By Chung Ah-young
Actress Lee Ji-ah dropped the alimony and division of property lawsuit against ex-husband singer Seo Taiji Saturday amid controversy over their secret marriage and ensuing rumors behind the divorce. Seo released a statement on his website the same day for the first time since their past relationship was revealed 10 days ago.
"After I retired as a singer in 1996, I wished to live an ordinary life to marry and have children as Jeong Hyeon-chol (his real name) not as Seo Taiji. I wanted to protect the home and regular life that I had for the first time after retirement. Someday if my life settles and I have confidence about my life, I hope to tell it to my fans for the first time and receive their blessing", Seo said.
"Unfortunately, the (married) life couldn't last long and I had to take the step to split with her in 2000 and I came back to Korea and resumed my music career as Seo Taiji. It wasn't possible to reveal her presence to the public as we had already gone our separate ways. So everything was buried in my mind as a secret".
He also said in a press release that the couple couldn't overcome differences in personality and future direction, which eventually led to their separation in 2000 and divorce in 2006.
Following the withdrawal of the lawsuit Saturday, Lee has been out of contact, according to her agency, Key East. It is assumed that her decision was based on the enormous stress she experienced due to rumors since her past was exposed.
Barun Law, her legal representative, said that she gave up the lawsuit as it would be difficult to continue with the case for a long time. She and the people around her have suffered mentally from groundless rumors after her marriage and divorce were disclosed to the public. It added that she wants to put an end to all the issues and controversies about her previous marriage and divorce.
However, despite the two stars' efforts to suppress the tumult, mysterious aspects remain. One of the lingering questions is why Lee took the risk of filing the lawsuit despite the chance of revealing secrets at the peak of her popularity as an actress 11 years after the marriage ended.
Lee filed for 5 billion won as her share of matrimonial properties and for 500 million won in alimony against Seo in January. The news of her lawsuit was widely reported on April 21 by the local media, shocking legions of fans.
Lee, whose real name is Kim Sang-eun, first met Seo at a concert for Korean-Americans in the United States in 1993. In 1996, Seo went to the U.S. after retiring and disbanding his group Seo Taiji and the Boys. They married the following year, and lived in Atlanta and Arizona.
Lee first appeared in an ad in 2004 and debuted in the soap opera "Taewangsasingi" ("The Legend", The Four Guardian Gods of the King) in 2007 and has since starred in various hit dramas such as "Beethoven Virus", "Style" and recently "ATHENA".
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