Rating the Running Man International Specials


It's about that time of the year when Running Man starts to plan around for their international episodes, which have always been a joy to tune into every year. But the question that I'm asking in today's Running Mondays column is: which international special is the best? They're all obviously very high in production value and quality, and selecting "the best" one would be difficult, but that's what I'm here to do today.

I'm basing these ratings from my own personal opinion, because that's what people online love to do. I'll be using three main points to come to a conclusion: a) the rewatchability of the episode, b) how well crafted the overall missions are, and c) how well the episode showcases the country's culture, people and experience.

I'm also only using the major international episodes, so episode 200 in Indonesia and episode 212 in Taiwan aren't used because they hardly featured much of the country.

#6 Macau (Ep 133)

Rewatchability: 5/10
Overall missions: 7/10
Sights and Culture: 7/10

From the moment they got off the plane and headed off to Fisherman's Wharf, Running Man was in full gear to invade Macau. The missions were good; looking for the two special guests, Lee Dong-wook and Han Hye-jin around Fisherman's Wharf, jumping off the Macau Tower and even the final tug of rope game in front of St Paul's Cathedral sufficiently showing off the beauty of Macau. 

Still, this episode didn't impress as much as the others in this list because, to be perfectly honest, there isn't really much to do around Macau. Plus, they didn't go for any eating missions, which would undoubtedly have been a highlight. 

#5 Vietnam (Ep 134 & 136)

Rewatchability: 7/10
Overall missions: 6/10
Sights and Culture: 6/10

Vietnam was a delight to be in because of the sheer number of Running Man fans it had. But it was because of the volume of the fans that filming became difficult. 

Running Man were ultimately unable to truly experience the full range of sights or even to discover much of the culture in Vietnam. The food missions, while showcasing some of Vietnam's delicacies, didn't really allow for the members to interact with the locals on the street as much as the other episodes did. 

Still, the episodes themselves were entertaining thanks to the Running Man members and both nametag ripping games, which had a higher dose of excitement and adrenaline to them. 

#4 Australia (Ep 188, 189 & 191)

Rewatchability: 7/10
Overall missions: 6/10
Sights and Culture: 8/10

From the waters of Tangalooma Bay to the Currumbin Animal Sanctuary, and into the heart of Melbourne's CBD, with the snug cafes with their macaroons and coffees, and the little side streets of Melbourne featured very prominently, and the dusty plains of Sovereign Hill, Running Man invaded the land Down Under with much gusto.

They weren't given a lot of time to get used to their surroundings before they were thrown headfirst into an Aussie adventure on land, air and sea. Still, with so much to see and do, the episode lacked a certain kind of quality to it, with the overall missions coming up short.

It could be due to the weather and the overwhelming amount of fans; factors of which almost halted production. Still, the Australia episodes are a great example of the camaraderie between the Running Man members, which is one of the best reasons to watch them actually.

#3 Beijing (Ep 61 & 62)

Rewatchability: 7/10
Overall missions: 8/10
Sights and Culture: 8/10

Kung fu masters, oddly delicious looking Chinese tidbits, and a whole lot of running on the longest Wonder of the World really gave this episode an international edge. 

The guests weren't laidback either, with the feisty Kang Ji-young (formerly from KARA), and actors, the "cute hyung" Kim Joo-hyuk and the stunning Lee Yeon-hee rounding off a nice pairing. 

From Beihai Park to halfway across the Great Wall of China and into a "bandit city" which invoked memories of the Chinese kung fu flicks, the Beijing episode was a solid effort on an international stage.

#2 Thailand (Ep 50 & 51)

Rewatchability: 8/10
Overall missions: 8/10
Sights and Culture: 9/10

It's not easy to be able to capture the beauty and culture of a country by simply doing missions, but somehow, through visiting tourist spots like Khaosan Road, Tha Chang and the Pattaya Floating Market, Running Man was able to showcase the beauty, culture and delicious food of Thailand through their various missions. 

They were also given free reign to run around and interact with the locals and the tourists as well, without being too bogged down by fans surrounding them. With Prince of Thailand Nickhun in tow, as well as an intriguing 2nd half mission, this episode had Thailand written all over it. 

#1 Hong Kong (Ep 72 & 73)

Rewatchability: 9/10

Overall missions: 8/10
Sights and Culture: 9/10

There's something about Hong Kong which really drew me into the episode. A quaint little country which is both traditional and modern at the same time. 

And to make it even better, the amazingly fun bunch of Running Man members and the guests, Running Man stalwart Jung Yong-hwa and the amazingly competitive Lee Min-jung traversing through the cinematographic streets of Hong Kong on a mission given by Jackie Chan himself makes it all the more sweeter. 

From the beautiful view of The Peak and overlooking Victoria Harbour, to the majestic sights of Ngong Ping Village and the frightful journey up using cable cars with glass floors, the Hong Kong special is what an international special should really be like. 

Plus, there's this picture of HaHa scaring the locals at a park. What more could this episode ask for?

Do you agree with the ratings, or do you have another placement in mind? Where do you think this year's Running Man international special will be? Leave a comment below!


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