For more than six years, the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) aired one of the most popular variety shows on Korean television today, Running Man. With more than 322 episodes aired since its debut back on July 11, 2010, the main cast — Yoo Jae Suk, Haha, Ji Suk Jin, Kim Jong Kook, Lee Kwang Soo, Song Ji Hyo, and Gary — were invited into Koreans’ homes on Sunday afternoons along with millions of international fans around the world.
Unfortunately, things are going to change on Running Man very soon. It has been confirmed by the production crew behind the popular SBS variety show that one of its cast members is leaving. Gary will make his exit this month while the remaining six cast members continue onward with the show.
The news of Kang Hee Gun, better known by his English name Gary Kang or simply as Gary on Korean television, leaving Running Man is very saddening for fans of the variety show since its humble beginnings back in 2010. Gary is one of the true original members as he was signed on to become a part of the main cast when it initially aired. However, Gary has made it known he wants to leave because he expresses a desire to focus on music, as reported by Soompi.
“Gary expressed his desire to focus on his music studies and revealed that he wants to invest more time in music. The Running Man producers decided to respect Gary’s decision to pursue his main field as a musician. We sincerely appreciate Gary who has given great effort for Running Man as the original member for the past seven years.”
It is understandable why Gary would want to pursue music over Running Man despite the fact more people probably know him as a cast member of the popular variety show than any of his other career endeavors. That fact alone is a debilitating truth for him because first and foremost, Gary is a musician but more specifically a rapper.
Ultimately, Gary joins two other former cast members of Running Man who found their careers outside of the variety show to be far more important than their participation in said variety show.
The first member is Lizzy, a K-pop idol of After School. Just like Gary, she left Running Man to concentrate on her musical career. She is now a part of the popular After School sub-group Orange Caramel. Lizzy also has a budding soloist in which she debuted with a trot song “Not An Easy Girl.”
The second member, believe it or not, is one of the most popular K-drama actors in the business today, Song Joong Ki. As one of the original members of Running Man, Joong Ki was praised as the smartest and best-looking. However, he could not stay on as a regular because of his acting schedule. Song Joong Ki leaving Running Man was probably a smart choice because if he were still a part of the variety show, he might not have played the main lead in Descendants of the Sun, the most popular 2016 K-drama that is considered is breakout role.
As mentioned earlier, Gary’s last recording on Running Man will air this coming Sunday, October 31. According to AllKpop, the remaining six cast members will continue onward without him starting in November. Gary, however, leaves behind a legacy in Running Man which includes his numerous “sexy dances” with K-pop idol Hyolyn of Sistar.
Though Gary had other memorable moments on Running Man besides his “sexy dance” with Hyolyn, fans will probably miss his “love line” with Song Ji Hyo the most, which is better known as “The Monday Couple.” For years, fans believed Gary and Ji Hyo were a couple not just on the show but in real life, or they at least hope they would be a couple in real life. Neither confirmed or denied, “The Monday Couple” as fans know it will come to an end. It is possible that both Gary and Song Ji Hyo not working on the same show anymore will be the catalyst to announce if they are truly together. If that happens, it will be a dream come true for “The Monday Couple” shippers.
Running Man fans are dreading the final episode Gary is on Running Man, but they can all look back on previous episodes with fond memories. Running Man airs on Sundays at 6:30 p.m. KST as part of SBS’ Good Sunday lineup. For those who do not have access to Korean channels, the entire series which includes past episodes can be viewed for free pending region, with ads, on both DramaFever and Viki.
[Featured Image by Leessang Company]