|The cast of music channel Mnet's dating show "Love Catcher" pose during a news conference at Stanford Hotel in western Seoul, Monday. The show features 10 men and women who are divided into two groups of "love catchers" who are looking for their soul mates and "money catchers" in search of prize money. The show premiers Wednesday. / Courtesy of CJ E & M|
Dating show pits money chasers against love interests
By Kwak Yeon-soo
Music channel Mnet launched a dating show that takes the form of a truth game.
Unlike previous dating shows where contestants explore a pool of candidates to find their true love, "Love Catcher" puts the love chasers to the test by challenging their ability to discover their real love interest from those who are in the guise of love interests.
In the show, 10 men and women are divided into two groups ― those who are chasing love ("love catchers") and those who are chasing money ("money catchers").
The former is a group of people who are serious about finding their soul mates, whereas the latter is a pool of candidates seeking to earn a lump sum of prize money, 50 million won ($45,000).
Money catchers hide their real purpose and pretend to be love catchers. While watching the program, viewers are encouraged to figure out who the money catchers are.
The 10 men and women share housing for eight days during which the show is shot.
Those who are chasing prize money must seduce candidates from the group of love catchers and become a couple in order to win the game. Money catchers will be eliminated if they end up dating another money catcher. Meanwhile, love catchers must find their love interest among the candidates.
When asked how "Love Catcher" is different from other dating shows such as cable network Channel A's "Heart Signal," producer Jung Min-seok explains that Mnet's reality show centers on the complex mind game.
"I put more emphasis on the mind game rather than romance. Contestants have two clear goals: finding love or winning money. None of the dating reality shows offered a prize like this before," he said during a press conference held at Stanford Hotel in western Seoul, Monday.
Love catchers should try to avoid money catchers when finding their partners. Money catchers should associate with love catchers in order to win the prize. If they end up with other money catchers, they are ousted from the game.
"I wondered why people would choose between love and money. I wanted to present the two values that most affect people's goals," Jung said.
Regarding criticism that cast members are using the reality show as a springboard to careers in show business, the producer said he tries to exclude actors and K-pop trainees to make the show serious.
While the contestants struggle to find true romance living under the same roof for eight days, celebrities play the role of "watchers." They observe and comment on the romantic relationships between contestants from a separate studio.
Along with the main host Shin Dong-yup, TV personality Hong Suk-chun, comedian Jang Do-yeon, JR of K-pop band NU'EST, singer Lady Jane and mystery writer Jun Gun-woo will join viewers in picking up traces of romance and finding out who is in it for the money, based upon their intuition and personal experiences.
The celebrity panels showed excitement about reading contestants' emotional lines.
"It's hard to discover which contestants are out there with what purposes," Hong said. "But I'm sure it will appeal to the audience."
Jang also added, "Observing the contestants made me reflect upon myself. This show sheds light on every facet of life."
The first episode of "Love Catcher" airs at 11 p.m. Wednesday.