Why Lee Kwang-soo Is Leaving 'Running Man' After 11 Years

South Korean actor Lee Kwang-soo is leaving the Running Man variety show to "take care of his body and mind," his agency King Kong by Starship announced on Tuesday.

The actor will step down after an 11-year run to focus on his recovery from a car accident in February 2020. Lee underwent surgery after fracturing his right ankle in the accident.

Following a brief break after the surgery, he returned to filming Running Man. The show, which airs on South Korea's SBS network, sees regular cast members and guests compete to complete various missions.

Lee was regularly undergoing rehabilitation treatment during filming, according to the show's producers.

SBS said in a statement that "even when he was not in the best of health, he undertook both the rehabilitation treatment and Running Man recordings at the same time out of his love and responsibility for the show."

The network statement added: "It was not easy for him to do both at once, and he spoke about his concerns with the members and production team."

Lee's agency said: "It has been difficult for him to be in perfect condition during the recordings. After long discussions between the members, producers and his agency since the accident, it was decided that he will take some time to take care of his body and mind.

"Eleven years is not a short period of time, so it was not an easy decision to make. But it was decided that he needed time off to physically recover for future activities.

"We sincerely thank you for sending so much love and attention to Lee Kwang-soo on Running Man."

Lee's final recording of the show will be on May 24.

Running Man has attracted much attention in South Korea and other parts of Asia, earning Lee the nickname "Asia Prince," according to South Korea's Yonhap News.

Several celebrities have appeared as guest competitors or cast members, including K-pop bands Girls' Generation, Big Bang and Super Junior, as well as the actor Song Joong-ki, star of the Netflix gangster drama Vincenzo.

Lee began his career as a model before making his TV debut in the SBS sitcom Here He Comes in 2008, according to IMDb.

The actor has since appeared in several South Korean films and TV shows, including the 2012 romantic comedies Wonderful Radio and All About My Wife. He had a supporting role in The Innocent Man (known as Nice Guy on Netflix), a 2012 drama series that starred Song.

In 2016, Lee starred in a South Korean remake of U.S. comedy Entourage.

Lee Kwang-soo press conference Seoul 2015
Lee Kwang-soo seen at a press conference in Seoul on October 14, 2015. The South Korean actor is leaving the "Running Man" television series to focus on his recovery from a car accident last year. TPG/Getty Images