Sohu.Yule Special Report
Following the final broadcast of SBS top-rated variety show, Xman Goodbye Special on April 8th 2007, the show which had raised the bar for Korean variety programs and probably will go down in history as one of the greatest programs of all time and also being one of the first Korean variety show to be shown on chinese television, has finally come to an end after accompanying audiences in Korea for three years and five months.
Xman debuted in November 2003 and served as the first segment for SBS teleivsion “Good Sunday” program offering every Sunday and was shown weekly. It was separated into two editions so you had to watch for two consecutive weeks for one full episode. The celebrities who were on the program were separated into two teams led by two MCs and compete in a wide variety of games. Before the start of the program, one of the celebrities would be chosen as the designated Xman through a phone call by the PD. The Xman mission is to use all possible means and methods to cause his/her to lose games at critical stages but at the same time not letting people realize that he/she is the Xman. At the very end, the celebrities would sit down and then vote for the person that they feel is the Xman for that episode.
From the time Xman debuted until its end, in theory, we can say that it had gone through two major revamps. The first revamp was the expansion of the format which ended in it ushering in the Xman golden age which saw it receiving high ratings which was unusual for a variety show of its kind in Korea. The second revamp was done on the basis that it wasn’t able to develop any more ideas based on the old format so it totally change the concept of Xman. But very apparently, the second revamp was a failure and from a standpoint, it accelerated the demise of Xman.
At the height of Xman most popular period, coupled with its impressive array of celebrities, its wide variety of hilarious games plus exciting highlights were boundless, it created unlimited number of topics for audiences to debate over and left lots of impressions for those who watched it. Probably the only program that combines romance, ridiculous games, comedy, dance plus celebrities all in one setting.
Big stars on small stage
In Korea, the celebrities who appear on various variety shows mostly comprises of singers. They are in the midst of their album promotion while the others are permanent casts on the variety shows. Compared to the attention that they get from their fans, the variety show is just a small stage, but it gives them a totally different dimension to their performance. Xman is right smack in the middle between performing as a singer and a variety show, its program format and different segments gives the celebrity ample opportunity to showcase their personality, and allows the audience to see a totally different side of them.
Young Girl Warrior – Yoon Eun Hye
In the three years that Xman was shown on television, the most successful person that has departed from the program must belong to ex-Baby Vox member, Yoon Eun Hye. Yoon Eun Hye has a nickname inside the program and is called “Young Girl Warrior.” This stems from the fact that this young girl always manages to showcase her extraordinary strength and power in all forms of games that requires physical brute strength and winning nearly all the time, sometimes beating guys even! In the one year in which Yoon Eun Hye was part of the permanent cast in Xman, she not only showcased her wit in speech but also her fast reaction capability. The most important thing is her outgoing, direct and chivalrous image endeared her to audiences and won her lots of fans. This is believed to have contributed to her being able to cross all obstacles and ended up being casted as Chae Gyung in the popular drama “Princess Hours.”
Eccentric “Three-member group” – Ha Myung Gook
This three-member group is just a comedic name for a group that appears in the show. In reality, the three are totally opposite of each other in terms of style, singer Kim Jong Kook, all-round entertainer Haha and gagman (comedian) Park Myung Soo. At the beginning, the three of them was just using some topics to create laughter together with some good chemistry. After a few tries at it, they realise how great the effects was as it make the program look it ever better. They also managed to garnered a following among audiences and so they begun officially to have Ha Myung Gook on the show permanently as a fixture to whip up the atmosphere when the opportunity presents itself. When Kim Jong Kook left for the army after Xman #55, they tried to do the same thing with Sung Shi Kyung, etc, but it didn’t create much of an impact.
Kim Jong Kook is a famous singer in Korea, his high-pitched voice plus muscular body makes for two different kind of styles that meshes well together. Also known for having a serious stern face when he is not talking. His appearance in Xman was an opportunity for him to show a different side to him. In the program, he always brings cold laughter and also puts in many impressive performances during the many games which became one of Xman selling points. In addition, during the couple selection segment, he is always one that many females look forward to coupling with him. Because of his immense high popularity, it also led to many exciting battles in the “Of Course” segment between female stars slagging it out over him.
Haha can be considered to be an all-rounded entertainer, the best impression he left in Xman was his consecutive imitations of Kim Jong Kook’s old group, Turbo’s dance performances as he did dance after dance of famous tunes like “Love Is”, “Black Cat”, “My Childhood Dream”, etc. When the familiar tunes and dances started appearing on the show once more, it bought a sense of nostalgia to the recording studio. Although Haha also imitated others like Michael Jackson in the show in latter episodes, his most perfect imitation has got to be Turbo.
Gagman Park Myung Soo most famous impression in Xman is his “shouting.” No matter when or where, he would always be talking or rather “shouting.” Although it would give one a bad impression initially, it gradually grew into something that was special and created this special character which found a niche on the program and became indispensable.
With regards to Haha and Park Myung Soo, being able to perform on Xman can be considered to be one of their turning points in their career It can be said that the popularity of the program and their impressive performances in it, has a direct impact on them getting out of the doldrums and ushering their career them into an all-new popularity period.
Korea’s No.1 variety show MC – Yoo Jae Suk
Yoo Jae Suk besides having a reputation in Korea as the No.1 Variety show MC, is also known for being the host for many other programs. But the only program which is able to showcase his own personality and style belongs to Xman. Through this program, you can see how witty he is with words, his lively reactions and his ability to control the enviroment. Especially when the program is hurtling towards a cold scene or when guests are met with an awkward situation, he is always able to come up with something to dispel all forms of awkwardness immediately, his ability is not to be look down upon.
Alternative “X Romance”
Couple-related variety shows in Korea always seems to use romance as a topic and use it in the program effectively by making it seem it does or it does not exist. Of course, to some, it might seem fake and frivolous, but you can’t deny that seeing young handsome guys and pretty girls playing games based on romance is kind of an attraction that pulls people in to watch. Although Xman’s main focus is not on romance, but the segments “Of Course” and “Couple Selection” has undoubtedly led to many pink romance moments being created and leaving an impression on those who have watched it.
Xman Everlasting Couple – Kim Jong Kook & Yoon Eun Hye
When you mention Xman, you cannot not talk about Kim Jong Kook & Yoon Eun Hye, the two of them have indirectly become a symbol of Xman. Because of their immense good chemistry in the program, they could even have a scandal about them being published in the entertainment section of newspapers, this was very rare in Korea. Especially in the “Of Course” segment, they have inadvertently created so many classic moments, whether its the jealous attack involving Eric in Xman #24 or Jong Kook cupping the ears of Eun Hye after an attack by Lee Min Ki in Xman #40, it really made the whole atmosphere sizzling hot.
It was a pity that following Eun Hye’s departure after Xman #44, those classic moments never ever appeared again.
Turning something that doesn’t exist into reality – Lee Sung Jin & BADA
This was a really extreme alternative couple that existed in the program. Under normal circumstances, the pink romance that flows between guy and girl celebrities doesn’t exist at all in these two persons. What does exist is anger and grievances in abundance. On one side, you have BADA who keeps on quoting examples stating that Lee Sung Jin has an infatuation on her, on the other side, you have Lee Sung Jin who keeps on denying using exaggerated replies and gestures and keeps on insisting, “Noooooo~” Coupled that with occasional remarks from celebrities & MCs standing and watching, it really made for an interesting part of the program.
Surprise Couple – Park Myung Soo & Lee Soo Young
On one hand, you have a guy who has no luck with women in Xman, on the other, you have a queen of ballads who is widely famous in Korea. Under normal situation during recording of the program, this demure soft-spoken queen would have absolutely no relation with the founder of “shouting.” But just in this program, Lee Soo Young totally went through a transformation and started to create laughter with madcap antics, especially during the couple selection in Xman, she incredulously said, “Myung Soo oppa…” and choose him to be her partner which made everyone present in the studio shocked! After Lee Soo Young left Xman, it was back to square one for Myung Soo who failed to have any luck with any female celebrities again, so the few times he was coupled with her came to be very precious to him.
Only the strong will survive in “Of Course” segment
“Of Course” (known as Dangyunhaji) segment is one of Xman’s most significant segments with a simple format. Two persons from each team will face off, no matter what question you are asked, you must answer “Of Course” in order for the game to progress on, otherwise you would face defeat. During the game, in order to beat their opponent, many celebrities would often resort to using “insults’ which were earth-shaking or funny to make their opponent feel ridiculous and give up in disgust. In the process of this, many strong people were born from this segment because of their wit!
Queen of Dangyunhaji 1st Generation – Lee Ji Hyun
Lee Ji Hyun appeared in earlier episodes of Xman as a permanent cast. Her appearance which made her look tiny plus her big eyes saw her being classified as a beauty you want to protect, but her devastating power attacks in “Of Course” would always leave anyone who dares to take on her reeling. Her wits which is amply shown through her words always manages to come out perfectly. Some appearance attacks especially towards female celebrities might make them feel very sensitive, but to her, she doesn’t mind it one bit and always answers “Of Course” in return with a smile and follows up with a killer attack. But probably because of her overly strong potent attacks in “Of Course” segment, she is not a very popular selection during couple selection time.
Queen of Dangyunhaji 2nd Generation – Lee Soo Young
Lee Soo Young is widely acknowledged as the second generation Queen of Dangyunhaji by many in Xman. Although her appearances in Xman are very limited, but her unique attack style in “Of Course” segment has become a topic of discussion and always leaves a long-lasting effect on her opponents. Lee Soo Young loves to use a long-winded narrative attack and would always talk in a gentle, warming tone, and then starts to preach to her opponent. Her opponent would probably forget about how to attack her back after listening to her soothing tone and long-winded attack, and so her win is often guaranteed in this way.
Square-faced princess – Park Kyung Lim
Park Kyung Lim is often referred to as the square-faced princess of Korea entertainment world because of her square face and unique husky voice. As the permanent MC of Xman, she has been on the program for quite some time and her style of not minding anyone with regards to her image has bought her recognition. She often taste defeat in “Of Course” segment and also ends up on the losing end when using “Romance” style but this also made her famous in a way. As long as there is a pretty boy who gets picked to face up against her, she would try all means and use words to create a romance with him. Although her hope always gets crushed all the time, but her courage is really commendable.
Eagle-eyed boy – Lee Jong Soo
He is someone who you will remember from “Of Course” segment for his goose-bumps inducing words, actor Lee Jong Soo. His attack style especially against female celebrities would always see him staring at them intently with his burning eyes and then saying mushy words to such an extreme that no one, absolutely no one can be left standing still. He would always create romances with female opponents and his attacks are so potent that even Xman’s self-proclaimed casanova, Haha also acknowledges his power. Thus, he is one not to be trifled with.
Strongest Group Battle, Two Sparkling Legends
Because the number of guests on Xman normally numbered about 14 people, so it was decided that groups could appear on the show as one entity. Most of the times when groups appear on the show, they already have good rapport with each other, so they are able to perform even better during games and without inhibition, and sometimes, unusual scoops would be revealed in the process. Thus, episodes that feature groups are very popular with audiences. In the history of Xman, there are three specials that feature such a combination, two Shinhwa specials and one DBSK special. As two of Korea’s most popular groups, you can only imagine how exciting that episode was with them in it.
God of Variety Shows – Shinhwa
Shinhwa is undoubtedly one of the guests that variety shows love to invite them on, the six of them each possess unique characteristics when they create laughter on shows and their rapport is really impressive, so much so that watching programs with them in it is really a joy. No matter whether it’s “Of Course” segment attack, individual performances, or face-offs during games, or comedy skits, the two Shinhwa specials have left Xman with indelible impressions and memories and not forgetting topics of interest. Many of their “Of Course” battles can be ranked among the best of the best Xman memorable scenes. And if you have time and re-watch their episodes again, even if you have watched it carefully before, you would still burst out laughing. That is the magic and charisma of Shinhwa.
Refreshing delight – Dong Bang Shin Ki
Because of various reasons, when DBSK appear on variety shows, no matter themselves or other guests, they would have some apprehension and hold back. But when faced against their own DBSK mates, these inhibitions would be gone with the wind. This is also why the DBSK special is one of the classic episodes of all-time. Looking at the Dong Bang boys going up against each other in the “Of Course” segment without any inhibitions and airing their “dirty laundry” out, using each other bad habits as attacks, and their all-out spirit while playing games, it’s really a joy seeing them like this.
Galaxy of Stars, Not one dull moment
In the three years in which Xman was shown, the number of guests invited onto the show is countless, many would either just appear for one episode or several episode, but some of these guests appearances on Xman and their performances have really left an indelible impression behind and created many topics of interest for the program.
Dancing Machine – Jang Woo Hyuk
Besides bringing to Xman his god-like dances, he also bought to Xman his Jang-style of comedy gags. You would be hard-pressed to imagine that the person who was just performing a suave dance routine a second earlier, would suddenly take off the shoes off his feet for what? You really can’t fathom or understand because the very next second, he would be already rolling on the floor laughing.
Cricket brother – TABLO
Because of his body physique and adorable looks, he is always referred to as a brother of crickets, TABLO. He has always been a “victim” especially in the group horse game. This game requires one team to be horses and let the other team ride on their backs, thus you need to have a strong back to withstand it. So on the contrary, with regards to TABLO small build, it would be really tough on TABLO and the worst thing of all is, he always picks on Kang Ho Dong as his rival and when you see Ho Dong just riding on TABLO alone, the result would be TABLO crumbling to the ground in one instance.
Miss Shin – Shin Jung Hwan
He is known as a famous gagman in Korea and has been known to be a hardworking person playing the role of “best supporting actor” in any programs that he is on. It’s the same for him in Xman, of course at times, he would be transformed into the main role, for example who can forget the battle with Shinhwa memeber, Kim Dong Wan over the “CDs incident”. That topic can be ranked as one of the top 3 classic “Of Course” battles of all-time.
Stiff Beauty – Lee Jin
FIN.K.L member Lee Jin was also part of Xman permanent cast for quite a long time. One of the most memorable things she did in the program was using her stiff body to perform dances which came to be known as “Stiff Dances” and really became so famous that her stiff charisma came to be adored by audiences.
“Evil” cinderella – Kim Hee Chul
Because of his effeminate appearance, Hee Chul is often called the cinderella of Super Junior. As a newbie when he first debuted on Xman, he was a force to be reckoned with especially in the “Of Course” segment where he emerged victorious in three consecutive battles, showing that he had a great brain plus wit despite his appearance telling us otherwise.
Eccentric Boy – Kim Hyun Joong
This boy from SS501 has nicknames like “No.1 most Daring boy, World No.1 eccentric boy” and yet is the leader of pretty boy group SS501. Although his appearances on Xman aren’t many, but he did live up to his nickname of being eccentric and left an indelible impression on many people who watched the episodes he was in.
White Jade Beauty – Nam Sang Mi
Even though she was only a newbie actress when she first joined Xman, but as an actress appearing on Xman, her number of appearances was quite substantial for someone like her. Her nickname as white jade beauty also became better known around Korea because of Xman.
Lady General – Hwang Bo
The most outstanding characteristic of Hwang Bo is her outgoing personality and voice. Although frequently referred to as a man in Xman and made her rather depressed, but during the actual games, she never lets down her guard and will always give her all, showing everyone what girl power is all about.
(original article @ http://yule.sohu.com/20070417/n249498258.shtml)