The true villain of Season 1 was Gura (구라) Oppa (오빠). His fellow cast-mates could not get rid of him fast enough. Once he left, the game could actually get started and the entire Genius house immediately felt lighter.
Jimmy Cha-ssi (차-씨) rubbed some people the wrong way, but he was a nicer person, than Gura Oppa was. Kyeongran (경란) Eonni (언니) literally cried profusely, when he got voted out. Jimmy Cha-ssi was nicer to Eunji (은지). Gura Oppa was always making fun of her. In Season 2, production and casting made sure to get a kind and humorous old man, Jeonghyun-ssi (정현), who then made it to the Semifinals.
Gura Oppa thought he was going to run the game. Sangmin (상민) Oppa also had mastery, of the game, in both Seasons 1 and 2 – but Sangmin Oppa was way more personable and wanted to rule with other people, and with the will of the people, not with an iron fist.
Gura and Poong (풍) were evicted; only Sangmin Oppa escaped the group’s wrath, because he reintegrated himself with everyone else. Poor Sangmin Oppa looked so bored in the Poong/Gura Oppa meeting, in Episode 3. He so wanted to be outside, with everyone else, socializing and eating finger foods. The happiest Gura Oppa moment, was when Gura Oppa was actually a zombie, the whole time. I wish we could have seen more of the happy and kind Gura Oppa.
Sangmin Oppa survived because he was a first adapter. He could see where the wind was blowing. The dominant alliance was shifting. Yuram (유람) Eonni was witness to what saved Sangmin Oppa: Seonggyu (성규)! Sangmin Oppa was able to choose the younger generation.
Both Kyeongran Eonni and Sangmin Oppa were able to choose the younger alliance, in their own ways, and make the Semifinals. They both made quick alliances with Seonggyu. They survived, when their mentors – Jimmy Cha-ssi and Gura Oppa, respectively – both got voted out.
Kyeongran Eonni’s early move, that saved her, was swiping Seonggyu from Minseo (민서) Eonni, in Episode 1. Kyeongran Eonni, the Chairwoman; she won the Main Match, in the Bread and Famine episode too.
I love that Kyeongran Eonni always sat at the head of the table, in strategy meetings. Kyeongran Eonni was also smart in befriending all the females, of the younger generation – Jeongmun (정문), Yuram Eonni, Eunji. I will miss the power quad of Kyeongran Eonni, Yuram Eonni, Eunji and Jeongmun.
Yuram Eonni’s friendship, with Kyeongran Eonni saved her, early on. Yuram Eonni was in the minority alliance, and was all set to be sent home packing, but Kyeongran Eonni swung the two big couples over – Seonggyu and Sangmin Oppa, and Jeongmun and Changyeop (창엽) – creating a new alliance, that sent Minseo Eonni home, instead.
When Jeongmun picked Changyeop, for the Death Match, in the zombie episode, Changyeop picked Sangmin Oppa, and not Poong, to be his yut (윷) partner. It’s like he wanted to lose, because he knew he and Jeongmun were now broken up. They shared train tickets to the Plentiful Land, and it was beyond cute. So sad, that it had to end. Rihanna’s “Stay” played Changyeop out.
Kyeongran Eonni and Seonggyu’s relationship never recovered, from Cha Minsoo-ssi (차민수-씨) being sent home, instead of Seonggyu. When Seonggyu was “supposed” to go home, he won his yut game – but in the episode, where he was “supposed” to win the Main Match (the 2nd horse race betting game), he instead got sent to the Death Match, and he lost his second yut game.
Kyeongran Eonni should come back, in a future season, and be the first woman to win The Genius. The zombie Main Match win was when the balance of power definitively shifted to the future Semifinalists – Kyeongran Eonni, Sangmin Oppa and the ultimate Season 1 winner, Jinho (진호) Oppa.