Initially I didn’t think much of Kim Jong Kook and Song Ji Hyo leaving ‘Running Man‘. After all, their agencies said it was their own decision, and Gary had just left as well. Furthermore, they were reportedly replacing the pair with Kang Ho Dong, so I figured it was just a typical parting of ways as both sides wanted to do different things.
Song Ji Hyo’s agency revealed that the actress has been in discussions for a long time due to the difficulty of juggling variety and acting. In the end, she has decided to leave the show and focus on acting. The exact time of her departure is not yet decided. Kim Jong Kook’s agency has also revealed that the singer has decided to leave the show, although the timing has not been decided yet. Some reports state, however, that he has ‘Running Man’ scheduled only till next week. Previously in October, long-time member Gary had also left the show after being part of it for six years. The remaining members will be Yoo Jae Suk, Ji Suk Jin, Haha, and Lee Kwang Soo. With two members leaving, many are wondering who will replace them. So far, Kang Ho Dong’s side has only confirmed that they are in discussions to join the show.
So everything is normal, right? Well, maybe not. Posts on Twitter and Instagram by KJK’s close friend Tiny are either talking about the ‘Running Man’ decision or is the biggest coincidence of all time, and they seem to point the finger at an unnamed person who forced KJK and SJH off the show (1/2/3/4).
I can’t see a reason why Tiny would lie about something like this, and this kind of distortion between public relations and reality seems like a rather likely occurrence anyway.
Still, I’m not quite sure what happens from here since it depends on whether this makes it back to Korea or not, but the drama potential is certainly there. Granted, it also depends on the fans, but there seem to be a solid amount of them unhappy about the departure of KJK and SJH, and they’re not likely to receive this well.
The Korean media have already picked up on this story.
Reports are that both KJK and SJH were fired from the ‘Running Man’ cast.
Two weeks ago there was talks of a change in formatting and the co-producer visited the set to mention it again. There was still no talks of member changes back then. However, on December 12th they called in Kim Jong Kook to tell him he was out. Song Ji Hyo only found out today after reports came out. It’s true everyone knew that a change was in order due to the fact that the ratings were going low, but this type of goodbye doesn’t only hurt the producers, it wounds the artists as well.
The agencies of Song Ji Hyo and Kim Jong Kook both issued statements basically confirming the reports.
“We knew Running Man would go through changes from SBS, but it is true that we only found out from news reports which members would not be invited back. We do not want to comment on Song Ji Hyo’s feelings, but it is not our official stance that it was not a good farewell.
There is a definite road she needed to walk as an actress and she considered leaving the show so it [seemed] natural to leave the show during the season change. However, it is true there was a lack of active communication from the production crew in the steps leading up to Song Ji Hyo leaving the show. There is a lot of regret emotionally, but as it is the production’s decision, we will humbly accept it.
“It is true that we were told about Kim Jong Kook leaving the show one-sidedly. It is regrettable. Even though Kim Jong Kook was not in the best health condition, it was a program he really cared for and took part in.”
So for PR purposes they aren’t going to shit on ‘Running Man’ for this, but it’s not hard to read into the statements and see the resentment. It’s understandable, of course. Seven years building a team and both of them just get blindsided like that? Damn. A change is understandable, and business is business, but some respect wouldn’t hurt.