de Size15FeetJames, Janeiro 14, 2024

Hello everyone!

Have you ever watched a variety/tv show and thought things such as: 

‘Wow, this person is so funny, I can’t believe they were an athlete before they did variety shows, they have a natural born talent to be on TV!’ 

‘Was this person really an athlete? They’ve been on variety shows for years!’ 

‘Imagine if they never became famous through sports, there’s a chance they would have never been discovered.’ 

Well, today, this article will try and explore (briefly) the pattern of the transformation from athletehood to entertainism (yes, these are not technically words, but hey, I’m trying to make this fun ^^). I will give my thoughts on these subheadings: Why do athletes switch to becoming an entertainer/variety show star, how athletes seem so charismatic (like a natural-born entertainer!), why I love the different dynamic of past athletes on variety shows, alongside some examples of people who were former athletes who now bless our screens with entertainment.

I know this is not just an occurrence in South Korea. However, this article will be focusing on Korean athletes who have become entertainers. Depending on the popularity of this article, another version can be made with a focus on a different country. 

Please note: entertainer and variety show star will be used interchangeably in this article.

Why athletes switch to being an entertainer

(in regards to a physical-based variety show)

I think former athletes are always willing to be physical, even if they no longer possess the quality of being a world-class athlete in their respective field. Athletes want to spread their energy in a positive way. I think this willingness gives them a good note in the industry as people who are willing to almost ‘sacrifice their bodies for entertainment’ (perhaps to not the fullest extent, but I hope you understand my point here).

People who have been brought up as athletes also have strong traits such as resilience, determination, and teamwork, which again are three traits needed for work in the entertainment industry. In a way, being an athlete and being an entertainer are not too different. Both include hard work (of course being an athlete is more physical), both include long bouts of work (training as an athlete can take the whole day, as too can filming for a variety/TV show), and both are perfected through trial and error (an athlete does not use their first attempt as their shot for gold, and a variety/TV show rarely uses their first take in the final edit).

(in regards to a non-physical tv show)

Sometimes, through being an athlete, especially through more popular sports such as football, baseball, and taekwondo for example. fame comes along with success. Famous athletes can gain a huge cult following through their sporting achievements that, once they've done all they need to in the sports world, they can use to transition to the entertainment world. This is not just a phenomenon in South Korea. I personally live in the UK and I can instantly think of countless celebrities who came from the sporting world before they made their debut as an entertainer. 

Also, my two cents here but I feel that perhaps athletes might find the entertainment world quite an easy thing to do if they are popular already. They can brush off their nerves (treat it like a game), confidently talk to a crowd (which most athletes do in a press conference), and be themselves.

The natural charisma of athletes

Athletes have a charisma that is quite unique. Of course, everyone has a different level of charisma, and some are more interesting than others, but I’d say there are a few personality traits that the majority of athletes hold, which are great to watch on screen. Examples: Confidence, innocence, and bizarre humour (well, once you see the examples further along in this article, you will see why I’ve noted these traits down).

Why I love the different dynamics of past athletes on variety shows

I love the raw, natural competitiveness that comes out of athletes on variety shows. It helps the show feel more tense in times of battle, even when they are not battling! For example, whenever I watch an athlete talk about something on a variety show that is building up to a later competition or game, I can see the determination in their eyes to beat their opponent. It’s almost as if they treat it as their ‘Box Office’ hype! 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I know non-athlete entertainers can hype up their ‘competitions’, but their body language and tone usually includes over-the-top humour (isn’t a bad thing by the way) whereas an athlete's mind focuses on the game in the future. That’s why I think the best combination is actually to have a mix of comedians and athletes in a variety show, it makes any competition fun and competitive, tense and funny, silly and serious. 

Examples of former athletes who made the switch

Kang Ho Dong

Seo Jang Hoon

Hyun Joo Yup

Moon Kyung Eun

Seo Ji Suk

Shin Sung Rok

Whilst the latter two are better known for their dramas and their athletic careers ended early, they have still had a huge impact on variety shows (well, for me, at least - otherwise I wouldn't be including them). 

You can easily see what variety shows these example athletes are all in by clicking on their name (it will send you to their MDL profile). 

I hope you have enjoyed reading the article. Please let me know your thoughts! 

Edited by: devitto (1st editor)

korean variety shows athletes