Hi everyone! Today I thought I’d switch things up a bit and do something a little different from my usual drama related content. Some of you may already know, but Running Man has been my favorite Korean variety show for the longest time. Sadly, it ran into trouble this past year, and even faced possible cancellation. The ratings had dipped, Gary left, and two other members (Kim Jong Kook and Song Ji Hyo) were suddenly going to be replaced. Thankfully, things all seemed to work out in the end. The original team sans Gary is still together, 2 new members (Jeon So Min, Yang Se Chan) were added, and the ratings have jumped back up to the 8% mark recently. In celebration, I thought I’d make this post. Read below for some of my favorite episodes!
[Be Forewarned: Some Slight Spoilers Below]
I’ve been on a Running Man binge lately, and have been enjoying re-watching some of my favorite RM episodes. I’ve always loved this show, from the times that Song Joong Ki and even After School’s Lizzy were active members of it. There is just something about the team’s chemistry and the hilarious games that make the show enjoyable and easy to watch. If you don’t already know, the show’s format usually consists of having celebrity guests appear on the show in order to participate in a variety of different games, usually resulting in either a prize or punishment. The games, punishments, and prizes have, of course, changed over the years, and so have some of the members.
Here’s a quick timeline of the member changes over the years:
July 2010 Ji Suk Jin, Yoo Jae Suk, Kim Jong Kook, Haha, Kang Gary, Lee Kwang Soo, and Song Joong Ki make up the original Running Man team.
August 2010 Song Ji Hyo becomes a permanent member of the show.
November 2010 After School’s Lizzy becomes a regular member of the show.
January 2011 Lizzy departs the show in order to focus on After School’s activities.
April 2011 Song Joong Ki leaves to pursue his acting career full time.
October 2016 Kang Gary departs the show after 6 years.
April 2017 Jeon So Min and Yang Se Chan join the show as permanent members.
MY TOP 15 EPISODES:
[ Episodes are listed in sequential order according to air date from oldest to newest. ]
#1. Phantom of the Running Man (EP 27)
Guests: TVXQ Yunho & Changmin— I must admit the avid TVXQ fan in me is partially why this episode made the list. However, it truly is one of my favorites. The episode begins with a search for the guests. Yunho and Changmin are disguised as phantoms among a large indoor crowd, and must find the hidden objects with the RM members’ names on them in order to eliminate them. Naturally the RM members must find the guests before getting eliminated. It is one of the more intense and funny guest searches of the show, particularly because of Changmin’s fearful facial expressions whenever he almost gets found out in his hiding places. The other great portion of this episode was the drawing relay. It becomes quite clear that both Joongki and Yunho are terrible drawers, and for all you fans out there, this is the infamous rhinoceros doodle episode. However, Jong Kook is very close to Yunho, and despite the fact that Yunho’s piss poor drawing skills cause them to lose over and over again, Jong Kook is too bashful, and devoted to his friend to speak up, leaving the other members baffled and irritated. It’s quite funny to watch the whole thing play out!
#2. Ansung Natural Resort (EP 28)
Guests: Kim Byung Man— This episode has always been engrained in my memory as one of the funniest episodes of all time. From FD Dong Wan’s hilarious appearances and the diet karaoke race, to Kim Byung Man’s humor in general, this episode was lethally funny and unforgettable. It starts off with a mission to find the guest at a sauna. The Running Man members mistake FD Dong Wan for Byung Man way too many times to count and each time they chase after the young wig-sporting maknae, road runner sounds are used, making the scenes funnier than you ever thought possible. Next is the karaoke diet race, where the teams must battle it out for the highest score. But this isn’t your average karaoke bar. Each microphone is attached to a piece of exercise equipment, one being a heavy weight; another, a pull up bar; an elastic resistance rope (?) that must be pulled up in order to get the microphone close enough to the mouth; and lastly, one where a split is necessary in order to even reach the microphone. Hilarity ensues. I really loved Kim Byung Man as a guest. He’s so tiny, yet so bright and full of charm and good energy.
#3. The Usual Suspects A.K.A. Yoomes Bond (EP 38)
Guests: No Guests— A true classic. If you haven’t seen the original Yoomes Bond, can you really call yourself a fan of Running Man? This was the very first episode to feature Yoomes Bond as a main protagonist who was challenged with eliminating his foes (the other RM members) with a water gun. The other members, unknowing of his identity, are tricked into searching for a fake guest. It was excellent watching the members go from unsuspecting to paranoid, and even funnier watching YJS get cockier and cockier as the episode went on, but also more nervous at the same time if that makes any sense. I love how he really got into the role, and the interactions and shock by then end when his identity was revealed were priceless. The second part of the episode is just as hilarious, with the stress test between Jae Suk and Jong Kook providing many laughs to go around. One of my favorite moments was when they pulled down Jae Suk’s pants and shoved a chicken leg in Jong Kook’s mouth to keep him from talking.
#4. Cheil Advertising Agency Office, Part 2 (EP 45)
Guests: Jang Hyuk—As you can see by the title, this is part two of an episode special featuring actor Jang Hyuk. The second half is the better half, in my humble opinion (though both parts are priceless), and I’ll tell you why. The jeans modeling segment. Now, this part doesn’t come until the very end because it’s important to save the best for last, and this game was the epitome of that statement. Basically, the members are divided into two teams, and they must rock different styles of jeans in order to please the “agency CEO” and win. The competition involves each team sending out one of their members to compete one pair at a time. So, each member picks the pair of jeans that speaks to them, but we don’t get to see until it’s their turn to come out from behind the changing area. There are some painfully ugly pairs of jeans in the bunch, which makes this segment illegally funny. But the best part is just how committed the members, and most of all, Jang Hyuk, are to selling these jeans, no matter how fugly they are. I’m not going to say too much more, because it’s definitely a “you have to see it for yourself” kind of thing, but I promise you’ll be left with tears in your eyes once you’re finished watching the RM members (especially Gary, Jae Suk, and Jang Hyuk) finish modeling the world’s ugliest pairs of jeans.
#5. The Noh Sa Yeon Trio— The Bodyguards (EP 49), Beauty and the Beast (EP 103), The Fools and the Princesses (EP 137)
EP 49; Guests: Noh Sa Yeon, Go Hara—I thoroughly enjoy this triad of episodes because they all include Noh Sa Yeon, and let me tell you, she is one spunky and charismatic woman. She has a very strong presence, which puts some fear and burden on the Running Man members, even the ones who aren’t on her team. In this first episode, the guests are paired with a Queen Bee and must complete missions in order to collect items that will be used in a final battle.
EP 103; Guests: Noh Sa Yeon, Shin Se Kyung, Yoo Jun Sang— This episode made me really pity the Running Man members, because they had to do a lot of heavy lifting. Each beauty had to be carried for majority of the show, because as the rules stated, her feet weren’t ever allowed to touch the ground. There was a lot to laugh at in this episode, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen Gary laugh as hard as he did when Noh Sa Yeon struggled to be hoisted up out of the water (during a pool game) like a freshly caught salmon. One thing about Gary is that when he laughs, he really laughs. It truly was drop dead funny, I must admit.
EP 137; Guests: Noh Sa Yeon, Uee— In the final episode, the princesses are to be married off to the Ondals, or village fools. This episode is hilarious especially because of the Jae Suk x Kwang Soo x Uee interactions. The spa water game was definitely one of the highlights of this episode for me.
#6. TruGary Show (EP 60)
Guests: No Guests— Oh Gary. Poor, poor Gary. The man finally gets his time to shine as the spy, and he turns out to be terrible at it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone look so stressed and constipated all at once. Even more tragic, is the fact that he’s trying so hard, but remains completely oblivious to the fact that the Running Man members already know he’s the spy. Why? Because their mission is the get through the show without him finding out that they know his true identity as a spy. This episode is absolutely gut busting. Watching Gary put forth such a valiant effort, knowing all the while that it’s in vain is just, so humorous, and yet, so pitiful at the same time.
#7. Choi Min Soo Quartet— Running Man Hunting Pt. 1 & 2 (EP 52 & 53), Grasshopper Hunting (EP 69), Running Man Hunter…The Final Hunt (EP 118)
EP 52; Guests: Choi Min Soo— The episode that started it all. Actor Choi Min Soo hunts down the unsuspecting Running Man members one by one at an eerie amusement park. Their shrieks of horror and attempts to escape the hunter’s clutches are a joy to watch. Not much to say here. It’s a must see.
EP 53; Guests: Choi Min Soo, Yoon So Yi— This episode is a classic. From the very beginning, I was roaring with laughter. The first mission was quite literally, a suicide mission to see who would get stuck partnering with Choi Min Soo. Teams of two had to enter his room one by one, and complete the task they were given without waking him up. Naturally, this put the fear of god in the competing teams, hell, even Jong Kook looked scared shitless. It took a few rounds, but eventually one pair becomes his prey for the day. After this, the teams are joined by Min Soo’s cheerful Warrior Baek Dong Soo co-star, Yoon So Yi. She joins one of the teams before they head to an amusement park, where they compete in a name tag ousting game. Jae Suk betrays Min Soo during this game, which leads to his eventual return to the show.
EP 69; Guests: Choi Min Soo— After Yoo Jae Suk betrays Choi Min Soo by ripping off his name tag in a previous episode (53), Choi Min Soo returns to enact revenge on the grasshopper. With each of the Running Man members held hostage in Choi Min Soo’s clutches, Jae Suk must successfully complete the mission in order to set them free, all while being repeatedly haunted and tormented by a terrifying Choi Min Soo. This is by far my favorite episode of the Choi Min Soo series. Watching him scare the shit out of Jae Suk is almost as priceless as the perfectly coordinated grasshopper outfit Jae Suk’s forced to wear.
EP 118; Guests: Choi Min Soo, Park Bo Young— The members are giddy, Park Bo Young arrives looking stunning, all is going well. It’s a great day to be on Running Man, that is, until Kwon Ryul (Jae Suk’s VJ) gets unexpectedly kidnapped in the middle of the episode. Once they arrive at their next location, the real guest, Choi Min Soo, gets down to business. He’s here to settle the score once and for all; it’s time for the final hunt. This episode is absolutely hilarious. Somehow, watching Choi Min Soo chill the members right down to the bone never gets old. You can always count on his appearances to provide good laughs. This is probably my second favorite of the Choi Min Soo episodes.
#8. 100th Episode Special: War of the Gods (Episode 100)
Guests: Kim Hee Sun— Oh man, this one is just too good to miss. The episode starts off with the members competing with Hermes (FD Dong Wan) in order to become gods. If they lose the mission, 2 out of the 8 members (including guest Hee Sun), won’t be able to achieve god status. Later, after they’ve received their godly powers, they have to compete against one another. This involves using their secret super powers. Also, different gods have different weaknesses, so not all of them are vulnerable to the same thing. The members race to figure out their weaknesses and find the items that can be used against them before the others do, which along with the ridiculous costumes, makes for some extremely hilarious encounters. From lipstick and rose covered arrows, to a scantily clad FD Dong Wan, you won’t be disappointed.
#9. Running Olympics (EP 104)
Guests: Lee Joon, Eunhyuk, Ham Eun Jung, Jung Yong Hwa, Nichkhun, Im Siwan, Yoon Doo Joon— I have a word document where I list all the episodes of Running Man I’ve ever seen. I bold the favorites and add very brief notes next to a select few episodes that make my top thirty list. Next to this episode, I simply wrote the phrase “Lee Joon shitting himself when he sees Jongkook.” Literally. That’s all I wrote. And yet, it brings back such vivid memories of what I’d deem one of the funniest Running Man moments in history. I’ll never forget the shrill cries, and look of utter terror, on Lee Joon’s face as he stumbled directly into Jong Kook. Absolutely iconic. The whole episode is worth watching for that moment alone, but I did enjoy the other parts of it. It’s one of the earlier episodes where a sufficient number of idols were guests, so it was fun watching them compete against the Running Man team.
#10. Incheon Landing (EP 115)
Guests: Moon Geun Young, TVXQ Changmin, Yunho— Listen, I am clearly TVXQ biased, but hear me out, because I truly think this episode is justified. This was just such a funny one to watch. From the mudflat brawl, to the members teasing Jong Kook about Moon Geun Young, and finally, to Kwangsoo ousting Changmin and having to fear for his life as a result, there was just so much to love about this particular episode. It seemed to have all the types of games I enjoy. The mudflat is always promising, as is the bell hunting. One of my favorite parts was watching Kwangsoo try and disguise himself as a police man. But even more priceless is when he visits the jail after betraying the idol duo and is met with Changmin’s demon eyes burrowing into the very depths of his soul. I guess there were some hard feelings.
#11. Snowball Fight Race A.K.A. Christmas Special (EP 125)
Guests: Jung Hyung Don, Juvie Train, Park Sang Myun, Ryu Dam, and Shin Dong— Ah, yes. Nothing gets me going more the the dejected faces of the Running Man members when they find out their beloved guests for the Christmas Special are five bloated looking Santas, and not five stunning female stars. This episode proves the be a bit more chaotic and physically demanding than a few of our Santas bargained for, with the first game involving a lot of uphill running, sock snatching, and the feeling of ice cold snow on body parts they didn’t even know they had. The next game is even more outrageous, as the teams are made to stand on a balance beam placed in an indoor pool, and then told they need to successfully switch places without falling in. Oh, and they only have a minute to make this happen. The next game is a Christmas dinner that’s a bit too tiring to explain in depth, but trust me, it’s fabulous. The final mission is a snowball fight that doesn’t disappoint. It’s chaotic, it’s pitiful, and you relish in every moment of it. This entire episode was a solid one that will having you laughing throughout.
#12. Control of the School Flag (EP 138)
Guests: Lee Jong Suk, Kim Woo Bin, Kim Su Ro, Lee Jong Hyun, Min Hyo Rin— I love this episode for a few reasons. First of all, I always enjoy interactions between Kim Su Ro and Jong Kook. It’s fun seeing someone who is actually a fair match for Jong Kook giving him a run for his money, because it’s so damn rare. Second, the highlight of this episode is by far the food relay race. I mean, who doesn’t want to watch attractive young stars and the Running Man members shove a bunch of extremely hot or cold food down their throats for the sake of variety? I’ve always said, whenever food is involved on Running Man, I know I’m guaranteed some quality amusement, but seeing people like Kim Woo Bin and Lee Jong Suk participating made it even more comical.
#13. Baekje Cultural Complex (EP 152)
Guests: Jung Woo Sung, Han Hyo Joo, Lee Jun Ho— This episode is actually part two of a special including all three guests, but I think this was the better episode for several reasons. The highlight of this episode is undoubtedly the watermelon relay race. The game consists of dividing the members into two teams. They must race to finish eating one HUGE watermelon, and there are three rounds. The first team to finish the entire melon wins. What makes this race hilarious is the fact that each team member can choose to eat as much or as little watermelon they want before passing the plate onto the next teammate, and of course, there’s also the fact that it looks ridiculous. The red team consists of Kwangsoo, Jong Kook, Hyo Joo, Jun Ho, and Suk Jin. The blue team is Jae Suk, Ji Hyo, Gary, Woo Sung and Haha. Hilarity ensues as the members try to force down as much watermelon as possible in a hurry, with Jong Kook forcing Kwangsoo to eat practically the entire melon in one go. In the next round, as an act of revenge, Kwangsoo eats a single piece before handing off the burdensome plate to the final teammate, Jong Kook, who would have to eat the entire remains in order to win. This has to be one of my favorite segments in RM history because it is just way too funny to watch. But another bonus to this episode is the blob jump. I won’t spoil it for you, but I promise it provides many gut busting laughs.
#14. Stealing Princess Jih Hyo’s Heart (EP 163)
Guests: G-Dragon, Daesung, Seungri— Listen, this episode proves that you don’t have to be a fan of G-Dragon to enjoy watching him get swallowed whole by a mudflat. This episode goes down in RM history for a reason, particularly because it obliterated GD’s image as the “cool” idol. GD aside, this episode is fantastic because the RM members, who constantly drag Ji Hyo for the laughs, are suddenly, and quite literally, forced to grovel at her feet. I relished in their sufferings, and you could tell that she did too. It was much deserved on her part though, and it makes for an excellent series of humiliating games for the male members as they compete and struggle to win her over. And on a side note, she looks absolutely gorgeous in this episode!
#15. 12 Years Older Intern (EP 287)
Guests: Kim Won Hae, Ahn Gil Kang, George Han Kim, Kim Do Kyun, Lee Hong Ryul, Park Mi Sun, Yoo Yul— The concept alone for this episode was brilliant. The show starts off with each RM member anxiously awaiting their intern, who they all seem to have mistakenly assumed is going to be 12 younger. We have Ji Hyo hoping for someone like Park Bo Gum, and of course, the male members like Suk Jin, drooling and hoping for some beautiful ladies to show up. Unfortunately for the crew, the interns turn out to be an alarming 12 years older, which creates quite an awkward and burdensome atmosphere for each member. Particularly funny to watch, was Ji Hyo with Kim Won Hae! She was so startled when he showed up that I was practically crying with laughter, but even better was Gary’s super lovable intern, Ahn Gil Kang! They were so similar in temperament that they actually seemed like brothers. The guests on this episode were just so damn funny, and it was hilarious to watch how uncomfortable the RM members were while having treat them as interns (without honorifics). Even though I didn’t know who all of them were, they were some true characters for sure. I personally enjoy when Running Man has older guests on too, because they are usually wittier which makes for a surplus of humorous moments.
Okay, that’s all I have for you! I hope you enjoyed this post and feel inspired to check out some of these episodes or just the show in general. I have a lot more episodes that could have made the cut, so this is not an extensive list by any means. If there’s a favorite of yours that you don’t see here, feel free to let me know in the comments below!