Crusading for facts or collective terrorism? Websites are revealing personal information not only about E, but her family and friends.
Singer Seo Tai-ji, left, and E Ji-ah, center, kept their marriage and divorce secret for 14 years, while the actress’ romance with co-star Jung Woo-sung recently became public. / Korea Times file
By Lee Hyo-won
As Seo Tai-ji and E Ji-ah’s secret marriage and now public divorce are making headlines, online communities are feverishly seeking “the truth” on their relationship.
Media and netizens alike are citing the relationship, kept under wraps for 14 years, as one of the biggest scandals to date in the local entertainment scene.
E is the main target of attention as her romance with actor Jung Woo-sung recently became common knowledge. While E’s affair with Jung has invited jealous glances, her clandestine past with “culture president” Seo is inspiring a whole new level of cyber terrorism.
After E said Thursday through her agency Key East that she had in fact married and filed a divorce suit against Seo, netizens launched a website (lee-zia.com) Friday devoted to tracing her past — and went as far as revealing profiles of her relatives.
The actress has long been dubbed an “alien” for keeping her privacy well protected. Because she moved to the United States in 1993, it was difficult for even her closest aides to learn of her personal history.
But it recently became known that she was born Kim Sang-eun and changed her name to Kim Ji-ah before her professional debut in 2007. As is common among entertainers she adopted a stage name, E Ji-ah.
After news broke of her divorce, E revealed that she is 33 years old, rather than 30 as her public profile read.
She also confirmed through her publicist that she secretly married Seo in the U.S. in 1997 but the two separated in 2000 when the singer returned to the K-pop scene. She began divorce proceedings in 2006.
Netizens have tried to piece together the puzzle of E’s secret life on the website, titled “E Ji-ah, Who Is She?” Contributors have posted purported facts and figures about her private and professional life, along with photos of her grade school days as well as stories about her relationships with family and friends.
Critics say the act can be likened to cyber lynching in the name of “revealing the truth.” An ordinary college student that criticized short men on TV and singer Tablo’s notable academic record have previously been subject to similar netizen attention.
On Saturday E’s agency released a statement asking netizens to refrain from disclosing information about E’s acquaintances.
“E’s family members, relatives and acquaintances are completely irrelevant to the matter, and are ordinary people leading ordinary lives. They are being deeply hurt by recents events,” said Key East. “Please refrain from reporting about those other than the people directly involved.”
There is also a website seojinyo.com, dubbed “Requesting the Truth From Seo Tai-ji.”
The online community is run by a fan of the singer who says, “As an individual who loves Seo Tai-ji’s music and adores the singer, I hope Seo will step up himself to voice the truth and handle the matter.” The website continues to compile stories and reports related to the issue.
While lee-zia.com and seojinyo.com may appear to have different characteristics both feature commercial advertisements and are inviting criticism for financially exploiting and profiting from the scandal.
In the meantime Seo’s whereabouts is also provoking curiosity since the 39-year-old has kept silent on the matter.
His “existence” has been confirmed only through a few traces, including an email he sent to a close friend on Thursday, saying “I am well so don’t worry,” according to Yonhap News, and condolence flowers delivered in his name to rocker Kim Jong-suh’s late father on April 9.
Seo also left a message on his official website on April 2 suggesting that he is traveling extensively: “You know I’m showing up all over the world these days.” The website www.seotaeji.com has not been accessible due to heavy traffic.
Some of his fans have noted, “The general consensus is to Seo Tai-ji’s disadvantage since everyone is just listening to what E Ji-ah says.”
Other netizens have pointed out, “Seo has said numerous times in interviews that he wasn’t interested in marriage. Even though this is his personal life, it’s unfair and cowardly of him to have only E addressing the matter.”
Jung spends lonely birthday
The Seo-E affair has been receiving even more spotlight with the involvement of a third party, Jung, who found out about his girlfriend’s past a day before his 38th birthday on Friday.
“I’m just having a drink with someone (Jung Woo-sung) I’ve known for 24 years. I just hope time goes by quickly,” Kim Yeon-hak, Jung’s longtime friend and agency head, said through Twitter.
Kim went on to say, “(Jung) is having a difficult time, and it’s also hard for me to watch him. I am staying by his side not as his agency head but as a friend.”
Local reports say Jung was looking forward to celebrating his birthday with E and close friends but canceled plans and instead had a drink with Kim.
Kim told the press that Jung had been unaware about E’s relationship with Seo.
“Jung Woo-sung said he can’t trust anyone anymore. I cannot describe in words the shock he felt,” the agency head was quoted as telling Yonhap News on Friday.
Meanwhile, E has said she plans to contact Jung and apologize.
E and Jung co-starred in the blockbuster TV series “Athena: Goddess of War” and admitted they were dating in March.
서태지-이지아 스캔들의 진실은?.. 온라인은 폭거 수준
서태지 이지아의 비밀 결혼과 이혼이 기사 제목을 장식하고 있는 가운데 온라인상에서는 두 사람 관계의 진실을 캐려는 네티즌들로 뜨겁게 달아 오르고 있다.
이지아가 주된 타킷인데 이유는 배우 정우성과의 로멘스가 알려졌기 때문이다.
이지아의 정우성과의 사랑이 시기적인 눈총을 받고 있는 반면 그녀의 ‘문화대통령’ 서태지와의 비밀에 부쳐졌던 과거는 사이버 테러 수준의 반응을 불러 일으키고 있다.
이지아가 21일 대행사 키이스트를 통해 서태지와 결혼을 했었고 그와 이혼 소송을 제기 했다고 밝힌 후 네티즌들은 22일 이지아의 과거를 추적하는 웹사이트를 ((lee-zia.com)를 열었다.