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The Weekend Binge: "Single's Inferno 2"

In a world where "k-drama magic" paints Korean men and women as ideal romantic partners, the sudden popularity of the 10-episode Korean dating reality show Single's Inferno 2 is a cold splash of fish sauce on every person dreaming of a passionate love story with their perfect oppa or jagiya. Surprise, surprise — your oppa is a wishy washy douche.

The Plot

Six men and six women are brought to an island called "Inferno" in the hopes of finding their one true pair through a series of competitive dating. The goal of each person is to get themselves out of Inferno and on a helicopter ride to "Paradise" with their chosen—or rather, hard-earned—date.

In other words, this is a reality dating show with a lot of hot people and skin on display, but with far less sleaze than its Hollywood counterparts.

Our Review

Nadine perfectly expresses how we feel about Korean Dating Shows.

We stand by what we said. Single's Inferno (both seasons) is a cold and smelly splash of fish sauce on all of our romance-addled faces.

It starts off like any group date: Everyone introduces themselves, chats here and laughs there, and then quietly starts building fences around their ideal mates. Pretty standard dating culture, in our opinion.

First, let's talk about the format of the show, which is really nothing revolutionary. You have celebrity hosts commentating on the every move of the cast members. Hong Jin Kyung (Mama: The Idol, 2021), Lee Da-hee (Island, 2022), Jung Han-hae (The Door: Spinoff, 2023), and Cho Kyu-hyun (Han Mooncheol's Dashcam Review, 2021) are relatively insightful and funny, which helps fill in a lot of the silence in between competitions and events. There are also moments of empathy and melancholy that make the show more relatable and sincere.

More friend groups rather than couples came out of this season.

Now for the main cast members. They are all, of course, attractive men and women. This is the whole basis of Inferno: sizzling hot people burning in frustration because of a failure to communicate. Most of the cast members are considered Micro SNS Celebrities—that is, they have a dedicated following either through Youtube or Instagram. So we think that while these people may have never met in real life, some of them may have recognized each other. The cast is admittedly pretty diverse, with their professions ranging from stockbrokers to military content creators.

However, we did notice that this season's cast members' ideal types seemed to be too skewed, which made two girls and one guy consistently popular throughout the show. This definitely made us feel sympathetic towards the others who consistently got left behind in Inferno. It was quite frustrating to watch.

Will she or won't she come out of the tent?

Which brings us to the main point of this show: The dates and competitions. While all cast members are free to get to know each other in Inferno, a ticket to Paradise often involves either the men or women participating in a beach game (usually in their swim suits) to fight for the opportunity to pick their partner in Paradise. This then leads to the awkward situation of waiting outside the tent to find out whether their chosen date agreed to go with them or not. For those fortunate enough to win games, a chance to spend the night with their chosen partner is guaranteed but for those not bold nor lucky enough, this meant a lonely stay in Inferno. Unfortunately, one cast member never got to go to Paradise as no one picked them.

Male cast members of Single's Inferno competing in highly physical beach games to win a ticket to Paradise with their hard-earned date
For the men, showing off their strength in highly physical beach games gets them a ticket to Paradise with their hard-earned date

Interestingly enough, Single's Inferno does a decent job of giving viewers a taste of Korean dating culture and partner standards. From popular dating games, skinship, and subtle flirtations, viewers will soon realize how confusing it really is to enter the Korean dating field. So when we saw how cast members struggled in their interactions with their ideal partners, we couldn't help but feel frustrated at how subtle and roundabout people were. It's so frustrating, that we just wanted to fast forward... because you know, we were afraid they'd do or say something stupid.

For most of us who got introduced to Korean culture through k-dramas, we might have believed that South Korea is a monolith when it comes to romance. The way the k-drama industry introduces amazingly lovable characters—with the perfect balance of charm, looks, and humanity—make us swoon in envy of the leading characters. K-drama oppas and jagiyas are so believably lovable, that it has affected how we view Korean men and women—painting them as the ideal romantic partner. But watching Single's Inferno definitely gives viewers a dose of reality. Yes, the men are incredibly attractive, but also indecisive and somewhat callous, and the popular girl-next-door is surreal, but also a bit bland and confusing. The point is, without the faces and names of our favorite hallyu celebs, personality traits we found endearing or cute now turn into somewhat frustrating red flags.

So why watch it if it just made us frustrated? Well, we're still watching people who were tying to find someone to love, and that means we had 10 episodes to get invested in their stories and personalities. We found ourselves rooting for certain cast member and cursing others all throughout the season. We even found ourselves getting emotional, like the hosts on the season's finale, when the guy we're rooting for gets the girl! So if you've been drowning in romcoms and oppa supremacy dramas, you may just need a splash of reality like Single's Inferno!

Stream if you want to explore Korean dating culture and standards.

Skip if you want something steamy OR if you don't have patience to watch people fumble through communicating.

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