Running Man gets Singapore twist

SINGAPORE - Don't be alarmed if you witness people hunting down and brutally wrestling each other, with the victor ripping a tag off the loser's shirt.

This isn't some extreme sport. Instead, these folks are merely putting their twist on games they've seen in popular South Korean variety show Running Man, where regular hosts and a changing roster of celebrity guests aim to outwit, outplay and outlast each other in a series of wacky tasks.

The tasks in the "urban action variety" show include Food Bingo, crazy dance-offs, and watermelon-eating relay races.

My Paper found at least five groups of people who have used Running Man - which airs on StarHub and mio TV here - as inspiration for their own quirky set of games.

The Running Man theme found its way into a company bonding event at Deloitte Singapore, for instance. Employees at the auditing firm were psyched to find out that The Running Man Challenge was part of their company's inaugural The Deloitte Sports Break 2013.

Within two days of sending out a mailer, the 100 or so spots for the challenge - held at the Marina Bay area - were snapped up.

Miss Ong Liting, the event's organiser and a senior executive in the Clients and Markets Department, said: "We wanted to organise an Amazing Race challenge, but it's no longer in fashion. As many of our colleagues watch Running Man, we decided to organise this challenge instead."

Mr Josh Goh, assistant director of corporate services at human-resource consultancy The GMP Group, said: "It's always good to be have something current to engage employees. Once (they) are interested in the games, half the battle is won and it makes for a more effective team-building programme."

Running Man games were also part of an event for a group under the People's Association Youth Movement.

Instead of the usual sports activities, organiser Kenneth Wee, 31, who is also chairman of the Paya Lebar Kovan Community Club Youth Executive Committee, went with the Running Man theme, knowing that the show is the in-thing.

He said: "Many of those who signed up are fans of Running Man. I'm a fan, too."

The group had to increase the number of spots from 12 to 18 due to the response to the event, which was held at Gardens by the Bay in May.

But why does the Running Man theme strike such a chord with people?

Professor Chua Beng Huat, the head of the department of sociology at the National University of Singapore, said: "Television shows provide the audience with ways of imagining (a) life that is different from the one they are living."

He added that "audiences have always interpreted what they see onscreen" and have tried to incorporate them into "their own life experiences".

Thus, those like 25-year-old Kayly Loh and her friends enjoy replicating the games. Ms Loh's group had a fun-filled session at a park in Punggol earlier this month.

The Running Man buffs prepared an assortment of food items, like french fries and sotong balls, for Food Bingo - one of the show's more unusual games that was seen on South Korean TV earlier this year.

They even set up boards to ensure their bingo combinations remained hidden from each other. Of course, they also included the signature tag game.

"My friends watch the show and some were excited to finally get the chance to rip a name tag off," said Ms Loh, a marketing manager, who had previously played Running Man games at a friend's bachelerotte party.

Another zealous fan is Ms Aurelia Tan, who decided to make Running Man part of a milestone celebration, her 21st birthday, last month.

The 21-year-old accounting student at a private university said: "My family and I are hooked on Running Man. I've always wanted to play the name-tag game, as it's a trademark of the show."


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