~ blogging my fangirl-ness

I can read hangul, understand basic phrase, can catch up easy and common dialogue, and obviously: can use online dictionary, lol. That’s it. People say it’s learning by doing, so here I am… Feel free to correct my translation work. This is my own practice ground, so take everything with huge grain of salt. Lol. Thanks~

[EDITORIAL/TRANS] What Does a Real Variety Show’s Writer Do?

Written by: Lee Myung Han (tvN PD, former PD of KBS2 Happy Sunday “1 Night 2 Days”) via Daum

One of the question that have been asked by many since I directed KBS2 real variety show “1N2D” is, “What does a real variety show’s writer do?”. KBS “1N2D”, MBC “Infinity Challenge”, and SBS “Running Man” are the current variety show trends. These shows have reality as their core, therefore questions have sparked since people feel it doesn’t need a script-writing.


In fact, there is no detailed script or situational scenario manuscript in real variety shows. It must not be like that. “Scripted” usually comes to mind when we’re talking about “writer”, thus there’s not much jobs for “script-writer” and the role of a real variety show’s writer sparked curiosity.

Of course, a real variety show’s writer write a script. However, even for an opening and ending scene’s script, it only contains a general explanation for the game rules and limited objective information (T/N: I think it’s the information regarding the venue, some facts, etc). Also, the key for a real variety show is interesting “situation”, and script-writer predicted and prepared for any kind of result in their minds, but it is not scripted. While doing the filming, the casts’ skill to run the program also felt like a “booby traps” (T/N: A booby trap is a device designed to harm or surprise a person, unknowingly triggered by the presence or actions of the victim) with unknown result.

Therefore, I used the analogy of football or baseball coach to answer this question. PD takes role of a coach while the writer takes a role of head coach.

Both football team’s coach and head coach exist to be in charge of operational details. Real variety show PD and writer’s roles are also similar. PD has the big picture and determine the important flow, while the writer does a location hunting and public relation such as casting-related stuffs, including detailed schedule management.

While the coach is called the “masters” and being treated as football team’s iconic presence, the head coach does all the hard works out of people’s sight.  Similarly, PD of a show has a courtesy as a captain, but the writer is dedicated to behind-the-scene jobs.

In 2002 World Cup legendary semifinal, Coach Guus Hiddink was undoubtedly merited with first-class title, but we couldn’t have achieved it if not for Head Coach Pim Verbeek’s good performance.  When Kang Hodong received his Entertainment Award Daesang, Lee Woojung mentioned the ball’s viscosity (T/N: Direct translation, I also don’t get it) as a good analogy in her acceptance award.

The writer manages the content of the show as well as the casts’ “emotion”. Contacting casts regarding filming days priority is also a writer’s job. The casts must be in the optimum condition because it’ll also reflect to the show. The “raw expression” from the casts is the key element of variety show because they help the show to look natural and candid.

Thorough this process, the writer has to trust and feel comfortable with both the casts and the PD. If the writer finds something not easy to explain, PD takes the job to confide it to the casts. Hence, the PD delightfully acts as a communication bridge to the casts.

Finding an interesting part of the show is also their roles. Editing is PD’s unique area, and the writer gives advice about which moments that will bring more laughter.  “1N2D” hit persona like “Heodang Lee Seunggi” and “Choding Eun Jiwon” were indeed created during the filming. However, in this case, it’s not the writer’s role to find an interesting point and maximize it.

By doing so, without the variety show’s writer presence, an absolute piece might not be able to achieve. Thus it means, a question like “there’s no such thing as screenplay, so what does a writer do?” is very rude.

For me, I’ve had good head-coaches up until now.  I’ve worked together with Lee Woojung writer in “1N2D” and “Qualifications of Men”. Since my first experience in KBS2 “Blind Date — War of the Roses” (2002), and up until now I’m in charge of CP (executive producer) for tvN “The Romance”  and writer for tvN “Reply 1997”, I’ve experienced a strong ten years as a head coach.

Ten years have passed, and in this short period I’ve experienced many things, yet I don’t remember any conflict. I only have a guilty feeling. I’ve always left the team first every time I worked together with Lee Woojung writer. Together planning to create and direct “War of the Roses” then left for another show, and even if I directed as CP for “1N2D”, I also left the front line. Again, I also left KBS post and turn to CJ E&M.

With my own feet, I’ve been taking every single step for new challenges. But what can I do if I don’t have Lee Woojung writer as a head coach? To have a strong head coach I can put my trust on, I’m such a blessed PD.


  • This is an old article, but I found it to be interesting. 
  • I got help from online dictionary and translator to do this and I add few words and such to make the sentences more comprehensible. Feel free to correct my translation and/or grammatical mistake.

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This entry was posted on August 26, 2012 by in Editorial/Review, Trans and tagged , , .




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