Yoo Jae-suk (Hangul: 유재석; or romanized Yu Jae-seok; born on August 14, 1972), is a South Korean comedian and television comedy show host. Nicknamed the "MC of the nation" (국민 MC), a vote by South Korean "netizens" proclaimed him the most popular Korean comedian for five consecutive years beginning (2004-2008). He has hosted several variety television shows in South Korea, including the popular programs Infinite Challenge and Running Man. Nicknamed "The Grasshopper", due to early appearances dressed as a grasshopper, he is now known for his quick wit and appeal across a wide range of demographics. He has established himself as one of Korea's top comedians and TV personalities.
Yoo Jae-suk was born as the eldest child out of three (he has two younger sisters) on August 14, 1972 in Seoul, South Korea. Yoo Jae-suk attended the Seoul Institute of the Arts, but was unable to graduate due to his busy schedule as an up-and-coming comedian.
His television debut was on the KBS Comedian Festival (for college students) in 1991, performing a parody of a commercial with Choi Seung-gyung (Hangul: 최승경). His dancing to a cover of the song "Step by Step" by New Kids on the Block was one of his early memorable moments. In 2002, after nine hard years as a relatively unknown comedian, he hosted a program called Live and Enjoy Together (Dong-guh-dong-lak), thanks to a recommendation by Choi Jin-sil. The program became instantly popular and, since then, Yoo began to host many other variety programs. His potential was fully realized when he co-hosted a program called The Crash of MCs (MC 대격돌 – 공포의 쿵쿵따) with Kang Ho-dong, Lee Hwi-jae and Kim Han-seok.
His first Grand Prize award was for a program called Happy Together Friends. The show's concept was for TV personalities to try and find their school friends (five of them) out of many (false friends) who are sitting behind a desk. The show was intended to bring back nostalgic memories about one's days in school, and the show became very popular. This Grand Prize was especially memorable, not just because it was Yoo's first, but because it was from the broadcasting station where he made his debut.
He hosted the show X-Man, which soon grew to be one of the most popular and most viewed shows in Korea. During that time, he became increasingly popular and many programs began to nickname Yoo as the "MC of the Nation." However, after a few years, the program was canceled due to falling ratings as well as an absence of new and innovative ideas. Yoo went on to host various replacement shows, New X-Man, Old TV (in which guests would re-enact classic TV serials), and Haja! Go! (Let's Do It) for SBS, which were all shortly canceled due to low ratings on Sunday evenings. However, X-Man has found success in international syndication.
Yoo is a part of the cast of the top-rated comedy variety program Infinite Challenge (무한도전), as the host-in-chief since 2005 and together with Jung Hyung-don and Noh Hong-chul, Yoo is being the program's founding members. The program wasn't popular when it first aired and its average ratings were very low (roughly 5 percent). After Kim Tae-ho took a role as new PD, the program underwent several changes both in its concept and the cast. New members added to the cast of Infinite Challenge, such as Park Myung-soo, Haha, and Jeong Jun-ha in 2006. By the time Season 3 aired in 2006, the concept and format of "variety & reality program" became very popular, and Infinite Challenge became the forerunner of many programs that followed with the same or similar format. Since December 2, 2006, the program has received the highest ratings of prime-time lineups for Saturday evening.
Infinite Challenge is seen as Yoo's favorite and best program not only he met his wife, Na Kyung-eun (나경은), during season 2, but with the rising popularity of the show and it's significant effect on the general public, Yoo was able to gain even more popularity. He ended up winning a total of three Grand Prizes (2006, 2007 and 2009) with the program. His love to this program reflected during 1-on-1 talk with fellow co-host, Jung Hyung-don, on "Pause" special (S04E300) that aired on October 20, 2012, as he said "I think my life on television and variety shows will be tied to the fate of Infinite Challenge" and added, "When will we ever get to do another program like this? No matter how hard you try, it's going to be impossible to do another film like this."
Yoo also co-hosts Come to Play (놀러와) with Kim Won-hee and Happy Together Season 3 (해피 투게더 3) with Park Myung-soo, Park Mi-sun and Shin Bong-sun. Yoo hosted these talk shows for a long period of time (both over 5 years), and the ratings have been consistently high throughout his tenure. Although Happy Together continues to this day, Come to Play was cancelled in 2012 due to low ratings after its long tenure. Yoo tries his best to differentiate his hosting styles, both based on who his guests are and on their current situation.
After those replacement shows on SBS, on June 15, 2008, Yoo, along with Lee Hyori, Yoon Jong-shin, Kim Soo-ro, Lee Chun-hee, Kang Dae-sung, Park Ye-jin and Kim Jong-kook (since episode 19) are the hosts and family members of Family Outing (Korean: 패밀리가 떴다), part of SBS's Good Sunday lineup. Since then, Family Outing has become one of the top-rated shows in Korea, consistently achieving the highest ratings at the Sunday mid-afternoon time-slot (especially during the first and second quarters of 2009). However, with various problems and scandals regarding the program, and by the end of 2009 and beginning of 2010, a rumor of Yoo not continuing his contract with Family Outing was raised. By the time of his contract expiration, Family Outing rating wasn't the same as that of early 2009, and Season 1 was brought to an end.
On July 6, 2008, Yoo Jae-suk married MBC announcer Na Kyung-eun (나경은) who has also worked with him on the show Infinite Challenge. Yoo and his wife welcomed their first child, a son, on May 1, 2010.
Since July 11, 2010, he has hosted a variety show called Running Man together with fellow Infinite Challenge member, Haha, and other entertainers such as Ji Suk-jin, Kim Jong-kook, LeeSsang's Gary, Song Ji-hyo, Lee Kwang-soo and Song Joong-ki (who has since left the show as of episode 41 to focus on his acting career). Although the program did not have a good start in rating, it was later known as one of Korea's most popular program having top stars appeared on the show. The program's popularity is not just in Korea, but rising with massive popularity in other countries too as shown in overseas filming & fanmeetings demand.
In 2012, Yoo Jae-suk and fellow host of Infinite Challenge, Noh Hong-chul, appeared in the music video for Psy's hit single "Gangnam Style.". In the video, he was reprising the retro disco dancing character he created for the mock-band "Drooping Snail" in Infinite Challenge's West Coast Highway Music Festival special where Psy also appeared.
In 2013, Yoo Jae-suk appeared in the music video for Psy's follow-up single, "Gentleman", together with other cast members of Infinite Challenge".
On Infinite Challenge
On Infinite Challenge, Yoo Jae-suk is not only the program's host-in-chief where he leads all Infinite Challenge members to reach the goal of each episode, but also contributed to give several creative inputs for the program as seen on "Mudo Style, Beijing Style" and "2012 Introducing Ugly Friend Festival" specials. Due to his leadership presented to this program, a new kind of cult has been created called "Infinite Jae-suk Cult" (Korean: 무한재석교) and he becomes a spiritual leader of this false-religion. The official followers are Ha Ha and No Hongchul (from the episode of Season 3, episode 61), and the official motto is "I shall make you laugh" (내가 너희를 웃기게 하리라).
Also during the New Zealand series, he got caught smuggling pornographic videos during the baggage check, which was hidden by the second host in charge: Park Myung-soo. This sketch was well received by the Korean netizens and Yoo became "Ero Jae-suk." Even now, over seventy episodes later, he still is made fun of for watching pornographic videos which he hadn't watched.
He has been called "Class-president Yoo" (유 반장) for so many episodes of Infinite Challenge, but since "Palace Millionaire" special (Slumdog Millionaire parody, where Infinite Challenge members tour old palaces in Seoul), Yoo has been nicknamed "Delinquent Yoo" (날 유), for having meetings with girls at these palaces back when he was a high school student. This nickname later inspired the creation of Sagging Snail (a duo consisted of Yoo Jae-suk and musician Lee Juck)'s famous song "Apgujeong Nallari" (압구정 날라리), which featured on "2011 West Coast Highway Music Festival" special
His another nicknames has been "An Animal Racer" (짐승 레이서), "A Genius Racer" (천재 레이서), and "Yoomacher" (유 마허), thanks to his excellent driving skills shown during Infinite Challenge Formula One (F1) special.
Contrary to his usual nice and kind character, Yoo Jae-suk's alter ego, "Manager Yoo" (유 부장), during sketch-based "Muhan Company" episodes showing an authoritarian, iron-handed, and highly discipline character toward the staff of his department. Yoo Jae-suk's "Manager Yoo" character itself is quite opposite to the slow-minded, tactless character of "Head of Section Jung" (정 과장) that portrayed by Jeong Jun-ha, who being older than Manager Yoo and entered the company together in the same time, but never get any promotion due the latter's lack of creativity. Manager Yoo's antagonistic nature to Head of Section Jung had been showed up occasionally, especially during "Muhan Company Musical" special
On Family Outing
The vital power of the instant success of Family Outing has been the characters' relationships. Two of the most successful character pairings has been "The Nation's siblings" (국민 남매) with Lee Hyo-ri and "Dumb and Dumber" (덤 앤 더머) with Dae-sung of Big Bang. Yoo has been the driving force of those two character relationships, as program's host-in-chief and regular member of the family.
On Running Man
He is often known as "Yooruce Willis" (유르스 윌리스) or "Grasshopper" in the show. He is considered one of the weaker players even though he is always portrayed as the rival of Kim Jong Kook.
During hide and seek missions, he spent all the time being careless by chatting with the other players leaving his back open or the camera thus announcing his position to the other players. When he bumped into a surprise guest or people suspiciously running away he has the tendencies to just stood there dumbfounded all the time asking "why why why why" instead of chasing them. The biggest drawback is whenever he found a surprise guest who is obviously there to rip off the running man name tags, he could still spent all the time asking the guests why they're there. Anyone who's been playing for as long as he did would have known that surprise guests appeareances, especially at the end for the hide and seek missions are "spy" characters to rip off the running man name tag.
On TV talk shows
As the main host of two talk shows (Come to Play and Happy Together Season 3), Yoo tries to differentiate his hosting (MC-ing) styles. In Come to Play, he focuses more on guests' episodes, rather than his own (This can be violated when his close friends appear on the show). His remarks and reactions flow even if the guest is new on any kind of variety programs, thus makes Come to Play very heartwarming to watch. Happy Together Season 3 is little bit different in a sense that the setting is much more intimate (in a sauna locker room), and Yoo's ad-libs shine brilliantly.
List of present programs
MBC: Infinite Challenge (무한도전) Host (since 2005.04.23)
KBS2: Happy Together Season 3 (해피 투게더 시즌3) Co-Host (since 2007.6.28)
SBS: Good Sunday – Running Man (일요일이 좋다 – 런닝맨) Host (since 2010.7.10)
KBS: I'm A Man Co-Host (since 2014.4.9)
List of former programs
MBC: Yoo Jae-suk & Kim Won-hee's Come to Play (유재석 김원희의 놀러와) Co-Host (2004-2012)
SBS: Good Sunday – Family Outing (일요일이 좋다 – 패밀리가 떴다 2008.6.15 ~ 2010.2.14) Host
SBS: Good Sunday – Miracle Contestant (일요일이 좋다 – 기적의 승부사 2007.11.11 ~ 2008.2.3)
SBS: Good Sunday – Old TV (일요일이 좋다 – 옛날TV, 2007.6.17 ~ 2007.11.04) Host-in-chief
SBS: Good Sunday – Haja Go! (Let's Do It!) (일요일이 좋다 – 하자고! 2007.4.15 ~ 2007.6.10) Host-in-chief
SBS: Yoo Jae-suk's Truth Game (유재석의 진실 게임 2005 ~ 2007) Host
SBS: Real Situation Saturday/Good Sunday – X-Man (실제상황! 토요일/일요일이 좋다 – X맨 2003.11.8 ~ 2006.10.29) Host-in-chief
KBS2: Happy Together Friends (해피 투게더 프렌즈 2005.5.5 ~ 2007.6.21) Co-Host
SBS: Good Sunday – New X-Man (일요일이 좋다 – 뉴 X맨 2006.11.5 ~ 2007.4.8) Host-in-chief
KBS2: Happy Together – Tray Singing Room (Karaoke) (해피 투게더 – 쟁반 노래방 2004 ~ 2005) Co-Host
KBS: Dangerous Invitation (위험한 초대 2003) Co-Host
MBC: ! Exclamation Mark – Read a Book! Book! Book! (!느낌표 – 책!책!책을 읽읍시다!) Co-Host
KBS2: Super TV Enjoy Sunday – Host Big Match (슈퍼TV 일요일은 즐거워 – MC 대격돌) Co-Host
MBC: Achievable Saturday – Star Survival Donggeodongrak (Live and Fun Together) (목표달성 토요일 – 스타 서바이벌 동거동락 2000–2001) Host.
Television stand-up comedian
2001 Open Gag Concert
2002 Jubilee Gag Concert
2002–03 G-Family Gag Concert
2004 Gag Family Concert
2000–01 KBS Great Friends
2005 SBS Banjun Drama
2008 MBC Yi San – cameo
2009 MBC Queen of Housewives – interviewee/new employee of Queens Food (cameo)
1994 Tyranno's Toenail
2008 Bee Movie (Korean dubbing as Barry B. Benson)
2009 White Tuft, the Little Beaver (Korean dubbing as narrator & Owl)
Music video actor
2004 Shinnago (신나고) – "Cause' You're Pretty" (이쁘니까)
2005 Kang Ho-dong's carol album Oh Happy Day – "Look Out the Window"
2009 Future Liger (project group w/ Tiger JK, Tasha) – "Let's Dance"
2012 Sagging Snail (처진 달팽이) - "Room Nallari" (방구석 날라리)
2012 Psy - "Gangnam Style" (강남스타일)
2013 Psy - "Gentleman"
2014 Park Ji Yoon - "Beep"
2000 [KBS] FM Date
2000 [MBC] FM Plus
2000 [MBC] Lee Hwi-jae's Starry Night (K-Pop Quiz)
2001 [MBC] Wishlist Songs Playing at Noon
2003 [MBC] A Date at 2 pm
2005 [MBC] Wishlist Songs Playing at Noon (Nutrition Tonic Talk Show with Kang Ho-dong)
2005 [MBC] Defeat the Boredom
2005 [SBS] Haha's Ten Ten Club
2005 [SBS] All Thanks to You
2006 [MBC] Wishlist Songs Playing at Noon (Nutrition Tonic Talk Show No. 2 with Kang Ho-dong)
2006 [MBC] Park Myung-soo's Fun Fun Radio (Summer Special)
2006 [SBS] Noh Hong-chul's Our Belated Youthful Days
2007 [MBC] Park Myung-soo's Fun Fun Radio (Phone)
2007 [MBC] Park Myung-soo's Fun Fun Radio (The Age of a Big Star)
2007 [MBC] Yoon Jong-shin's A Date at 2 pm (Stalking)
2008 [MBC] Park Myung-soo's A Date at 2 pm (Phone)
2008 [MBC] Park Kyung-lim's Starry Night (Phone)
2009 [SBS] Song Eun-ee, Shin Bong-sun's Dong Go Dong Rak (with Noh Hong-chul)
2006 "All You Need Is Love" – with Infinite Challenge members
2007 "If I Do It or Not" (하나마나송) – with Noh Hong-chul
2007 "Fascination of Samba" (삼바의 매력)- a part of Infinite Challenge Song Festival (강변북로 가요제)
2009 "The Family's Day" (패밀리의 하루) – with Family Outing members
2009 "Let's Dance" – a part of Infinite Challenge Olympic Road Duet Song Festival with Tiger JK, Tasha (올림픽대로 듀엣 가요제)
2011 "Apgujeong Nallari" (압구정 날라리) - a part of Infinite Challenge West Coast Highway Music Festival with Lee Juck
2011 "As I Say" (말하는 대로) - a part of Infinite Challenge West Coast Highway Music Festival with Lee Juck
2012 "Room Nallari" (방구석 날라리) - Sagging Snail (처진달팽이)
2012 "A Seagull suffering from Heat Stroke" (더위 먹은 갈매기) - with Song Euni (송은이), Kim Suk (김숙) (Parody of Noh Hong-chul and RockBrain's "Heat Stroked Seagull")
2013 "Please Don't Go My Girl" - with Yoo Hee-yul(유희열), Kim Jo-Han (김조한)
|1991||Inaugural KBS College Student Gag Competition||Won|
|2000||MBC Drama Awards||Special Award in Television MC||Won|
|Korea Popular Entertainer Awards||Popular Comedian||Won|
|2002||1st KBS Entertainment Awards||Best Television Presenter||Won|
|2003||2nd KBS Entertainment Awards||Top Excellence Award in Television MC||Won|
|3rd MBC Entertainment Awards||Top Excellence Award in Show/Variety||Won|
|2004||SBS Drama Awards||Special Award in Television MC||Won|
|2005||4th KBS Entertainment Awards||Daesang (Grand Prize)†||Won|
|2006||18th Korean Broadcasting Producer Awards||Best Television MC||Won|
|42nd Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Male TV Personality||Won|
|Blue Media||Speech Award||Won|
|6th MBC Entertainment Awards||Daesang (Grand Prize)||Won|
|2007||7th MBC Entertainment Awards||Daesang (Grand Prize) (with Infinite Challenge members)||Won|
|Mobile Entertainment Awards||Best Television MC||Won|
|2008||2nd Mnet 20's Choice Awards||Hot Variety Star||Won|
|2nd SBS Entertainment Awards||Daesang (Grand Prize)||Won|
|1st Nickelodeon Korea Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Comedian||Won|
|2009||21st Korean Broadcasting Producer Awards||Best Television MC||Won|
|9th MBC Entertainment Awards||Daesang (Grand Prize)||Won|
|3rd SBS Entertainment Awards||Daesang (Grand Prize) (with Lee Hyori)||Won|
|Best Teamwork Award (for Family Outing)||Won|
|2nd Nickelodeon Korea Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Comedian||Won|
|2010||9th KBS Entertainment Awards||Best Teamwork Award (for Happy Together 3)||Won|
|10th MBC Entertainment Awards||Daesang (Grand Prize)||Won|
|4th SBS Entertainment Awards||Best 10 Entertainers||Won|
|3rd Nickelodeon Korea Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Comedian||Won|
|2011||11th MBC Entertainment Awards||Top Excellence Award in Show/Variety||Won|
|5th SBS Entertainment Awards||Daesang (Grand Prize)||Won|
|4th Nickelodeon Korea Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Comedian||Won|
|2012||12th MBC Entertainment Awards||PD Award||Won|
|6th SBS Entertainment Awards||Daesang (Grand Prize)||Won|
|Viewers' Favorite TV Personality||Won|
|5th Nickelodeon Korea Kids' Choice Awards||Favorite Comedian||Won|
|2013||49th Baeksang Arts Awards||Daesang (Grand Prize) for TV category||Won|
|6th Nickelodeon Korea Kids Choice Awards||Favorite Comedian||Won|
|KBS Entertainment Awards||Eating Broadcast Award (for Happy Together 3)||Won|
1998 OB Lager Beer
2000 New Century I-Touch 017
2002 Bando Sports
2003 Gold Feel
2007 NeNe Chicken
2007 TG Sambo Computer
2007 TG Sambo Computer – LUON Crystal
2008 Shinhan Group (2nd)
2008 NeNe Chicken (2nd)
2009 NeNe Chicken (3rd)
2009 Shinhan Group (3rd)
2010 ABC Mart
2013 Home & Shopping
2013 Coca-Cola (with other Infinite Challenge members)
2007 S/S SFAA Seoul Collection Lie Sang-bong Fashion Show
2007 10th Super Korea Cup IDSF Youth Open Dance Sports (Amateur) Jive
2008 Participant of Seoul Design Olympic
2008 Aerobic 6-Person National Games Event
2011 Korean Boat Race Event (for Infinite Challenge "Rowing" specials)
2012 "Gangnam Style" by Psy music video with Noh Hong-chul as Elevator man (Infinite Challenge)
2012 Asian Dream Cup (charity football match) with Park Ji-Sung & Friends in Thailand (for Running Man)
2013 "Gentleman" by Psy music video (with other Infinite Challenge members)
2013 Asian Dream Cup (charity football match) with Park Ji-Sung & Friends in China (for Running Man)
2014 Asian Dream Cup (charity football match) with Park Ji-Sung & Friends in Indonesia (for Running Man)