Political pundit Kim Yong-min posted on Facebook on Thursday afternoon that he is stepping down as host of the second season of “Road Dinner,” which was to air its first episode Feb. 16.
KBS’ announcement Wednesday that it was replacing the talk show’s three female hosts with Kim and actor Shin Hyun-joon had met with criticism.
The first season -- with Park Mi-sun, Yang Hee-eun and Lee Ji-hye as hosts -- received acclaim from viewers for looking at current issues, especially stories of marginalized people, from women’s perspectives. The last episode of the first season dealt with the role of women in present-day South Korea.
The change was opposed by people who recalled Kim saying in an online program he produced in 2004, “We should let Yoo Young-chul (a Korean serial killer) loose in America so that he can rape Bush, Rumsfeld and Condoleezza,” as a solution to reducing terrorist attacks. He also said switching contraceptive pills for aphrodisiac pills would be a solution to the declining birth rate.
The number of people signing an online petition against Kim’s appointment grew rapidly. As of Thursday at 3 p.m., just before Kim made his announcement on Facebook, more than 11,000 people had signed.
Meanwhile, the show’s former hosts wrote social media posts expressing disappointment at being abruptly replaced.
Yang posted a photo on Instagram on Thursday of the three female hosts having dinner together. The message read: “We, the three women, have been dismissed from the host position! It’s a little noisy afterwards! The petitions are no joke! #YangHee-eun #ParkMi-sun #LeeJi-hye #MBCWomenEra.”
In his Facebook posting, Kim wrote: “After finding about how unfairly Yang Hee-eun, whom I respect, was dismissed from ‘Road Dinner,’ I cannot take the position. I cannot be a stain to the reputation and value of ‘Road Dinner,’ so I told the producers yesterday that I’d step down and the producers confirmed it today. I hope ‘Road Dinner’ continues to make the world brighter and more beautiful.” He did not mention the past statements he had made that the petitioners specifically objected to.
The “Road Dinner” production team had previously scheduled a press conference for Feb. 12 to address the controversy, before Kim announced his resignation.
By Lim Jang-won (firstname.lastname@example.org