The Adventure Squad: Son Doong Cave is Korea’s first travel program to explore a cave dating back three million years. Let’s hear the stories behind the scenes from the well-traveled producers Hwang Da-won and Jeon Min-young, renowned for their expertise in crafting "extreme variety shows."
Korea’s First Cave Adventure Variety Show
Q. How did you come to visit Son Doong Cave?
Producer Hwang Da-won: I've always had a passion for explorations and jungles, so naturally, I ended up producing such shows. After completing my last project, I felt burned out and had no desire to go anywhere. While resting at home, I stumbled upon Son Doong Cave and felt an overwhelming urge to explore it.
Producer Jeon Min-young: One day at work, I was tasked with a cave show. Obviously, I thought it would take place in Korea. But after talking to Da-won, I realized we were heading to the world's largest cave in Vietnam. I was even more surprised to learn that it required special permission and had a visitor limit. (Laugh)
Q. What challenges did you face while preparing for the shoot?
Producer Hwang Da-won: Access to Son Doong Cave is not permitted to everyone. You have to obtain permission via email in advance. Only those who passed a detailed screening process regarding health, exercise routines, and medications can enter the cave.
Producer Jeon Min-young: We even had to submit a photo of ourselves exercising. I was a bit stumped because I'm not a fan of working out. Thankfully, I had a photo from a recent hike to Chiaksan Mountain, so I submitted that and barely passed the screening.
Producer Hwang Da-won: In Korea, no cave poses life-threatening dangers, so when we decided to explore Son Doong Cave, the staff were quite anxious about the cave and the wellness of the cast.
Producer Jeon Min-young: Given the challenging nature of the Son Doong Cave, it's tough even for those in their thirties, so we were concerned for Coach Park Hang-seo, the oldest member of our team. Yet, at 64, his determination and endurance were remarkable.
The Shooting was as Challenging as the Preparation
Q. The preparation must have been difficult. Was the filming process just as challenging?
Producer Hwang Da-won: On the bus ride to the cave, our phones lost all signal. Unlike other places where you get some signals from time to time, there was absolutely none.
Producer Jeon Min-young: I didn't mind not being able to contact anyone personally, but it was tough not being able to coordinate with the crew about their locations and the footage they captured.
Producer Hwang Da-won: Because we couldn't communicate, we relied on notes left by the advance team detailing what they had filmed — a method that was unexpectedly humorous.
Producer Jeon Min-young: You might expect the bus heading to the cave would drop you right at the entrance, but there was a limit to where the bus could travel, so we ended up disembarking in the middle of an unpaved road. It took us about four to five hours of trekking along that path to reach the cave. For me, the jungle trek was actually more difficult than the cave exploration.
Producer Hwang Da-won: We were concerned that the cast might become too exhausted to talk due to the heat and fatigue, expecting them to be less talkative. However, they never stopped talking and joking. Their continuous chatter that didn't even give a chance for the audio equipment to rest brought smiles to the production staff as well.
Overcoming Hardships Through Teamwork
Q. The cast seemed to have great chemistry; how was it with the staff?
Producer Jeon Min-young: Entry to Son Doong Cave is limited to 1,000 visitors annually, so our team, including the staff, was capped at ten. Normally, such restrictions would lead to a shoot cancellation. However, our comprehensive and meticulous site survey paid off, as we were familiar with the key areas, allowing us to carry on with the shooting. And as a result, it solidified our teamwork even more.
Producer Hwang Da-won: Our team was incredible. People took on multiple roles; the lighting director would handle the camera, and the camera director would cover for the grip. Not only the staff, but the cast also lent a hand and helped out. The challenges we faced bonded us and showcased our exceptional teamwork. (Laugh)
Producer Jeon Min-young: Da-won, don't you have another episode to share?
Producer Hwang Da-won: Inside the cave is a natural underground pool where we all swam. After swimming, I realized my luggage hadn't arrived, leaving me without a change of clothes. When I was in trouble, Ahn Jung-hwan generously offered me a shirt, which I've treasured even after the program ended.
Why Son Doong Cave despite everything?
Q. Any final message for the viewers who are curious about Son Doong Cave?
Producer Jeon Min-young: Cave might evoke images of dark, confined spaces, but Son Doong is different. It has a collapsed ceiling forming a circular hole that lets in light, creating an indoor jungle with vibrant green grass and blooming flowers among the rocks. This unique landscape is unforgettable.
Producer Hwang Da-won: I've traveled extensively, yet I've never encountered a landscape like Son Doong Cave. It presents nature untouched by humanity, reminiscent of the era when dinosaurs roamed. The plants there are shrouded in mystery, grander than what can be captured on camera. For those who are intrigued by exploration, I truly recommend visiting.
The Adventure Squad: Son Doong Cave is Korea's first program to explore Son Doong Cave, and it brings the grandeur of nature through jungle trekking and mythical cave exploration. We hope it captures your heart!
※BEHIND TALK was produced based on CJ ENM YouTube channel's More and More Fun.
※Some photos and images used in this content were taken from tvn_joy's Instagram and X (formerly Twitter).
Leading entertainment company CJ ENM revealed today two additional mega-scale performances that will be unveiled at 2023 MAMA AWARDS, World’s No.1 K-POP Awards being held at Tokyo Dome from November 28 to 29. Fans around the world can anticipate incredible performances full of positive vibes from (G)I-DLE and SEVENTEEN.
In addition to the previously announced MAMA AWARDS MEGA STAGE by JEON SOMI, (G)I-DLE is set to perform another MEGA STAGE, an unparalleled stage showcasing the essence of K-POP performance. JEON SOMI the trendsetting female solo artist will put together a mega-scale Tecktonik performance with a huge dance crew at Chapter 1, the first night of the ceremony, and (G)I-DLE, who had a blast this year with “Queencard,” will take the stage the following night, at Chapter 2. (G)I-DLE and their dancers will showcase their performance segment “This is I-DLE”, which they crafted exclusively for 2023 MAMA AWARDS, to spread their message of self-esteem and the one and only “I”.
SEVENTEEN who reached new milestones with their album sales this year also teased for their performance. Known for their enthusiasm and exceptional performances, SEVENTEEN and their massive dance crew will transform the stage into a festival with mega-scale renditions of “God of Music” and “Super”. As a team that spreads a message of hope and happiness through music, SEVENTEEN will unite fans and all the “I” across the globe together at 2023 MAMA AWARDS with their segment “The Feast in SEVENTEENTH HEAVEN”. Their performance will be fully revealed on the second night.
2023 MAMA AWARDS representative remarked, “These mega-scale stages will be stunning performances that visualize the notion of a boundless ‘I’ with infinite possibilities and each artist’s originality. It will be a time for the global K-POP fans to unite with artists of notable presence and positive energy through music.”
An industry-leading awards show with a 24-year legacy, 2023 MAMA AWARDS will be held at Tokyo Dome from November 28 to 29 with SAMSUNG Galaxy as the title sponsor. The ceremony will be live-streamed globally on various platforms, including CJ ENM’s TV channels Mnet and tvN SHOW, as well as the official YouTube channels of Mnet K-POP, Mnet TV, KCON official, and M2.
Recently, variety shows starring ordinary people have been gaining significant attention. Variety shows such as EXchange, The Wedding War, and I Am SOLO have been winning over audiences with their fresh and unfiltered portrayal of ordinary people. Ordinary people who are refreshing, genuine, and cost-effective. When did TV shows start taking an interest in ordinary people? Let’s hear what pop columnist Kim Tae-hoon and culture critic Kim Heon-sik have to say about the popularity of these shows.
You Quiz on the Block turns the stories of ordinary people into content
In the past, it was not common for ordinary people to appear on television. Starting in the 1980s, viewers began sending their home videos to TV stations for indirect appearances on television, and candid camera shows targeting ordinary people enjoyed a period of popularity. Entering the 1990s, ordinary people began appearing directly on television through public-interest variety shows. Over time, they featured in different formats like observational reality shows. A prominent trend was the emergence of matchmaking reality shows, where ordinary people were placed in restricted, often intimate settings like islands or secluded houses.
Among these, talk shows featuring ordinary people as main guests have secured consistent popularity. You Quiz on the Block began by capturing spontaneous conversations with people on the streets, delivering authenticity and a sense of being on the scene. It remains popular thanks to the unexpected humor and touching stories from various guests. The presence of naturally entertaining ordinary people adds a distinct and enjoyable flavor to the show.
EXchange garnered widespread viewer empathy by focusing on honest emotions
Why are the formats featuring ordinary people so popular? The popularity of these formats stems from the viewer's desire for natural laughter and fresh content.
Reality shows with ordinary people cater to this need, with "EXchange" being a prime example. This reality dating show that reunites ex-couples to re-examine past relationships and seek new ones, launched in 2021 and aired through season two, has garnered attention domestically and internationally and won the Best Variety Program at the 1st Blue Dragon Series Awards. Breaking away from the typical format of highlighting their lack of relationship experience, EXchange introduces a unique concept by bringing former couples together, creating a dynamic tension and showcasing the genuine emotions found in everyday relationships.
The remarkable success of EXchange is rooted in its authenticity. Celebrity dating shows often seem staged and lack long-term relationship viability, making them hard to be reliable. As a result, the questionable authenticity of these shows diminishes their appeal and makes them less relatable to viewers. In contrast, dating shows featuring ordinary people delve into the genuine psychological and emotional evolution of the participants, creating a more authentic connection with viewers. Additionally, viewers typically resonate more with the romantic dynamics of individuals from their own cultural environment, contributing to EXchange's heightened popularity in regions like Asia and the Arab world, where English is not the primary language.
The Wedding War Opened Up New Horizons in K-Survival Shows with Its Unique Format
Survival shows featuring ordinary people competing intensely for prize money have also become a trending topic. While the Anglosphere has traditionally dominated this genre, Korean survival shows have been relatively weak due to being stuck in the morality and ethics framework. However, with the expansion of the OTT market, Korean survival shows are now beginning to explore various strategies to tap into the global market.
Physical 100, a representative K-survival show, received a positive response for emphasizing the challenges and achievements of ordinary people, moving away from the traditional focus on winning. Likewise, The Wedding War, where real-life couples engaged in an extreme survival competition to win 290 million won for their wedding, received praise for pushing the boundaries of survival programs by blending elements of survival and romance.
The Rise of Ordinary People in Variety Shows! What's the Next Step?
The development of cameras and video platforms has blurred the boundaries between celebrities and non-celebrities. As appearing on television has become more accessible, we are seeing more ordinary people on variety shows due to the relatively low barriers to entry. This is because the candid and friendly appearances of fresh new faces, as well as the unexpected emotions and laughter, served as a great draw for viewers.
As the viewers welcome the appearance of ordinary people, an environment where talented ordinary people can freely showcase their abilities on air should be prepared to better incorporate this trend into variety shows. However, with the rising moral and ethical standards, ordinary people are also being held to a high moral standard according to social conventions, and a level of vigilance is needed for some participants who may be motivated by publicity rather than authenticity. Furthermore, we must explore entertainment formats that promote positive impact, such as environmental awareness, charitable donations, and volunteerism. This would align with the interests of “Generation Alpha” (those born after 2010), who are interested in environmental issues and ESG.
Given the proliferation of cameras, the diversity of platforms, and the ever-growing demand for authenticity among viewers, we can anticipate that the participation of regular individuals in variety shows will remain a strong and enduring trend for the foreseeable future. Consequently, the responsibility of content production companies and creators is becoming increasingly important, and we hope to see more programs that can resonate with diverse generations and cultures.
※BEHIND TALK was created based on Con Ssul Ting from CJ ENM's YouTube channel.
Leading entertainment company CJ ENM announced today another special stage segment, EXCLUSIVE STAGE, for the upcoming World’s No.1 K-POP Awards 2023 MAMA AWARDS. The EXCLUSIVE STAGE will have the stars of Mnet’s dance survival program ‘STREET WOMAN FIGHTER 2’ perform with Dynamicduo for an exceptional collaboration.
The stage will start off with Kirsten, the leader of JAM REPUBLIC, who will pass on a message of dream and encouragement to the crews of ‘STREET WOMAN FIGHTER 2’ including 1MILLION, BEBE, Deep N DAP, LADYBOUNCE, MANNEQUEEN, WoLF’Lo, and TSUBAKILL, who will perform alongside Dynamicduo and deliver the show’s mission track ‘Smoke,’ originally sung by Dynamicduo and Lee Young Ji.
In 2021, MAMA AWARDS garnered passionate responses for the collaboration stage of Lee Hyori, the host of the year, and the dance crews of ‘STREET WOMAN FIGHTER’ season 1. This year’s ceremony will feature yet another unparalleled collaboration with the members of season 2.
Dynamicduo expressed their excitement for the performance “As we’re teaming up with the iconic dancers of the year, we will make sure to deliver a performance that everyone can truly enjoy.”
As the pioneering awards ceremony boasting a 24-year legacy, this year’s MAMA AWARDS will be filled with special stage segments, including the previously announced MAMA AWARDS THEME STAGE, MAMA AWARDS MEGA STAGE, MAMA AWARDS SUPER STAGE, and MAMA AWARDS WONDER STAGE, along with new additions EXCLUSIVE STAGE and CINEMATIC STAGE. 2023 MAMA AWARDS is taking over Tokyo Dome from November 28 to 29 with the title sponsor SAMSUNG Galaxy. The event will be live-streamed globally on various platforms, including CJ ENM’s TV channels Mnet and tvN SHOW, as well as the official YouTube channels of Mnet K-POP, Mnet TV, KCON official, and M2.
Leading entertainment company CJ ENM revealed today the impressive lineup of presenters for World’s No.1 K-POP awards 2023 MAMA AWARDS. The ceremony will bring Korean celebrities who excelled in their respective fields this year as well as a top-tier Japanese actor.
Every year, MAMA AWARDS has invited figures with global prominence as presenters at the ceremony. The presenters of this year are Ko Min-si, Kim So-hyun, Roh Yoon-seo, Ralral, Ryu Seung-ryong, Park Gyu-young, Park Eun-bin, Byeon Woo-seok, Aoki Munetaka, Ahn Jae-hong, Uhm Jung-hwa, Yoo Yeon-seok, Yun Sung-bin, Lee Jun-hyuk, Lee Jun-ho, Lee Je-hoon, Jung Kyung-ho, Jung Chan-sung, Joo Hyun-young, Cha Seung-won, Choi Soo-young, and Hwang Min-hyun (in Korean alphabetical order). Exceptional figures from this year’s Korean entertainment, including renowned actors, versatile entertainers, up-and-coming talents, and even globally competing athletes are set to join the special two-night ceremony at Tokyo Dome. The ceremony will not only bring together the most outstanding musical acts, but also the biggest celebrities of K-content in 2023.
Sharing her excitement for joining MAMA AWARDS for the first time this year, Park Eun-bin said “I am delighted to participate as a presenter at the 2023 MAMA AWARDS, which will be a scene of festivities for the leading artists and global fans of K-POP. As a huge fan, I am beyond excited to see all the performances that will be unveiled at this year’s ceremony.” Cha Seung-won, who is ready for his third year of MAMA AWARDS said, “I am very much looking forward to the legendary performances this year’s MAMA AWARDS will present.”
2023 MAMA AWARDS previously announced the performing artist lineup, hosts, and a sneak peek into the four iconic scenes, building excitement for the upcoming ceremony. As World’s No.1 K-POP awards that has spearheaded the industry for 24 years, the upcoming 2023 MAMA AWARDS will be held in Tokyo Dome from November 28 to 29 and will be live-streamed globally on various platforms, including CJ ENM’s music channel Mnet and its official YouTube channels Mnet K-POP, Mnet TV, M2, and KCON official.
Leading entertainment company CJ ENM conveyed its aspirations for the World’s No.1 K-POP Awards ‘2023 MAMA AWARDS’ today at the ‘2023 MAMA AWARDS Media Day’ held in Seoul. The production team for this year and the host JEON SOMI attended the event to share their excitement for the upcoming ceremony. Also, additional performing artists and iconic scenes global fans can expect were revealed today, signaling a kickstart of this year’s awards.
The 24-year legacy of the pioneering awards ceremony MAMA AWARDS will reach another milestone as they continue the global expansion of K-POP this year. Park Chan-uk, General Manager, Mnet, said “While we’ve had our trials and errors, we firmly believed in the potential of K-POP’s globalization and dedicated our efforts to work as the bridge connecting and spreading K-POP across the globe. We wish to remain the awards ceremony that represents K-POP, and we will continue to evolve in every aspect, closely listening to the voices of the industry. Please join us as we strive for MAMA AWARDS’ continued evolution.”
2023 MAMA AWARDS will be centered around the concept of “ONE I BORN” which symbolizes “I” and “MAMA AWARDS” connected into “ONE” through positive energy. The hosts of this year, Park Bo-gum and JEON SOMI, were the pair who helped introduce the rebranding of the awards with their vibrant energy at 2022 MAMA AWARDS. JEON SOMI remarked, “As someone who has loved music since childhood, MAMA AWARDS is truly a dream stage for me. On the first night of the ceremony, I will deliver the message and value of MAMA AWARDS while showing my unique charms as a host, charged with positive energy.”
More music acts will take to the stage in addition to the previously announced 18 artists. Dynamic Duo, JUST B, Lee Young Ji, Monika, and TREASURE who have had an outstanding year in Korean entertainment, will be performing. Also, Yoshiki, the leader of Japan’s legendary band X-JAPAN, will be joining the lineup as the global artist. Along with the star-studded lineup, the iconic scenes of this year were also announced to be presented in four different segments: MAMA AWARDS THEME STAGE, MAMA AWARDS MEGA STAGE, MAMA AWARDS SUPER STAGE, and MAMA AWARDS WONDER STAGE.
- A collaborative performance centered around the theme of the year, MAMA AWARDS THEME STAGE will have members of leading Gen-Z artists ZEROBASEONE, LE SSERAFIM, TREASURE, and Lee Young Ji on stage to present an intertwined crossover of rap, dance, violin, and hip-hop to portray the message of the multicolored “I” to open up the special night of K-POP.
- An unparalleled stage showcasing the essence of K-POP performance, MAMA AWARDS MEGA STAGE will be presented by JEON SOMI and a large crew of dancers who will put together a mega-scale Tecktonik performance.
- MAMA AWARDS SUPER STAGE, a MAMA AWARDS-exclusive stage with a solid lineup and unique concept, will bring MINNIE of (G)I-DLE, HUH YUNJIN of LE SSERAFIM, XIAOTING of Kep1er, and dancers Bada and Monika from the <Street Woman Fighter> series to the stage.
- Lastly, MAMA AWARDS WONDER STAGE, which will depict the true value of ‘Music Makes ONE’ by pushing the boundaries of genres and generations, will be a special rendition of the classic ‘Endless Rain’ jointly created by the legendary Japanese artist Yoshiki and Korean artists.
As the awards show that always completes the year with incomparable production scale and iconic scenes, MAMA AWARDS will present a wide spectrum of performances this year, ranging from those that express “I” with infinite possibilities and artists’ unique identities to interactive segments that unite people through K-POP. Brought together by the title sponsor SAMSUNG Galaxy, 2023 MAMA AWARDS is taking over Tokyo Dome from November 28 to 29 and will be live-streamed globally on various platforms, including CJ ENM’s music channel Mnet and its official YouTube channels Mnet K-POP, Mnet TV, M2, and KCON official.
Leading entertainment company CJ ENM announced today that it has entered into MOU with the Saudi Arabian content company Manga Productions to commit to a content business partnership.
The two companies will join forces to co-produce and distribute content across all areas of media and entertainment including animation, TV series, films, webtoons, infrastructure, and more. The partnership also aims to mutually enhance talents and human resources.
Manga Productions focuses on the production and distribution of animations and games. It has recently co-produced films with Japan’s top animation studio, expanding its portfolio of collaborations with various partners in Asia.
Dr. Essam Bukhary, CEO of Manga Productions, commented on the partnership, saying "It would enable the two creative forces to merge and offer exceptional entertainment content to audiences worldwide. The partnership would be an essential opportunity to reach Korean audiences with rich Saudi content for the first time through CJ ENM and introduce Korean creative contents to Arab world.
Koo Chang-gun, CEO of CJ ENM, remarked “Through this partnership with Manga Productions, the leading content company of the Middle East, CJ ENM aims to accelerate its embark into the Middle Eastern market and spearhead the expansion of K-culture within the Middle East. By combining the expertise of both parties, we will produce content that appeals to a global audience and advance our cultural partnership with Saudi Arabia.”
Meanwhile, CJ ENM has previously signed MOU with the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture in June 2022 to strengthen the cultural ties. Collaborative efforts between the two countries have expanded to encompass films, music, concerts, and various fields of entertainment. CJ ENM has also successfully hosted the World’s No.1 K-culture festival KCON in Saudi Arabia for two consecutive years since its launch in 2022.
Leading entertainment company CJ ENM revealed the hosts of World’s No.1 K-POP Awards 2023 MAMA AWARDS. This year’s ceremony, being held at Tokyo Dome on November 28 and 29, will be hosted by actor Park Bo-gum and singer JEON SOMI. The two stars are returning to MAMA AWARDS, marking their second consecutive year together as hosts.
Singer JEON SOMI, a trendsetting solo artist, added colors to 2022 MAMA AWARDS with her vibrance, which also marked her hosting debut. JEON SOMI will be the host of the opening night, Chapter 1, where she will present her signature positive energy and encourage global fans to connect with one another at 2023 MAMA AWARDS.
Actor Park Bo-gum, who first started hosting MAMA AWARDS in 2017, is returning again to guide Chapter 2, the second night of the ceremony. A figure who has been alongside MAMA AWARDS throughout its legacy, Park Bo-gum will showcase once more his talents and positive influence as a host at K-POP’s biggest night.
MAMA AWARDS wraps up every year in K-POP with its unmatched production and iconic performances. The star-studded performing artist lineup and hosts will fill this year’s ceremony with entertainment and positive vibes once again. The show is brought together by the title sponsor SAMSUNG Galaxy, and it will be live-streamed on various global platforms, including CJ ENM’s music channel Mnet and its official YouTube channels Mnet K-POP, Mnet TV, M2 and KCON official. More information will follow in the coming weeks.
TVING, Korea’s leading streaming platform launched by CJ ENM, announced key changes to the streaming service aimed to enhance user convenience and diversify options. By optimizing the service for the best streaming experience, TVING continues to solidify its footing as the leading K-content platform.
The major upgrades and changes are as follows.
First, TVING is introducing new subscription plans so that users can have more options to choose from to better match their viewing habits.
- For the first time for a Korean OTT platform, TVING is introducing an ad-plan subscription priced ￦5,500/month, that will be available in the 1Q of 2024
- The platform is also offering FREE access to its 29 live channels (that includes major Korean channels like tvN and JTBC) to all TVING users, including those who haven’t subscribed to paid plans, starting December 1
- For the first time since the service launched as an independent corporation in 2020, TVING is increasing its subscription prices for new and existing users - detailed in the appendix of this release
TVING is also upgrading its platform features to enhance user convenience for the best content viewing experience, taking effect on December 1.
- A new download feature is introduced so that users can watch content offline
- All subscription plans will allow users to add up to 4 profiles
- The basic subscription plan will be available on TV devices as well
A TVING representative remarked “Through the expansion of new business models and upgrades in the subscription plans, TVING aims to build its unique competitiveness that matches the standard of the increasingly fierce global OTT market, and firmly establish itself as the No. 1 streaming service in Korea.”
TVING appointed Choi Ju-hui as its CEO in June and has since been focusing on growth strategies by strengthening its platform service.
TVING has an extensive library of original and exclusive content counting up to 6,000 episodes, as well as 160,000 works of films, series and documentaries. The streaming platform plans to maintain its competitiveness with an unparalleled content portfolio of large-scale series spanning diverse genres, unique variety shows and documentaries, and sports libraries in 2024.
Leading entertainment company CJ ENM announced today the second round of performers who will take the stage for the 2023 MAMA AWARDS, the World’s No.1 K-POP Awards happening on November 28 and 29 at Tokyo Dome.The title sponsor for 2023 MAMA AWARDS is SAMSUNG Galaxy.
The second set of performers revealed are &TEAM, ENHYPEN, Kep1er, STREET WOMAN FIGHTER 2, and TOMORROW X TOGETHER for Day 1, and BOYNEXTDOOR, EL7Z UP, (G)I-DLE, LE SSERAFIM, and SEVENTEEN for Day 2. Adding to the first round of star-studded lineup, the following artists will present iconic performances at this year’s show (in alphabetical order):
MAMA AWARDS is best known for presenting exceptional performances by some of the most beloved music acts every year. Keep an eye out for what this year’s ceremony has in store.
The show will also be live-streamed on various global platforms, including CJ ENM’s music channel Mnet and its official YouTube channels Mnet K-POP, Mnet TV, M2 and KCON official. Stay tuned for more information on 2023 MAMA AWARDS.