Meet DramaFever's new variety show, Infinity Challenge!
"Korean variety programming is divided into before and after Infinity Challenge," a popular, seldom-argued against saying goes. Widely dubbed Korea's "first real variety show," Infinity Challenge's 8-year run has made it a pop culture icon. It's considered to be the show that single-handedly started a new era of Korean variety programming. Let's take a look at what makes it great!
It's about the challenge. Nothing is too ridiculous, too silly, too impossible. From its humble beginning as a small part of MBC's Saturday in 2005, to its initial struggle with low viewer's ratings, to its meteoric rise into the most influential TV show in Korea, its motto -- "Dirty, Dangerous, Difficult" -- has remained the same. Infinity Challenge did it first and did it all. Tug-of-wars against cows, eating black noodles on a roller coaster, attempting to outrun trains, filming parody dramas, going on vacations, finding food, starting music festivals, staging annual Project Runway specials, making unannounced visits to co-stars' homes, creating discernible characters and nicknames for members of the cast, the creative use of captions -- the list goes on and on through almost 400 episodes.
A distinctive feature of the show is its nearly-caricatured depictions of the 7 members of its cast. Each member has a clearly defined role and personality in the likes of Running Man and 2 Days 1 Night, both of which were heavily influenced by Infinity Challenge:
1.Yoo Jae Suk
The leader of the group. Worshipped and envied in equal measure for being the most-loved MC in Korea. On any episode, every member yearns to be paired with him because he will inevitably get more airtime.
Characteristics: Orderly, sensible, likes erotic things (porn), likes to dance, endlessly energetic, often a bit narcissistic.
Nicknames: No. 1, God Yoo (this particular manner of calling someone a god became popular Internet usage), National MC, MC Yoo, Chief Yoo, Low Nipples (his nipples are located on his lower chest), Grasshopper, Video Boy (for porn), Announcer Killer (his wife is an announcer), Ero Jae Suk (for porn), Yoda, God of MCing, Health Yoo (after he began working out regularly.)
2.Park Myung Soo
The No. 2 of the group. He generally likes being the center of attention and will act out otherwise. He considers Yoo his life's savior. He initially wanted to beat out Yoo for the No. 1 spot but has since backed down. Although he acts tough and mean on the outside, he's a big ol' softie on the inside.
Characteristics: Grouchy, pessimistic, witty, angry, likes money, backs down in fights against bigger people.
Nicknames: No. 2, Aged Devil, Giant Star (because he acts like it), Abilities Myung Soo (they basically make him try everything first, always), Old Man Myung Soo (he's the oldest member), Son of the Prince of Darkness, Minseo's Father (Minseo is his daughter), Park Joker, Trifling, Sancho Park, Father, Alien (because he looks like one), Big Brother, Chicken Myung Soo (he used to own a chicken shop), Chicken(&Pizza) CEO, Ugly Brother.
3. Jung Jun Ha
The second-oldest member of the group. He started out as an overshadowed member who wasn't very funny, but he is now known as The Lover thanks to his happy marriage. Because he rose to fame playing a 'fool' character on No Brain Survivor, his role as a dumb but lovable oaf is often referenced. He's also made fun of for his oversized head and large body. He and Park have a recurring gag called "Ha & Soo" in which the two bicker over various issues such as finances, personal relationships and past arguments at random moments.
Characteristics: Dim, trusting, often betrayed, the group scapegoat, soft-hearted, giving, loves to eat, good with numbers.
Nicknames: No. 3, Monster, National Fool, Shadow (his large body casts a shadow over the members who stand next to him), No-Sense Brother, Fatty Fat, Lacking, God of Eating, Alcohol CEO (he owns a bar), Space Monster, Best Side, Helmet (his large head), 0.1t (his weight).
4. Jung Hyung Don
Although he began as the "the comedian who is good at everything except being funny," in recent years the Era of Jung Hyung Don has opened as he gained momentum and his own unique brand of overconfidence and presence. He is a part of the three "fatties" of the group (with Gil and Jung). He had an especially awkward relationship with Haha near the beginning of the show, which resulted in a classic "We Hope You Become Friends" special.
Characteristics: Lazy, confident, smart, quick-minded, snarky, messy, at times whiny, fashion terrorist.
Nicknames: Arrogant Fatty, Donny, Don Dragon (as in G-Dragon), Awkward Fatty, House Leaking Water (he was trying to sell his leaking house at the time), Jung Hyun Don (after a woman mispronounced his name), The Crazy Presence of Gaehwa-dong's Orange Clan.
5. No Hong Chul
Loud, flamboyant and a little nuts, he lives in his own world of colorful leather pants and leopard print. He's a combination ball of energy and wit but also most famously a fearsome con artist -- he's betrayed and outsmarted every member on the team throughout the episodes. Although he was once voted the most handsome member, this year's extended get-together featuring "ugly" guest celebrities voted him the ugliest. He has been poked fun at for his abnormally long face, rapidly aging looks and his lisp. Haha, who is the same age as him, has always felt a rivalry with No, who almost always comes out on top.
Characteristics: Noisy, sensible, smart, not trustworthy, deceptive, cunning, bright, happy.
Nicknames: Dol + I (in translation, crazy person), National Con Man, Natasha (because he sometimes looks like a Russian woman), Yellow Hair (when he used to be blond), Farming Genius, Russian, Lucky Guy, Talks Too Much, Quick Mouth, Dekopon (for his large nose), President of Girls, Foreigner, Young Devil, Big Face, Korean Psycho, Elevator Guy (after his appearance in Psy's "Gangnam Style.")
Easily excitable and just as easily fooled, he is a particularly strong believer of the Church of Yoo Jae Suk. He has an ongoing obsession with Jamaican culture and music. His small stature is the butt of many jokes, as is his inferiority to No. He also has a hilariously adorable mother.
Characteristics: Energetic, likes to yell and scream words, easily affected by successful people (such as A-list actors), brimming with ambition but never quite gets there.
Nicknames: Tiny Child, Hybrid, Flower Boy, Nino Maximus Keyser Soze Sonador Sparta Jack Sparrow, Small Reporter, Ground Child (he's close to the ground), Genius of Variety, Master, Handsome Haha, Korean Baby, Hobbit.
Leessang's Gil joined the team in 2009 after Shinhwa's Jun Jin left for military service. He was not initially well-received by fans, who felt his lack of contributions and resulting silence were unfit for the show. He's fared much better in recent months.
Characteristics: Tries too hard to be funny, obliging, often mistreated or overlooked, a nice guy.
Nicknames: Baldy, Gil-meo (as in cameo), Overreacher, Unfunny From the Moment of Birth, Fat Fat Fatty, Octopus, Orangutan.
All these comedians come together to take you on a hilarious, fun-filled ride! DramaFever recently added Infinity Challenge to its library of Korean hits-- check it out for yourself!