Yoo Jae Suk Talks About His Old And Current TV Shows, His 30-Year Career, And Wanting To Be A Good Father

During the 57th Baeksang Arts Awards, Yoo Jae Suk sat down for an interview with JTBC to look back on his 30-year career and more.

Yoo Jae Suk rarely gives interviews with individual media outlets and rarely appears on TV shows that he doesn’t host as a guest. As the “nation’s MC,” he is often on the other side of interviews, sympathizing with audience members and guests when they share their stories.

When asked about this, he said, “It’s not that I won’t do them, but there are so many media outlets, and if I did one, then I’d have to do them all. It’s not like I can do interviews as a monthly event.” He laughed and added, “It’s definitely not because I hate to do them.” About appearing on other people’s TV shows, he said, “I can’t just go on one or two TV shows. The industry moves on personal connections, but I’d feel apologetic if I only went on specific shows because I have a relationship with those people.”

Although “Infinite Challenge” went on hiatus in 2018, the show continues to be popular among viewers of all ages. Yoo Jae Suk said, “Even when I was doing the show, I thought, ‘Would I ever meet a show like this in my life again?’, and when it ended, I thought, ‘Could I even do another variety show after this?’ It’s been three years since it ended, but it’s an important program that I could never take out of my life. When we started, a higher-up at the broadcasting station said, ‘Let’s go for 10 years.’ At the time, I was like, ‘What?’, but we received so much love.”

About his current TV show “How Do You Play?”, he said, “Me doing something on my own has become the concept and identity of the show, but to be honest, it’s very difficult to continue a TV program entirely on your own. There are limits to the footage and comedy that you can create on your own.” About the show’s latest project group MSG Wannabe achieving a perfect all-kill on the charts, he said, “From the perspective of someone who likes music and listens to it often, there is a lot of cool and sophisticated music out there, but there are times when you think, ‘I want to listen to this kind of music.’ That’s what ‘How Do You Play?’ is trying to do. I’m very grateful for the success, but imagine the emptiness we’d feel if we had invested all that money and put out new music and it disappeared without much public interest. That’s why the production staff and I had to think hard about doing something like that.”

Yoo Jae Suk was asked if he did not fear failure. He replied, “I don’t have a personal fear of failure. I’m not afraid to fail. But the difficult part of failure is that if I fail, there are lots of other people who will struggle as well. It’s not that I didn’t feel fear of failure at first, but as I kept working, it disappeared little by little. I think that going with the flow is the right course of action.”

About his long-running show “Running Man,” he said, “At first, the reaction was, ‘What even is that?’ There was a turning point when there was talk about shutting the show down. At that time, the producing director received a sponsorship offer and we went to Thailand. If the Thailand shoot didn’t result in a turning point for us, the show could have ended there. We decided to give it our best shot, but we were shocked at the airport. There were so many fans at the airport that we couldn’t pass it off as a prank. I even asked Ji Suk Jin, ‘Is there a Hallyu star at the airport with us today?’ We couldn’t imagine that all those people had come to see us. There were a lot of articles about that. We were shocked, the Korean viewers were shocked, and the production staff were shocked as well. We really had no idea that we were that popular.”

Original cast member Lee Kwang Soo recently stepped down from “Running Man” due to a persistent ankle injury. Yoo Jae Suk said, “I think the viewers will feel a big sense of loss. Even as we film, we still talk about Kwang Soo a lot. We can’t fill the space he left all at once. We don’t know if it will be replaced, but we’re going to keep working hard at what we can do right now.”

Yoo Jae Suk also spoke about balancing his work and family life. Yoo Jae Suk married announcer Na Kyung Eun in 2008 and the couple have two children together. “I can’t say that I play with them often, but I try to spend time with my children,” he said. “My daughter, Na Eun, is very affectionate with me. Even my wife is like, ‘I have no idea why she likes you so much. It’s a bit unexpected.’ I also don’t know the reason, but she always wants to be with me. I’ve been told that I always smile when I’m with her.”

Asked if his son, Ji Ho, knew about his father’s fame, he said, “We have similar personalities so he doesn’t really talk about it, but I think that since he goes to school and has friends who talk about it, he knows pretty well. Sometimes he asks, ‘Dad, what’s that about?’ but it’s not really because he’s curious so much as his friends ask about it and he has to answer them.”

In response to whether Ji Ho had hit his rebellious stage yet, he said, “I don’t think it’s quite there yet, but I think that as a fifth-grader, he’s slowly carving out his own space. There’s a lot of online schooling these days, and I’m the type to look often into his room to see how he’s doing, but he keeps closing the door.”

Watch “How Do You Play?” here…

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… and “Running Man” here!

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Top Photo Credit: Xportsnews

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