Top 15 Must-Watch Korean Reality and Variety Shows
Looking for something to break the monotony of all the tempting K-dramas on the airwaves? Look no further than the world of Korean reality and variety shows, which have fans across the globe for good reason. These shows feature fun-filled themes and some of Korea's most famous celebrities, actors, and K-Pop idols, making for a binge-worthy viewing experience.
Get ready to laugh yourself silly at the ridiculous yet captivating antics of Korean reality and variety shows. For example, some feature actors and celebrities battling it out to create a brand-new dish to be sold in convenience stores, while others strand idols and actors in remote areas of the globe, leaving them to fend for themselves.
As of July 7th, 2022, Korea has produced a host of fantastic shows this year, including the Netflix K-dramas All of Us Are Dead and The Silent Sea. Meanwhile, reality and variety programs like Girls Planet 999 and Queendom 2 have also been making waves. If you're a fan of Korean celebs, then you need to check out these shows, as they often feature cameos from your favorite personalities. As the Korean entertainment industry gains increasing worldwide attention, the list of must-see Korean variety and reality shows just keeps getting longer.
One unforgettable Korean reality show is Great Escape (2018), which has some striking similarities to the US sensation The Floor is Lava. Contestants need to navigate bonkers escape rooms to win a cash prize, but in Great Escape, the twist is that they also need to use their wits and strategy to evade capture while moving through intricate mazes.
Great Escape also delivers huge laughs alongside its thrilling escapes, thanks to the hilarious comedians who often feature as contestants. Get ready to be spooked as you watch these celebs scream their way out of a haunted mansion or run for their lives in a zombie apocalypse.
If dating shows are more to your taste, then look no further than Single's Inferno (2021). This reality show, available to stream on Netflix, takes nine single people and deposits them on a deserted island on a quest to find true love. With no air conditioning or plumbing to speak of, they must rely on their charm and personalities to make a connection, all while keeping their age and profession a secret.
To top it all off, there's even a reality show featuring one of the most celebrated K-Pop groups of all time. BTS: Bon Voyage (2016) follows the members of the band as they embark on a series of exotic international trips, giving viewers an intimate look at their off-stage lives and personalities.
So if you've been craving some fresh and exciting viewing options, make sure to check out these Korean reality and variety shows. Their unique blend of humor, drama, and celebrity star power is sure to keep you captivated for hours on end.
Korea's esteemed boy group, BTS, has garnered a massive following worldwide, but it's not just for their infectious music and swoon-worthy members. Their reality show, BTS: Bon Voyage, has also captured the hearts of their devoted fans, taking them on a global adventure and offering a glimpse into the BTS universe. The show's endearing charm lies in showcasing the boys in everyday scenarios, whether they're gaming or simply hanging out, creating an intimate connection with viewers.
For aficionados of Korean entertainment, the must-watch program is We Got Married. Pairing Korean celebrities and idols and posing them as married couples, the show provided an unprecedented peek behind the curtain, revealing a different facet of these luminaries. Although the on-screen chemistry between the participants on We Got Married can be electrifying, it's essential to remember that it's all make-believe.
Another gem in the world of Korean variety shows is 2 Days 1 Night, featuring a host of lively personalities traversing South Korea in search of new worlds to discover. A formidable cast of familiar faces like Moon Se-Yoon, Yeon Jung-Hoon, and DinDin, among others, entertains audiences with each episode, while food and travel lovers will appreciate its culinary and wanderlust appeal.
Masters in the House is yet another reality show that has won over the hearts of Korean and global audiences alike. Led by five hosts hailing from different industries, the show examines the lives and professions of leading figures from various industries, with hilarious results. From comedians to retired martial artists, Masters in the House guarantees a good laugh as hosts grapple with mastering the skills of their masters in their 48-hour stay.
Boss In The Mirror is another YouTube-based show that's quickly gained a cult following in recent years. Following a group of industry figureheads as they get primed for a variety of projects, the show offers exclusive insight into the working environment of decision-makers who shape Korea's music industry.
Boss in the Reflection has garnered quite the following among its viewership, mostly due to featuring a certain guest host and their group of associates. This variety show was crafted to allow leaders of diverse industries to reflect on their work environment. It features two main hosts and guest MCs or bosses.
The show's guests are a wide range of personalities, from famous chefs and retired athletes to a gym owner known for their staff members and for helping stars achieve their fitness goals. As a fun twist, each boss receives a red button to push when they deem another boss's behavior too extreme.
Knowing Bros (Ask Us Anything) (2015)
Available for viewing on Viki.
Knowing Bros, also called Men on a Mission on Viki, is a popular and beloved reality/television talk show that debuted in 2015. K-Pop fans are drawn to it, as idols often appear as guest stars. The main cast dresses up as high school students in a classroom, making for an offbeat and entertaining atmosphere.
Guest stars take on the role of transfer students for the episode and participate in various games and activities to generate laughter. The show is known for its use of "banmal," a speech style that ditches formalities regardless of the guest or cast member's age or seniority.
Star's Top Recipe At Fun-Staurant (2019)
Available for viewing on YouTube.
Star's Top Recipe at Fun-Staurant is a show that combines talk, reality, and cooking elements into one concoction loved by many. The basic premise of the show is that guest celebrities compete to see whose recipe is the best. Each new episode revolves around a particular theme, and guests must create a dish around it. Celebrity chefs then judge these dishes, and the winner's recipes are sold online.
The show's cast members and top chefs are both excellent cooks and hilarious, making for an entertaining viewing experience. Viewers appreciate the documentary-style format, where they get to follow the journey of the guest stars and the main cast in creating their new dishes.
Law Of The Jungle (2011)
Available for viewing on Viki.
The reality-documentary series The Law Of The Jungle is a long-running favorite. Comedian Kim Byung-Man created the show, which features a group of celebrities, including actors and K-Pop idols, on an adventure to remote parts of the world.
In their new destination, the cast members must learn to survive and are tasked with responsibilities like hunting, building shelters, and preparing meals. The show's main attraction is the survival challenge, which is a true test of wilderness survival skills. In 2020, the show was revamped to only include remote regions of Korea due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Streamable on Netflix
Busted! distinguishes itself from other reality/variety shows on Netflix. The show is not only a comedy, but also a thrilling mystery, as the cast tries to unravel a game surrounding a mystery. Featuring an entirely Asian cast, the show stars seven celebrity guests implanted with a DNA chip from famous detectives in history.
The seven celebrities are participating in a project called Project D, which is led by a mysterious individual known as "K." In the first season, the cast solves cases and seeks to uncover the secrets of the organization. The second season introduces a serial killer, raising the stakes even higher.
My Little Old Boy (2016)
Watchable on Viki
My Little Old Boy is a unique blend of comedy and the concept of being judged by your mother. The show features a group of mothers, but not just any mothers, they are the mothers of famous Korean celebrities. Hosted by Shin Dong-Yup and Seo Jang-Hoon, every episode examines the daily lives of these celebrities.
The hosts and cast frequently draw laughs as the mothers grow frustrated with their children. The show's breakout character is Kim Jong-Kook, a singer and entertainer whose mother hilariously bemoans his obsession with working out and lack of a dating life.
Home Alone (2013)
Watchable on Viki
Home Alone, or I Live Alone, is a documentary-style reality/talk show that focuses on the lives of single guests. The show is particularly popular in South Korea, where there are five million single people. Audiences get an unfiltered look at the guests' lives from the time they wake up until they go to bed, including comical bedheads and questionable eating habits.
Weekly Idol (2011)
Watchable on Viki
Weekly Idol is the most well-known variety show among K-Pop fans. The show's main guests are K-Pop groups promoting their latest albums and singles. The show's popularity comes from its fun game show format, in addition to its interviews with the guests.
During the show, the hosts put the idols through various challenges, including the Random Dance Play and 99 Seconds Challenge. Audiences have a good laugh watching the idols complete these tasks and even perform their latest hits.
The Return Of Superman (2013)
Watchable on Viki
The Return of Superman is the most-watched reality show and features adorable main characters. The concept of the show is to showcase celebrity dads who must take care of their children for 24 hours, giving hard-working moms some necessary alone time.
Audiences get an inside look at the daily lives of the dads and their children, including the adventures they embark on together. Some of the children have become fan favorites, with viewers watching them grow up over the seasons.
NEXT: New Netflix K-Dramas to Look Forward to in 2022.
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