Kim Jong-kook has always known to be the strongest member of the 'Running Man' team. The TV personality, along with Song Ji-hyo were unceremoniously removed from the variety show, then brought back after fan backlash.
The show was supposed to end in February but was uncancelled. It has been revealed that Kim Jong-kook helped the show to survive.
Nam Seung Yong, the director of SBS and creator of 'Running Man' revealed that had it not been for Kim Jong-kook, the show would have been cancelled. Yong said that it was Kim Jong-kook's decision he first sought regarding the show's fate, as reported by Koreaboo. Nam Seung Yong simply asked Jong-kook, "Can we stay together till the end?"
Following the talk, Kim Jong-kook took some time to think about his decision, and eventually accepted the offer. Adding on, he personally went with the director to meet the other members and then convinced them himself to stay with 'Running Man.'
We know that the show-runners had arranged a blind date for Kim Jong-kook with a non-celebrity person. The date was rather successful and the lady, Jung So-young, wanted to have a second date. Perhaps this was the SBS producers repaying Jong-kook for his efforts for saving the show from ending.
Koreaboo's article also quotes an industry insider saying that despite receiving such a rough treatment from SBS, Kim Jong-kook decided to stay because of the love of his fans.
"Kim Jong Kook and Song Ji Hyo were deeply hurt. The reason they made such a big decision despite this fact is that they wanted to repay the love of 'Running Man' fans all over the world. They will continue to record for Running Man and carry out their Asian Tour without much trouble," the insider had said.
Though some think that all of this may have been a publicity stunt to improve the ratings for 'Running Man' which were dropping after Gary's exit. Things now seem brighter for Kim Jong-kook and company. Gary recently made a surprise return to the variety show, to the shock of his former colleagues. Song Ji-hyo in particular was very happy, but she maintained her emotions.
Kim Jong-kook has also decided to explore beyond 'Running Man' and will be joining the music and singing competition show 'I Can See Your Voice' as a host.
The next episode of 'Running Man' airs on February 5.