Everything to Know About the Korean Show That 'The Masked Singer' Is Based On

Kim Jaehwan King of Masked Singer
Courtesy Photo

Kim Jaehwan on King of Masked Singer.

The Masked Singer premiered last night (Jan. 2), and has built up a lot of buzz for its spectacle and the mystery surrounding its hidden performers, including Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, who was the first unmasked singer on FOX’s rendition of the show.

Though it’ll be another week until another contestant is unveiled, there are plenty of related videos on the internet; YouTube’s biggest viral video of 2017 was a video from the Thai version of the show, which is itself based on the show that originated in 2015 in South Korea under the name of The King of Mask Singer (also known as King of Masked Singer).

Unlike the Stateside version, the original pares back the theatricality; no back-up dancers or backing tracks allowed, just the voice of the singers with a live band and back-up singers as they compete to become that episode’s king. Much of the fun comes from a corner of celebrities guessing who the performers are, and since its premiere King of Mask Singer has brought to light some hidden gems within South Korea’s entertainment industry, bringing a spotlight to both veteran and new talent alike.

Below, Billboard has rounded some of the most memorable performances from over the years to check out. Look out for a new episode of The Masked Singer on Wednesday (Jan. 9).

Perhaps the most legendary video every from King of Mask Singer, the arrival of “The Music General,” (aka “The Music Captain of our Local”) performing "Lazenca, Save Us" by N.E.X.T. He went on to be the most awarded contestant to ever appear on the show, ranking up nine consecutive wins. It may or may not have led to the man behind the mask, Guckkasten's Ha Hyunwoo, performing at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics’ opening ceremony.

His female counterpart was "The East Invincibility," or singer Son Seung-yeon. Here she is performing a cover of the 2008 version of "Yi Si Fuera Ella" by SHINee's Jonghyun, a remake of Alejandro Sanz's 1997 song.

As far as the masks go, “Bob Ross” aka soloist Han Donggeun performing Lee Hi’s “Breathe” was a memorable moment on the show.

The show had one of its biggest shocks in 2016, when the identity of “Most Beauty Uhwudong” was revealed to be a member of boy band Up10tion, not the 40-year-old female trot singer that had been guessed by the celebrity panel.

And this epic rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Kim Yeon-woo is one that deserves multiple re-watches. 

Of course, plenty of K-pop stars have appeared on the show over the years. Here’s EXID’s Hani surprising the crowd with her performance of J.Y. Park’s “Honey.”

Watch BLACKPINK’s Rosé performance of Jung Seung Hwan’s “If It Is You.“

And BTS’ Jungkook served up a touching rendition of BIGBANG’s “If You.”

Luna’s f(x) was on the original version of the show, and performed YG’s “Flying Butterfly” with actress Kim Ji-woo.

Super Junior's Kyuhyun put his own spin on Park Hyo Shin's "Wild Flower." 

Here’s EXO’s Chen performing “Drunken Truth” by Jeon Ram Hwi.

And BTOB’s Sungjae performing Yoon Jungshin’s “One Day Long Ago.”

Many K-pop hits have also received remakes, with Ailee’s songs making frequent appearances, like these covers of “Don’t Touch Me” by Wanna One’s Kim Jaehwan and EXID’s Solji.

BTS’ “Blood Sweat & Tears” had a jazzy update last year by singer Ji Yeong.

Pentagon's Hui performed a cover of another BTS song, "DNA."

Sungwoo Jung-a gave us a tender update to BLACKPINK’s “Whistle” that left the audience gasping at the rendition.

Here’s Bomi of Apink singing 2NE1’s “Lonely.”

This cover of "Dream" by Suzy and EXO's Baekhyun surprised people, as it ended up being performed by Seventeen's DK and TWICE's Jihyo.

And, last but not least, last year the show got a surprise visitor in the form of a unicorn who was a fan of “Annie.” It ended up being none other than Ryan Reynolds.