A growing number of South Korean celebrities have been meeting their soul mates within the entertainment industry, heralding a boom of star couples. Against this backdrop, The Korea Herald has summed up the top 10 celebrity couples that draw keen attention from fans in Korea and elsewhere.
1. Lee Byung-hun & Lee Min-jung
Actors Lee Byung-hun and Lee Min-jung are tying the knot in August. Breaking up after a brief relationship in 2006, they reunited and have been together since last year.
Lee Byung-hun is best known for movies such as “Joint Security Area,” “A Bittersweet Life” and “Gwanghae.” He recently starred in “Red 2” and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” alongside Hollywood actors. Lee is also the first Asian to place his hand and footprint in the forecourt of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, Los Angeles, along with actor Ahn Sung-gi.
Actress Lee Min-jung gained popularity from the drama “Boys Over Flowers” and the film “Wonderful Radio.” She recently acted as a politician in the drama “All About My Romance.”
2. Han Hye-jin & Ki Sung-yueng
Actress Han Hye-jin and Swansea City football player Ki Sung-yueng are engaged, becoming newlyweds in July. The couple has been dating since earlier this year when they met on TV show SBS “Healing Camp” as host and guest. Ki is eight years younger than Han.
Han Hye-jin, who starred in several dramas and movies, has long hosted “Healing Camp” with comedian Lee Kyung-kyu and Kim Jae-dong. She will move to the U.K. after marriage while continuing her acting career.
Ki Sung-yueng currently plays as a central midfielder for Premier League club Swansea City and for the South Korean national team. Ki transferred to Swansea City last year after playing for FC Seoul and Celtic.
3. Seo Tai-ji & Lee Eun-sung
The legendary musician Seo Tai-ji is marrying actress Lee Eun-sung soon. They met each other first in 2008 when Lee appeared in a music video for Seo’s eighth album, “Bermuda Triangle.” After remaining as friends for a year, the couple began dating in 2009, overcoming the 16-year age difference. They are already living together with Seo’s parents. This is Seo’s second marriage after a divorce with actress Lee Ji-ah in 2006. No concrete plans for the wedding ceremony have yet been announced.
Seo Tai-ji was the leader of Seo Tai-ji and Boys, the first modern band that sparked a new music trend in the early 1990s. After the team broke up in 1996, Seo flew to the U.S. and released his own albums from time to time. He is now living in Korea.
Lee Eun-sung appeared in several dramas and movies such as “Sharp” and the film “Take Off.” Lee’s acting career has been inactive since 2009.
4. Baek Ji-young & Jang Suk-won
Singer Baek Ji-young recently married actor Jang Suk-won on June 2 after dating for more than three years. Jang is nine years younger than Baek. The couple is expecting their first child this coming fall.
Baek Ji-young, who debuted in 1999, explored a broad range of music from ballad to Latin-style dance music. Baek is considered one of the most popular female dance artists. She has been featured as a music coach on cable channel Mnet’s “Voice Korea,” a singing talent competition show.
Jung Suk-won has appeared in several television series including “Rooftop Prince” and “Haeundae Lovers.” He is currently in the midst of filming “N.L.L -- Battle of Yeonpyeong,” a movie based on the true story of the battle of Yeonpyeongdo Island.
5. Shin Hyun-joon
Actor Shin Hyun-joon just tied the knot with a Korean-American woman 12 years his junior last month. His wife is currently studying for a Ph.D. in music in the U.S. According to Shin, he ran into her on the street and fell in love at first sight.
Shin, who debuted in the film “General’s Son” in 1990, has broadened his acting career through diverse roles in films such as “The Ginko Bed,” “Barefoot Ki-bong” and “Marrying the Mafia.” Shin also hosts KBS2’s entertainment news show “Entertainment Relay.”
Wonder Girls leader Sun-ye married Korean-Canadian missionary James Park in January this year. It marked the first case in which a South Korean idol got married while maintaining an active career.
The couple met during a missionary trip to Haiti in 2011. After the wedding, Sun-ye moved to Canada where her husband’s family lives. She is expecting her first child soon. The couple is briefly visiting Korea now.
Sun-ye was originally scouted by JYP Entertainment through the TV show “Park Jin-young’s 99% Challenge” in 2001. After several years of training, she debuted as a member of Wonder Girls, a five-girl pop group.
Having many hit songs including “Tell Me” and “Nobody,” the group released a single album in the U.S. and made the Billboard Hot 100. Sun-ye has not officially left Wonder Girls but it is unclear whether the idol group will be back.
7. Haha & Byul
Entertainer Haha and singer Byul joined hands in matrimony last year after an eight-month relationship. Originally friends, they gradually became closer through Haha’s consistent efforts. The couple is expecting a child due this summer.
Haha, who originally debuted in a hip-hop group, challenged other fields such as entertainment shows and sitcoms. He is currently one of the main characters of “Infinite Challenge,” a popular entertainment show.
Byul is a ballad singer who debuted in 2002. She had several music collaborations with other singers including Rain and Na Yoon-kwon.
8. Jun Ji-hyun
Actress Jun Ji-hyun married an old friend in 2012. The couple were neighbors before officially dating. Her husband, Choi Jun-hyuk, is a banker whose grandmother is renowned hanbok designer Lee Young-hee.
Jun gained popularity throughout Korea and Asia with megahit rom-com flick “My Sassy Girl.” After several movies, she jumped to Hollywood and took the lead role in “Blood: The Last Vampire.” Her most recent film was “The Berlin File,” a spy thriller directed by Ryu Seung-wan.
9. Jung Jun-ho & Lee Ha-jung
Actor Jung Jun-ho married anchorwoman Lee Ha-jung in 2011. They met in 2010 when Lee interviewed Jung on the set of his drama, “Queen of Reversals.”
Jung has been active in dramas such as “Iris” and “The Last Scandal of My Life.” He also appeared in many movies like “My Boss, My Father” and “The Siren.” He also organized “Love Food Car,” a volunteer organization which prepares free meals for the unprivileged.
Lee Ha-jung is currently an anchorwoman for a cable TV channel, hosting a current news program.
10. Jang Dong-gun & Ko So-young
Top star couple Jang Dong-gun and Ko So-young tied the knot in 2010 after a two-year relationship. They have been friends since they met on the set of “Love Wind Love Song” in 1999. The couple has a 4-year-old son.
Actor Jang Dong-gun has been a major star since the late 1990s. Starring in movies such as “Friend” and “Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War,” Jang also appeared in foreign films including “Dangerous Liaisons” and “The Warrior’s Way.” His most recent appearance was in “A Gentleman’s Dignity,” a romantic comedy drama about 40-year-old men finding their true loves.
Actress Ko So-young had her big break with “Beat,” starring with actor Jung Woo-sung in 1997. Ko has been inactive since the movie “Project Makeover” in 2007. She has been keeping up public appearances through commercials and the fashion business.
By Lee Hyun-jeong (email@example.com)