As their world churns: All's fair in love and war

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As their world churns: All's fair in love and war

Cho Sung-min, 29, and Choi Jin-sil, 34, were once the couple who had everything.

The extravagant marriage two years ago of Mr. Cho, then a star pitcher for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, and Ms. Choi, one of the most popular soap opera actresses in Korea, drew 1,500 visitors to the Grand Hyatt hotel. Another 500,000 viewers reportedly watched the ceremony live on the Internet.

There was great public outcry when it was learned that Mr. Cho and Ms. Choi allegedly spent 100 million won ($83,500) on the nuptials when the country was still struggling to recover from a financial crisis.

Less than two years after those visible "I-do's," however, the couple was back in the news, this time with some "I-want's."

On Nov. 17, Mr. Cho called a news conference at his office in Daechi-dong to announce that he was divorcing his wife. Mr. Cho, who had quit the Yomiuri Giants in October, accused Ms. Choi of neglecting her duties as a wife and mother.

Mr. Cho said his wife had continued to smoke -- after she became pregnant with their son, who is now 1, and now, 8 months pregnant, she continues to smoke, he said.

Additionally, Mr. Cho complained that when his personal items from Japan arrived in Seoul in November, his wife called her in-laws and ordered them to collect the items.

Mr. Cho said that his wife's family members had accused him of adultery. Mr. Cho explained that the woman, with whom he supposedly had had an affair with, was a partner in a Seoul bakery he owned, as well as a madam at a bar that he often frequented.

Mr. Cho told reporters that he and his wife were together for only five months of their marriage. He had his baseball career in Japan, he said, while she wanted to be in Seoul work on her soap opera career.

On Nov. 18, Ms. Choi held her own news conference, at her entertainment management office in Gangnam, announcing that she would not accept her husband's divorce request. Although she acknowledged that she had not been a supportive wife, she dismissed Mr. Cho's claim that she was a bad mother. She also said that Mr. Cho had recently pushed her down a flight of stairs.

On Nov. 19, severely distraught, Ms. Choi checked into Hosan Womens Hospital.

On Nov. 26, a close friend of Ms. Choi's told a group of reporters who had surrounded her apartment in Gangnam that Ms. Choi had agreed to the divorce -- but only on the condition, the friend said, that the couple stay married until Ms. Choi had delivered the couple's second child, due in February, and that Ms. Choi would keep the children.

On Nov. 26, Mr. Cho held a news conference at his office in Daichi-dong. One reporter for a sports daily showed up. Mr. Cho told the reporter he had agreed to Ms. Choi's demands, but that he wanted the divorce immediately.

Further announcements are expected.

by Lee Ho-jeong

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