New Korean Dating Show ‘EXchange’ as Popular as ‘Single’s Inferno’

The high demand for reality TV shows in China might indicate that viewers are over cheesy romance dramas. After all, real-life love stories are just as — if not more — juicy

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8:00 AM HKT, Wed October 26, 2022 2 mins read

Remember the hype surrounding Single’s Inferno on Netflix? (Perhaps you even contributed to its success.) Those who enjoyed the South Korean reality TV show will be excited to know that a new contender has entered the ring. EXchange or Transit Love is the new dating show that’s got tongues wagging.

The TV series, which made its debut on Korean streaming service Tving in 2021, puts five men and five women under one roof. What makes matters more interesting is the fact that the personalities used to date. By the end of the show, each individual must decide whether to reunite with his or her ex or to find new love.

Season two of EXchange is made up of 20 episodes, and the finale will be released on Friday, October 28.

Rapper Simon Dominic and Kpop artist Yura from the girl group Girl’s Day, who were hosts in season one, make return appearances in season two. The second season also sees new faces, like Thai rapper BamBam, who is also a member of the South Korean boy band Got7. To fans’ delight, the 25-year-old also speaks up about his own experiences with love on the show.

Although EXchange is not officially airing on mainstream streaming platforms outside Korea, it is highly discussed in both China and the West. The hashtag for the current season, which is mostly attached to clips from the episodes, has garnered 610 million views on TikTok. On Chinese rating platform Douban, EXchange 2 is one of the 10 most popular reality TV shows of the week, along with The Kardashians Season 2. Moreover, the former currently holds a score of 8.2/10 on the site.

“It’s as brilliant as the first season. My favorite line from Season 2 is ‘I hope I didn’t take her for granted.’ Although it’s too late, it feels genuine,” gushed a fan, who gave season two a five-star rating.

“It’s heartbreaking to watch,” expressed another fan. “I feel empathy for Hae-eun every time she cries.”

At the beginning of each series, EXchange’s participants are asked not to reveal their dating histories; this maintains suspense for both the hosts and the viewers, who naturally become invested while making calculated guesses about any romantic developments.

Editor’s Note: Spoilers ahead; you’ve been warned!

Viewers have been particularly interested in Sung Hae-eun and her new love interest Jeong Hyun-gyu. When Sung first joined the show, she still harbored feelings for her ex Jung Kyu-min; the pair had dated for six years. However, Jung kept pushing Sung away while pursuing other participants on the program. Supportive viewers have been relieved to see Sung move on with Jeong, who is said to be childhood friends with Jaehyun, a member of Korean boy group NCT.

Ever since hit Korean dating show Heart Signal aired in 2017, the TV genre has seen huge success in China. In 2018, Tencent Video even created its own take (of the same name) in Mandarin, and has released five seasons since. The local entertainment industry has seen a surge of Chinese dating shows — this year alone, around 20 different ones are available to stream on various streaming sites.

This demand for realism might indicate that Chinese viewers are over cheesy love dramas. After all, real-life love stories can be just as — if not more — juicy. As EXchange has been so well-received by Chinese watchers, it is possible that we will see a Chinese version in the near future.

Cover image via YouTube

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