Korean dating reality shows
Many of us are familiar with dating reality shows such as Love Is Blind, Terrace House, and Love Island. These shows are often described as a guilty pleasure – they are generally frowned upon, but somehow they manage to secure a wide audience.
Korean dating reality shows are slightly different as they are not viewed as a guilty pleasure, and the country is a land of lovebirds brimming with cute couples everywhere you go. If you are curious about Korea’s dating culture, these seven dating reality shows on our list will help shed some light.
1. Heart Signal
Image credit: Channel A
With a total of three seasons, Heart Signal is one of the most popular dating reality shows in the country. Heart Signal follows eight participants – four men and four women. They have to live together in a shared space for a month while going on dates and getting to know each other.
These participants come from all walks of life, with occupations ranging from lawyers to chefs, and there’s even a traditional Korean medicine doctor!
Although the participants are allowed to develop feelings for each other, they are not allowed to express their interest directly. Instead, every member gets to anonymously send a message to the person they are interested in.
Also, there is a panel of celebrities and experts who watch these eight members to predict the possible “love lines”.
Season one of Heart Signal aired in 2017, followed by season two in 2018. Season three aired in 2020.
A show titled Friends was produced in 2021, and it featured some of the participants from seasons two and three. Unlike Heart Signal, which mainly focuses on romantic relationships, Friends is about developing both friendships and romantic relationships.
2. Transit Love
Image credit: TVING
Transit Love first aired in June 2021. It’s a reality show where four couples who have broken up come together to look back on their relationship and ultimately find new love. Some participants hope to reunite with their exes, while others are ready to meet someone new.
This show focuses on the inner world of the couples. In order to capture their raw and genuine emotions, the production crew remains hidden and the participants do not know when they are being filmed. This enables a realistic and unfiltered portrayal of the participants.
Lee Jin-joo, the producer of Transit Love, said that casting the eight participants was not easy, and the process took close to five months.
Initially, there were about 100 participants who expressed interest. However, after she revealed what Transit Love is about, there were only two or three participants who stayed till the end. The production team even had to contact and persuade the participants’ ex-partners to join Transit Love.
3. Love Catcher
Image credit: Mnet
Love is complex. Throw in money and the situation gets even more complicated.
In Love Catcher, there are ten participants divided into two groups – “love catchers” and “money catchers”. “Love catchers” are in it to find a partner, while “money catchers” participate to bring home KRW50,000,000 (~USD44,730).
Love Catcher features participants who live together for a month under the same roof, and panelists who offer advice. At the start of the show, participants have to choose whether they want to be a “love catcher” or “money catcher”. This status is kept secret from the rest of the participants throughout the show.
There are rules that all participants must abide by. Firstly, love catchers should strive to avoid money catchers since they can’t be paired up eventually. Secondly, money catchers can only win the prize money if they find a love catcher. When two money catchers are paired, they will be eliminated from the game.
Image credit: Mnet
In Somebody, all the participants are dancers.
The cast of Somebody comprises ten professional dancers who specialise in different genres, such as Korean traditional dance, hip-hop, and ballet. Each dancer has to carry out an individual performance in front of participants of the opposite gender. Participants who show interest in a particular dancer get to choose a song for them to dance to.
The participants even have to film a dance music video as a pair to show off their dance skills and chemistry.
Choi Jung-yoon, the producer of Somebody, said that she tried to cast participants who are the most earnest and dedicated not only in terms of dancing, but also in building a romantic relationship through the show.
There are two seasons: the first season aired from November 2018 to February 2019, while the second season aired from October 2019 to December 2019.
5. Divorced Singles
Image credit: MBN
Divorced Singles is about four divorced men and four divorced women who come together to find love and romance. However, this show goes beyond finding a potential life partner – matched couples will cohabit for a week during the show.
Divorced Singles grapples with an unconventional format as participants get to know each other without revealing their age, background, occupation, and why they got divorced in the first place.
The backgrounds of all eight participants vary, ranging from a divorcee of eight years to a divorcee of one year.
The first episode aired on 11th July 2021, and the participants were given their first mission by the production team. They were divided into two teams, and the first team was tasked to grocery shop while the second team was assigned to cook.
6. Love & Joy
Image credit: WATCHA
Love & Joy features four male and four female participants who come from all walks of life. However, they share one thing in common – they are stuck at the crossroads of friendship and love.
This show attempts to tackle the question, “Can a friendship between a man and a woman be purely platonic?”
Love & Joy is co-organised with YouTube stars Enjoy Couple, a Korean channel with more than two million subscribers. The channel is owned by a comedian couple of eight years, Son-Min-soo and Lim Lala.
Besides co-organising the show, Son Min-soo and Lim Lala also play the role of the host, cupid, and relationship mentor in Love & Joy. Whenever participants face any problems or struggles, Son Min-soo and Lim Lala will listen attentively and give advice.
7. Change Days
Image credit: kakaoTV
Change Days revolves around three couples on the brink of breaking up. Through this show, the six participants share the reasons behind their desire to break up, as well as other concerns they have regarding the relationship.
Besides talking about their relationship troubles and worries, the three couples are also paired with a partner that’s not their current significant other. They get to know each other, go on dates, and even share a room together.
Eventually, the six participants must make a decision to either work on their current relationship or break up and begin a new journey with a different partner.
The first episode of Change Days aired on 18th May 2021, and the show came to a close on 7th September. At the end of season one of Change Days, the production team announced that they will be back with season two.
Despite the controversy surrounding this show, the first episode garnered a wide viewership of more than 1.2 million views within just six hours of its release.
Korean dating reality shows that will give you the butterflies
These seven Korean dating reality shows will tickle your fancy regardless of your relationship status. Who knows, you might learn a thing or two about relationships and apply what you learnt to your dating life!
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- 10 Korean medical dramas
- 11 workplace Korean dramas
Cover image adapted from: Channel A, TVING and Mnet