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Broadcasters warm up for World Cup with entertainment shows

South Korean soccer icon Park Ji-sung on MBC's
South Korean soccer icon Park Ji-sung on MBC's "Docu-Flex" (MBC)

With FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 kicking off Nov. 20, local broadcasters and cable channels are flooding the air with soccer-themed talk shows and variety shows to gin up interest in soccer's biggest competition.

The first was terrestrial broadcaster MBC, which premiered the educational talk show “Top Teacher,” a program in which experts are invited to lecture on their fields of expertise, on Nov. 9.

The first episode featured the renowned sports commentator Park Moon-sung who introduced the history of soccer in Korea, from the era of Cha Bum-kun, the first Korean to play in Germany’s Bundesliga, to Tottenham Hotspur star and Premier League Golden Boot winner Son Heung-min.

MBC is following this up with a special three-part edition of its Saturday night documentary series "Docu-Flex," titled “On the Day When Our Real World Cup Started.”

The first part of the special edition on Nov. 12 presented the memories of the 2002 South Korean men’s national team and their head coach Guus Hiddink. The second and third parts are set to air Nov. 19 and Nov. 26.

The broadcaster announced that the two remaining episodes will present how local TV stars remember the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup, and how MBC covered it.

From left: Former South Korean men's national football team players Koo Ja-cheol, Lee Chung-yong and Ki Sung-yeung in KBS' talk show
From left: Former South Korean men's national football team players Koo Ja-cheol, Lee Chung-yong and Ki Sung-yeung in KBS' talk show "Koo Ja-cheol, My World Cup." (KBS)

KBS has cast three former national team midfielders -- Koo Ja-cheol, Ki Sung-yeung and Lee Chung-yong -- in a talk show whose title translates as “Koo Ja-cheol, My World Cup.” The first episode aired Tuesday afternoon.

In the two-part talk show, the ex-internationals share their experiences of playing in the last three World Cups, both on and off the field.

Local broadcaster SBS is set to present a special episode of its hit sports show “Shooting Stars,” featuring South Korean soccer icon Park Ji-sung, and Portugal great Luis Figo, who played in FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan.

In the upcoming episode of “Shooting Stars,” a sports variety show that brings together female celebrities from different fields -- comedians, actors, models, former national sports team members and foreign TV celebrities -- for a soccer tournament, will feature the cast playing team of Portuguese amateur soccer players.

“Shooting Stars” airs at 9 p.m. on Wednesdays on SBS. The show is also be available on local streaming service Wavve.

Screenshot image shows former Portugal midfielder Luis Figo in SBS'
Screenshot image shows former Portugal midfielder Luis Figo in SBS' "Shooting Stars." (SBS YouTube channel)

Meanwhile, cable channel tvN will launch a new program, “Kick the Number,” on Friday. The variety show invites former South Korea players Lee Eul-yong, Park Joo-ho and Lee Keun-ho and passionate soccer fans -- singer Kim Jong-kook, rapper DinDin, Fabien Corbineau, a France-born TV celebrity in Korea, and more, to compete on various soccer-themed missions.

Poster image of
Poster image of "Kick the Number" (tvN)

The three episodes of “Kick the Number” will be released at 12:30 a.m. on three consecutive Fridays, starting Nov. 18, on tvN.

The upcoming episode of JTBC’s hit program “The Gentlemen’s League 2,” a program in which star athletes form an amateur soccer club, features the players’ trip to Qatar.

The cast will visit Al Bayt Stadium where the opening match of this year's World Cup will be held, and play an exhibition match with a local amateur team.

“The Gentlemen’s League 2” airs at 7:30 p.m. on Sundays on JTBC. It is also available on streaming platforms Tving and Netflix.



By Lee Si-jin (sj_lee@heraldcorp.com)
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