I wouldn’t be lying if I said, “I hate reality TV.” It’s something I absolutely do not gravitate towards. In fact, I’m appalled by the idea altogether, so imagine my plight when I was told I’d be covering Korea’s hottest reality dating show, Single’s Inferno (big emphasis on the “dating” there). I suppose I don’t hate all reality TV; fashion and food contests have a special leeway, and somehow it seems both of these things are very well represented in this show. Maybe not so much fashion, but my first impression of the show, which is already in its 3rd season, was that this is like watching a Mukbang video rather than reality TV, something I actually quite enjoy. No, do not think this means I’ve changed my mind; it just means I don’t want to turn off Netflix within about 5 seconds of starting the show. For the uninitiated like myself, the show covers (visually appealing) singles who gather in a place called the “Inferno” to find love. This is where they meet each other and learn about each other before those who match get to go to “Paradise” (how simple). This season has a big twist that surpassed even the jury’s expectations.
We’re introduced to six members in the first episode, which seems oddly small, even for someone who doesn’t know how these shows work. How will they choose when their options are so limited? When it comes to first impressions, Kim Gyu-Ri is one who I’d call a “goddess.” She’s got everyone wrapped around her fingers with her looks and elegant demeanor. Then there’s bubbly and playful Choi Hye-Soon (definitely someone I’d root for). The friendliest of the lot, for sure. An Min-Young is a mix of the other two girls, being both friendly and elegant. Lee Gwan-Hee comes across as overconfident but with a playful sense of humor. Lee Jin-Seok didn’t make much of an impression at first, except visually with his massive physique and his Daegu accent. Last, Choi Min-Woo came across as shy and quiet, not quite certain what he’s really doing there.
As I said, it’s like watching a “Mukbang,” an ASMR one at that, because immediately the singles are sat down to eat seasoned chicken breasts and raw carrots (something that it seems Koreans are absolutely not used to doing). This time around, the jury seems shell-shocked by the speed at which couples are sent to Paradise. Immediately after their meal, the six members are asked to choose, and shockingly, two couples get to go up. The thing that really kept me watching the show was the jury. Specifically, because it includes actress Lee Da-Hee and Super Junior member Kyuhyun, but at the same time, the other members are quite the exciting bunch too. Dex, the YouTuber and former contestant (as they keep reminding us), Hanhae, the singer and rapper, and Hong Jin-Kyung, the comedian and actress. It’s the way they react to what’s happening within the show that makes me want to react too—a contagious reaction like yawning, if you will.
To the jury’s surprise, the first couple to go to Paradise (which is a lavish room at the Grand Hyatt) are Hye-Soon and Gwan Hee, and the second one is Min-Young and Jin-Seok. Again, we get to watch them eat (I wouldn’t mind getting some of that delicious food, thank you very much) as they get to know each other. In all honesty, neither of the couples gave off the feeling that they would last more than this one forced night of proximity. Also, I don’t understand why they’re made to go into swimming pools, and why is this a Single’s Inferno thing? Please tell me! It’s so awkward and uncomfortable to watch. So, this is when things get really twisty, and it is revealed that there are more participants.
There are more participants because there’s a whole other Inferno with five other members. We are made to sit through day 1 again, this time with Son Won-Ik, Yun Ha-Bin (who I forgot existed after his introduction, oops), Yun Ha-Jeong, an interesting contestant with her overconfidence and popularity for sure, Min-Kyu, whose first impression is practically shoulders, and Si-Eun, the cute and fragile-looking one who the judges point out looks like Blackpink’s Jennie. The imbalance in this group adds to the drama, for sure. Especially when both girls not only know each other from before the show but have a similar type. They both gravitate towards Min-Kyu, who seems to be the reliable kind and has the appeal of his strong shoulders (you know they’re reliable when their shoulders are massive). Min-Kyu ends up choosing Ha-Jeong, and they make it to Paradise on the same day. There’s a little inside joke where the jury wonders if he’ll choose the girl who picked out carrots for him or the girl who helped him bring water to the table (they definitely tried to make it more appealing).
Again, there’s food (I want mangoes), and the couple gets to know each other. It seems Ha-Jeong will be one of the more popular girls for certain because of her outgoing personality and her “charming points.” The jury even goes as far as to call it the Ha-Jeong chin move. Interestingly, I feel like the men seeing her aren’t really catching this action; only the camera, i.e., we are. Although it seems like Ha-Jeong had a good time with Min-Kyu, the next day, when she gets separated from him and is sent to meet Gwan-Hee, she’s immediately drawn to him. The excitement is quite palpable, really. These two are an entertaining duo, to say the least, and immediately they start to behave like they’ve been best friends for days. The Infernos get split up. Jin-Seok and Min-Young are sent to different Infernos, something they’ll soon realize is quite the curveball.
As Kyuhyun says, “falling to the ground” is the best thing to happen in the Inferno for those who are overconfident. Although this didn’t quite happen to Gwan-Hee, Gyu-Ri is a completely changed person after one day in the Inferno. It seems she’s really determined to go to Paradise, showing off a completely different side to her.
To Min-Woo’s disappointment, even though he tried his best to make an appeal for himself with Gyu-Ri, she chose the new guy, Min-Kyu, instead. In the 3rd episode of Single’s Inferno season 3, we get to see some couples who really seem to work well together. Specifically, most of the episode is littered with banter between Ha-Jeong and Gwan-Hee, which is actually quite entertaining, almost like watching a sitcom like (my love) Da-Hee states. We see the other participants interact with each other too. At the moment, there isn’t much drama, and everyone seems to be quite cordial, but we’ll have to see in the later episodes how things change. Min-Kyu and Gyu-Ri also seem to get along rather well, both being quiet and shy types. Watching the two couples is like watching fire and ice.
It would be interesting to see Ha-Jeong and Gwan-Hee come back together to Paradise, as they’re both very into each other, but they’ve also bared their fangs, so it’s somewhat confusing what they’re playing at. On the other hand, Min-Kyu and Gyu-Ri can seem a little bit boring to anyone watching, but they might be just right for each other. Jin-Seok and Min-Young seem the most disappointed with the outcome of being split, but it looks like they’ll be back together in the next episode because the two Infernos are about to get merged.