- Netflix’s top survival show “Physical: 100” was swept up in controversy when a media leak suggested the finale may have been rigged.
- Since then, the show’s runner-up, producers and winner have stepped forward with their own side of the story.
- Here’s a summary of what’s happened so far.
Warning: Major spoilers below if you haven’t seen “Physical: 100” yet.
Netflix’s latest viral survival show, “Physical: 100,” concluded on Feb. 21 with a series of exciting final challenges, with Cross Fitter Woo Jin-yong emerging as the winner of the $230,000 prize money.
“Physical: 100” has topped the Netflix Global Top 10 non-English TV charts for five consecutive weeks now, but since the series ended the show has been awash with controversy after controversy – from one of the top female contestants admitting a school bully, until a contestant gets arrested for assaulting his girlfriend with a gun.
Now even the integrity of the show’s final challenge is being questioned by viewers.
After the show’s conclusion, instead of celebrating its global success, “Physical: 100” immediately faced accusations that the finale was rigged.
Rumors that the final rope challenge was repeated three times began to spread.
In the Grand Finals, Woo and runner-up Jung Hae-min faced each other in a tug-of-war challenge, where they had to pull a seemingly endless and heavy rope until someone reached the end of the reel, which was over 1,300. foot long. The winner walked away with the prize money of $300 million ($230,000), while the runner-up went home empty-handed.
Netflix said the production team at Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, also known as MBC, which produced the show, refuted all rumors that the rope challenge would be repeated three times, according to a Feb. 24 report by South Korea’s Sunday Newspaper.
At this point, the rumors remained uncertain.
On February 28, the show’s producer Jang Ho-gi used his personal Instagram account to comment on the rumours.
“Lies can become famous, but in the end it can never become the truth,” the producer wrote in the post’s caption.
This sentence led Jung in second place to break his silence in an exclusive interview with Sunday Newspaper.
Jung had initially declined all media requests for comment, thinking speaking out would cause more harm to other contestants, despite a strong sense of unfairness, according to the Sunday Newspaper interview.
But as soon as he saw the producer’s Instagram caption, he decided to speak out about what happened in the last game.
“When the race started, there was a huge difference. According to the other participants who followed the race, there was at least three times the speed difference,” Jung told the Sunday Newspaper, “and when I got halfway through, Woo raised his hand,” he added.
According to Jung, Woo had requested a rematch midway through with the producers, as he felt there was “too much noise” coming from his rope machine, claiming that the wheel was not turning as smoothly as it should. Jung said the producers found nothing wrong with the machine, but handled Woo’s request by lowering the machine’s tension and lubricating it, according to the Sunday Newspaper interview.
And so the game went on after that, but not for long. “When I saw the ending right in front of me, the production team was screaming for the game to be interrupted again,” Jung told the Sunday Newspaper.
The game was stopped for the second time. According to Jung, the team found a technical problem with the audio and they have no choice but to re-film the challenge. However, the team offered to cut the amount of rope Jung had already pulled, acknowledging that Jung was significantly ahead, according to Jung’s interview with Sunday Newspaper.
Jung said in the interview that he declined the offer to reshoot several times, but finally relented after being pressured by the production team.
In a YouTube video featuring an interview with Jung by a South Korean YouTube channel “President of Entertainment Lee Jin-Ho,” the runner-up mentions how people asked him insensitive questions like “Your physique is much bigger, so why did you lose?”
“That caused me so much stress, and while I’m not sure how helpful it would be, I ended up going to the hospital for psychiatric help,” Jung told the YouTuber over the phone.
Faced with these allegations, the production team decided to release an official timeline of the events that transpired during the filming of the finale.
In an exclusive report from South Korean news YTN, MBC’s production team confirmed that the latest challenge was in fact interrupted twice, but they said they never tried to overturn the results or intervene.
However, there are discrepancies between Jung’s claims and the details in the official timeline reported by MBC per YTN. According to the timeline, which was compiled from the original recordings and audio files, the first interruption was due to an audio problem due to the loud noise of the wheels, which made the recording unusable. After lubricating and checking both machines, the game continued “as is,” according to MBC’s timeline report per YTN.
The report also stated that the second interruption was not due to an audio problem, as Jung claimed, but that the ropes around the machine were tangled, preventing the wheel from turning.
After the hiatus, the production team had a long talk with the two contestants to decide what to do, according to the report. Jung would be against a rematch as he was already in the lead, which the team confirmed with about a 150-foot difference drawn between the two, according to the MBC timeline report per YTN. On the other hand, Woo was against resuming play, saying it would be detrimental to him as Jung has rested enough for another spurt since the second stoppage as noted in the same report from MBC per YTN.
Eventually the two came to an agreement to match again, but with Jung’s rope 150 feet shorter to reflect the difference they had before the second stoppage. The two then “restarted” the game with Woo at the original 400 meters (over 1,300 feet) and Jung at 355 meters (about 1,100 feet).
After days of hate speech and press pressure, Woo finally took to his Instagram account to reveal his side of the story.
Since the controversy began, the show’s official winner has been bombarded with hate comments on his Instagram page. “You are so sassy,” was a comment with nearly 400 likes on March 7.
In his last Instagram post on March 4, winner Woo posted part of the official MBC timeline, saying in the caption that the reported timeline was true to the events.
“Especially the accusation that I was the one who raised my hand first to interrupt the game, that’s not true,” he said in the caption.
“I think everyone was sincere and doing their best,” Woo said in the caption. “I feel a heavy responsibility for the disruption to the contestants’ hard work as a result of this controversy,” he added.
Some fans are demanding that the original recording be released.
“No need to write a caption like that, I think if you just ask the production team to release the original footage it would be a good choice for you too,” read a comment under Woo’s Instagram post . The comment has nearly 700 likes as of March 7.
Jung refutes MBC and Woo’s claims, saying they are still lying.
“I am also cautious in case athlete Woo gets criticized, but a lie is a lie,” the runner-up told Sports Seoul in a phone interview on March 6. and that Woo is also lying.
“I’m angry, not because I lost to Woo, I’m angry that an active athlete (like me) lost because of these events being covered up, and that the situation considers me the liar,” Woo told Sports Seoul.
Fans of the show are generally distraught over the entire dispute between the various sides.
“As a fan of the show, I’m disappointed that the finale has been tainted in this way,” a fan who broke the news about the show on TikTok told Insider, “however, there were a lot of beautiful moments that I don’t want to forget. I don’t want to forget either, added the TikToker, which goes by @krealitylover.
Insider has reached out to Woo, Jung and Netflix for comment.