Kim Jong Kook Revealed To Be Reason ‘Running Man’ Not Cancelled — How Did The ‘Tiger’ Convince Cast To Continue Popular SBS K-Variety Show?

Jan Omega

Last year in 2016 was one of the most hectic years for Running Man as it had both high and low points though more of the latter than the former. About high points, Running Man reached major milestones in the K-variety show’s lifespan which includes have their phenomenal 100 vs. 100 episode featuring over 200 guests including Got7 and GFriend and their landmark 300th episode featuring BTS.

Unfortunately, the low points of 2016 are what are most remembered for Running Man. Firstly, Gary — one of the original cast members since the very beginning — decided to leave. This followed-up with the SBS crew wanting to further change up the cast which included removing Kim Jong Kook and Song Ji Hyo and adding Kang Ho Dong. Eventually, the casting changes caused controversy which led to the decision to finally end Running Man after seven years.

Running Man -- Cast Poster 1
‘Running Man’ consisted of seven cast members since 2010. (clockwise starting on top left) Lee Kwang Soo, Kim Jong Kook, Yoo Jae Sook, Haha, Ji Suk Jin, Song Ji Hyo, and Gary. [Image by the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS)]

To some extent, fans were able to move onward from the fact Running Man would conclude. This month, however, it was made known that the K-variety show would not be ending after all. What changed to cause the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) cast and crew to change their minds? Reportedly, we have one person to thank: Kim Jong Kook.

After Running Man was confirmed to conclude, the director of SBS Entertainment, Nam Seung Yong, went firstly to Kim Jong Kook to apologize for the debacle and plea for “Tiger” to not end the popular K-variety show but to continue onward, as reported by Korean news outlet Nate via translation by Soompi. After careful consideration which included taking in the fact the director of SBS Entertainment himself personally came to him to apologize, Jong Kook accepted the apology and agreed to continue onward with the variety show. Afterward, the Seung Yong and Jong Kook visited other members, asking if they too would stay on the show. All of them agreed.

SBS Entertainment would eventually confirm that Running Man would continue. A source associated with the K-variety show provided an official statement on the matter, specifically on Kim Jong Kook and Song Ji Hyo.

“Kim Jong Kook and Song Ji Hyo were hurt by this incident, but despite that, they made this big decision for their fans all over the world.”

Though it seems Running Man not ending but continuing would be good news for fans, they are split down the middle. Since 2015, the ratings for it have been plummeting down to single digit viewership ratings even lower than five percent at times. Many fans cite the rehashing of previous concepts and games making it somewhat boring to watch over and over again. As a matter of fact, the only game worth watching over and over again to them is the Name Tag Ripping game.

Nevertheless, Running Man will start to shoot on Mondays and Tuesdays in February. The remaining six members after Gary’s departure will return, and the show will now feature a weekly guest no matter what.

Running Man -- English Poster
‘Running Man’ will continue with the remaining six members after Gary’s departure. There is also news a seventh spot is now open for a new member. We do not know who that member is. [Image by the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS)]

The wildcard is the open seventh spot. We can only speculate who should fill it, but the offer should first and foremost be extended to former cast members starting with Song Joong Ki, followed by Lizzy of After School if Joong Ki declines, than back to Gary if both Joong Ki and Lizzy decline.

Girls Generation -- Sunny in MrMr
If none of the previous cast members of ‘Running Man’ do not want the seventh open spot, Sunny of Girls’ Generation would be an excellent fit given her experience as a main cast member on K-variety shows. [Image by SM Entertainment]

If none of them accept the spot, one would suggest another female cast member who’s not only experienced in being a guest on K-variety shows but a cast member too. In that case, Sunny of Girls’ Generation would fit as she’s been a guest on many K-variety shows including Running Man and she was a cast member on two popular K-variety shows in the past, both seasons of Invincible Youth and the second season of Roommate.

The upcoming 2017 season of Running Man will air on Sundays at 6:25 p.m. KST on SBS as part of their “Good Sunday” programming. For those who do not have access to Korean public channels, it can be viewed on DramaFever, Viki, and OnDemandKorea.

[Featured Image by The Turbo Co.]