German ex-leader Schroeder to tie the knot for 5th time

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his South Korean fiancee Kim So Yeon at a news conference at the Korea Press Centre in Seoul on Jan 25, 2018.
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his South Korean fiancee Kim So Yeon at a news conference at the Korea Press Centre in Seoul on Jan 25, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SEOUL (AFP) - Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will marry a South Korean translator 26 years his junior after his fourth marriage fell apart, he said on Thursday (Jan 25).

The 73-year-old former German leader - whose colourful private life and multiple marriages earned him the nickname "Audi man", a reference to the German carmaker's four-ring symbol - said that he would wed Ms Kim So Yeon this year.

"I've already met her family," he told a press conference in Seoul where the smiling couple stood arm in arm in front of the cameras.

"The wedding will probably be held in the fall and the exact venue and timing will be decided later."

Ms Kim, 47, is a Seoul representative of the Economic Development Agency of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and has worked as a Korean translator for Mr Schroeder.

Their relationship emerged last September when Ms Doris Schroeder Kopf, Mr Schroeder's fourth wife, said in the process of divorcing him that Ms Kim had played a part in the break-up.

Mr Schroeder insisted on Thursday that Ms Kim had nothing to do with the break-up but said he would spend the rest of his life travelling back and forth between Germany and South Korea.

"I have tremendous interest in South Korea's history, culture and arts and... would like to have more opportunities to learn more about South Koreans and the country's heritage," he said.

Mr Schroeder, a Social Democrat, served as German chancellor from 1998 to 2005 and instituted labour market and welfare reforms which angered the Left of his party.