SEOUL – Physical: 100 winner Woo Jin-yong has broken his silence on claims of match-rigging in the final game, in which he beat Olympic cyclist Jung Hae-min.
Since being crowned the winner in the South Korean extreme survival show in the finale, which dropped on Netflix on Feb 21, the CrossFit athlete and the show’s producers have been under attack over allegations that the final rope-pulling match was unfair.
While broadcaster MBC and showrunner-producer Jang Ho-gi subsequently denied the allegations, Jung came forward last week to give his version of the events.
In an interview with South Korean media outlet Ilyo, he said the match was halted twice and the first time was on request from Woo, who reportedly said the equipment was making a lot of noise.
However, in a bid to clear his name, Woo posted a screenshot of the production notes on Instagram last Saturday to clarify that he did not ask for the match to be stopped and stressed that it was a decision by the production team.
“Once the match was stopped, the production team worked on both sets of equipment to minimise the noise,” the former snowboarder wrote, adding that they were lubricated with WD-40 before the match resumed.
“I played that match by the rules and gave it my best. Yes, there were interruptions to the match that were completely unexpected to the production team, contestant Jung Hae-min and myself – and so the match didn’t go as smoothly as we anticipated,” he said.
“But the truth is that I never made any requests to win the match in an unfair manner.”
Woo, who is in his 30s, did not mention the second time that the match was reportedly halted and moved to another location by the production team, which Jung had revealed in his interview.
Jung claimed he had a vast lead, but was totally spent by that time.
“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,” he said.
In the final cut of the episode that aired, the match appeared to be one continuous game.
As of the week ending Feb 26, Physical: 100 has been on Netflix’s Top 10 charts for non-English TV shows for five weeks.
Woo added: “I have no doubt that we all tried our best and we all took the matches seriously. And I feel inevitably responsible for how this controversy has potentially distorted the genuine efforts that the contestants made on Physical: 100.
“The series was, from the start, based on sportsmanship – the idea of competing at our extremes and accepting the outcomes. I know the viewers fell in love with the series for that reason. And so I promise to stay true to those values.”