JuliaMellor

Married for 14 Years and Nobody Knew

In Entertain Me, In The News on April 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm

If there’s one absolute about Korean society, it’s that news scandals about Korean celebrities travel at warp speed.  Usually they consist of plastic surgery suspicions, forged university qualifications, and of course the sordid world of who’s dating who.  This week, however, the celebrity scandal equivalent of an atomic bomb dropped on the news and social networking communities.  One of Korea’s most famous musicians, 39 year old Seo Tae Ji managed to conceal a marriage of 14 years and subsequent divorce 5 years since to actress E Ji-Ah.   And we’re only just now finding out about it.  Hats off to them for perhaps the longest running well kept secret in celebrity history.

So, when? How? Why? And for people like me who are not quite up to date on my Korean celebrities….Who??  For the purposes of a good story, let me fill you in on the background by starting with the Who.


Who is Seo Taeji?  Actually the more I read about him, the more I am intrigued.  During the 90’s Seo was the front man of a rock/metal/alternative music group known as “Seo Taeji and Boys”.  A high-school dropout who believed school was a system that did nothing but corrupt the minds of youth, his music was anti-establishment and provoked rebellion in a culture with few such peers.  The band’s songs ranged from unification, anti-cramming, gangs and runaways, and in 1994 their third album was accused of having backwards satanic messages.  Controversial, certainly, but Seo and the Boys had a massive following.  Despite attempts in 1995 to have their 4th album censored, support for the band led to the system of pre-censorship being abolished.  The group emotionally retired in 1996 at the height of their success to which Seo reasoned his drive for perfection as a fatal flaw, much to the devastation of Korean fans.

But still, who is Seo Taeji the man?  He comes off as mysterious and secretive, not surprising given the recent revelations.  His bio reads with a stutter, as there are frequent periods of absence where he simply disappears for years at a time.  He is intensely personal and few people seem to know anything about his private life.  Regarding his marriage and divorce, not his company nor his closest friends had a clue, stating he would often just leave to different countries and so nobody knew anything about him.  Others say he created his mysterious persona to sell records, as his solo career recently included a “Mystery Project” with singles thus title themed such as “Bermuda Triangle” and “Wormhole”.   While E Jiah’s camp has issued a formal statement about recent events, still nobody even knows where Seo Taeji is, and his silence only fuels the curiosity.

And E Jiah?  Who is she?  She is a similarly curious creature who is no stranger to mystery.  She has even been called an “Alien” in the media and there has often been rumors as to her private life.  I guess now we know why.  Born in South Korea, she moved to the US in elementary school to study, where she first met Seo Taeji at a concert at age 15.   As Seo returned to Korea, the pair began their mysterious long distance relationship, and married 4 years later when E was 20.  No doubt Seo Taeji’s music commitments, and from what we can conclude his fickle lifestyle, the relationship ended in 2006.   E debuted into the drama scene in 2007 in a drama called “Legend” and has been in a number of successful dramas such as “Beethoven Virus” and “Athena: Goddess of War”.


And here’s where the dirty laundry comes out.  E Jiah is currently dating another Korean celebrity, 37 year old actor Jung Woo-Sung, who like every other person surrounding the lives of E and Seo, knew nothing of the decade and a half marriage.  How did it finally come out?  Money. E Jiah has officially filed for a divorce settlement of 5.5 billion won (roughly $5.4 million) as the pair could not come to an agreement privately.  All of Korea is abuzz with the details of this story, including sensationalist rumors that they actually have two kids together.    Korea’s once “President of Culture”, a successful new actress and a long standing heart throb.  How could nobody have known?

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