K-Pop and K-Dramas: Variety Shows

Opening image for ‘Run BTS’ starring Jeon Jungkook (Jungkook), Min Yoongi (SUGA), Kim Taehyung (V), Park Jimin (Jimin), Kim Namjoon (RM), Jung Hoseok (J-HOPE), and Kim Seokjin (Jin). Copyright goes to BigHit Entertainment.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I have said probably too many times that K-pop is what has been getting me through quarantine for the most part. Part of that has been watching variety shows starring my favorite groups. Getting to see your favorite K-pop stars go out and do fun things is transportive in a way and also generally hilarious and fun to watch. If you are incredibly lucky, your group will have their own variety show given to them by their company rather than them just going on a variety show. But this is actually a fairly new way of going about entertainment involving K-pop idols in variety shows. I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a regular thing for idol groups soon. People want to see idols in natural environments and get to know them personally. But until every idol group has a show, I want to look at some examples of variety shows that give you that personal experience that we all love. These are all ones that I have watched and liked, so also consider them recommendations!

Run BTS:

This is an obvious one and an example of an idol group having their own variety show given to them by the company. I’ve done an entire post about this show including a long list of my favorite episodes if you’re looking for recommendations. This show is one of the longest running variety shows of this type and they never really seem to run out of ideas. Or maybe they do and I don’t notice because it’s fun to watch the boys do literally anything. In this show you can see them play mystery games where a few of them are the spy, escape from escape rooms, play sports really badly, go to water parks and amusement parks, and just have fun in general. There are no hosts or MC’s beyond the members themselves, so the entire show just consists of them all interacting with each other. By the end of the show you really feel like you know a little more about the boys and their personalities. The most recent episode made me cry because of how sweet and close the maknae line is. It’s very heartwarming. This is the show that has more or less paved the way for other groups to have personal shows. Because who wouldn’t want to have a show as successful as Run BTS?

Everglow Land and Secret 48:

This is an example of a fairly new group that was given their own variety show by their company. Everglow Land, unlike Run BTS, has only five parts. The girls start out in an amusement park, then move to a haunted house, a scavenger hunt around Seoul, a “deserted” island, and finally a cozy house where they must carry out missions. This must have gained the traction that YeHua Entertainment was looking for because they have now launched a show called ‘Secret 48’ for the group. Though it is unclear if this is made to be a variety show or more like a vacation show such as ‘BTS in the SOOP’. It almost feels like a combination of both. Though this show seems to only show the girls on vacation in their adorable campers and will probably not continue after that like their original show; it’s ongoing and fun to watch. The issue here is that sometimes the episodes don’t feel as dynamic as episodes of ‘Run BTS’. In the first episode of Everglow Land at the amusement park, the girls have to pay for the rides with their energy. It’s a cute concept, but it doesn’t quite hold up when almost all of their missions end up being jump-roping. The places are big, but sometimes the missions feel like they could have used more thought. But they are just starting out while ‘Run BTS’ is more of a seasoned show.

Idol Picnic:

Recently, my favorite girl group Dreamcatcher was on this show, so of course I had to watch it! I fell in love with the concept immediately. This show is not a personal variety show for any one group, but is an example of a variety show that several groups go on. The hosts are Ji Sukjin and Lee Seungyoon, the “uncles” of the show. The point of it is for the idol groups to divide up and choose an uncle who will then take their smaller group on an adventure. Most of the members generally have the opportunity to spend time with each uncle and at the end the group chooses which uncle has given them the best experience. In the Dreamcatcher episode they took the respective groups to a mud flat, a pepper garden, a public beach and cafe`, and a private beach with motor bikes. They ended the day out with a more personal talk with the entire group. It was really fun to watch, but I do have to mention that I questioned the safety of the girls while they were on this show because it was filmed at the time of quarantine. Three of the girls were taken to a very busy public beach and I really questioned how this show was even able to do this. Most of the people at the beach weren’t even masked. But the girls at the private beach ran around safely and even filmed a music video. It was a cute show to watch and I loved seeing Dreamcatcher in an environment like this. I just wish this show and more shows like it would take more precautions.

Idol House:

Idol House is another example of a variety show that groups just go on and isn’t personal to any one group. The fun thing about this one is that there are no MC’s. The only thing there is to watch are the groups hanging out and interacting with each other. This also makes this show much safer to film during quarantine. The idol groups are all sent into this isolated “house” where they have various missions to complete. The best of which comes from a lying competition where the members each have to out-lie each other. This generally leads to a lot of laughs and hilarity. I personally really like seeing variety shows where the groups are only interacting with each other, so giving several groups the opportunity to do this on a variety show is a really appealing idea to me. So far I’ve only watched the Dreamcatcher one but I’ve been getting more into ATEEZ, so that one’s next!

There you go! Some examples of really good variety shows that are more built to show the personalities of the members of a group. More and more shows of this type are coming out. Especially, as I said before, the singular ones created by the company of a group. But all of these are really great ways to laugh and spend some downtime. I always like watching other people go places if I can’t, so these are definitely up my alley. Hopefully you’ve found something on here interesting enough to enjoy yourself!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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