwang-soo climb into the horse costume (since 2014 is the Year of the Horse), and when they’re told that carrying teammates on their shoulders isn’t allowed, Kwang-soo drops Gary onto the floor. Ouuuuch.
Then their actual run just has me in stitches: knocking down every single hurdle, rolling across the floor, and even dragging behind each other at times. Every passing second is painful for them, though hilarious for us until they finally reach the finish line.
Near tears, they cry out a thanks to their fan. Kwang-soo: “We were able to play such a fun game thanks to you! I won’t ever forget it!” Gary: “I love Hong Kong!”
Dohee worries that her petite height makes her too short for the hurdles. But never fear when Jong-kook is your teammate, as he hoists Dohee on his shoulder while stepping over the hurdles like a boss.
That enables them to speed through the rest of the course, and even with a time penalty (because all four feet needed to be on the ground at all times), they still finish under a minute. Dayum.
There’s this epic score that accompanies Jin-gu’s turn, which makes me think that he’s super competitive. Jin-gu and Haha opt to charge past all the hurdles for the sake of speed. That strategy works out for them though, and they beat out the other team by one second.
Oh, I would have been content to watch the other teams play this game too, but we skip ahead as Haha and Jin-gu are declared the winners. Haha checks his piece (Red), and is delighted to be on top of the totem pole.
Then Little Jong-kook aka Jin-gu gets adorably startled when Jae-suk teases that he can see the chess piece. Jin-gu ends up switching teams with Jong-kook.
The second mission is aptly titled the Big 3, named for the large-scaled water games previously seen in this show: the flying chair basketball, the balloon jump, and diving. Here, the team who achieves a combined record of 30 meters the fastest will be declared the winners.
Jae-suk and Jin-gu opt for the diving board, and while Jin-gu doesn’t seem too worried, his scaredy cat teammate tells him to take a minute. Whoa, Jin-gu is confident to take it one step further to attempt the 7.5m jump, and Jae-suk actually contemplates that choice for a moment before backing out.
Jin-gu’s decision grabs everyone’s attention, and the maknae grits his teeth and jumps. He even exits the water with a smile, which makes the dive all the more impressive. Then he encourages Jae-suk to follow suit, since that would put them at an advantage.
So Jae-suk takes a brave few steps forward the 7.5m platform. The others try to talk him out of it, but he jumps anyway. Yay!
The Monday Couple tackle the balloon jump, which Gary nervously admits that this game makes him anxious every time. He jumps, Ji-hyo flies into the air and sets a new record of 8.0m. Dannnnng.
The flying chair shooting hoops game is no joke as it requires shooting forward when the chair propels you backwards. Neither Jong-kook nor Shi-wan succeed, but the Easy Brothers do (in the same basket, no less) to put a total of 10m on the board.
For a minute there, I expected Jae-suk to do the jumping, but it turns out, he’s the one readying himself to go flying. He shoots up a pretty impressive height (7.5m), putting them in prime position for their third task.
Dohee takes a cutesy jump into the water, which leaves cowardly Haha to make up the difference. Gary is a bundle of nerves at the 5m platform and asks Ji-hyo if they can’t jump together. Ha, so cute.
Oh dear, Kwang-soo slips off the balloon while trying to get into position. Twice. Hee. Shi-wan and Jong-kook realize they’re running out of time while waiting for the balloon jump, so Shi-wan suggests they attempt the 7.5m jump together.
They run to the diving platform where they both jump from 7.5m, bringing their total to 26m. At the same time, Jin-gu shoots a 6m basket, closing their gap to a slim 1.5m.
It’s crunch time, and with the promise to win this year’s Best Couple Award (as the Easy Brothers), Kwang-soo takes the 7.5m leap. Woooooot!
With two teams on their tail, Jae-suk hurries back to the flying chair. Then we see three simultaneous cuts as Jae-suk shoots, Shi-wan jumps, and Suk-jin leaps. All three complete their tasks, but now it’s down to which team succeeded first… and that’s Jae-suk and Jin-gu.
The first three teams are given the chance to identify and switch the pieces to varying degrees, which we don’t get to see. The good news is that we head straight to the final mission afterward, and the members are separated to a different starting point.
Some members are surprised to end up with a different piece while others are relieved to see theirs unchanged. Jae-suk is certain that Jong-kook will be annoyed to find his piece switched out. He does and gets irritated when the staff cracks up over it.
I honestly don’t know anything about Chinese chess, so it’s a good thing that the show does a good job of showing us who’s ranked first for each team. That’s Jin-gu for the Red Team (“I’m the general”) and Ji-hyo for the Green Team (“Wait, is this important?”).
As each team suits up, now’s a good time as any to introduce our teams, ranked in order: Red (Jin-gu, Dohee, Suk-jin, Jae-suk, and Gary) versus Green (Ji-hyo, Haha, Shi-wan, Kwang-soo, and Jong-kook).
This particular nametag ripping mission comes with its own set of limitations, as each member can only eliminate someone equal in rank or below. Any attempt to tag out someone of a higher rank will result in a temporary pause. The exception, however, is that the lowest rank is allowed to attack the general, which means Jong-kook could eliminate Jin-gu.
Eliminating the team’s general ends the game, and Ji-hyo guesses that means it’s important to protect their lowest rank member (soldier) while protecting the general. And poor Gary has a hard time wrapping his head around the rules. I don’t blame you; they’re already confusing.
At the game’s start, Jin-gu is especially jumpy and collapses to the floor in nervousness. A little later, Shi-wan runs into Suk-jin, who are both the same rank. I’m not sure whether they know of that fact given how hesitant they are about attacking the other.
But that doesn’t matter because Shi-wan soon finds himself outnumbered and runs. Thanks to his speediness, Shi-wan manages to lose his tail, but then he runs into Jin-gu.
Aw, it would be sad to see Shi-wan eliminated so soon like last time… and that’s exactly what happens. Shi-wan: “Where’s my team?!” …is what we’re all wondering too.
Hearing about Shi-wan’s elimination through the speakers makes it extra sad, but then Ji-hyo whispers over to Kwang-soo to help her sneak up on Jong-kook. You can imagine her surprise then to discover that they’re on the same team, and then excited to find out that he’s on the bottom rung.
Ooh, this means we can witness some SpartAce teamwork at play as Jong-kook suggests that he’ll hold everyone down so that Ji-hyo can eliminate them. I love it when these two are in attack mode together.
Elsewhere, Jin-gu decides to approach Haha, who runs straight into Gary’s waiting arms. But it’s Jin-gu’s nametag Haha tears off, which means it’s moot. At the same time, Kwang-soo rips Dohee’s nametag, and then gets a running start before she gives chase.
Haha quickly finds himself outnumbered before getting eliminated, which dwindles the Green Team’s numbers down to three. Jin-gu runs into his Potato Star co-star Yoon Seo-hyun (who’s filming another drama) but gets nowhere with his help, and then jumps in fright when Yoon Seo-hyun teasingly grabs his nametag.
Meanwhile, Jae-suk runs into Jong-kook, and the two spar with words per usual to gauge the other. Jin-gu briefly shows up around the corner, only to be quickly shooed away before Jong-kook sees.
They continue their bickering out in the hallway, which is when Jae-suk spots Suk-jin approach. Jae-suk tries to wait for the opportune moment, figuring that Jong-kook can’t take both of them on. But Jong-kook is quick on the uptake and isn’t the least bit scared about going up against the mat hyungs.
Jong-kook retreats into another room as both hyungs give chase. But that’s when Jae-suk’s bloodhound-like nose picks up on the scent of perfume, which can only mean Ji-hyo’s close.
And then we see her hiding behind the door. Whoa, Jae-suk’s keen sense of smell amazes me every time.
Which means that SpartAce gives chase as the mat hyungs retreat to lose their tail. Jae-suk belatedly regrets switching his piece with Jong-kook’s for the lowest rank, using the Wouldn’t you have done the same? argument with Suk-jin.
Both of them still can’t compute why they’re running from Jong-kook, but… aren’t you running because it’s Jong-kook? Suk-jin: “All of our team members are still alive, but why are we so weak?”
Jae-suk finds himself trapped a minute later and eliminated before Suk-jin can come to his rescue. It should come as no surprise that Suk-jin gets tagged out, too.
Kwang-soo stumbles across the You From Another Star set and wonders aloud excitedly whether he might see the leads’ lavish apartment sets. Kwang-soo: “I’m really close to Soo-hyun.” Caption: You’re just a hyung to him…
His exploration, however, comes to a quick end when all three Red Team members attack him simultaneously. Accck, it’s a real drama set—be careful!
Kwang-soo is eliminated before anyone can hear his cries for help, and ha, Jin-gu takes his nametag as a souvenir. Aw, it’s so cute how Jin-gu approaches everything in this show with this excited, wide-eyed fascination.
So then it’s SpartAce versus the remaining Red Team members (Jin-gu, Dohee, and Gary), and the latter plasters themselves to the wall. As each side prepares for the face-off, we jump back to see the Red Team work out a strategy.
Gary had put them through training to prepare for this moment, as they had planned for Dohee to hold off Jong-kook while Jin-gu would face Ji-hyo at the opportune moment. The buildup to this dramatic showdown is borderline funny, but then Kwang-soo’s appearance tips the comedic scales to cut the tension.
Jong-kook guards Ji-hyo in a corner and surprise them with his quick reflexes. At this sight, Gary interjects, “It should be me [protecting Ji-hyo]. Can we switch teams?” Hee.
According to plan, Dohee attacks Jong-kook with Gary’s help as Jin-gu and Ji-hyo face off. Then Gary switches gears and turns to Ji-hyo… and rips off her nametag.
That gives the Red Team the win, and the entire cast genuinely thanks our fangirl for a thoroughly entertaining and fair setup for today’s episode. And who should present the winning team with their prize but said fangirl herself.
Aw, it turns out she’d been on set the entire day watching the cast play the games she created, disguised among the staff. So she had witnessed all of those memorable moments firsthand, which is totally awesome.
She names Jong-kook as her favorite (so cute) and the cast thank her in person for her thought-out games before gathering together for a group photo.