South Korea is not only known for exceptional K-dramas; it’s also a hub of entertainment where fun variety and reality shows come to life. They’re a lifesaver for the bored, the stressed, and the lonely. If you’re looking for a hearty laugh, you’ll get exactly that—and a lot more. Many Korean variety shows are so brilliantly produced that you can also gain inspiration, heartwarming lessons, and even ideas for your travel bucket list!
Below are our favorite Korean variety and reality shows that cure our wanderlust for South Korea and also help us practice our Korean! Ahem~ annyeong!
2 Days & 1 Night
Launched in 2007, 2 Days & 1 Night or 2D1N is one of the longest-running variety shows in South Korea. The show follows a mission format where the members take on various tasks to either gain delicious rewards or troublesome punishments. It’s the perfect show to watch if you’re keen to know all about the places in South Korea because the show is focused on local destinations. 2D1N has seen different cast members throughout its 14-year run; the current line-up is composed of actor Kim Seon-ho and rappers DinDin and Ravi, among others.
Law of the Jungle
Another household variety show in South Korea is Law of the Jungle. Reminiscent of Survivor but milder, the show sends guests along with “Chief” Kim Byung-man to remote deserted locations where they practice their wilderness survival skills. It is not limited to South Korean locations; in fact, they’ve already conquered Palawan in the Philippines. However, its recent episodes (416 onwards) focus on different places in the country, proving that South Korea has so much more to offer beyond Hallyu, shopping, and theme parks.
As the title suggests, Hometown Flex lets celebrity guests flex their hometowns outside of Seoul with Lee Seung-gi and Cha Tae-hyun as hosts. For the Seoulite duo, it’s an opportunity to explore places outside of their bustling home city and take viewers along their road trips to other beautiful cities like Jeonju and Busan. This new travel variety show ran for 11 episodes in 2020, and there’s a high chance we may get a second season!
It seems that, like us, Cha Tae-hyun himself could not get enough of the Korean countryside as he ventures into another variety show that highlights the beauty of a northern rural town in Gangwon-do. In Unexpected Business, he and actor Jo In-sung take over a small supermarket where they work with celebrity part-timers like Park Bo-young and Nam Joo-hyuk as they cater to a motley of all-adorable villagers. The show not only demonstrates the charm of countryside living but also unveils the enigmatic allure of South Korea’s rural landscape.
Hyori’s Bed & Breakfast
Another show that’s centered on one location in South Korea is Hyori’s Bed & Breakfast, which is set on Jeju Island. Veteran K-pop idol Lee Hyo-ri and her musician husband Lee Sang-soon have turned their own Jeju home into a guesthouse where they personally accommodate guests from around the country. The couple is aided by Hallyu stars—IU in season 1 and Park Bo-gum and Yoona in season 2—and a floofy crew of dogs and cats. The show also follows the B&B guests’ tours around Jeju, showing off the island’s attractions that can cater to all kinds of travelers, from soul-searchers to thrill-seekers.
House on Wheels
Have you ever dreamed of traveling on an RV or camper van like a nomad? In House of Wheels, Sung Dong-il, Kim Hee-won, and Yeo Jin-go do just that—a unique expedition around South Korea! They invite celebrities in every episode, with whom they build a warm and friendly atmosphere in and around their tiny mobile home for viewers to soak in. The show premiered in 2020, and now has a second season underway!
Want to ditch the subtitles? Practice Korean in the comfort of your own home with this Online Korean for Beginners Program by the Study at Enderun Colleges!
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*Featured image via tvN and KBS