Number of seasons
Kim Tae-ho (de facto)
First episode date
23 April 2005
Also known as
Infinity ChallengeMuhan Dojeon
Kim Tae-ho (Head dir.)Park Chang-hoonCho Wook-hyungKang Sung-ah
Yoo Jae-sukPark Myeong-suJeong Jun-haHahaHwang KwangheeYang Se-hyung
Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation
PaekSang Arts Award Grand Prize in Television, PaekSang Arts Award for Best TV Entertainment Program
Yoo Jae Suk, Park Myeong‑su, Jeong Jun‑ha, Jeong Hyeong‑don, Haha
Running Man, Same Bed Different Dreams, Strong Heart, Queen of Housewives, The Producers
Infinite Challenge (Hangul: 무한도전; Hanja: 無限挑戰; RR: Muhan Dojeon; abbreviated as 무도 Mudo) is a South Korean television entertainment program, distributed and syndicated by MBC. As of January 2013, it had the largest market share for its timeslot; with between 13 and 17 percent of Korean television viewers watching Infinite Challenge every Saturday night. making it the most-watched free-to-air television program on Saturday evenings, and the most viewed non-drama program in South Korea every week (excluding special sporting events, since November 2006, with the exception of January 2009, April and May 2010). It has kept the same scheduled time, since first airing in 2005. Since 2009, it lasts for roughly 75 minutes, excluding ten minutes of advertising. Episodes are also frequently rerun on several Korean cable broadcasting channels. Since February 19, 2011 (episode 237), the program has been aired in high-definition. Infinite Challenge has been called "the nation's variety show" and "Korea's real first Variety" for having been successful for over ten years.
Infinite Challenge is recognized as the first "Real-Variety" show in Korean television history. The program is largely unscripted and follows a similar format of challenge-based Reality television programs, familiar to some audiences in the West. The challenges are often silly, absurd, or impossible to achieve, so the program takes on the aspect of a satirical comedy variety show rather than a more standard reality or contest program. In earlier episodes, the show's six hosts and staff would continuously proclaim that, in order to achieve its comedic purposes, the program was 3-D: Dirty, Dangerous, and Difficult.
These segments are part of the show but are only featured from time to time.
2008 Host-in-Chief Elections
After a humorous request by Park Myeong-su to have 'a new leader in a new year 2008', all Infinite Challenge members and staff held a vote for a new 'host-in-chief' on December 31, 2007, at the nation's own natural gas field near Ulsan. This episode aired on January 12, 2008.
Major Campaign Pledges
All entertainment managers and co-ordinators cast their vote earlier that day (06:00 AM) at the South gate of the MBC Headquarters, and the members and other staff of the MBC voted the night of the election, after attending a meeting where all candidates stated their pledges. All votes were counted on the morning of New Year's Day (08:00 AM).
Most voters expected Yoo Jae-suk to return as the 'host-in-chief' without much difficulty. However, to everyone's shock, Park Myeong-su was found to have earned the most of the votes. (On-air evidence suggests that Park somehow rigged the vote box, as he attempted and succeeded in destroying the evidence caught on CCTV. Furthermore, the tally after the vote count had only 36 votes, when Yoo Jae-suk had declared that there were 42 votes the previous day.) Therefore, Park Myeong-su was elected as the new host-in-chief. Following an agreement that every candidate agreed to before the election, the new host-in-chief's leadership was to be tested in the next 3 weeks, and if the winner did not show sufficient leadership skills, they were to be recalled and a re-election was to be held. Also as a result of this vote, Noh Hong-chul, the candidate with the fewest votes, was chosen to prepare traditional goods (a grand sum of 200 kg rice from Icheon). He chose the new leader Park Myeong-su to help him with this task.
From July 2009, with Park Myeong-su as president of their club (협회장), the members started training for the long-term WM7 (Wrestling Muhan 7) project, in which they would attempt to stage a professional wrestling show as part of Infinite Challenge. Inviting Son Star (손스타), junior-professional wrestler and the drummer for popular band Cherry Filter, as their coach, the members began learning professional wrestling moves to perform in front of an audience. After numerous injuries (including a concussion suffered by Jeong Hyeong-don), setbacks, and delays, the members finally put on a performance in front of a live audience on August 19, 2010 at Jangchung Gymnasium. The training process itself was broadcast in several half-hour segments within full episodes, except for the last two episodes (which were of the wrestling show itself), from July 3, 2010 to September 11 for a total of 11 episodes. MBC eventually released a DVD edition of this challenge, featuring several unaired segments and stories and the full uncut performance.
Mirroring the 2008 Host-in-Chief election, the Infinite Challenge members and crews held a nationwide election to choose not only a leader of Infinite Challenge for the next 10 years, but to promote the citizen's participation on the upcoming 2014 South Korean local elections.
Major Campaign Pledges
The crews held two internet polls, first based on their preference of members' pledges and then after the first episode of Decision 2014 specials aired (May 3, 2014). About 10,000 people participated on the polls. Yoo Jae-suk won the first internet poll with 29%, but lost it to Noh Hong-chul with 44% of votes on the second poll. The result of the second poll alarmed the rest of members who worried that their personal secrets would be revealed if Noh Hong-chul win the actual election. Haha and Jeong Jun-ha then dropped out their nominations and supported Jeong Hyeong-don instead. Park Myeong-su who was running for blocking Yoo Jae-suk's effort on the election ironically supported his former rival, making the actual election was participated by three candidates only (Jeong Hyeong-don, Yoo Jae-suk, and Noh Hong-chul).
About 50,000 people, including the members of Infinite Challenge, cast their votes on May 22, 2014 on the polling stations at ten major cities on South Korea (Seoul, Incheon, Daejeon, Daegu, Ulsan, Gwangju, Busan, Jeju, Chuncheon, and Jeonju). Another 34,000 people cast their votes earlier on the preliminary voting on May 17–18, 2014. Internet voting also held at the same time of actual poll for the people who not able to cast their votes on the polling stations. 363,047 people participated on the internet voting.
The winner of Infinite Challenge's Decision 2014 is decided by combining the spot polls and the online votes by 50:50 percentage. Yoo Jae-suk won the election by defeating Noh Hong-chul with 45,310 marginal votes or 8.29% of the combined votes.
Infinite Challenge Music Festival
Started from 2007, the first festival was won by Haha "The Story of a Short Kid", the hosts randomly collaborate with real musicians in order to compete for the Infinite Challenge Music Festival that is held every two years.
The title of Season 1 was Reckless Challenge (무모한 도전). Led by Yoo Jae-suk, six or more Korean entertainers (with Noh Hong-chul and Jeong Hyeong-don as a regular members) tried to complete a 'sporting' mission in an outdoor studio, which was based on a viewer's suggestion submitted through the show's homepage. Some of the absurd challenges included racing in a foot-powered swan-shaped paddle boat against a motor boat, playing a tennis match against Maria Sharapova, appearing live on stage at a public fashion show, and playing football against Thierry Henry. A large part of the humor comes from the fact that the cast is generally not well-suited to the challenges they attempt. This program can be compared to the filmed-in-studio Wetten, dass..? of Germany, as the program mainly focuses on the process and progress of the challenges, rather than focusing on the accomplishment of a mission. This format lasted only from April 23, 2005 to October 22, 2005. Despite having a strong following, its average ratings were very low (roughly 5 percent). Due to its sports-related theme, reruns of Season 1 and sports-related episodes of Season 4 (i.e. WM7) episodes are frequently aired on MBC Sportsplus, MBC's satellite and cable network for sports-casting.
Season 2 and 3
From October 29, 2005 to April 30, 2006, Season 2 was titled Excessive Challenge (무리한 도전). For the first few episodes, the program was fairly similar to the first season. However, because the cast members wanted to redefine their characters, they decided to change the whole program concept, calling it Infinite Challenge - Master of Quiz in the third season. Since then, six hosts (with Yoo Jae-suk as 'host-in-chief') played a Korean-letter game called 'Ah-ha' (see below); competed in their knowledge and mental power; participated in on-line popularity polls about specific themes; and explored other comic features. Although the average ratings were low, the unity and dynamics of the members significantly improved. A panelist from Season 1, Park Myeong-su, came back as a co-host, and Haha and Jeong Jun-ha also became co-hosts of the program.
On May 6, 2006, the fourth and current season (format) of the program that now simply known as Infinite Challenge (무한도전), went on air. Special coverage of 2006 World Cup Germany was featured for the entire month of June 2006, along with some 'Ah-ha' specials (with Shinhwa, for example) at the beginning of each episode. However, in July 8, 2006, the program took its memorable first step as the first 'Real-Variety' television program in Korean television history, with the airing of a segment called 'Please, come early': The six members were asked to come to the recording session on time or experience some form of punishment (일찍 와주길 바래, a part of the 'Please, be...' series see below), combining elements of both Reality TV and Variety programming, including comic characters from each of the Infinite Challenge members, see 'hosts'). Thereafter, the program has created challenges with regard to anything related to real life (excluding some critical issues such as politics, religions, and sexual preferences), in outdoor studios, with little use of acting or heavily based plotting. Since December 2, 2006, the program has received the highest ratings of prime-time lineups for Saturday evening.
In January 2012, the program took a 6-month hiatus due to a labor strike conducted by MBC's reporters and producers. During this period, new episodes were not produced and MBC, instead, aired reruns of previous episodes. In November 2015, Muhan Dojeon arranged special exhibition and expo titled "Expo of Muhan Dojeon", in KINTEX. The program took a 7-week hiatus from broadcast in early 2017, which Kim Tae-ho, the main PD, signified as a period to normalize the production process which has been shorten considerably where the production team had less time and always rushed to meet the deadline. The PD also reveals that the program still continues their regular shooting schedules while being off the air.
Numerous Korean celebrities have appeared on the show due to its popularity. Many of the guests have some relationships with the co-hosts of the show, including: