‘Single’s Inferno 2’ warms up the winter

Shin Dong-woo, Lee Nadine and Kim Han-bin introduced themselves to each other on first day. The first impressions each contestant got from each other set the stage for the show’s progression. // Photo courtesy of Netflix

Our Take: 4/5 Stars

While the bitter winter freeze struck Atlanta, Netflix’s second season of “Single’s Inferno” blazed hotter than ever, spanning ten episodes along its one-month run. The first season of “Single’s Inferno” gained notoriety around this time in 2021, with numerous clips from the show going viral on TikTok. This time again, chatter about the show was rampant online, with people actively keeping up the show and providing real-time commentary on Twitter and TikTok alike. 

The concept of “Single’s Inferno” shocked and excited audiences upon its initial release. The premise is that of a dating show, but with a little twist: the male and female contestants of the show live on a completely undeveloped island called Saseungbong-do off the coast of South Korea. However, unlike common precedents, there is no real survival aspect to the show – contestants are given ingredients to cook with using traditional wood burning stoves, they must draw water by walking a mile away, and they live in large tents made homier by mattresses and small nightstands next to each contestant’s bed. Overall, the aim of the show is to strip the attractive singles down to their core: contestants must live humbly and without the luxury of their phones, easily accessible food, and most importantly without sharing their ages and jobs with one another. In Korean culture, age and work are considered two of the most integral factors in dating and relationships; these two characteristics carry the burden of compatibility in the dating scene. However, on Inferno, none of that matters: contestants must be their authentic selves – to learn to fall in love with one another for who they are – without the expectations of Korean society looming overhead.

Saseungbong-do island is, in short, called “Inferno,” which is a play on “hell” in Korean. The days on the island are boiling hot, and without distractions, the only activity for the contestants is to mingle with one another. However, if contestants pair up with each other, they can take a short helicopter trip to a neighboring island dubbed “Paradise,” where the couples may reveal to each other their ages, jobs, and hometowns, seeing where their relationship takes them after revealing those details. For some, the age difference or job difference puts them in much too different life stages, and the relationship fails.

While “Single’s Inferno 1” was more focused on finding someone on the island to partner with and mingling around to promote their brands, as many contestants were up-and-coming or already famous, “Single’s Inferno 2” took audiences by surprise as couples came in with a mindset of commitment, focus, and genuine sincerity. Audiences were charmed by contestants who chose to focus on the person they like above all, sticking to the person they like through thick and thin rather than pursuing flings on whims.

An audience favorite, Kim Han-bin chose the girl he liked, Choi Seo-eun on day one. Throughout the duration of the show, he never wavered once, even though Seo-eun decisively pursued and fell in love with another contestant, Jo Yoong-jae.

Han-bin said, “I wanted the person I like to just be happy and not be stressed, which is why I didn’t approach her as much.” Even if it meant Han-bin didn’t find love on the island, he refused to sacrifice his sincerity and stayed true to his ideals.

Another contestant on the show, Lee Nadine, particularly appealed to international audiences. As a Korean-American Harvard Neuroscience student, Nadine captured the attention of international and English-speaking audiences with her little bouts of English with the Korean contestants, making for interesting conversations that impressed the cast with her accomplishments. 

Lastly, some of the couples from the show reached the endgame and are still dating today, speaking to the earnestness of the show and the relationships formed through it. Overall, “Single’s Inferno 2” surpasses precedents set by popular Western dating shows by focusing utmost on candidness rather than drama. The second season’s charming cast created even more hubbub on social media than its first season had, with the show surpassing expectations for the second season based only on its endearing cast. As the audience experiences watching people truly fall in love with each other’s strengths and flaws, so too does the audience fall in love with the show and the journey within.