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Monday, April 15, 2024

Netflix’s ‘Physical: 100’: Meet the athletes behind the muscles

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Retired UFC fighter Kim Dong-hyun competes in Season Two of Netflix's "Physical: 100." [NETFLIX]
Retired UFC fighter Kim Dong-hyun competes in Season Two of Netflix’s “Physical: 100.” [NETFLIX]

The second season of Netflix’s “Physical: 100,” the popular Korean reality show that pits a hundred very in-shape humans against each other through a series of physical tests, is well underway. The second batch of episodes dropped on Tuesday, and elimination challenges continued to whittle down the group, all fighting to be the next champion.

This season’s cast boasts a relatively diverse list. Outside of bodybuilders and CrossFit influencers, there’s a firefighter, a K-pop idol and a ballerino.

And there are plenty of familiar faces in the crowd for fans of almost any sport, from golf to kabaddi.

Unlike many other reality television programs, which often introduce the audience to cast members who leave the show to become B- or C-list celebrities, the majority of the “Physical: 100” cast are entering with large followings and impressive athletic resumes.

A smattering of Taeguk symbols entered the hall of torsos as national team athletes made their first episode entrances in uniform. There were at least a dozen Olympians.

All are going out of their comfort zones, whether a pool, a ring or a snowy mountain, to vie for the title and a 300 million won ($220,000) prize.

Unsurprisingly, those who’ve spent their careers training to be the best in their sport make up the bulk of the cast and have dominated a lot of the competition.

Here’s a roundup of all the professional athletes on the show.

Pros

Chong Te-se (sometimes stylized Jong Tae-se) — Footballer who represented North Korea at the 2010 World Cup and played in the K League 1 before taking up the manager post at celebrity squad FC Wonder Woman.

Kim Dong-hyun — One of the more popular faces of the season, the retired UFC fighter made a name for himself as the first Korean to secure a win in the octagon — doing so on his UFC debut. He might be better known as “Stun Gun” or as a contestant-turned-host on a litany of variety shows.

Hong Hyeon-jun — A KPGA golfer who also competes professionally in long drive, where the aim is, expectedly, to hit the ball as far as one can.

Ha Moo-kyoung — A professional handball player with Doosan Handball Club, which competes in Korea’s H League.

Jeon Jong-hyeok — Though he was introduced on the show as a singer, Jeon was also a goalkeeper in the K League, playing for K League 2 side Busan IPark and then-K League 1 side Seongnam FC before retiring after the 2022 season due to injury. He later debuted as a singer.

Shim Yu-ri — Atomweight fighter in the Korea-based Road FC, a professional MMA circuit.
Seol Young-ho — Heavyweight fighter who participated in the reality show Fight Club, which led to a contract with Road FC.

Jo Sung-bin, right, fights with Tyler Diamond in a Professional Fighters League (PFL) fight in April 2021. [PROFESSIONAL FIGHTERS LEAGUE]
Jo Sung-bin, right, fights with Tyler Diamond in a Professional Fighters League (PFL) fight in April 2021. [PROFESSIONAL FIGHTERS LEAGUE]

Jo Sung-bin — Featherweight MMA fighter who has competed in the UFC and currently competes in the U.S.-based Professional Fighters League. He goes by “Korean Falcon.”

Hwang Chang-seob — A professional athlete in ssireum, a traditional style of folk wrestling and a national sport of Korea. Hwang’s cameo in “Physical: 100” is not his first time flirting with fame. A clip of one his competitions in 2018 went viral, catapulting him — and the sport — into the spotlight, again.

Im Su-jeong — A professional ssireum athlete who also represented Korea as part of the women’s national kabaddi team at the 2010 Asian Games.

Olympians

Lee Won-hee, third from left, stands with a group of fellow "Physical: 100" contestants. [NETFLIX]
Lee Won-hee, third from left, stands with a group of fellow “Physical: 100” contestants. [NETFLIX]

Lee Won-hee — Retired national team judoka with gold medals from the Olympics, World Championships, Asian Games and Asian Championships across a very successful four years from 2003 to 2006. He allegedly has an IQ of 148 — a source of awe for his fellow contestants, who marveled at the number ahead of the maze team challenge.

Andre Jin Coquillard competes for the Korean men's rugby sevens team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. [YONHAP]
Andre Jin Coquillard competes for the Korean men’s rugby sevens team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. [YONHAP]

 

Andre Jin Coquillard — Represented Korea in men’s rugby sevens at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 2021, the first year Korea sent a team in the discipline.

Jung Ji-hyun — Gold medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2004 Olympics in Athens with a number of other international and national titles.

Kang Young-seo — Alpine skier who represented Korea at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Chang Yong-heung — Represented Korea in men’s rugby sevens at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and also holds a couple Asian Games medals in rugby team, from Jakarta in 2018 and Hangzhou in 2023.

Shin Soo-ji — Represented Korea internationally in rhythmic gymnastics and competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She is currently a professional bowler.

Park Seung-hi competes in the women's 1,000-meter speed skating event at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics at Gangneung Speed Skating Stadium in February 2018 in Gangneung, Gangwon. [YONHAP]
Park Seung-hi competes in the women’s 1,000-meter speed skating event at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics at Gangneung Speed Skating Stadium in February 2018 in Gangneung, Gangwon. [YONHAP]

Park Seung-hi — Two-time Olympic short-track speed skating gold medalist, in the women’s 1000-meter and 3000-meter relay at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, with a slew of other international titles under her belt. She also represented Korea in speed skating at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, becoming the first Korean athlete to reach the Olympics in both speed skating disciplines before announcing her retirement.

Mo Tae-bum — Speed skating gold medalist in the men’s 500-meter at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada — a feat he obtained on his Olympic debut, which was also his 21st birthday.

Kim Dong-hyun — National team bobsledder who won a silver medal in the four-man event at the 2018 Winter Olympics as part of the first-ever Asian bobsled team to reach the Olympic podium.

From left: Kim Dong-hyun, Seo Young-woo, Jeon Jung-rin and Won Yoon-jong won silver medals in men's four-man bobsleigh at the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018. [JOONGANG ILBO]
From left: Kim Dong-hyun, Seo Young-woo, Jeon Jung-rin and Won Yoon-jong won silver medals in men’s four-man bobsleigh at the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018. [JOONGANG ILBO]

 

Seo Young-woo — Another member of the four-man Korean bobsled team that won a silver medal at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Park Da-sol — National team judoka who won a silver medal in the women’s -52 kilogram category at the 2018 Asian Games and competed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Jo Ha-rang — Handball player who competed at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a member of the Korean women’s team and also plays for the domestic club Gwangju City.

Other Team Korea athletes

Kim Ji-eun — Track and field athlete with two national championships under her belt, both in the women’s 400-meter, in 2021 and 2022. She also represented Korea at the Asian Championships in 2009, winning a 4×100-meter bronze.

Lee Jang-kun blocks his opponent's attack during a Pro Kabaddi League game in India. [PRO KABADDI LEAGUE]
Lee Jang-kun blocks his opponent’s attack during a Pro Kabaddi League game in India. [PRO KABADDI LEAGUE]

 

Lee Jang-kun — Decade-long member of the Korean men’s national kabaddi team, which won bronze at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon and silver at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Also known for playing in the Pro Kabaddi League, in India, where kabaddi is the second-most popular sport and Lee is the most successful foreign raider in the history of the game.

Park Ha-yan — Former national handball player.

Ham Young-jin — Represented Korea in judo at the junior and senior levels at several international tournaments across a decade.

Kim Do-hyeon — Boxer who has represented Korea at multiple international tournaments.

Kim Jee-hyuk — A national team rower.

Kim Hyeong-kyu — Two-time Asian Games boxing medalist.

Kim Hye-bin — National team athlete in wushu sanda who won a bronze medal in the discipline at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.

Kang Min-su — Sport climber who is ranked at No. 73 in the world in men’s speed climbing by the International Federation of Sport Climbing as of press time.

Korea's Park Hee-jun competes at the men's kata bronze medal match at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in August 2021. [YONHAP]
Korea’s Park Hee-jun competes at the men’s kata bronze medal match at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in August 2021. [YONHAP]

 

Park Hee-jun — Two-time Asian Games bronze medalist in kata, winning his first at Jakarta in 2018 to become the first-ever Korean to win an Asian Games medal in karate.

Lee Ye-joo — Represents Korea in kurash and reached the round of 16 in the women’s 52-kilogram contest at the 2022 Asian Games.

Choi Won-jae — A member of the national cheerleading team, according to his bio for the show.

Jung You-in — National team swimmer and Korean record-holder as part of multiple women’s relay teams.

Heo Kyung-hee — Korean women’s national rugby team player who competed at the 2018 Asian Games.

Kim Yeong-chan — Competes in taekkyon, a traditional martial art in Korea.

Choi Soo-in — Represents Korea in Brazilian jiu jitsu.

Ko Jong-hun — Competes in Brazilian jiu jitsu and represents Korea at international tournaments.

Joo Min-kyung — One can be an international elite arm wrestler, too. Just ask the International Federation of Armwrestling. Joo took silver and bronze — for right and left, respectively — last September at the IFA World Armwrestling Championships in the men’s 95kg in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

BY MARY YANG [mary.yang@joongang.co.kr]