'Yuri was almost a mum to me': Lee Kwang-soo on Girls' Generation star in their new Disney+ variety show The Zone: Survival Mission

Kwon Yuri at The Zone: Survival Mission press conference in Seoul.
PHOTO: Disney+

(SEOUL) — South Korean comedian Lee Kwang-soo and Girls' Generation Kwon Yuri were paired up romantically on Running Man years ago but it seems the two are meant for another type of intimacy.

The two, as well as "the nation's emcee" Yoo Jae-seok, are in the new Disney+ variety show The Zone: Survival Mission. In each of the eight episodes, they have to survive four hours in an impossibly difficult situation.

In one episode, they have to complete a task inside a half-constructed building while evading traps that drench them in water in freezing winter temperatures. In another, they have to escape from raving Joseon zombies.

At the show's press conference held in Seoul today (Sept 6), which AsiaOne attended physically, the three stars were asked who they think "suffered" the most during filming.

Kwang-soo, 37, said it was Yuri and explained: "Yuri was almost a mum to me. She really took care of me and I didn't give up because of her."

Jae-seok, 50, added there were many times when he and Kwang-soo wanted to quit the missions. However, in order to do that, all three of them must be in agreement and Yuri didn't want to.

The 32-year-old also said about her experience on the show: "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)."

"Oh she's fierce. She's really strong," Kwang-soo deadpanned.

Jae-seok at The Zone press conference. PHOTO: Disney+

Added Jae-seok: "Yuri smacks Kwang-soo on the back of his head. I was surprised but I was really happy."

"Someone has to keep it going," Yuri said. "They are fragile guys. They are quite similar and they watch out for each other. Someone has to keep it together."

"She's saying she has to be strong because the two of us are weak," Jae-seok quipped.

'A bit below average among humans'

Showrunner Cho Hyo-jin, who's worked with Jae-seok and Kwang-soo for Running Man, said in the press conference that his inspiration for The Zone: Survival Mission came from the current Covid-19 pandemic as it made him realise those who survive are the strongest and it's all matter of endurance and perseverance.

"These three (Jae-seok, Kwang-soo and Yuri) are not super humans and they are a bit below average among humans. They are a bit lacking and the opposite of superheroes. We wanted to make the show relatable, fun and entertaining," Hyo-jin said.

From left: Jae-seok, Yuri, Kwang-soo, Cho Hyo-jin, Kim Dong-jin. PHOTO: Disney+

Jae-seok added: "We had to persevere for four hours and the intensity was cranked up. We were surprised by the intensity. Four hours felt very long and we didn't have a break in between. Some people think surviving four hours is easy but the producers won't make things easy for us."

The Zone: Survival Mission debuts on Disney+ on Sept 8 and three episodes will be released that day.

ALSO READ: Lee Kwang-soo on his final episode in Running Man: Thank you for running with me for 11 years

kwokkarpeng@asiaone.com