Oh no! Say it isn’t so :(
Song Ji Hyo (송지효) and Kim Jong Kook (김종국) are officially leaving “Running Man” (런닝맨), one of the most popular South Korean variety shows in recent years. This heartbreaking news comes after Kang Gary’s departure in October.
According to insiders, the new season of “Running Man” will begin 2017 with popular show host Kang Ho Dong (강호동) joining the cast while Song and Kim leave the show. The rest of the members – Yoo Jae Suk, HaHa, Lee Kwang Soo, and Ji Suk Jin – will be staying.
In a statement, the actress’ label, MY Company, said, “Song Ji Hyo is leaving ‘Running Man’. There was a long discussion with the producers as it was overwhelming for her to handle both acting promotions and a variety show. She plans to focus on her acting career after leaving ‘Running Man’. The date of her departure is currently in adjustment.”
Meanwhile, the Turbo member’s label, Maroo Entertainment, has also confirmed his departure, stating, “Kim Jong Kook decided to leave ‘Running Man’. The exact date of departure is not yet confirmed.”
The official departure dates for both Ace and Sparta-Kook have yet to be confirmed, so stay tuned for more updates!
UPDATE (15th December, 9am):
Amidst brewing rumours that both Kim Jong Kook and Song Ji Hyo’s were forced out of “Running Man”, both agencies have stepped up to confirm that the stars were told to leave without being given a proper notice.
MY Company, Song Ji Hyo’s agency said in a statement, “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 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.”
On behalf of Kim Jong Kook, Maroo Entertainment also revealed, “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.”
“Running Man” is slated to go through some changes in style and formatting for its 2nd season early next year due to falling viewership/ratings.
Earlier, there were reports that popular South Korean TV host and comedian Kang Ho Dong (of “Star King” and “Strong Heart” fame) will join the cast, an involvement that will mark his first project with “Nation’s MC” Yoo Jae Suk (유재석) in 10 years. However, Kang Ho Dong has since retracted the decision.
SM C&C, Kang Ho Dong’s agency released a statement following the news of Song Ji Hyo and Kim Jong Kook being forced out of “Running Man”, explaining that Kang Ho Dong has since declined the offer due to the way Song Ji Hyo and Kim Jong Kook’s leave was handled.
Read it in full below:
“Hello this is Kang Ho Dong’s agency SM C&C.
As we all saw being reported yesterday morning, it is true that Kang Ho Dong received a proposal to join SBS ‘Running Man Season 2’ and after much deliberation decided to accept. However, with the series of events that have occurred since then (Kim Jong Kook and Song Ji Hyo being forcefully removed), we have realised that Kang Ho Dong’s decision to join the show is currently an uncomfortable situation. We would like to tell you all the position of the agency.
We do not know all of the details of the situations, but we do not want the appearance of Kang Ho Dong to inconvenience any of the viewers for any reason. With that, we feel bad and are sorry, but will now politely decline this offer.
To all the fans who love Running Man, and to all of the officials at SBS who helped make this offer, we apologise for creating confusion and bow our heads in apology. We are sorry.”
We’re still absolutely heartbroken that Song Ji Hyo and Kim Jong Kook are no longer a part of “Running Man” :( Nevertheless, we wish the 2 stars the best of luck in their future endeavours.