Producers of 'Physical: 100' release raw footage of controversial final challenge

Contestants Woo Jin-yong and Jung Hae-min each pull a spool of heavy rope from a machine for the final tournament of ″Physical:100″ [NETFLIX]

Was the final episode of "Physical: 100" rigged?

The producers of Netflix's viral fitness survival show "Physical: 100," which has been swept up in controversy for potentially rigging the results of the final challenge by shooting it in three different takes, held a press conference on Thursday and screened unedited footage of the challenge to clear things up.

“We apologize for causing distress to viewers and the contestants for our lack of preparation for the final episode that resulted in such a controversy,” said Jang Ho-gi, the main producer of the show, during the press conference held at MBC Hall in Mapo District, western Seoul. MBC is one of the main production companies for “Physical: 100.”

Jang and director Lee Jong-il said they want to apologize for having to make the final two contestants engage in the final challenge three times due to lack of preparedness, but insisted that there was no rigging.

"We want to reveal the unedited version of the footage to show you what really happened and resolve any misunderstandings," said Jang.

In the raw footage released on Thursday, CrossFitter Woo Jin-yong, who won the challenge and took home the 300 million won ($236,000) prize money, faced the runner-up Jung Hae-min in a rope-pulling contest. The two contestants each had to pull on a long, heavy rope wound around a giant spool. The fastest one to pull all of the rope off of the spool became the winner.

The two contestants were pulling their ropes at breakneck speed. Then suddenly, a loud noise started coming from one of the spools. Eventually, the other spool began making the same noise.

“After much discussion between the seven to eight minutes leading up to when we stopped the race, we made the decision to halt the tournament,” said Jang. “First of all, we were concerned about safety. The noise coming from the rope machines seemed to us like a sign that something was going wrong regarding the stability of the equipment, and we could not risk the safety of the contestants."

Contestants Woo Jin-yong and Jung Hae-min face off each other in a rope-pulling contest in the last episode of ″Physical:100″ [NETFLIX]

Jang also said that the noise got so loud that it ruined the video's audio, making it impossible to use part of the footage.

“As shown in the raw footage, the noise was so loud that it was beyond just a small disruption,” said Jang. “We had to make the decision to stop and ask the two contestants whether it would be okay with them to restart the match and reshoot.”

The decision to resume the match the same day was mutually agreed upon by the two contestants, according to Jang.

Then, when the challenge resumed, one of the ropes got tangled and the challenge had to come to another halt and restart again. Jang says this, too, was mutually agreed upon by both Woo and Jung.

Main producer for ″Physical:100″ Jang Ho-gi [NETFLIX]

“There are accusations that we — the producers — had threatened Jung to agree to a rematch and that there were five people surrounding Jung to coerce him into it,” said Jang. “But as you can see in the raw footage, there were just three people talking to the two contestants. This has all been recorded on tape through the microphones worn by the contestants and secondary footage filmed during the final tournament. We also made it clear that the production team would follow any agreement between Woo and Jung and that it was up to the two contestants to decide whether the rematch would take place on the same day or at a later date.”

Shortly after the final episode went on air, viewers began to question the integrity of the final challenge of the hit show, which had stayed on the Netflix Global Top 10 Non-English TV chart for five consecutive weeks. Jung also spoke out about the controversy in an exclusive interview with local media outlet Sunday Newspaper on Feb. 28 and said that five people from the production team talked him into doing the challenge again and that it was Woo who had asked to stop the challenge the first time.

Jang and Lee said they will take strong legal action against any further accusations of rigging now that the raw footage has been revealed.

“We could have prepared better to avoid these rematches, which ultimately started the whole controversy,” said Jang. “But the truth is that there was absolutely no rigging involved, and we can back this with proof."