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‘Fake Men’ is back

“Fake Men, season two” (Watcha)
“Fake Men, season two” (Watcha)

After a monthlong break, reality show “Fake Men” returned to local streaming platform Kakao TV on Tuesday at noon with its fifth episode, titled “3000 PT gymnastics ... start of a new training process.”

The second season of “Fake Men” went on hiatus after some of the instructors came under scrutiny over their past. The program was also criticized for excessive violence and near torture of the participants.

The return of the show on local platforms Kakao TV and Watcha was announced Monday. “We will exclusively release a new episode of online entertainment program ‘Fake Men’ starting the 24th,” said Kakao TV. “From the 24th to the 27th, for four days each noon, we will release an episode.”

With the announcement, the first four episodes of the second season -- previously taken down due to the controversy -- were made available on Kakao TV on Monday.

Watcha also announced that “Fake Men” would be shown on the platform, with its episodes becoming available a day after their release on Kakao TV. All episodes from the first season that were taken down from the YouTube channel Physical Gallery can be viewed on Watcha. Also, Watcha will exclusively stream a self-made special episode of “Fake Men” on Saturday called “Fake Men 2: The Making,” showing how the show was planned and made and what the contestants experienced during the harsh training.

“Fake Men” began as a parody of local broadcaster MBC’s entertainment show “Real Men,” which showed celebrities joining the military to experience the training. “Fake Men” brought together YouTube celebrities and put them through intense Navy training.

The success of the first season led to a second season featuring celebrities such as Kim Byung-ji, former goalkeeper of South Korea’s national soccer team, singer Sam Kim and model Julien Kang. But the show took an indefinite break in October after four episodes when controversy emerged over a cast member from the first season, Rhee Keun, as well as current season instructor Logan.

Kim Egg, who manages the YouTube channel Physical Gallery and produced “Fake Men,” announced Oct. 16 that the show would no longer be available on the YouTube channel. All the “Fake Men” videos were taken down.

Meanwhile, the return of “Fake Men” sheds light on the relative ease with which controversial programs and celebrities can rebrand themselves online compared with TV shows. Just as “Fake Men” turned over a new leaf, meokbang (eating show) star Tzuyang returned to streaming on Afreeca TV this month after announcing retirement in August.

Online streamer Actor Jung, who raised issues concerning Logan, and streamer Cham PD, who called out Tzuyang for backdoor advertising, apologized for spreading incorrect information and causing harm, and the controversies were effectively put to rest.

While some TV celebrities have been known to reemerge after scandals, their break time is much longer. Those with serious criminal records are unlikely to return.

This has led to many celebrities who have been barred from television moving on to online streaming, where there are far fewer restrictions. Comedian Shin Jung-hwan, who served time for gambling abroad, and Ma Jae-yoon, who brought about the demise of the popular Starcraft league after he was caught fixing games, have both started YouTube channels.

YouTuber Jin Yong-jin also faced criticism this month when he uploaded a video of people with fraud convictions playing “mafia” together. Many thought the show was in poor taste, and the video was deleted.

Meanwhile, the movie edition of “Fake Men, season two” will be shown in local multiplex CGV on Dec. 9.

By Lim Jang-won (ljw@heraldcorp.com)
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