SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - South Korean actor Bae Yong Jun confirmed on Tuesday that he had separated from girlfriend Koo So Hee, who is 14 years younger than him.
KeyEast Entertainment revealed that the 42-year-old's relationship had ended but declined to disclose specifics, citing privacy reasons.
Bae, who shot to international stardom with box-office hits like Winter Sonata and April Snow, was first spotted by Japanese media outlet Nikkan Sports on dates with Koo in shopping districts near Tokyo in December 2013.
South Korean media outlets quickly followed up on the news. Reports soon surfaced that Bae and Koo had been in a relationship since September 2013.
KeyEast Entertainment initially denied all knowledge of the relationship before confirming the rumours. The management agency, however, remained tight-lipped throughout the duration of their romance.
"Since she is not a celebrity like Bae, but someone who just lives an ordinary life, we anticipate there will be a lot of discomfort and pain if we expose the detailed circumstances of their private life," a spokesman said, requesting that the media respect their privacy.
There were renewed speculation about the couple in May last year, when rumours circulated that Bae was planning to tie the knot in June, which was fiercely denied by the actor's management agency.
Koo, born in 1986, reportedly struggled over differences in social status with Bae, born in 1972. The beauty, who is the second daughter of industrial company LS Cable & System's former vice-president, Koo Ja Gyun, is related to the founder of LG Corporation on her mother's side.
She graduated from New York's Syracuse University with a marketing degree before attaining a master's degree in international trade from Korea University.
"So Hee, who is from a reputable chaebol (conglomerate) lineage, is surrounded by people who look down on celebrities. Some of her relatives oppose her relationship with Bae, whom they believe is trying to scale the social ladder," Japanese tabloid magazine Josei Seven reported in July, citing an unnamed South Korean newspaper journalist.
"Given the state of affairs, it's only natural that Koo will eventually bow to her family's wishes regarding her future marriage."