Bad news: Lee Kwang-soo is leaving “Running Man” after 11 years. This is so he can continue to recuperate from a traffic accident in February last year, having suffered from a fractured ankle after a car hit him. Back then, Lee took a short hiatus for his recovery and eventually returned to the show while still undergoing physical therapy.
King Kong by Starship, Lee’s agency, released this statement today, April 27: “Lee Kwang-soo will be stepping down from SBS’s ‘Running Man.’ His last recording will take place on May 24. He has been steadily undergoing rehabilitation treatment since his injury from the accident last year, but it has been difficult for him to be in perfect condition during the recordings. After long discussions between the members, producers, and his agency since the accident, it was decided that he will take some time to take care of his body and mind. We sincerely thank you for sending so much love and attention to Lee Kwang-soo on ‘Running Man.’”
SBS’ statement echoed the same sentiment. “The ‘Running Man’ members and production team have been steadily discussing Lee Kwang-soo’s resignation from the program for a long time, and we will respect Lee Kwang-soo’s decision to step down.
Since his car accident last year, Lee Kwang-soo has been going through rehabilitation for his leg, and even when he was not in the best of health, he undertook both the rehabilitation treatment and ‘Running Man’ recordings at the same time out of his love and responsibility for the show. However, despite Lee Kwang-soo’s efforts, it was not easy for him to do both at once, and he spoke about his concerns with the members and production team.
The members and production team would have liked to continue with Lee Kwang-soo on ‘Running Man’ for a longer time, but as Lee Kwang-soo’s opinion as a member of ‘Running Man’ is important, we have decided to respect his decision after a long period of discussion. We are unfortunately faced with a beautiful goodbye, but we ask the viewers to show warm support and encouragement to Lee Kwang-soo and the members who made a difficult decision. The ‘Running Man’ members and production team will also cheer on Lee Kwang-soo, an ‘eternal member.’ Thank you.”
If you’re an avid fan of the comedy variety show, you know Lee as the Prince of Asia, the icon of bad luck, and the traitorous giraffe (all the names lovingly christened by his fans and castmates) who’s been a permanent mainstay since episode one. He’s provided a lot of laughs with his mischievous antics, which often involve him betraying a teammate or someone he’s formed alliances with. He’s also known for his immense bad luck on the show, with his very first appearance being accompanied by a sudden torrential outpour of rain, and all the times he’s had egg on his face, both literally and figuratively.
Outside of the show, Lee has been in a number of projects, including the romance drama series “It’s Okay, That’s Love,” which tackles mental health issues, and the dark neo-noir film “Confession.” He was also recently cast in the upcoming movie “Happy New Year” with Lee Dong-wook, Han Ji-min, Kang Ha-neul and Girls’ Generation’s YoonA, among others.