Fifteen months ago when he appeared in Running Man for the last time, we thought we would never see comedian Lee Kwang-soo on a variety show again. But the ‘Giraffe’ has popped his head out of the woods.
The 37-year-old is back in the new Disney+ variety show The Zone: Survival Mission together with his long-time Running Man co-star Yoo Jae-seok and Girls’ Generation’s Kwon Yuri.
In each episode, the trio have to survive four hours in an impossibly difficult situation — think getting drenched in freezing winter temperatures and running away from Joseon zombies.
The first three episodes were just released on Disney+ on Thursday (Sept 8). While the jibes and face slaps between the two bros are back, The Zone isn’t going to be Running Man 2.0. That’s because this time, it’s maknae (Korean for the youngest in a group) Yuri, 32, who’s the alpha.
Here’s how she keeps Kwang-soo and Jae-seok in check — she even called them “fragile guys” during the press conference by the way — and the best moments from the show so far that kept us ROFL.
‘I guess you’d do anything for money’
Minutes into the first episode, even Jae-seok couldn’t resist taunting Kwang-soo for returning to the variety show format.
“What are you doing here? Didn’t you say you will never star in a variety show again? I guess you’d do anything for money,” the 50-year-old chastised, before telling Kwang-soo he’s got “such an annoying haircut”.
‘Don’t take off your pants!’
In the first episode near the 13-minute mark, our valiant “representatives of the human race” unwittingly walk into a corridor where the ground has been smeared with slippery glue.
Trust Kwang-soo, the resident dork, to slide on the glue and end up lying on the sticky ground. He wriggles, struggles to stand and his pants slip off.
Jae-seok shouts: “Don’t take off your pants! That’s an outdated style of comedy!”
As he tries to pull Kwang-soo’s pants up, the latter loses his balance and rolls on the ground, getting his beloved salon-styled hair smeared with glue.
‘Yuri has a temper’
Here’s the moment sweet Yuri changes from an idol respectful of her showbiz seniors to a slipper-flinging mama-figure at the 39-minute mark.
After a tedious time on her own trying to save the three of them from an impending ‘death’ by explosion, she finds Jae-seok and Kwang-soo relaxing with a game of table tennis.
Peeved, Yuri picks up her slipper and hurls it at Kwang-soo, hitting him at the back of his head and then his back the second time.
During the press conference in Seoul on Sept 6 which AsiaOne attended in person, Yuri admitted: “I really got immersed into the situations. It’s not just me trying to be funny, it’s me trying to be honest in the situation. I’m normally logical, I have great manners and I don’t point my fingers (at someone). But in this programme, I couldn’t hold back (my reactions).”
‘I am not that ugly’
In the third episode, the trio have to escape from a horde of raving Joseon zombies who attack only good-looking people — a gag by the showrunners to set Kwang-soo and Jae-seok squabbling on who’s handsome and who’s not.
Of course, only Yuri becomes the target and while it may sound cliche, seeing the zombies shudder in disdain at the two guys and Jae-seok mutter “I am not that ugly” in disbelief is golden.
After catching this episode, fans can rest easy knowing Kwang-soo has probably recovered from the ankle fracture he sustained in February 2020 when he was hit by a car that beat the red light, forcing him to quit Running Man in April the following year.
The long-legged one sprinted the fastest when chased by the mob, leaving his compatriots far behind.
The eight-episode The Zone: Survival Mission is now available on Disney+.