Posted : 2011-04-22 17:24
Updated : 2011-04-22 17:24

Mass public deception vs. private life

Fans stunned by secret relationship between Seo Tai-ji, E Ji-ah
By Kim Rahn

Marriage, divorce and lawsuit for money. This typical “love and war” theme for a melodrama proved to be real for singer Seo Tai-ji and actress E Ji-ah and all these have been kept under wraps for as long as 14 years.

Hours after the stunning news first broke Thursday afternoon, the actress issued a statement admitting to the relationship with Seo.

It was very unusual that such important issues of marriage, divorce, and lawsuits involving one of the nation’s most popular musicians and actress have been kept secret for such a long time. The news more than shocked everybody, as even their closest aides and friends confessed that they were unaware of it.

In war for wealth division

E’s agency Key East said in a press release late Thursday night that she filed a lawsuit against Seo for alimony and division of net worth.

“She wanted to solve the problem quietly but the two haven’t reached an agreement. She lodged the lawsuit on Jan. 19 as the statute of limitations for alimony was expiring,” it said.

According to the agency, E, whose real name is Kim Sang-eun, began studying in the U.S. in 1993 and met Seo through her sister, who was Seo’s acquaintance, at a concert for Korean-Americans there.

In 1996, Seo went to the U.S. after disbanding his group Seo Tai-ji and the Boys and announcing retirement, and they married the following year, living in Atlanta and Arizona.

“Since Seo made a comeback in June 2000, Lee stayed alone and applied for a court grant for divorce in 2006 by herself. The divorce went into effect in 2009. The reason for divorce was Seo’s job, which was uncommon, and the difference in lifestyle between the two,” the agency said.

It added that reports that they had children were groundless.

E appeared in an ad in 2004 when she visited Korea. She left the U.S. and returned to Korea in early 2005 and debuted in the soap opera “Taewangsasingi” (The Four Guardian Gods of the King) in 2007.

She said marriage to the nation’s top celebrity was the reason she had to hide her relationship after her debut, according to the agency.

“She said she was sorry to everyone for not telling the truth but she went through hard times as well. She said she is young but loved him very much, and wanted to settle the issue in a compromising fashion but failed,” an agency official said.

Nobody knew

Her press release came about a half day after a newspaper reported this sensational news. The report said E filed the lawsuit to demand he pay 500 million won in alimony and 5 billion won in the division of wealth.

The lawsuit resulted from their contrasting views on the time of divorce _ E’s side claims they divorced in 2009 and thus the three years required under law for seeking alimony hasn’t expired, while Seo’s side claims the divorce went into effect in 2006 and thus the deadline has passed.

Lawyers for the two sides have already discussed the case twice, with the third meeting scheduled for May. Even court officials didn’t know that the two in the lawsuit were the two celebrities, as their stage names and real names were different, with Seo’s real name being Jeong Hyeon-cheol.

Their agencies, managers, and even friends didn’t know their relationship and were shocked. Seo’s agency, Seotaiji Company, said they have been out of contact with Seo who is staying overseas.

Yang Hyun-suk, who was a member of Seo Tai-ji and the Boys and one of Seo’s closest friends, said he knew nothing about Seo’s marriage and divorce. “If it is true, it is so shocking that he has kept it secret even to me,” he told a local daily.

The news is gaining more attention because actor Jung Woo-sung admitted to going out with E last March after their rendezvous in Paris was spotted by Korean tourists. Someone took their pictures and spread them over the Internet.

Jung’s agency said he was in enormous disbelief. “He said he never heard that she was married. He said he can’t believe this and hoped it is not true,” an agent said. Jung canceled his birthday party scheduled for Friday and is now out of contact, he added.

대중 기만인가, 스타의 사생활인가?

서태지와 이지아를 둘러싼 결혼, 이혼, 재산소송이라는 “사랑과 전쟁”이 14년 동안이나 숨겨져 온 사실로 밝혀졌다.
한국의 최고 음악가와 여배우를 둘러싼 이런 사실들이 매우 이례적으로 그 오랜 시간동안 비밀로 남겨져 있었고, 그들의 최측근들조차 이 사실을 알고 충격에 빠졌다.

이지아의 소속사 키이스트는 목요일 밤 늦게 보도자료를 통해 이씨가 위자료와 재산분할 소송 중이라고 밝혔다. 소속사측은 “이지아가 문제를 원만히 해결하려 했으나 합의에 이르지 못했고, 재산분할 요구 소멸시효가 다가옴에 따라서 1월 19일 소송을 제기했다”고 밝혔다.

본명이 김상은인 이씨는 1993년 미국에 유학을 갔고 같은 해 서태지의 지인이었던 언니를 통해 교민 콘서트에서 서씨를 만났다. 서씨가 은퇴 후 1996년 미국으로 건너갔고, 둘은 다음 해 결혼했다고 밝혔다.

키이스트는 “서씨가 2000년 컴백한 후 이씨는 혼자 지나다가 혼자서 이혼 신청을 했고, 이혼은 2009년 효력이 발생했다. 이혼 사유는 일반인과 다른 서씨의 직업과 성격차였다. 아이가 있다는 얘기는 헛소문이다”라고 밝혔다.
이지아는 2004년 국내 광고에 출연하고 2005년 한국으로 들어와 2007년 태왕사신기로 데뷔했다.
소속사는 상대가 최고 스타이니만큼 이씨가 사실을 숨겨야 했다고 말했다.

사실을 처음 보도한 신문에 따르면 이지아는 서태지에게 위자료 5억과 재산분할 50억을 요구했다. 이씨는 2009년에 이혼해 재산분할 소멸시효가 아직 지나지 않았다고 주장하는 반면, 서씨는 2006년에 이혼해서 이미 끝났다고 하는 입장이다.
양쪽의 변호인들이 이미 두차례 변론준비를 위해 만났었지만, 이들이 예명을 쓰는 터라 법원 관계자들도 몰랐다는 후문이다.
양쪽의 소속사, 매니저, 친구들마저 사실을 알지 못했다. 서태지와 아이들 멤버였던 양현석은 결혼과 이혼에 대해 전혀 몰랐다며 “만약 사실이라면 우리한테까지 비밀로 했다는게 놀랍다”라고 말했다.

정우성이 최근 파리에서 데이트가 목격된 후 이지아와의 교제설을 인정한 터라 충격은 일파만파 커졌다. 정우성의 소속사에 따르면 정씨는 큰 충격에 빠져있으며, 전혀 사실을 몰랐고 믿을 수 없다고 말한 것으로 전해졌다.

서태지의 팬들은 믿을 수 없다는 반응이다. 서태지의 공식 사이트는 접속 폭주로 마비된 상태이다. 20여년간 충실했던 팬들은 “공식 반응을 낼 때까지 기다릴 것이다” “사실이면 사실이다, 아니면 아니라고 말해달라”고 하고 있다.

한 팬은 “믿을 수가 없다. 무슨 꿈이나 소설인가? 내가 20년간 알던 서태지가 너무 낯설게 느껴진다”고 말했다.
그러나 일부는 사생활을 철저히 보호하고 신비주의로 일관하는 서태지였기에 이해한다는 반응을 보이고 있다. 다른 팬은 “서태지가 결혼 같은 사생활은 밝히지 않을 것이라 항상 생각했기에 실망하지 않았다”라고 말했다.

  • 1. Health alerts issued as fine dust blankets Korean Peninsula
  • 2. Comfort women were Japan's shocking human rights violations: Lippert
  • 3. Ban Ki-moon haunted by awkward slip-ups
  • 4. Court denies Samsung chief's arrest for 'lack of evidence'
  • 5. Moon Jae-in extends lead after Ban's return: poll
  • 6. Former Japan sex slavery victim dies at 94
  • 7. Samsung chief awaits court decision on arrest
  • 8. Trump won't give concessions to Korea
  • 9. Egg prices starting to stabilize after imports arrive
  • 10. Diplomacy dead between Seoul, Tokyo