Extreme survival show Physical: 100, which crowned CrossFit athlete Woo Jin-yong its winner on Feb 21, has been plagued with rumours of a rigged final challenge since the finale aired.
Olympic cyclist Jung Hae-min, who went head to head with Woo in the finale, has claimed the final challenge was halted twice. In the episode that was shown, the match appeared to be one continuous game.
Speaking to South Korean news portal Ilyo, Jung said he initially wanted to keep quiet and accept the result of the final game, which involved each participant pulling a thick coiled length of rope until they reached its end.
However, when he read that the production team of the hit show, which topped Netflix’s list of non-English-language series, had claimed last Sunday that there was no rematch during the filming in August 2022, he reconsidered his stance.
He finally decided to speak out after seeing an Instagram post by showrunner and producer Jang Ho-gi on Tuesday, which implied that the rumour was a lie.
Producer Jang, a former commando in the South Korean special forces, wrote: “I will definitely protect the last year that we gave all our bodies. A lie can be famous but it can never be the truth.”
Jung said in his interview on Tuesday: “I wanted to talk about what is the truth and what is a lie, from my point of view.”
He claimed the final showdown was halted midway by Woo, who had been trailing Jung. Woo had said the equipment was making a lot of noise and, while there were no problems found after checking, the production team added lubricant and oiled the machines.
Jung said the match resumed, but just when he could see that he was about to win, the production team again halted the game and asked them to move to a different location.
“When I thought to myself, ‘This is the end’, the production team called to stop the match again, but I kept pulling on the rope first to end the match,” he said.
He said he was told “there’s a problem with the audio so we can’t use the video footage for the show. As long as you’re okay with (a rematch), we will shorten your rope and start again”.
Jung said he tried to refuse, adding: “I kept repeating that I’ve used up all my strength and can’t do it again.”
However, he gave in as the alternative was for the cast and crew, who numbered in the hundreds, to return the next day to film.
“Back then, I felt a sort of pressure that the rematch could not be helped, even if I had continued to say no. My head was filled with the thought, ‘Am I not allowed to win this?’,” he said.
“We re-entered the arena and the rope was wrapped around the spool once more like before. They told me that they would cut the rope by as much as I had been in the lead, but I don’t know if they did. The rumours online claimed that the equipment was faulty. I don’t know if that was the case or if I had no strength left, but the rope wouldn’t budge. I lost.”
Jung reiterated that he was not looking for a rematch or another chance at the prize money of 300 million Korean won (S$306,000), but wanted the editing of the finale to reflect how the events actually played out.
He also stated that he did not want people to attack Woo, who has so far been silent on social media.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.