There are many questions that have gone unanswered over the years on this show, so this is the week where we’ll finally put some matters to rest. It’s time to answer some viewers’ questions about our cast members, even getting an insider perspective on what some of them are like. Jokes will be made, faces will be compared, and some feelings will be unmasked once and for all.
EPISODE 291. Broadcast on March 20, 2016.
Today marks a new chapter for Running Man with Lee Hwan-jin PD as the show’s newest main PD (the two-part Dubai special was Im Hyung-taek PD’s last; he’ll be joining the production crew of the Chinese version of Running Man). In the spirit of getting a fresh start, Suk-jin suggests they call in Song Joong-ki. If only, sir.
Everyone knows that Kwang-soo and Joong-ki are close buds, but Jae-suk is quick to remind him that Kwang-soo’s celebrity status doesn’t even comes close to either Joong-ki or his It’s Okay, That’s Love co-star (and friend), Jo In-sung.
With the show approaching its sixth year, the staff has prepared a Q & A session today, tackling the top three burning questions on the viewers’ minds.
A good chunk of questions that came in are about the Monday Couple, and whether we’ll ever see the loveline become reality. When Kwang-soo says that isn’t likely, Gary says there’s a better chance of the Monday Couple getting together than him ever surpassing Joong-ki’s popularity. Aw.
To that, Kwang-soo explains how he and Joong-ki were surprise guests recently at Jong-kook’s concert in China—he was initially worried about being more popular than his buddy thanks to his Asia Prince status. But there was no need to worry because the fans loved Joong-ki. Then they play the footage to prove it.
To make matters worse, Joong-ki had been given a stylish box to initially hide his identity whereas Kwang-soo had worn a black plastic bag. There’s footage of that, too.
At the question of who he would want to switch bodies with for a day, Kwang-soo answers, “Ji-hyo!” She is not amused. He chooses not to explain himself, figuring that he’s already dug himself a pretty deep grave.
The other answers are more mean-spirited: Jae-suk would want to assume Jong-kook’s body and consume all the junk food. Jong-kook, in turn, would want to switch bodies with Jae-suk for a chance to ruin his polished and polite image.
The first question is one even the cast is curious about: How do Gary and Ji-hyo truly feel about each other? No matter whether you love or hate the Monday Couple pairing, we can all agree that this is a question long overdue.
Asked whether they felt an inkling of romantic interest over the years… that’s followed by the footage of their “first date”. What a weird editing cut. Gary makes dinner reservations and blings up, while Ji-hyo gets dolled up at the salon.
She’s wearing a dress, and when she asks if this is how people usually dress for a date, she’s told “Of course.” Gary picks her up outside of the salon, and they just happen to both be wearing hats. Aw.
Haha shrieks: “It’s so awkward!” Ji-hyo protests when Gary display some chivalry by opening the door for her—they’re so past this given how well they know each other—but he insists.
They realize in the car that today’s date doesn’t follow their Monday Couple status (they filmed this segment over the weekend). He doesn’t really have set plans for them, but she laughs when he says they have dinner reservations.
When they arrive at the restaurant, he insists on opening the car door for her and jumps out… to find her door locked. Lol. Even though Gary says it’s his first time being so chivalrous, like placing a napkin on her lap for her, seeing him act like a gentleman towards Ji-hyo is just nice to see.
In the next moment, Gary pulls out his trademark cheesy line charm, noting how the flower on the table resembles her. Ji-hyo gasps at the expensive menu, to which Gary flashes his watch and chain to reassure her that money is no object for him here.
His old-fashioned jokes makes her shake her head, but she does ask for their drinks to be non-alcoholic. Good call. At the mention that Ji-hyo chose Gary as someone she’d feel awkward sharing a meal with, she explains that she’s never eaten with anyone else one on one aside from Kwang-soo…
… although there was that one time she went to a tanning salon with Jong-kook. I’m sorry, what now? Gary shows a little jealousy at that, and when Ji-hyo gets a bit of food on her lips, she licks it up.
They keep talking, and when he offers to show her what other couples do while waiting for the food, he holds her hand on the table. Ji-hyo: “How do people eat?” Gary: “They don’t. Eating isn’t what’s important.” And then she takes her hand away. Not the way to this girl’s heart, it seems.
Gary looks a bit disheartened to hear that her We Got Married husband Chen Bolin is good to her, and surprised that he’s even cooked for her. In the studio, Gary admits that he got jealous here, as we watch her whisper into his ear the nickname she has for him.
He wants a special nickname for her too (jiji, which is baby-talk for “dirty”) and reveals that she calls Chen Bolin “Bobo”. Jae-suk: “Does he call you ‘Mung Mung’ then?” Bingo.
Ji-hyo wonders if they should go see a movie yet, and Gary says all couples go out to watch a horror movie. She wants to go see My Love, Don’t Cross That River, a documentary about an elderly couple who spend their last days together. Not quite what Gary was expecting, and the other guys aren’t even that surprised she’d say something like that.
As they leave the restaurant, Gary naturally takes her hand… and then immediately points out that Ji-hyo isn’t resisting at all. Dude, stay cool! He lets go a minute later, then tries to break the awkward silence with more humor.
Gary insists upon being the gentleman to open up her car door again at their next destination. And again, it’s locked. Hahaha, please let this be a running joke. He compliments her again, and says spring has come because of her. Aww, that is sweet.
She’s made preparations for this part of their date: a secluded rooftop that looks out into the city. There’s food and drinks (again non-alcoholic grape juice) and a projector just for the two of them.
What I like about this entire situation is that they both do address how awkward it feels to be alone together, but they still make an effort to be courteous to one another. He’s even prepared a small gift—socks—that he bought in New York, which she wears right away.
That helps to break the ice a little, and Gary launches into some skinship as soon as the movie starts. He fails in trying to place his head on her shoulder and an arm around her shoulder, then resorts to trying to place his head on her lap.
She’s having none of it, and gets worked up when he insists on covering her with another blanket. Instead, she suggests they shared the blanket. He takes that opportunity to place an arm around her shoulder, and she immediately shuts that down.
He later asks if she was excited about their date, to which she replies that it didn’t feel awkward, that she felt a bit nervous about going on a date with him, but she did have a good time. Gary: “What are you doing on Wednesday?” Ji-hyo: “I’m busy.”
Once the movie is over, he says they should wear their socks again sometime and they agree to wear them to film Running Man tomorrow. He kept his promise whilst she didn’t.
They take a van to their next location: a hospital to get fMRI scans of their brains. In an interview, Ji-hyo hopes that the audience is understanding to whatever the results are. When asked what she thinks Gary’s scans will indicate, she thinks they’ll have similar results. Gary chuckles that he’ll reconsider if the tests reveal that she does have feelings for him.
A specialist is brought in to interpret the medical imagery, explaining that both Gary and Ji-hyo were shown photos of one another. Frankly I wonder if normal photos (not from magazine shoots) would’ve produced more genuine results. In any case, what they’re looking for is a heart-shaped region to light up in each other’s brains.
When Gary saw pictures of Ji-hyo… his brain activity was stable, as if he saw someone he knew very well. Ha, Peaceful Gary makes a return. As for Ji-hyo… her brain did indicate some activity in that specified region.
However, the specialist explains that the rest of her scans suggest that what she feels is a fondness towards Gary that isn’t necessarily romantic. It can occur between new couples or those who have a longstanding relationship, much like Gary and Ji-hyo.
The doctor jokes that the tests were done yesterday, and the guys stand up to jokingly asks if that means those results would be different if they’d done the tests today. Ji-hyo asks how Gary responded to photos of AOA’s Seolhyun, to which she’s told it was a typical response (so yeah, his brain activity spiked).
That spurs more discussion about how they responded to other photos. When they saw Kwang-soo’s photo, there was some affection, but also fear. Ha. Now that they know where they stand, Gary remarks that they should’ve done this test back when the Monday Couple was in its second year.
Their next question: Is Ji Suk-jin really that susceptible to words? History has taught us that Suk-jin easily believes what others tell him, and even Jae-suk admits that Suk-jin is more likely to believe someone he’s met for the first time versus someone he knows.
It’s at that moment a man dressed in a kandora appears to introduce the hidden camera prank segment set up for Suk-jin. Haha and Jong-kook had been in on it too, reading over the fake business proposal to offer popped rice cakes in Dubai. Haha had honed in on the detail he knew Suk-jin would focus on: the profit.
When Suk-jin had joined them later, Haha and Jong-kook worked on a lengthy explanation to draw Suk-jin in—the prince there loved Suk-jin and proposed a potentially profitable business selling Korean street snacks. Looking at the video now, Suk-jin exclaims, “There was a camera there?!”
It’s only now he realizes that it was an elaborate prank, but back then even Suk-jin thought this might’ve been too sweet of a deal: “This isn’t a hidden camera prank, right?” Realizing they’re treading dangerous territory, they had someone bring in the fake business proposal and busted a gut when Suk-jin thought of an Arabic name for the snack: “Abdul Big Nose. Kodullah?”
He even came up with a jingle on the spot, which slayed the room there and the studio. Haha shares that there was even a contract, and Jae-suk recognizes the look on Suk-jin’s face as a man who was just conned.
Earlier today, Suk-jin, Haha, and Jong-kook had sat down with the “prince” who only recognized Suk-jin. The mat hyung shared that he came up with an Arabic name: “Jadullah Hassan Mohammed.” After they signed the contract, Suk-jin had hoped they would share a more brotherly relationship in their business partnership.
The terms were written in Arabic, and what Suk-jin actually signed off are terms to this show, like not being late to call time, doing everything the crew tasks him to do, not to ever get mad, etc. Haha shares how serious Suk-jin got afterwards, believing that their days of suffering were now over.
Before we get to the most burning questions on viewer’s minds, we cut back to questions about the cast, like if Ji-hyo is really pretty. They’ve brought in a plastic surgeon Kim Jong-myung, who’s actually Jong-kook’s hyung.
Hyung says Jong-kook acts like the maknae at home, insisting that he’s never been on the receiving end of one of Jong-kook’s beatings… because he used to throw the punches. Ha.
In order to answer this question, Ji-hyo’s face is compared to a composite. She looks young for her age, and her face ratio is well-proportioned. As for Kwang-soo, he’s told he looks older than his age, however his overall appearance puts him on the more handsome end.
Her facial proportions suggest she really is a beauty (in terms of these standards), and Hyung believes she hasn’t gotten any work done. Suk-jin asks to test that theory, then wriggles her nose to make it look like a pig snout.
The next question asks if Gary really resembles a squid. I honestly don’t see it, but it’s been a running joke for weeks now, so it’d be nice to be able to move on from this. His face is placed side by side with a dried squid, a visual that slays the room.
Hyung explains that people might liken him to a squid since the contours of his face aren’t distinct. So it seems the joke is there to stay for now. Up next: Who’s more handsome between Gary and Haha?
Gary nearly does a spit-take at the side by side comparison, and then they’re told that Haha’s nose is more distinct that Gary’s. So if they had to split hairs, Haha would have the more favorable appearance.
Then: Does Jae-suk truly resemble Yoda? He’s told that there are some similarities with the slightly protruded mouth and eyes and distinct brow bones. Suk-jin: “He’d look like Yoda if he gets double eyelid surgery!” Haha: “He looks like that when he gets tired!”
Then we FINALLY get to the top question: Is Jae-suk truly a good person? Jong-kook says he presents himself very well, and this is a question he gets pretty often. He’s glad that Jae-suk isn’t a fisticuffs because that combined with his mischievousness would make him totally evil.
A video shows Jae-suk test out Kwang-soo’s waterproof phone by running it under the sink. Hey if Im Shi-wan could pluck a phone out of running sink in Triangle, it’s totally possible. Jae-suk: “You’re Kwang-soo, this is bang-soo [waterproof].”
Kwang-soo is asked what he thinks of Jong-kook and Jae-suk, but it’s all the same to him since he’d beat them up if his hyungs were his younger brothers. Gary says that Jae-suk’s perfect image actually works against him. He even admits to screening Jae-suk’s calls before.
He’d love to see Jae-suk be late to something for once, and Suk-jin adds that Jae-suk is a complete perfectionist—once he made him and Kwang-soo practice a routine all night long until they got it right.
Jae-suk figures Kwang-soo has a lot to say on this topic. He does: “I wish he wouldn’t coach me on my love life anymore.” In his defense, Jae-suk responds, “It wasn’t going to work out anyway!”
Haha jumps the gun when saying he hopes Jae-suk would take care of himself, and Jong-kook chimes in to say that despite what people see on screen, he really does cherish Jae-suk. Gary attests to Jae-suk’s generosity, because Jae-suk gave him an envelope of money when he moved recording studios. Haha: “How dare you say that with your legs crossed?”
Next, three of Jae-suk’s close acquaintances have been called in to speak about Jae-suk. Even from the silhouette, everyone can tell that Kwon-ryul VJ is one of them. Jae-suk identifies the others as his manager Im Jong-yoon, and his Jung Cheol-min PD.
Jung PD shares how he once sent Jae-suk a text to celebrate higher ratings a few weeks ago, but instead of a response, Jae-suk had called to talk about what could’ve been better. He appreciated the feedback, but then Jae-suk had called again five minutes later with more comments.
It was tiring, and then Jung PD had once been invited to Jae-suk’s home… where they talked for five hours. Kwon-ryul VJ speaks next, explaining how any normal person would be frightened if someone like Jong-kook would sneak up on them. In those times, Jae-suk would take it out on him, which we’ve seen plenty of times.
Kwon-ryul has more complaints, wondering why Jae-suk suddenly stops, turns back, and runs into the camera. Furthermore, Jae-suk gets worked up when he films the female guests on the show instead of him. The other cast members can attest to this though, and Kwon-ryul says, “What can I do if I smile because I’m happy? Can’t I smile during filming? It’s variety, after all!”
Jae-suk’s manager has only worked with him for about six months now, but before we get his answer, we’re again thrown into the past. A few days ago, cameras were installed in the van before Jae-suk climbed inside.
Jae-suk had immediately gotten to work studying the script for his next filming, barely listening to his manager’s questions. His manager had asked for some advice: what is he to do if he wants to work and have a girlfriend? Jae-suk had joked: “Quit work and see your girlfriend.”
He’d sighed when his manager repeated the question, then said in a serious tone how to balance both. It’s a problem if one uses work as an excuse not to treat his girlfriend well, Jae-suk had said. Then he’d slipped back into reading.
What the cast wants to know is if dealing with Jae-suk every day met or conflicted with his expectations. Manager Im says he thought Jae-suk was a good person, but found that Jae-suk is very particular.
For instance, there’s a type of mango-banana drink that Jae-suk likes, but he doesn’t want the mango and wants it with low-fat milk. Additionally, he isn’t allowed to listen to music in the car since it would be disruptive.
In an ironic twist, Jae-suk listens to music on his own, so it’d be nice to listen to music together. Jae-suk: “You can sit in the back today, Jong-yoon. I’ll even put on music for you.”
Then Kwon-ryul asks a very astute question—what happens now because they have to face Jae-suk again. Jae-suk says he won’t forget these informants and declares war on them, so Manager Im gets in a final word: “Hyung-nim, I like you!”
And then Jae-suk runs around the screen to deal with them himself.
There’s a third test for Jae-suk, who’s known to memorize the staff members’ names. They’ll put that to the test today, having him choose five out of fifty names and correctly identifying who they are.
If he gets at least three wrong, there’s a punishment waiting for him. There’s Go Eun-mi (from the audio department), Jo Sung-oh, Gary’s VJ, maknae writer Park Soo-yeon, Park Yong-woo PD, and Kim Gyu-ho, who’s on Haha’s payroll.
He starts off with Park PD, but takes a minute to assess which writer is the maknae. He gets it wrong, then realizes he should’ve gone with his first guess. He doesn’t have a clue as to who Gyu-ho is, figuring that he’ll tack the nametag on someone who fits the bill.
He hugs one staff member who turns bright red and his second guess just smiles back at him. He actually gets it right. He makes a guess for Eun-mi… but that guess turns out to be Kim Eun-ji. Whoops.
Split between 2:2, Jae-suk needs to answer this last question correctly. He takes his time rifling through the VJs, until Gary finally bursts that yes, this is his VJ.
So the conclusion here is that Jae-suk is a nice person, but doesn’t memorize names very well. I’m just surprised at how many faces and names he can recognize, given his packed work schedule. It looks like the questions will keep coming next week and we’ll find out just who is the unluckiest in this group.