“It” girl Song Ji-a in action.
It’s been a wild and sometimes infuriating ride, but Single’s Inferno is finally over. The eight-episode Netflix reality-dating show brought a cast of attractive singles to a deserted island and had them face off for opportunities to escape to a luxury hotel for better accommodations and one-on-one dates. It became the first South Korean reality show to ever make it into Netflix’s top-ten list of TV shows watched globally, and it showed us just how much can change over the course of nine days (Moon Se-hoon, for example, managed to end up receiving praise instead of a restraining order). But now that the final matches and mismatches have been made, you might be missing your weekly opportunity to feel like a relationship expert.
Given the show’s popularity, we wouldn’t be surprised if Netflix brings a new group back to the beach for another season. But if you don’t want to wait, this particular flavor of dating show — where there’s subtle drama to be found even in small decisions, such as where people choose to sit at dinner — has a whole host of precedents. Whether you liked psychoanalyzing the contestants for red flags or just looking at them, here are six more Korean reality shows (with English subtitles) to fill that scorching Single’s Inferno–size hole in your queue.
If you liked guessing who would pick who every week, this show has been leaning into love predictions for three seasons, since 2017. Heart Signal brings a group of singles to live under one roof and choose who they’re interested in every episode. While the new housemates all still have jobs and work obligations, they find time to interact with their potential matches by cooking and going on dates. Footage is broken up frequently by panelists, who pick apart conversations and analyze body language for clues. Fans of Song Ji-a from Single’s Inferno can catch her making a cameo in Friends, a Heart Signal spinoff that features contestants from previous seasons and expands its focus to include platonic relationships.
Where to watch: Heart Signal, Rakuten Viki and OnDemandKorea; Heart Signal 2, Rakuten Viki; Heart Signal 3, Rakuten Viki; Friends, Rakuten Viki
Participants on this 15-episode dating show from 2021 arrive with literal and metaphorical baggage. Each has an ex who agreed to be part of Transit Love, which you’ll see translated under several other names, perhaps most cleverly as EXChange. Over the course of several weeks, they decide whether to start a new relationship or revive an old one. The show asks the housemates to pretend that their exes are strangers upon arrival, making things uncomfortable if they start to flirt with others. Sometimes one person has firmly moved on while their ex still has feelings or ill will. Transit Love makes sure to capitalize on its unique format, allowing, for example, participants to anonymously question the exes of the strangers they’re interested in. If you were devastated when a Single’s Inferno couple you were rooting for didn’t match, get ready to feel a new kind of pain when complicated relationship histories are involved.
Where to watch: OnDemandKorea
This is for anyone who wants another show where people simply run along the coast in swimsuits. This six-episode series moves quickly because the eight contestants only get to spend three nights and four days at the beach getaway where the show is set. Each evening, they’re tasked with picking the person they want to spend the night with. The couple that exhibits the “hottest” behavior in their room — still pretty tame by Western standards — will be rewarded with a fancy date. Various games encourage the potential pairs to make physical contact and ask each other bold questions. The quick pace of the show means no panel breaking up the footage with commentary; Bed on the Beach recognizes that only so much can be done during such a short time. When it’s time to move out, the contestants choose someone they want to continue to see without the cameras.
Where to watch: YouTube
There may not be mud wrestling, but competition underscores this show. Love Catcher combines a dating show with a game of mafia. Before moving in, all the participants decide between one of two identities. “Love catchers” are looking to form a genuine relationship with another “love catcher.” Meanwhile, “money catchers” can win nearly $45,000 if they get a “love catcher” to form a couple with them. As people make romantic gestures, there’s always a layer of suspicion about who has ulterior motives. The identities aren’t revealed until the end, but there are challenges and clues along the way that will keep you speculating alongside the show’s panelists. The show’s third and most recent season, Love Catcher in Seoul, just finished airing this month. If you find it fascinating to see how people manipulate each other, this show will supply all the mind games you want.
Where to watch: Rakuten Viki (season one)
Cha Hyun-seung was workout buddies with Kim Hyeon-joong and almost worked with Ji-a before they filmed Single’s Inferno together, and Love&Joy takes the concept of its contestants not being total strangers a step further. The show accepts pairs of close friends who are in platonic relationships. Ostensibly, you’re equipped to be a great wingman or wingwoman for your friend — but you might find that a new environment makes you see them in a different light. Love&Joy is hosted by a real-life couple, Lim Lala and Son Min-su, who have a popular YouTube channel together. There are moments when the participants seek advice and guidance from the longtime couple, but mostly this pleasant group of friends turned maybe-lovers make up a relaxing viewing experience.
Where to watch: YouTube
Perhaps the biggest twist in I Am Solo is that the audience never learns the real names of the contestants on this show. Everyone appears under a pseudonym, and only couples that match tell each other (not the viewers) their true names. The serious singles who come on I Am Solo are thinking about marriage. The conversations focus on more long-term plans like starting a family and core relationship values. You don’t have to worry about missing out on much if you start watching in the middle of the show: Matches are made every few episodes, which means that viewers meet different groups of people throughout a single season.
Where to watch: From episode 19, Rakuten Viki with VikiPass Plus
(free trial available)