Korean reality shows

As if being hooked to Korean dramas wasn’t bad enough, lately I’ve also found myself addicted to Korean reality-variety shows.   SIGH.  It all started with watching CNBLUE’s Jung Yonghwa and SNSD’s Seohyun on 우리 결혼했어요 (We Got Married).  I didn’t expect to be hooked but, well, I was barely one episode in and the damage was already done.  And now that one of my good friends has turned me into a legit SHINee fangirl, I’ve watched SHINee’s mini reality show 샤이니의 연하남, back from the time of their debut, and now I’m watching SHINee’s Hello Baby.

Aside from being just plain entertaining, I find that Korean reality shows also help me learn Korean better than dramas!  This is because of the existence of WONDERFUL, GLORIOUS KOREAN CAPTIONS.  Most of the shows I’ve watched tend to have captions that either match what someone’s saying word-for-word or that summarize whatever is going on in a particular situation.  In addition, there are other words or word bubbles that pop up on screen (I’m sure there’s an official word for this) around a person, usually describing their feelings or mood – words like 민망, 고민, 걱정, etc.  Captions and word bubbles make it so incredibly easy to look up words and build vocabulary faster.  And you may even find that you don’t rely on the English subtitles as much.

I’ve realized that with dramas, I’m at that awkward stage where I understand enough Korean to be sufficiently distracted by English subtitles (they’re actually really messing with my mind) but not good enough to follow what’s going on without them.  But when I watch Korean reality shows or interviews, the Korean captions have eliminated my dependence on English subtitles.  I first noticed this when I watched 불후의 명곡2 (Immortal Song 2) without subtitles a few days ago.  I guess my listening comprehension is actually better than I thought it would be because I found that most the time I could understand what was being spoken before I had time to read the captions.  But when I couldn’t understand what was going on, I just paused the video, read the caption, and looked up a few words here and there.  It was amazing!!

I really want to watch more Korean variety and/or reality shows so if you know any good ones, please recommend them!


  1. elfira says:

    Korean reality show is what got me into Korean! LOL. I love 유재석’s shows so I’d like to recommend Running Man (still going) and Family Outing (already finished). Have you watched them?

    You can download Running Man at iSubs. But they have replace few captions in English. I don’t know where to point for Family Outing because I got the all complete from a friend.

    You might want to try Happy Together, Come To Play (these 2 are talkshow) and Infinity Challenge. Yes, they all have MC Yoo in it. xD


    1. Archana says:

      YAY thanks so much! I have heard of some of those show but haven’t seen any of them. I’ll definitely check them out! :D


  2. Jeanne says:

    I love the captions too, since I’m not good enough to pick up everything by just hearing, I learn a lot through them and it feels good to understand without English subtitles.
    Although they must be very distracting to native speakers and even more advanced learners…


    1. Archana says:

      Aren’t they awesome? I wish dramas had Korean captions too. I once tried watching a Japanese drama with Korean subtitles and that was REALLY confusing because I could understand a lot of spoken Japanese but I was reading in Korean… haha.


  3. Chantelle says:

    Like Elfira, I’d recommend Running Man. I love Running Man. It’s hilarious and despite its surplus of running inside jokes, for the most part it’s easy to follow with or without subs. :)

    I just reached the stage where I no longer need subtitles. Some dramas are harder than others and I don’t understand everything, but I don’t bother with subs anymore. If there’s a scene in a drama that I don’t get or find confusing, I just look for a summary of it online.


    1. Archana says:

      I’ll definitely be sure to check out Running Man! I’ve heard a lot of good things about it. Thanks.^^


  4. lyrynne says:

    UPDATE! I check your blog everyday! Seriously Archana I’m liking your progress! You still watch 우결? Told you it’s addicting! When I first came to Korea I always watch tv and since variety shows are often on and there’s no subs so I depend on captions and most of the vocabs I learned were from variety shows! I even remember which show I learned some vocabs I know now. You learn easily since you’re into it, try reading this from a from http://bit.ly/ifla0g

    OMG 연하남!! I miss that show! I learned a lot from watching that show! It was my first year here in Korea when that was still airing! You should try Beast stuff too! Pretty much hilarious! Like MTV Beast documentary, MTV Beast Almighty, and Idol Maid! Oh watch SHIN PD too with Beast. (obviously i’m selling beats here)

    For the me the best variety show to watch is Star Golden Bell, Happy Together and Misuda since you’ll learn more deeper stuff like culture, history, 국어 etc.


    1. Archana says:

      AW THANK YOU, JEANNIE! YOU ARE SO SWEET! I still haven’t finished watching Yongseo on WGM but I’ll probably stop after I finish their episodes. I don’t really find any of the other couples interesting. >< A lot of friends have recommended Beast stuff so that's on my "To Watch" list for sure – I just started liking them so it'll be good to see them and get to know their personalities on variety shows! :D


  5. NyNy says:

    I think WGM is very a good show but there are a lot of issues that bring upon it with fans and such. I wrote a post about it on my blog and I hope you will view and comment when you have the time! http://nynyonlinex.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/issues-with-relationship-variety-shows/ A lot of Korean shows have this way of grabbing people’s attentions before the first episode is even done. WGM, Hello Baby and some others that you listed are a great example. It might be the way the show is scripted or the way the tasks are but whatever the reason it is very clever and intriguing.

    By the way, I absolutely love your blog’s look! The header is beautiful! What is your blog theme?


    1. Archana says:

      You bring up a good point in your post. Honestly, I don’t watch Korean variety shows that much anymore. Something about them are so over-the-top fake for me that I just don’t find them entertaining anymore. I do, however, still think they’re a great language resource.

      Thanks for visiting my blog! The theme is “Sundance”


  6. tlaylay35 says:

    I’m the same way I started watching ‘Knowing Bros’ with Heechul & also Hello Counselor… Talk about addicted to korean shows..

    Liked by 1 person

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