TV show still going strong after 20 yearsTwo tourist buses pulled to a stop in front of the Korea Broadcasting Station in Yeouido, Seoul, and swung open their doors. Hordes of excited women streamed out and into the building.
“I skipped a family function so I could be here today,” said one woman, bursting into giggles.
More than 80 women from a kindergarten in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi province, and a women’s volunteer group from Pocheon, Gyeonggi province, were invited to be in the audience for “The Family Game Show,” which airs every Saturday at 6 p.m. on KBS1 Channel 9.
Their love for the show has never lessened, even though the group from Gyeonggi province had signed up for the show two years ago.
“The Family Game Show,” which has been on air for 20 years, features celebrities divided into teams according to gender. The contestants compete in various games such as Speed Quiz, where they race against the clock to guess words that are being acted out by other team members, and Shout from Silence, a game where contestants don earphones, line up and try to communicate a simple phrase to the person at the end, who must repeat it correctly.
The groups of women in the audience sit behind each team and cheer throughout the entire show. Over the course of the show’s history, the women’s team has an 80-percent victory rate over the men. This explains the eagerness of audience members to sit behind the women’s team in order to appear on camera more often.
At a time when entertainment shows in Korea usually last a couple months, “The Family Game Show” has made quite a success at surviving.
Although its guests are usually washed-up celebrities, the game show continues to maintain a rating of 15 percent. That is a relatively large number for shows in this genre. In a testament to its staying power, the show will celebrate its 1,000th show in June.
As the women took their seats at the recording studio, Park Hae-sang, a recreation instructor who has been working at the studio for seven years, shouted, “Ladies! Let’s have some fun today!”
Fifteen minutes before the show, host Huh Cham was calmly lighting up a cigarette. He has hosted the show from the beginning, and usually doesn’t use a script. The show depends heavily on his humor and quick wit.
“If it wasn’t for Mr. Huh, would there have been ‘The Family Game Show’ as we know it?” asks the show’s producer, Nam Hyeon-joo.
Except for one show in 1987, when he was involved in a car accident, the host has never missed his cue.
Sixteen extraordinarily beautiful women have occupied the co-host spot over the years, but Mr. Huh remains the permanent fixture.
With a gleaming smile, the host says he plans on continuing for another 1,000 shows.
So what’s the secret to success? Oh Kyeong-seok, who has worked with Mr. Huh for 20 years writing the show’s script, says simplicity is the game show’s secret.
“We never tried to confuse our viewers by making things complicated,” says the writer. “The purpose of ‘The Family Game Show’ is for the audience to enjoy and have fun without any complications.”
With the passing of time, the show has changed. When the show first went on air, guests were usually prominent figures in society, such as university professors, doctors or lawyers. The entertainment celebrities invited were the biggest of the big stars only.
It was in the late 1980s that the game show started to use comedians and pop singers as guests. Today, various celebrities compete on the game show.
Comedian Kim Hak-rae, a frequent guest on this show, says, “Every time I get invited to the show, I automatically have fun without having to actually try to make people laugh.”
Mr. Kim adds that the excitement and laughter seems to pass on to viewers naturally, and that’s the reason for its 20 years of success.
by Lee Sang-bok