In the past, the difference was clear when the audience thought of “Hangout with Yoo” and “Running Man,” but now it’s not anymore.
Initially, the two programs had distinctly different formats. After the abolition of “Infinite Challenge”, a new collaboration between broadcaster Yoo Jae-seok and producer Kim Tae-ho has created “Hangout with Yoo.” “Hangout with Yoo” was literally a format that meaningfully utilizes Yoo Jae-seok‘s time. The program’s explanation still states that it is “Yoo Jae-seok’s Infinite Universe Story.”
However, many things have changed in “Hangout with Yoo“. First of all, as producer Kim Tae-ho stepped down, producer Park Chang-hoon was put in charge. In addition, there is also a change from Yoo Jae-seok‘s one-person system to the five-member team which Lee Mi-joo, Jung Joon-ha, Haha, and Shin Bong-sun joined. This has completely changed the direction of “Hangout with Yoo“.
At some point, the format about Yoo Jae-seok‘s challenge disappeared, and it became a simple talking program which is not much different from “Running Man” where they also things such as dividing teams and playing games or focusing on each other’s daily stories, centering on Yoo Jae-seok. Furthermore, some point out that their team’s member combination is similar to “Running Man” as well.
This is completely proven by the decline in ratings. According to Nielsen Korea, a ratings research company, on Mar 20th, “Hangout with Yoo” that aired the previous day stood at 6.6% in the Seoul metropolitan area. In terms of households nationwide, it was 6.2%. The figure is low compared to last month’s minimum of 7.3% and maximum of 8.2%.
In addition, the ratings have steadily declined to 7.5% → 7.3% → 6.2% since the 26th of last month (from 8.2% percent). Of course, such low ratings are regrettable compared to the popularity and reputation previously conveyed by “Hangout with Yoo”.
In this regard, a broadcasting official said, “Hangout with Yoo” was a one-person program made by Yoo Jae-seok for Yoo Jae-seok. His sub-character approached as a fun point, and the music entertainment (Refund Expedition, MSG Wannabe) that he showed in the middle was also a concept that eventually started with Yoo Jae-seok’s sub-character,” adding, “But it’s not like that anymore. The members who were put in are also fun, but it is somewhat regrettable that the direction of “Hangout with Yoo” seems to have interfered with the direction Yoo should have gone forward with and Yoo Jae-seok’s ability.”
Chung Deok-hyun, a cultural critic, also expressed the same opinion. He told YTN star, “For a program centered on one man like Yoo Jae-seok, the position of the producer and director is very important. Since Yoo Jae-seok is in a position to present a plan or direction, he will inevitably face similar situations in various programs of his if he goes with what he wants.”
“Producer Kim Tae-ho previously set this point well. There were many experimental things such as sudden situations, but now the audience can’t see that “Hangout with Yoo” anymore. It is not known whether the production team can’t come up with a specific idea or whether it can’t proceed because it’s different from the direction Yoo Jae-seok thinks. The identity of the program has become unclear and his color has disappeared.”
Finally, “The role of the director is very important. It is meaningless to just trendily consume trendy materials. It needs to be viewed from a critical or new perspective and solved satirically or differently. That is the ability of the director, but there are currently no such opinions at all, so the program seems to be trapped in the color of Yoo Jae-seok. I think the director should speak up more.”
In the end, as each episode is broadcasted, articles full of criticism about “Hangout with Yoo” are also pouring out. This is seen as a whip for regret and growth, not a vague criticism of “Hangout with Yoo.”