There is an interesting new game show that premiered last night called Society Game. It’s a game that requires you to use your brain, strength and intuition in order to make it through to the end. There are 22 contestants from all different walks of life, which includes students, athletes, models, doctors, businessmen and etc. They will live together in a hut for 2 weeks and the member that makes it all the way to the end will win a prize sum of 100 million won (~approx. $100,000).
I think the only two contestants I recognized was Comedian Yang Sang Gook and Model Oliver Jang, the latter only because I had briefly seen him on another variety show. However, the other contestants are new to me. They all seem to have impressive resumes, many of them are from top universities, such as Seoul National University, Yonsei University and John Hopkins University. For example, Oliver Jang may be a model but he’s quite the intellect as he studied public health at John Hopkins.
On the first day, the contestants are split between two different societies: Nop Dong (Green Team) and Ma Dong (Red Team). Each society has their own housing facilities and the groups will be isolated from each other at all times, except for the Team Challenge and Eviction ceremony. The structure of their huts are pretty much identical with a Leader’s bedroom, Storage facility, Cooking Area, Jail and Outdoor bunkroom for the other members. However, the fundamental structure of each society is different. Nop Dong is based on a democratic system in which they will vote for a new leader each day.
On the other hand, Ma Dong is based on the totalitarian state with one leader reigning until they are usurped. In order to usurp the current leader, the member must head to the Rebellion Room and ring the gong. If a majority of the members hit the gong within 30 minutes, the current leader is usurped and replaced by the person who initiated the rebellion.
Winning the Team Challenge can bring some benefits as the team may be allowed to bring some of their personal belongings with them to use along with a reward of 1,000,000 won (~approx. $1,000) that the Leader can dispense however they’d like. For the losers, the leader must then choose who to evict from their current members. The winning team’s leader has the option between evicting a current member from their team or not choosing anyone.
Once the members of the two societies are decided, they needed to figure out who the team’s leaders will be. For Nop Dong, the members vote in the Voting Room based on the first 3 members who put their names up for nomination during the nomination period. The first leader to be elected is Pharoh, a rapper.
As for Ma Dong, the selection process was a bit more extreme. The game officials bring out a cup of insects and other creepy crawlies to grind them into one disgusting, protein-filled, insect smoothie. Seriously, I gagged a bit as I’m deathly afraid of bugs. The first person to drink the entire glass automatically becomes the leader. Without hesitation, Lee Hae Sung, a student at Seoul National University, downs the entire glass.
What is even more incredulous is that shortly after Lee Hae Sung becomes the group’s leader, he’s usurped by Yang Sang Gook. Yang Sang Gook has been going around the hut making secret alliances and he succeeds in getting his majority. I can’t believe that Hae Sung drank a bug smoothie only to be usurped a few hours later.
I was quite amused when the two teams discovered that there was an air-conditioner in the Leader’s bedroom. At first, the Leaders thought they could give their team some relief from the heat by allowing them to all gather in that one room but the AC kept turning off. It turns out that if someone beside the leader is in the room, the AC will automatically turn off.
Moving on to the Team Challenge, the two teams must battle each other in a game of chess of sorts. The board has 3 levels in which the members can move forward, to the right or to the left, one space. On the same level, they can move the pieces as much as two spaces in one turn. When the blocks from either team meets on the board, they must add their numbers together to figure out what mini game they will play. Each piece is labeled with a number which represents each member of the team. The object of the game is to find the leader’s number and just getting your piece next to the leader’s piece means that you win.
The mini games are based on their intuition (the ring toss game), brain (math/logic questions) or strength (wrestling game).
It was thrilling to watch MJ Kim, the MMA fighter, go against Jung In Jik, Phys-Ed student, in the wrestling match. The object of the game is to knock down your opponent’s statue which is tethered to their waist. She just proved that just because she’s a female it didn’t mean that she couldn’t take a guy down. I marveled as she used her feet to grab her opponent’s tether to pull his statue down.
As for the main game, I thought it was smart of Yang Sang Gook to strategize that they should try and get all their pieces on the top level because you can challenge the other team between the levels. As Ma Dong positioned all their red pieces on the top level, which included Yang Sang Gook’s own piece, there was now no way for Nop Dong to challenge their leader and it just meant that Ma Dong needed to figure out the piece that represented Nop Dong’s leader.
Ma Dong wins the Team Challenge for the first day and Yang Sang Gook decides to split the money evenly with the rest of his team, even though that means he doesn’t get a share of the money. They also win the opportunity to bring 5kg more of their luggage to their hut. As for Nop Dong, Pharoh decides that Yoon Tae Jin, the announcer, is the first member to be evicted.
I’ll admit that the first episode was incredibly long, clocking in at about 2 hours, but it’s an interesting game show that’s kind of like quiz show meets Survivor. I was surprised to see the members immediately start to make alliances already but I guess that Lord of the Flies mentality is to be expected. For now, I’m intrigued.