Physical 100: A Review


Ta'Mya Gibson, Staff Writer

Physical 100 is a South Korean reality survival show aired on Netflix on February 21, 2023. The survival show was created by producer Jang Ho-Gi. Jang Ho-Gi came up with the concept of the show after having spotted a poster at a fitness center for the “Best Body of the Month.” After this encounter he wondered: “What is the best body? How can bodies be compared to other bodies? Is there a standard for it that is agreed upon by everyone?” He then realized that great physique is based on other physical and non-physical attributes like muscular strength, balance, endurance, agility, and willpower which is what Physical 100 portrays. 

The unique show brings together 100 contestants from all walks of life including professional team athletes from all over the world, content creators, dancers, weightlifters, bodybuilders, military professionals, models, MMA fighters, actors, rappers, etc. Participants push their bodies to their limits through competing in a series of games requiring different skills to prove who has the most perfect physique. The last man or woman standing is not only deemed to have the best physique but also wins a cash prize set at ¥300 million won(roughly $230,000 USD).

The competition has a dark tone and is often compared to Netflix’s Global Hit Squid Game. In Physical 100, contestants wear uniforms and are held in a room where an ominous voice announces game rules over them. The winners move on to the next game and losers are eliminated and must smash a life-size sculpture of their torsos with a hammer.

One thing that I feel this show did well with is its inclusion of women along with men. When you think of these types of shows where people are forced to use physical strength and compete against one another, typically you don’t see a lot of women partaking in these activities. Although there were only 23 women in the show compared to the other 77 males, I feel like women were still represented well and weren’t discriminated against.

Furthermore, it was rewarding and refreshing to see Physical 100 depict strength, confidence, and good sportsmanship radiantly through Asian bodies, in ways that are usually reserved for white people. A majority of the mainstream depictions of power in the U.S. include people that are white with little inclusion of different races. However, Physical 100 is free of this white gaze, including a handful of contestants that aren’t Korean. One being Nigeria-born dancer Miracle Nelson.

This show does not have a typical host who moves the story and mingles with the crowd. It’s more straightforward which in my opinion is more interesting and keeps the attention of its watchers.