9 The Best Popular Korean Games Variety Shows You Must Watch in 2020

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4. SBS’ X-Man

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X-man was a popular South Korean game show which was on the air from November 8th, 2003 to April 8th, 2007, on SBS with a total of 178 episodes. From 2004 to 2006, the show peaked its popularity. The popular show was hosted by Yoo Jae-suk as the main host, Boom as a guest role, Kang Ho-dong, Kim Je-dong, Gong Hyung-jin, Park Kyung-lim, and Lee Hyuk-jae as regular members.

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The program first aired on November 8th, 2003, as a “Genuine Psychological Reasoning Variety,” Real Situation: Finding X-man, a corner program of “Real Situation Saturday.” However, on October 10th, 2004, the program was moved to “Good Sunday” and simply known as X-man. And since November 5th, 2006, the program became the only program airing as part of “Good Sunday” and became officially known as X-man Good Sunday. The program was broadcast until April 8th, 2007.

In the first season of the program, the main host actually was Kim Je-dong, with team leaders Kang Ho-dong of Kang Team and Yoo Jae-suk of Yoo Team. However, since the beginning of Season 2, Yoo Jae-suk replaced Kim Je-dong as the main host, with Kim Je-dong becoming the leader of Kim Team. During the early stages of the program, popular games that became the main game of the show were “Team! Horse Riding,” “Tongue Twisters Relay,” and “Fly! Fryingpan” with the biggest hit “Of Course!” created in May 2004.

5. KBS’ Star Golden Bell Challenge

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Star Golden Bell was a South Korean variety show broadcast on KBS. It became a very popular show in South Korea, and it occasionally entered the South Korean top 20 charts. The popular program broadcast its first episode on November 7th, 2004, and ended on November 20th, 2010.

The show consisted of mini-games, which have certain amounts of a prize. The winning celebrity is given the opportunity to ring the bell by correctly answering a riddle. If the celebrity’s answer is correct, the money is donated in the winner’s name. All of the “winnings” of the show went to a charity of KBS’ choice; the last donation, with the amount of $110,000, was held on July 1st, 2008.

The show was hosted by the main MC Jun Hyun-moo, and there were two additional hosts, Kim Je-dong and Lee Chae-young, who were either in charge of administering games or were challengers competing against the celebrity contestants.

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In April 2009, the popular show was revived with the latest format and a new MC. The former main host Ji Suk-jin and MC Oh Jeong-yeon left the show. Their replacements were host Jun Hyun-moo and actress Lee Chae-young.

Since the early episodes of the show, Star Golden Bell evolved from single-line challenges (games involving one team at a time) to group-line challenges (games involving the lines going against each other), although it has moved to a mixture of game types. Star Golden Bell has four “stages” of gameplay in which celebrities can win money to donate. At the end of the first three stages, three contestants were picked to play the fourth stage in order to win the pot.

6. MBC’s Idol Star Athletics Championship

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The Idol Star Athletics Championships is a South Korean television program that was broadcast for the first time in 2010. The first episode was aired on September 25th, 2010. The program features celebrities, popular Korean pop idol singers and groups, which compete in multi-sport events. The show is broadcast on MBC.

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The Idol Star Athletics Championships are special events held during Chuseok and lunar new year special in every year since 2010. There are several events in the sport program, such as hurdles, relay walk, long jump, high jump, javelin, swimming, aerobic gymnastics, archery, baseball pitching, basketball, bowling, curling, esports, equestrian – dressage, fencing – individual saber, football, footvolley, futsal, rhythmic gymnastics, ssireum, table tennis, and ten-pin bowling.

Here is the list of every season of Idol Star Athletics Championships with details since 2010 until 2020:

Championship Year Venue Broadcast Dates Events Competitors
Total Men Women
I 2010 Mokdong Stadium September 25th and 26th, 2010 10 5 5 130 (16 teams)
II 2011 Jamsil Arena February 5th and 6th, 2011 7 4 3 140 (17 teams)
III Mokdong Stadium September 13th, 2011 11 6 5 150 (12 teams)
IV 2012 Jamsil Arena January 24th and 25th, 2012 12 6 6 150 (16 teams)
V Mokdong Stadium July 25th and 26th, 2012 14 (2 mixed) 7 5 150 (9 teams)
VI 2013 Goyang Gymnasium February 11th and 20th, 2013 10 (1 mixed) 5 4 150 (10 teams)
VII September 19th and 20th, 2013 10 5 5 160 (5 teams)
VIII 2014 Jamsil Arena January 9th and 10th, 2014 10 5 5 230+ (8 teams)
IX 2015 Goyang Gymnasium February 19th and 20th, 2015 9 5 4 ~220 (22 teams)
X September 28th and 29th, 2015 8 4 4 ~300 (10 teams)
XI 2016 February 9th and 10th, 2016 9 (1 mixed) 4 4 ~180 (7 teams)
XII September 15th, 2016 8 4 4 ~200 (7 teams)
XIII 2017 January 30th, 2017 8 4 4 194 (8 teams)
XIV 2018 February 15th and 16th, 2018 11 6 5 200+ (14 teams)
XV September 25th and 26th, 2018
XVI 2019 Samsan World Gymnasium February 5th and 6th, 2019
XVII Goyang Gymnasium September 12th and 13th, 2019 7 231
XVIII 2020 Namdong Gymnasium January 25th and 26th, 2020 7 202 (51 groups)
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Since the first season, the program has taken place in several venues, such as Mokdong Stadium, Jamsil Arena, Goyang, Gymnasium, Samsan World Gymnasium, Namdong Gymnasium, etc.

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During the show’s broadcast, several participants have left a good impression with their performance in the sports events and fans created some memes that became very famous. For instance, Tzuyu of TWICE during archery looks very beautiful with her extraordinary skills.

Another performance that was breathtaking, very interesting and phenomenal was Cosmic Girls’ Cheng Xiao’s who competed in Gymnastic Rhythm at the 2016 Idol Star Athletics Championships and won the gold medal. According to Judge Cha Sang Eun, who is an Olympic coach for Korea’s rhythmic gymnasts and greatly praised Cheng Xiao, commented that her performance was up to Olympic standards. 

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