HA SEUNG-JIN AND KOREA'S SHOWBIZ ATHLETES


Ha Seung-Jin once played for the Portland Trail Blazers

I am a fan of Korean variety and I guess introducing this kind of programs to the Philippine masses would help a lot of TV personalities.

Oh yeah, this blog will have a lot of my favorite things.

Anyway…

Ever since the scarcity of sitcoms, many comedians have transformed into telenovela sidekicks. Some actors (with limited range) either face a decline of their leading man status or just move to other things like… becoming a 30-something dance expert, an unlikely host/ TV presenter, or becoming a 30-something parent for a 20-something lead star.

As I said, Korean variety gets it. The featured performers are either true-blue comedians, actors in need of mainstream value, or veterans in need of career restart.

And then, there are the athletes.

I like Beau Belga’s Extra Rice segment on The Score. Before he interviewed other basketball players in random Metro Manila watering holes, Belga was part of No Harm, No Foul – a TV5 sitcom which stars current NLEX Road Warrior Kiefer Ravena and ex-PBA stars Willie Miller and Gary David. Chris Tiu has also made a living as an on-air scientist (I-Bilib), business show presenter (Wattajob), reality show host (Pinoy Records), and has even dabbled on hosting beauty pageants (Mutya ng Pilipinas 2013).


Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codinera, and Bong Alvarez were dimmed as "courtside cuties" when they made their big-screen debut in that art film-ish, period classic (if that period is 1990) Last Two Minutes.


Bonel Balingit also top-billed a sexy movie in 2005 entitled "Hayop Sa Porma, Hanep Sa Ganda".


Joey Marquez and Benjie Paras are successful examples of players transitioning to acting and over the years we have seen a bunch of basketball-related flicks starring actual basketball stars.

And also, as either cops or public utility drivers in a lot of Ronnie Ricketts flicks.

So where the hell is this leading?

Former Philippine Team menace Hur Jae is now a variety show host. In 1990, Hur Jae finished with a FIBA record of 54 points against Egypt in a FIBA World Championship match. Now you can see him either living in a Korean countryside or analyzing dating strategies.

Current Seoul Samsung Thunders coach Lee Sang-Min, that dude who seized the opportunity in the 2002 Busan Asian Games by hitting a last-second triple after Olsen Racela missed two important free throws, has made appearances in variety shows.




And then there’s Seo Jang Hoon – who made the most impressive leap from the basketball court to the network studios. Alongside Lee, Seo has been a staple of the Korean National Team during the 90s – especially against the likes of Asi Taulava and Marlou Aquino. Ever since his retirement, Seo has had a bunch of top variety shows under his belt including presenter duties for My Little Old Boy, unleashing his comedic prowess in Knowing Brothers, and displaying his basketball know-how in the hoop-themed reality show Handsome Tigers.




So again, why am I doing this?

MBC just debuted a Korean variety show called Like Likes Like (aka Birds of a Feather). The show features cast members from old top shows like Infinite Challenge, Two Days One Night (at least the earlier seasons), and as mentioned earlier… stars in need to further their mainstream value and a chance to reset their careers.

The show also features Ha Seung-Jin.

Who?

The 46th pick overall in the 2004 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, Ha remains to be the only Korean player to play in the NBA. Sure, he only had a career average of 1.5 points and 1.5 rebounds in a total of two seasons (46 games) with the Blazers, but the dude is a force in the FIBA Asia circuit – leading South Korea to podium finishes in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games (silver medal) and the 2011 Wuhan FIBA Asia Championship (bronze medal).





And now, you can Ha Seung-Jin blowing baking powder to an actor’s mouth, dancing like a drunken uncle, drinking snail broth, doing a cooking relay, and trying to cheat his way on games.

So cool.

The thing about our favorite ballers is that while a lot of them look for other opportunities elsewhere, some of these players are still in need of the spotlight. Sure, most of the players freeze in front of the camera. We might think Tiu talks like a robot during the start of his TV career but compare him to his other peers… the former Smart-Gilas captain is way, way above everyone else. But I guess this is because they aren’t trained to do spiels or memorize emotional lines.

Reality shows could be a good kick-starter for athletes in need of career re-direction. The first thought I had when GMA got the rights to Running Man is the awesomeness of having either Marc Pingris or Beau Belga as the ensemble’s version of Kim Jong-Kook. In the Korean Running Man version, Jong-kook manhandles guests and other members because of his strategy, speed, and strength, especially during the name tag eliminations. The only guests that could stop him are UFC fighters like Kim Dong-Hyun and Yoshihiro Akiyama.

Anyway, I guess it just shocked me that Ha would transition to Korean variety this soon. He’s only 34… but I guess looking at the Jeonju KCC Egis team page, Seung-Jin’s game has declined due to injuries. The three names I mentioned went into broadcasting in their 40s.

I think I like “Like Likes Like”. I laughed so hard on the cooking relay and I like the fact that Park Myung-Soo and Eun Ji-Won know they need to step up as glue guys.


Too bad the show didn't do well in the ratings. MBC was looking for their new Infinite Challenge but unfortunately, that's easier said than done.


The last time I saw Ha do his things was when he rapped as Giant Pink on the second season of Player.




Get Sydrified.

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