Maintaining the motto "Let's not embarrass ourselves as professionals," production director Jo Hyo Jin of Running Man
reveals the truth behind the scenes of the beloved SBS variety show and its cast members.
It's been almost three years since Running Man
squeezed its way into our living rooms and our hearts as SBS's figurehead variety show. But even now, Running Man continues to be one of the top variety shows that dethroned the once thriving 2 Days 1 Night just last year.
Jo PD met with OSEN representatives for an intimate interview about his thoughts on viewer ratings, future changes, and lastly, the charms of his cast members. Read the interview below!
Q: These days, the fight for ratings between 2 Days 1 Night is getting more and more interesting.
A: Actually, I don't really think about the viewer ratings. If I was thinking about the viewer rating, then I would have changed the format a long time ago. I don't even look at the per-minute viewer rating graph that everyone looks at. When the writers tell me that the ratings came out, I would glance at it and when peers tell me that ratings were good, that's when I kind of know.
Q: Is there a lot of pressure because Running Man has been SBS's top variety show?
A: Of course there is pressure. I think of not embarrassing myself and I have a lot of greed. We always talk amongst ourselves of how we shouldn't embarrass ourselves. Especially, I promised myself that I didn't want to embarrass myself being around the professionals here.
Q: There were many misconceptions of fabrication and there was the time when Gary proposed dropping out, and there were times when the viewer ratings plummeted down. I bet there were multiple times when you were depressed.
A: I didn't mind much. Honestly, I don't read news and I don't go on the internet. I get hurt really easily so I try to stay away from it. (laughs)
If it was an important article, writers would suggest that I read it. When reporters call to ask me for something, there are many incidents when I say "Oh really? I'll check," but it's not an act. I really don't know. Other than producing a program, I don't really care about many other things. I don't care about viewer ratings like many other program directors do. I just care about not embarrassing myself.
Q: Even without many changes in the members, the show has been running for a long time. Did you ever think of changing the format or the team?
A: When you talk about format changes, I guess you are talking about a new season. It's been three years and we've had new items every week so there were no thoughts about creating seasons yet. It's the same for members. I still think that there are more things we can achieve. For example, Ji Suk Jin's slapstick comedy is relatively new. The members right now are really great and there are frequent guest visits so I see no problem.
Q: After Song Joong Ki dropped out, the face of the group is now gone. Are there plans for a replacement?
A: It is true that Song Joong Ki has a good impression, at the time, there was no choice for either of us. So we ended things in a good manner. And after Song Joong Ki left, I thought that the number seven was a good number. There could be two or three guests, but working with seven members was the easiest. So we don't really feel the need to add a member.
Q: As a producer, please describe the charms of each member.
A: Without a doubt, Yoo Jae Suk
has a soft charisma that can lead the team. And he has a way of pointing out the main point. If there was a new item, Yoo Jae Suk would say "This is how you do this," and pinpoint the main part. And it's because of this that it is easy for the viewers to understand. Like a genius, he would pinpoint the main theme of the mission that the producers had prepared for the day. And with that he would lead the games with the right purpose while poking at each member.
Kim Jong Gook plays the perfect counter partner who the members can run to. If a program wants to do well, there must be a bad guy. Kim Jong Gook is not the bad guy but to the members, he plays the "enemy" concept. But there is still a small opening to him and he's not just really strong which makes him all the more charming.
I am proud of Song Ji Hyo
for sticking through this with all the guys. She fits the current trend of not pretending to be a weak girl. She doesn't act weak and she's very fast so during missions she faces the challenge fairly.
It's a wonder that Kwang Soo
began variety just two years ago. He's really great at adapting. And he's even good to the elders in real life. Members who favor Kwang Soo pick on him jokingly and it is translated through on air. And he's good at thinking differently, and acting differently according to the situation. He acts like a unique spice. He never had experience in variety shows, but he had a really quick growth. We picked really well.
was already known as a well-spoken person. I'm glad that that part of him translated wholly on air. I don't know if it's because he is a songwriter but the way he talks has a different feel to him. He seems like a wandering minstrel at times. Although he doesn't seem like it, he is very popular with the ladies. You wouldn't think that from looking at his outer image only, but when you look more closely, he is very charming. He seems naive but he throws lines like a player would, and looks innocent at times. But that's his real image. We had cast him because of his naive image and his command of a language.
Ji Suk Jin
takes care of the younger members from the back where you can't see. He throws his body despite his age and even performs slapstick comedy, even when his body doesn't move as he wants it to. It's not easy for the oldest person to do that so I'm grateful.
Haha is a friend who I can depend on for anything. His basics are really set in stone. He figures out the intent of the producers and does it. I sometimes feel the same thing from Haha that I feel about Yoo Jae Suk.
Not too long ago when Park Shin Yang
guested on the show, he lowered himself and acted to open up the person's heart. Even when Han Hyo Joo
came on as a guest she thanked him because he made it easy and enjoyable for her throughout the shooting. Haha said that he learned all this from Yoo Jae Suk. I think he learned well.