‘I’m Not Holding Back’: King Khanh Ong Joins Australian Survivor Talking Tribal

The fan-favourite joins Brooke Jowett and Shannon Guss to unpack every minute of the upcoming season of Australian Survivor: Heroes V Villains.

Returning for another season to dissect every big move, blindside and blunder, Australian Survivor: Talking Tribal will be THE recap series to watch. Survivor expert Shannon Guss returns, and is joined by two-time player and The Challenge Australia finalist Brooke Jowett, as well as King Khanh himself, who told 10 Play he’s “not holding back at all”.

The MasterChef all-star won fans over immediately when he and his sister Amy appeared on last year’s Blood V Water, and he admitted his blindside still stings to this day. Now, on the other side of the screen, recapping and unpacking the moves of players in this year’s Heroes V Villains, Khanh gets to kick back and enjoy the show in a completely different way.

“I’ve spoken to Sam [Gash] and I was really worried about doing [Talking Tribal] in the beginning because I was like, what happens if I end up playing with some of these people down the line again? And I’m like, you know what? I’m not even going to think that way. I’m just going to call it how it is.”

While Khanh has already played with some of the castaways on Heroes V Villains, he admitted that there’s only one person he has a real soft spot for, Shaun Hampson.

“That man can tell me anything, can do anything and I’ll be like, ‘Noo, that was great hun!’” Khanh said, laughing. “If I was on his tribe and he told me to write my own name down… I would.”

Sitting on the panel alongside Brooke and Shannon, the trio each approach the game from a very different angle. Initially intimidated by Shannon, the Survivor savant with an unparalleled ability to recall stats from across the global franchise, and powerhouse Brooke, Khanh said his focus — both in and out of the game — is relationships.

“I always played a social game,” he explained, “so I’ll be looking at that, how people interact with each other more so than anything that’s heavily strategic or even challenges and things like that.”

Having now played for a season, and recapping this year, Khanh said it has completely changed the way he watches the show.

“I’ve always been a fan, I’ve watched it for forever, but I used to watch it and be like oh, this is cute, this is entertaining!

“Now I’m dissecting every single thing. I’m writing down little conversations or, like, one word someone will say that I’m like, that word leads to so much more! Everything is time-stamped and I’m looking at it from a strategic side.”

While this new eagle-eyed way of watching the game may be helping him on Australian Survivor: Talking Tribal, Khanh laughed at the idea that it could help hone his skills if he ever returned to Survivor.

“I’m so oblivious to so much, if people lie to me I’m just like oh… okay!”

This year tribes are split between Heroes and Villains, with both new and returning players falling into the two categories. For Khanh, he wanted to believe he would have been put on the Heroes tribe. “But at the same time, Villains have more fun and if I was on the Villains tribe I’d be thriving.

“I think Heroes V Villains is a really interesting concept and theme because I feel like any human that is put into a hero or villain category will play into those roles,” he added.

But the roles aren’t as clear-cut as they would first appear, with Khanh adding that someone like Brain V Brawn winner Hayley Leake could easily have fit into either tribe.

“I feel as though being a Hero is actually a bit of a disadvantage in this game,” Khanh said, adding, “it’s not as acceptable to lie or cheat and you can’t be as rough!”

As for returning to the game, having joined the Talking Tribal panel, Khanh admitted it’s made him less ready to pick up his torch again.

“I’m like, this is scary! This is hard! What was I thinking? To be thrown into Samoa, the weather is all over the place, you’re starving again?

“I’m happy on the couch dissecting it. Snacks! I can have a cocktail if I want, even a coffee. Those are absolutely vital for my survival right now.”

Australian Survivor: Heroes V Villains premieres January 30 at 7.30 on Network 10 and 10 Play on demand