Running Man, another phenomenal export from South Korea, features a mix of reality TV, variety show, games and competition. Get to know the current members of the running team.
LEE KWANG SOO, 28
Who: Outside of Running Man, this runway model-turned-entertainer has acted in films such as The Scent (2012) and TV drama The Innocent Man (2012), mostly in comedic roles. For Running Man, his most well-known show, he won the award for Variety New Star in 2010 at the SBS Entertainment Awards and then a New Star Award at the same event a year later.
Running Man persona: Aptly nicknamed Giraffe due to his 1.9m height, he is massively popular and often gets the loudest fan cheers outside of South Korea, such as in Macau and Vietnam – hence he is known as the Asian Prince. On the flip side, he tends to betray his teammates for his own gain, so he is nicknamed The Betrayer as well.
KIM JONG KOOK, 37
Who: Debuted in 1995 as part of pop duo Turbo before splitting six years later (2001) to pursue a solo music career. Despite his muscular, jock-like appearance, he is known for his soothing gentle ballads such as Lovable and Walking In One Spot. He won the coveted Daesang Award for Best Artiste Of The Year from all three major Korean broadcasters MBC, KBS and SBS in 2005. In 2010, he joined Running Man and won the SBS Entertainment Award for Best TV Star the following year.
Running Man persona: A regular winner of the missions based on his strength alone. But he is not all brawn either: He also uses his brain to outwit the others in the challenges, making him a hard one to beat. Nicknamed The Commander as well as Sparta Kook, after the formidable Spartan army of old.
YOO JAE SUK, 41
Who: A veteran comedian and variety show host famous for his quick wit. His resume includes popular variety shows Family Outing (2008 to 2010), Happy Together Friends (2005 to 2007) and Infinite Challenge (2005 to present). He has a string of awards to his name, including the Daesang (Grand Prize) at the SBS Entertainment Awards last year and the Daesang (Grand Prize) at the Baeksang Arts Awards this year. He is married to former TV announcer Na Kyung Eun, 32, and they have a son.
Running Man persona: Noted for his ability to escape from tough situations. His all-around good-guy image and intelligence make him one of the most popular and well-liked members of the Running Man team in fan polls.
SONG JI HYO, 32
Who: This model-turned-actress (with muscle-man Kim Jong Kook) was one of the leads in the hit Korean drama Princess Hours (2006) and also starred in popular period drama Jumong (2007). In 2011, she received the Outstanding Female Award in the variety show category at the SBS Entertainment Awards for Running Man. She is reportedly dating Baek Chang Joo, chief executive of her management agency C-Jes Entertainment.
Running Man persona: She may be the only woman in the cast, but she is no damsel in distress, often stunning the others with her stealth and skills in winning challenges, and is thus known as Ace.
JI SUK JIN, 47
Who: After making his debut as a singer in 1992, he gained fame as a variety show host when he became the main host of hit variety quiz show Star Golden Bell (2004 to 2010). Other popular variety shows he has hosted include Heroine (2004 to 2006) and High-Five (2007 to 2008). He has three awards for Excellence in the variety category from KBS Entertainment Awards, including for Running Man last year. He is married with a son.
Running Man persona: He is the oldest member and also arguably the weakest of the cast, having won the mission only once since the show debuted three years ago. Sometimes, the other cast members joke that the missions truly begin only after he is eliminated.
Who: Debuted as a singer and rapper with the now-defunct boyband Jikiri in 2001, before gaining popularity as a co-host of the talk show What’s Up Yo! a year later. He showed off his comic timing in the sitcom Nonstop (2006) before becoming a co-host of popular variety show Infinite Challenge (2005 to 2008). He continues to work on his music that has been described as a combination of K-pop and reggae. Last November, he married singer Byul, 29, and their son was born in July this year.
Running Man persona: The joker of the group, he always has everyone in stitches with his many random exclamations of frustration when he loses a challenge. Nicknamed Haroro due to his small build and resemblance to cartoon character Pororo The Little Penguin, he is also quite the flirt with female celebrity guest stars. Like Lee, he is scheming and often betrays his own teammates, so he is also known as the Betrayer.
Who: Born Kang Hee Gun, the rapper is one-half of hip-hop duo Leessang, with vocalist Gil Seong Joon.
Running Man persona: He and fellow cast member Song Ji Hyo are often teased on the show for their attraction to each other; and as the show was originally filmed on Mondays, the two were soon known as the Monday Couple.
He is also often mocked for his ability to forever maintain a serene facial expression on the show, no matter what happens. – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network
> Running Man airs every Saturday at 4pm on TV2 (Astro Ch 102 / HyppTV Ch 102). Lee Kwang Soo will meet fans in Malaysia at KWC Fashion Mall in Kuala Lumpur at 7pm on Saturday, Jan 4, 2014. Tickets, priced at RM498, RM298 and RM158, are available online at www.ticketpro.com.my and all TicketPro, Rock Corner and Victoria Music outlets. For more info, go to www.facebook.com/JSConcertProductions or call 03-7880 7999.