Running Man had once announced that it would shut down permanently in February 2017. SBS made the initial decision after Kim Jong Kook and Song Ji Hyo were removed from the show without notice, and a massive amount of viewers expressed their anger with the controversial decision.
After it was revealed that Kim Jong Kook and Song Ji Hyo were kicked off the show, rumors circulated that the remaining members were contemplating on leaving the show as well. Shortly afterward, SBS announced that the show will be cancelled and the cast would reunite together for the final few episodes.
Running Man producer Jung Cheol Min made a statement explaining his side of the story and how he believed that miscommunication was the source of the entire controversy.
There was a problem in the way we communicated. Before we could even say ‘What’s going on’ the situation got out of hand and misunderstandings had developed.
We were discussing multiple styles of formatting change and due to a lack of communication, things got out of control and the unthinkable happened. We used to be like family but now things are awkward between us. Even during the meeting today we were all saying ‘Why has it come to this?’
— Jung Cheol Min (Running Man Producer)
Jung Cheol Min continued on to defend the producers and why he would never betray Kim Jong Kook and Song Ji Hyo.
The members weren’t the only ones that were like family, the producers were just as close. It makes no sense that we would do such things on purpose, it was all a misunderstanding due to a lack of communication.
We are still close but I couldn’t avoid being saddened by how they were hurt all because of misunderstandings. We decided that things shouldn’t end this way and that it’s only right we end things right together. So we decided to end things with a blast and everyone okayed it. We also cleared up all the misunderstandings that had built up.
— Jung Cheol Min
He once again emphasized that the members and producers were like family. He recalled how hurtful the entire situation had been for all parties involved.
The producers and the members had a tight bond. We were like family so it hurt us to see them suffer. We cleared up everything by the end of the meeting.
The filming for this week has been canceled and since we have an end date in mind now, we are discussing how we are going to format the last few episodes.
— Jung Cheol Min
While the producer insisted the entire situation was all a misunderstanding, statements made by Song Ji Hyo and Kim Jong Kook’s agencies seemed to suggest otherwise.
Their statements suggested that the relationship between the members and the producers weren’t like “family”. An official from Song Ji Hyo’s agency pointed out that the awkwardness still persisted between the two sides; however, Song Ji Hyo’s priority was to be loyal to her fellow cast members.
[Song Ji Hyo and Kim Jong Kook] decided to stay on the show until February after the meeting. The relationship with SBS is awkward right now but that’s a problem with the SBS producers. She wants to do her duty and stay loyal to the members of Running Man. She wishes to end things on a good note.
— My Company
Kim Jong Kook’s agency continued on the same line of thinking as Song Ji Hyo’s agency.
Between the members, there is no problem at all. They are all close so I think they worked things out well. He is on board until the end in February.
— Maroo Entertainment
It appears that the producer’s side of the story had its flaws, according to Song Ji Hyo and Kim Jong Kook’s statements. Even so, they both came to terms with the staff and agreed to continue on for the sake of loyalty to the other members.
Thankfully, the controversy ended on a positive note as Running Man decided to continue the program with the cast. The program continues on with both old and new members to this day!