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4 reasons why you should check out tvN’s ‘Society Game’

society game

The latest brainchild from the creators of the The Genius, Society Game is a brand new tvN reality game show which premiered earlier this month. While the show is designed and edited in a very similar way to The Genius it’s a whole new ball game on its own and is worth checking out, even for non-Genius fans. Here are four reasons why.

The Premise

In this game show, 22 participants have to live together in an outdoor filming set designed to look like a traditional Korean village for two weeks. The set is split into three main areas, “Nop-dong” , “Ma-dong,” and the “Neutral Zone.” Participants are separated into two villages and compete against each other daily, with the losing village eliminating a member. This set-up alone allows for personal interactions between the participants within the villages since they really have to get to know each other and adapt to each other’s living habits. While such hijinks can be humorous and adorable to watch sometimes (martial artists getting scared of live chickens), living together on Society Game can get extremely tense since the participants have so many more opportunities to form alliances or trick each other. The real competition arguably takes place within the villages when each day ends, and this constant tension is what makes the show so unique and fun to watch. The “true” side of each participant is also more likely to be revealed, especially when they are placed under increasing pressure and extreme conditions (the show was filmed during a heatwave and the participants slept outdoors) so this show could be a good watch for fans of shows like Survivor.


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The Participants

Within this relatively large cast, the show’s participants are from different educational backgrounds and have varied occupations, ranging from an English lecturer to university students. This diversity makes for interesting television, since people with different life experiences and even age would naturally have different strategies and opinions. More importantly, they have varied abilities, with some of them being extremely athletic, some who are quick on their feet and others who have great cognitive abilities. These abilities are all valued equally among the participants, especially since the challenges posed to them tend to incorporate elements from all three domains.

There are a few stand-out participants however, who have already made a name for themselves in the show. One of them is mixed martial artist MJ Kim, a 26 year old woman who continually defies gender stereotypes with her physical strength and abilities. With her decisive and hardworking nature, she is shaping up to be one of the strongest participants in the show. Along with her is comedian Yang Sang-gook who successfully led a rebellion in his village within the first episode of the show and has maintained a tight rein over the villagers under his charge ever since. While he might have the manipulative skills required to ensure that he is always in an advantageous position, he also does show genuine care for his villagers. His leadership skills and initiative has won the trust of the people around him so far and with his foresight, he will probably go far in this game.

The Politics

Society Game functions somewhat like a social experiment, not just to observe how strangers live together for two weeks but also to see how successful or disastrous certain government systems can be. In the case of this show, Nop-dong is run as a democracy, with new village leaders being elected daily through a vote. Ma-dong, on the other hand, is run as a totalitarian state. Once elected, the leader will remain in power until another villager completes a rebellion successfully with the support of a majority of the villagers. Both systems have their pros and cons and create vastly different dynamics in the villages. In Nop-dong for instance, with their daily elections, the tide can turn very quickly depending on who is in power. These daily elections can fracture and divide the society so much so that it would be difficult for the village to stay united for long. In Ma-dong however, the divides are more clearly defined and the alliances more permanent, since survival can only be ensured if you are among the majority. It may thus seem more stable on the surface, but will definitely lead to more complicated problems in the future. Society Game therefore gives viewers a very exciting demonstration of these two types of governance, especially when participants of high calibre are involved. Though the show has just begun, the in-depth strategizing of the participants has already caught my attention and I’m excited to see how both villages will turn out.


Also on Kultscene: 5 Reasons Why You Should Watch “The Genius: Grand Final” 

The Editing

I expected nothing less coming from the team behind The Genius but I’m glad to report that the editing for Society Game is pretty top-notch. The background music used really sets the atmosphere for the show, whether it’s meant to be humourous or tense and climatic. Interestingly enough, a few less exciting or downright awkward scenes which would have been cut from mainstream variety shows are occasionally added as well. While this sometimes breaks the flow of the episode, they serve to build up the characters of the participants, making them more personal and relatable for the viewers. The use of time-skips and flashbacks in this show has been excellent so far as well, as it creates some truly shocking plot twists and game changers in the episodes.

Society Game premiered off with a strong start and has shown much potential in its run so far, so here’s hoping that its success will last. Check out a preview of the show below!

Have you watched Society Game? What did you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

5 Reasons Why You Should Watch “The Genius: Grand Final”

The Genius: Grand Final

[Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead]

The final episode of “The Genius: Grand Final” aired on the 12th of September and a new “king” was crowned. As it is produced by cable network tvN, “The Genius” is not as well-known among K-pop fans as other shows such as “Running Man” and “Superman is Back”, but over the past four seasons the show has garnered quite a large fan base both locally and internationally. “The Genius” is a variety show where 13 contestants of different backgrounds and age groups are gathered for a battle of wits that lasts throughout a season of 12 episodes where a contestant is eliminated each episode through a death match. The final winner, or the king, is given a cash prize based on the number of garnets earned by the players throughout the season. How then, you might wonder, did this intellectual show, in particular its fourth season, manage to attract so many fans? Here are five of the reasons why.

1. Complicated but viewer-friendly games

It is an intellectual competition after all, and the games that are played every episode are certainly of a high standard. Each episode is broken up into two parts, a “Main Match”, where the winners are granted tokens of life and the loser is sent into the “Death Match” along with another contestant of his choice.

Main matches take up the majority of the episode, and they range from auctions to horror races and even card games. The rules of the games are very extensive, but they are all necessary in order for the participants to gain victory.

The show always ensures that viewers know what is going on, however, by using an animated video at the beginning of the game to explain the rules. The possible scenarios for winning or losing the game are also spelled out clearly so that both the participants and the viewers will be able to understand how the game works.

When a participant makes a game-changing move (this usually happens at least once per episode,) the show will insert a special commentary of the person’s move and how his or her move would affect the game. This is a genius move on the part of the producers because it would help viewers understand what the participants are thinking and in a way, add more personality to the participants. Once viewers are able to become invested in the games they will experience a greater thrill and excitement while watching, which is one of the greatest strengths of this show.

2. It is a real-life version of “Liar Game”

If you’re a fan of the Korean drama “Liar Game,” you’ll definitely be a fan of this show as well. Seeing as how both shows are produced by the same company (tvN), this was something quite expected in terms of the format of the show and the games that were played. In fact, when the first season of “The Genius” aired, it was criticized for being too similar to the original Japanese version of the drama. Apart from the format however, what I found the most similar was the way cast member Kim Kyungran played the games in “The Genius”. She was a runner-up in season one and returned in this fourth season, She reminded me of Nam Da Jung (the protagonist in the Korean version of “Liar Game” played by Kim So Eun) in the way she constantly advocated for mutual cooperation and trust. Kim Kyungran embodied her beliefs in her actions as well, because she never failed to keep her promises and help her teammates, all of which led to this amazing moment in episode five where five participants (including Kyungran) achieved a joint victory together. Anyone else having “Liar Game” flashbacks yet?


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3. Friendly and lively cast members

The unique part about this fourth season is the fact that all the participants are people who have been in previous seasons of “The Genius”. This does not just heighten the tension surrounding the various matches and eliminations, it also ensures that viewers get to enjoy the familiar banters between the participants.

The cast is made up participants from various backgrounds and occupations including Jang Dongmin (comedian), Kim Kyunghoon (graduate student), Yoo Junghyun (politician) and so on, but they get along very well together. No matter how tough the competition is, the participants are always able to find humor and joy from each other (but this definitely does not mean that they go easy on each other!), which is very heartwarming to observe. Take the last episode for example, when the finals were concluded the whole cast gathered back in the main hall and held hands. It was a sign of unity, but more than that it was also about forgiveness.

There were many betrayals that took place throughout the show but at the end of the day the friendships that they had forged with each other were more valuable than any prize money they could have won. It’s an important lesson, and one that the show brings out actively.

The Genius pic

In addition, tvN releases “behind the scene” footage of every episode, which gives viewers an insight about how the episodes are filmed. Most of it is hilarious and fun, and these videos once again show how close the cast have gotten as they spent long hours filming this program together.

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4. The editing is always on point

No matter how interesting a cast or a game is, it is definitely difficult for an intellectual show like “The Genius” to be humorous and enjoyable for mainstream viewers. But that’s where the production side comes in.

Everything from the captions that are used to the background music that is thoughtfully selected for every scene contributes to the delightful program that is “The Genius”. Suspense levels are kept very high with the numerous twists and turns in every episode. The best example of this would arguably be in episode four, when the tables were completely turned contestant Oh Hyunmin, who was portrayed as the most likely victor throughout the whole game, when a secret alliance was revealed at the end and Hyunmin was in last place. It was such a surprise, both for the participants and for the viewers alike, and it is surprises such as these that keep viewers engaged and excited.

The background music that has consistently been used for this program since the first season is mainly provided by a band called Idiotape. Their music is highly electronic in nature and is very climactic with a clever use of the drums, which suits the nature of “The Genius” to a tee. Idiotape’s music has become an icon of the show, much like other aspects, such as the socalled “Bandage Man” and the main dealer, Hong Jiyeon.


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5. Jang Dongmin

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And finally, arguably the star of season four, is Jang Dongmin. Don’t get me wrong, this is not my personal bias speaking, but I had started out this show with a very low expectation of this comedian and my impression of him has completely changed. I had watched him in “Crime Scene Season Two” previously, but apart from being impressed at his amazing memory, I did not think that he was an exceptional participant. I certainly did not expect that he would be such a loyal yet cunning player, with good social and leadership skills.

As mentioned several times during the season by his fellow participants, Jang Dongmin has the perfect skill set and ability for this show. He may not be the best mathematician or the boldest gambler, but he knows when to show off and when to play safe. He is also very driven and determined, as can be seen by his face-off with Oh Hyunmin in a deathmatch game of Tactical Yutnori, a new take on a traditional Korean game. In season three of “The Genius,” this was the only game that Dongmin had ever lost, and it was also against Hyunmin, one of this season’s forerunners. Dongmin saw this chance as an opportunity to prove himself and show his improvement, and boy, did he succeed. Apart from proving his own abilities, Jang also desired to show that comedians were not a group of people to be looked down on, but that they are intelligent and valuable people who deserve to be respected.

The show highlights the fact that Dongmin grew up poor and less privileged than some of his fellow contestants, so it becomes a triumph even for the viewers when he succeeds in matches and challenges. By being on this show, Dongmin disproved a lot of common stereotypes and thus gained a lot of respect for it. No matter who the fans supported, they never begrudged Dongmin of his success, to which I must say kudos to both Dongmin and the show for portraying him in such a manner.

As a bonus, Dongmin’s interactions with “The Genius” constant, Dealer Hong Jiyeon are both adorable and hilarious. It’s amazing to see the normally cold-hearted dealer turn into a smiling and flustered woman in front of this charming comedian, and tvN certainly realized it, judging by the number of times she ended up featuring in their “behind the scene” videos this season.

“The Genius: Grand Final” is a show packed with humor, heart and thrill. I’m definitely looking forward to the next season of it!

Are you watching “The Genius”? What do you think about the evolving variety scene in Korea? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.