Kim Jong-kook (김종국; born 25 April 1976 in Hapcheon, South Korea) is a South Korean singer and TV personality. He was initially part of the Korean duo Turbo, later pursuing a successful career as a solo artist. Apart from being a 3 Daesang Award Winner Singer, he also participates actively in variety shows in the past such as X-man and Family Outing (since episode 19). Currently, he is present as a cast member in the variety show, Running Man. He is also known for hosting a documentary program called Escape Crisis No.1 (also known as Safety First!) as well as co-hosting the show Everybody.
Kim So-ya, a Korean female singer under the mononym Soya, is his niece.
Kim Jong-kook first entered the Korean music industry in 1995 as a member of the group Turbo, which became immensely popular for their catchy music. After the group disbanded a few years later, he became a solo singer in 2001, mostly concentrating on ballads. Although his unusually high tone of voice is often joked about (with many stars jokingly calling it a "mosquito voice"), he has had many hit singles and has also been a frequent guest on many variety shows, most notably X-Man. In addition, his muscular body is often considered one of the best in K-pop, due to constant weight training.
Kim Jong-kook had a set back after Turbo which he faced difficulties to settle down as a solo artist. Problems like lack of songs from composers, less support from his respected agency and also a change of taste within the fans cause his first album as a solo artist to failed. However he made a huge comeback with his second album (Evolution). One of the songs in the second solo album called Han Nam Ja (One Man) was the reason for all his success. This song became his trademark song and left a very deep impression to the listeners. Furthermore, a scandal rumor between him and Yoon Eun Hye grabbed a lot of attention. This rumor started when both of them were permanent members of a famous variety show called X-Man. This rumor actually brought them close and they started to act like a couple in X-Man.
On 2005; which was his tenth year in Korean Entertainment Industry, Kim Jong-kook became one of Korea's most popular artists when his third album sold in excess of 300,000 copies, making it one of the year's best-selling albums in Korea. He capped off that year by sweeping the Daesang (Best Artist of The Year) from all 3 major Korean TV stations; SBS, KBS and MBC. In doing so, he became the second artist ever to accomplish this feat since Cho Yong-Pil in the 1980s. The lead single from the album, "Lovable", topped many charts. It was also included in Pump It Up and Audition Online. Apart from that, other songs like "Walking in One Spot" and "Star, Wind, Sunshine and Love" also topped many other charts as well.
On January 21, 2006, Kim Jong-kook, Jeon Hye-bin, and Im Tae-kyung participated in Thuy Nga's Paris by Night 81 Vietnamese concert in California. During the concert, Kim Jong-kook performed one of his song from his third album entitled "To Her Man".
On 1 November 2012, following a pre-release of selected songs from his new album, Kim Jong-kook made a comeback to the music scene with the release of his seventh studio album Journey Home after three years. His fellow Running Man co-stars HaHa and Gary participated in the album as well as former Running Man member Song Joong-ki, who starred in the music video for lead track "Men Are All Like That". On 2013, he attended MAMA 2013 as a presenter along with Running Man co-host Song Ji-Hyo.
He also continues his variety and MC activities in Running man and Safety First! His performance in these shows is well-received among Korean fans and he earns himself Excellence award and Best Entertainer award at 2013 SBS and KBS Entertainment Awards. He proves to be very popular among international fans as well. He ranked #1 in the list of most searched/googled Korean stars in Singapore in 2013 (beating the likes of Super Junior, Girls Generation, and Yoon Eun Hye in doing so). His 2013 sold-out showcase in Singapore was also a huge success with more than 1,700 fans in attendance; in addition, 2,000 fans who were unable to attend the showcase crowded out the IMM Level 3 Garden Plaza where his fan signing session was held. He was also voted as #1 Korean solo singer by Tudou (Chinese equivalent of YouTube) viewers. He received more than 1.75 million votes and beat popular K-pop idols such as G-Dragon, Kim Hyun-joong, and Lee Hyori by a surprisingly wide margin. Kim Jong Kook continues to be successful amongst international fans. His first solo concert in Harbin, China sold out. He is reported to be fluent in English which will no doubtedly aid him in his growing popularity.
Running Man Brothers, Kim Jong-kook and Haha, in Dallas, December 14, 2014
In 2014, he again joined fellow Running Man cast member Haha, this time in a musical duo, Running Man Brothers, and debuted in a concert tour in the United States in July and December.