Running Man
Gary Kang and Song Ji Hyo in Running Man. youtube.com/SBS Running Man

Fans are expressing immense dissatisfaction and disgust at SBS Chief Producer Gong Hee Chul, even demanding his removal, as it is being claimed that it was he who wrongfully orchestrated the removal of Song Ji Hyo and Kim Jong Kook from 'Running Man.' On a positive note, the fan meeting tour that is scheduled to be held from January to March by the members of the show, is on track.

The team will travel to six countries as per Koreaboo and will have two fan meetings per month. However, even though the fan meeting will be held, Gary and Yoo Jae Suk will not be able to attend the tour, reports Allkpop. "All members except Gary and Yoo Jae Suk will be attending the fan meeting. The contract for the fan meeting has been confirmed ahead of time," as per a 'Running Man' producer.

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As regards Gong Hee Chul, Koreaboo pointed out a cryptic tweet which was later deleted, by a James Tiny Kim which simply mentioned with a hashtag "Hee Chul" with a Fire and Football symbol preceding it. It was no doubt a subtle message but fans of the show were quick to realise the meaning of the tweet.

Seeing that a ball is Gong in Korean, the message becomes obvious. It now reads "Fire Gong Hee Chul." In fact ever since his tweet, fans have been increasingly using the hashtag #FireGongHeeChul on both Twitter and Instagram, demanding the removal of the Chief Producer from SBS.

A Twitter user, @anang_kookie said "#FireGongHeeChul, u made jihyo cried badly, u made kookie felt betrayed, u made RM mmbers hurt n u made RM fans felt down!! #RunningMan." Another Twitter user, @mrbeanhackerz said "This one PD who ruin a 7 year old program. #FireGongHeeChul #SBS."One Twitter user, @Got7sNoona pointed out that #FireGongLeeChul is already a movement on social media now and expressed to be a part of that protest. "Running Man fans are starting a movement with that hashtag. And I would gladly be part of that movement to #FireGongHeeChul," he said.

Koreaboo also pointed out that James Tiny Kim is an old friend of Kim Jong Kook and resides in Koreatown, Los Angeles. He is said to often meet with the cast of 'Running Man' when they visit the United States. Koreaboo also mentions James Kim as having been with Kim Jong Kook for his concert in Las Vegas for the show "Running Man Bros and Special Guests."

Though it isn't certain whether the allegations are true, as of yet, it seems a likely explanation. If this is true then one man's action has sounded the death knell for 'Running Man': a show loved by many. Gong Hee Chul not only removed actress Song Ji Hyo and singer Kim Jong Kook from the show after Gary left, but his actions led to famous TV personality Kang Ho-dong backtracking from his decision to join Season 2 of the show.

Even though SBS apologised to the two ousted members and brought them back, the show was ultimately cancelled and will end after February 2017. Gong Hee Chul's insensitive decision hurt Song Ji Hyo so much that she stopped communicating with others and broke down in tears, as has been widely reported. Hopefully, in the future, he'll think a thousand times before making such a thoughtless decision that could end his career as a producer. He has already been discredited enough.