Even if you’re not a “Running Man” fan, chances are that you’ve still heard of the infamous “Monday Couple.” In the early days of the show, relative newcomer Gary seemed almost in awe of beautiful actress Song Ji Hyo. It was in episode 10 that the two stars were finally alone for the first time. Fans immediately loved their sweet, shy interaction during that episode. Soon, fellow cast member Haha made an observation that they appeared close during filming each Monday. Just a few episodes later, it seemed their friendship was solidified when Song Ji Hyo remarked, “On Mondays, I have a man.”
The historic episode 10:
Ever since that time, fans have been crazy for the so-called “Monday Couple” and look forward to seeing their interactions every week. The question remains though- is the Monday couple a real thing or just an act for the show? Even if they are not dating in real life, do they really have feelings for each other? Let’s check out the facts in “Running Man’s Monday Couple: Fact of Fiction?”
When Gary (37) and Ji Hyo (33) embraced their Monday couple status, it seemed as though things started progressing naturally as with any relationship. It was this touch of authenticity that really made viewers pay attention and buy into the seemingly real relationship. The more Gary appeared to make advances towards Ji Hyo in a shy, awkward way, the more fans the Monday couple gained. Soon, the Monday couple craze fully exploded and grew into what it is today. It has now generated thousands of fan sites, blogs, fan clubs, fan art, fan videos, and much, much more!
At first, Ji Hyo seemed to receive Gary’s advances with laughter and her usual good nature on the show. Even with his comments like, “Is what they call love? When you have it, it’s a burden! Without it, you’re lonely,” Ji Hyo mainly just seemed to find him entertaining. When fans became even more in love with this adorable pair though, their onscreen time as a “couple” began to increase as well. No doubt for the sake of ratings, the producers and staff of the show began to encourage their behavior as well. Even the other cast members began to observe and make jokes about their relationship.
All of this fantasy suddenly came to a screeching halt when it was announced that Ji Hyo was in a relationship with the CEO of her entertainment company. Die-hard fans of the Monday couple became so indignant that they began to criticize Ji Hyo for supposedly betraying Gary. The matter got so out of hand that Gary had to address the situation on his Twitter by saying, “Did we put in too much into our act? I will work harder now, knowing that there are people out there who care about me enough to tell me to be strong, but no need for that anymore!! There’s no reason to cheer me up. There are others who are more in need of cheering. I’m simply having a hard time looking for my ego haha.” When fans still kept trying to comfort him, he addressed them again- “Why do I have to listen to people telling me that they are sorry when they don’t need to be and I don’t need to hear it?” The group of fans who had never believed the Monday couple act hotly defended Song Ji Hyo and reprimanded viewers for taking things in the show too seriously. “They have their own lives,” said one fan of Ji Hyo, “Just deal with it!”
When the next few episodes aired though, it did appear that there was a bit of awkwardness between the pair which prompted many fans to comment on the episodes. “Well, this is awkward,” said one fan. “Poor Gary! This seems so awkward and difficult. I hope he will be okay,” added another.
With time, the two stars seemed to regain their easy friendship and find new footing concerning the relationship between their characters on the show. It wasn’t the Monday couple anymore, but it was still a true friendship which was evident.
After time passed, it seemed as though Ji Hyo’s relationship had come to an end. She stated on a Running Man episode that she was “single.” Around episode 100, we began to see the rise of the Monday couple once more. This time however, things appeared slightly different. Previously, Gary had almost always been the one to initiate things on the show or was the first to bring up the Monday couple. Ji Hyo, on the other hand, primarily laughed it off and just found amusement at the jokes and comments. When the Monday couple’s second generation came about though, it suddenly seemed that Ji Hyo was much more receptive.
With time, the actress began initiating things as well, being the first one to make a Monday couple comment and allowing her easy friendship with Gary to develop even more. With this new (and seemingly more authentic) relationship, the rumors once more began to rise rapidly. It seemed as if fans were primarily divided into two categories- ones who totally believed that the Monday couple was real and others who felt it was an act (but secretly wished they were really dating). Either way, the Monday couple had no shortage of “shippers” when it came to their relationship.
As their relationship progressed, it was easy to notice that Gary and Ji Hyo seemed different than before. The awkwardness was gone and in its place there appeared to be something bordering on genuine affection. Most people will admit that it’s generally difficult to maintain a totally platonic friendship between a man or a woman. It’s not impossible of course, but it is certainly difficult. Usually, at least one of the people involved will start developing feelings for the other. To many fans, it seemed like Gary genuinely had some feelings for Ji Hyo or at least had a crush on her in a star-struck kind of way.
However, the difference in real life is that when a person who is supposed to be in a platonic relationship begins to develop feelings for the other person, it causes a lot of awkwardness. Generally, this results in the friendship being toned down to avoid hurting each other’s feelings and ruining the friendship overall. Even if Gary did have sincere feelings for Ji Hyo at the beginning though, this was one relationship that couldn’t truly be toned down. Whereas most friends would take a step back and start seeing less of each other, Ji Hyo and Gary still saw each other on a weekly basis as coworkers.
Because of this, many fans feel like Ji Hyo was given time to truly fall for Gary and let her feelings progress more naturally as time slipped by. Meanwhile, they believed Gary still harbored feelings for her or, at least, a sentimental crush over what might have been. Whatever the fans believed though, things truly did seem different as their onscreen relationship started moving forward after the 100th episode or so.
Although some fans argued that Ji Hyo was just not as shy as before and was only going along with the act for the sake of the show, other fans who observed her behavior became convinced that she had finally fallen for Gary and that the two were destined to be together. The regular jokes among the other cast members also vamped us as well, and the Monday couple became a keyword for “Running Man.” It appeared that the Monday couple was back and stronger than ever. At one point even, Gary took everyone by surprise when he famously kissed Ji Hyo on her cheek during a special episode.
So, did that mean that it was just an act before, while later it had become real? Fans continued to debate the issue, and rumors spread that the two were secretly dating. Apart from fans though, even other stars were somewhat confused by their relationship. Popular singer Uee asked with genuine curiosity during her stint as a guest, “Are they real?” In a more recent episode, a guest commented about Ji Hyo and Gary’s relationship by saying, “It’s just fascinating to watch them!”
The rest of the cast members seem almost like fans as well, always making jokes and comments such as, “If there are more couple rings left over, you should give it to the Monday couple,” or “After this season is over, you guys are going to get married, huh?” Haha even told them once in exasperation, “… seriously, just get married.” Once when Ji Hyo was holding onto Gary tightly during the finale of an episode, the producer in charge even took notice and called her by name. Always good-natured, Gary said with a smile, “It already feels like we are a married couple.” Their relationship on “Running Man” is so well-known that Gary was even invited to do a cameo for a drama that Ji Hyo was filming.
What makes the Monday couple so believable is their natural chemistry. During early episodes, it was undeniable that Gary had a crush on Song Ji Hyo. When he came face to face with her every week, his innocent and sweet, awkward actions brought a rush of sentimental feelings to viewers since they had almost all experienced the same thing at one point or another in their lives. Somewhere along the way, the producers realized that the Monday couple was pure gold and began to purposefully make situations for them to shine.
Even with the contrived and scripted situations, however, there seemed to be something real and genuine in the actions of our Monday couple. People see it in their looks, their behavior, their natural skinship and even in their conversation. People see it in Gary’s patience and loyalty to Ji Hyo and in Ji Hyo’s smile when she is laughing at his jokes. They even see it in the nervousness that Gary still gets when Ji Hyo is near, especially when doing things like “the Pepero game.” It is this feeling of authenticity that drives the audience to believe in the loveline and leaves them hoping in their heart that the Monday couple is (or at least, one day will be) real.
All of this aside though, the question still remains today. Is the Monday couple real? Has it ever been real? Do Ji Hyo and Gary truly like each other? It may be (to the despair of many fans) that Gary and Ji Hyo just enjoy a natural, comfortable friendship with each other and perhaps that’s all it will ever be.
Throughout the years, we have seen the Monday couple on and off again (or as Gary describes it, “logging in” or “logging out”), but there is no doubt the two have a very close and somewhat unusual relationship. In an interview once, Ji Hyo said she missed Gary who was elsewhere filming. She recently generated interest when she admitted that sometimes Gary felt like an ex-boyfriend. On a “Running Man” episode in the past, she even once said that Gary had asked her to date him for a month for the sake of the show.
In the newest episode of “Running Man” though, pictures were taken of Gary caring for Ji Hyo by gently wiping some whipped cream off her face. While he did so, he asked her, “Are we starting over again?” Fans immediately started commenting online by saying “It seems like they are always starting again” or “In my eyes, they have always been together!” The pair also gained attention when Gary sent a flower wreath to the premiere of Song Ji Hyo’s newest drama. People were quick to notice that staff had placed it next to the wreath sent by the husband of Ji Hyo’s co-star. Gary even once famously said, “Song Ji Hyo herself is beautiful, Song Ji Hyo…she is a flower.”
Netizens are well-known for getting into some pretty heated arguments when it comes to their beliefs though. So what do they say? Let’s take a quick look (most are from YouTube):
-“I really really love Monday couple, but in my opinion Monday couple is not real.”
– “In my opinion, Monday couple is fake. Most Monday couple fans are just Gary’s fans (who want him to have Ji Hyo). “
– “I believe that there are feelings that JiHyo and Gary have for each other. In the end, my thoughts are that Gary and Ji Hyo would probably marry in the near future or would date but sadly… not when ‘Running Man’ is still alive and kicking.”
– “I love Monday couple indeed. I hope they can be an everyday couple, not only on Monday!”
– “I’ve never understand that relationship very well. It’s obvious they sometimes flirt because they want to and not because they are “Running Man’s Monday Couple.” However, it’s still not clear to me if they take that relationship mostly as a joke or if they are taking it more seriously than I think.”
– “All the TV relationships are carried away with by fans. I think people want to fill a void and live through these relationships and put too much hope into the idea of love between them – so when it crashes down – it’s not just Gary and Ji Hyo, but the fantasy and the dreams of love that are ending for these people.”
– “Viewers of ‘Running Man’ are simply being dragged into the fantasies created by the Monday Couple (and staff). Gary and Ji Hyo are not a couple for real!”
In one small article, we can’t possibly sum up a relationship that has been going on for several years, nor cover all the reasons why people think that the Monday couple is real or not. While some avid “Running Man” fans are also hardcore fans of the Monday couple as well, others believe that it’s just part of an act and no different than playing a role in a drama or movie. There are even certain fans out there who believe the Monday couple act has gone too far and is now just a hindrance to both Gary and Song Ji Hyo concerning opportunities in real life for relationships and work.
What does your heart tell you when you think about the Monday couple though? Are they a real couple or is it just wishful thinking? Do you think they have feelings for each other? Do you think we will ever hear an announcement that the beloved pair are dating for real? Cast your vote now, then let us hear from you in the comment section below!
You can watch “Running Man” and the Monday Couple here.
lee1086 is a Soompi writer who lives for music, playing the piano, Super Junior and Eunsihae. She is also a fan of 3rd Wave Music, BIGBANG, EXO and more. When she is not watching the latest K-Drama or obsessing over the perfection of Lee Donghae, she is busy at church or hanging out with her family and friends.
*The views expressed in this article solely reflect those of the author and do not represent Soompi as a whole.