'Last Princess' Denied Final Meeting with Ex-Husband

      July 21, 2005 18:57

      Julia Mullock and her husband Gu, Prince of Korea pose in hanbok or traditional Korean dress for a photo at Nakseon Hall, Changdeok Palace in Seoul in 1960s after their return to Korea with the help of the then new president Park Chung-hee.

      Julia Mullock came back to Korea in late April despite ailing health for a last glimpse of her former husband Gu, Prince of Korea, aka citizen Yi Gu. "I hoped I could see his face again on May 1, when a ceremony at the Jongmyo Shrine is held." The Confucian shrine dedicated to the Chosun Dynasty houses tablets bearing the teachings of members of Korea's former royal family. "I really longed to meet him again," she said. But it was not to be. Gu died alone in Tokyo's official Akasaka Guest House last Saturday.

      CJ Entertainment, which is making a film based on Mullock's life, said Thursday the "Last Princess," 82, was living in an apartment in Gangnam, Seoul, limiting her appointments to a minimum. She suffers arthritis as well as the effects of a stroke several years ago that paralyzed her right hand.

      The couple's first meeting is reminiscent of a movie itself. Eight years Gu's senior, Julia was working in the architectural practice of IM Pei -- which designed the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris -- when Gu, fresh out of MIT with architecture degree, joined the New York firm. She taped a notice on the firm's notice board to sell her apartment, being so tired of her work that she planned to move to Spain. Gu saw the notice but paid not attention to the apartment when he visited her but instead persuaded her to stay.

      Julia, whose parents were from Ukraine, was deeply moved when Gu uttered a few words in clumsy Russian he was taught by Ukrainian college roommates. The happiest time of their marriage was when the newly-weds lived in Hawaii near Crown Prince Eun and Princess Bang-ja, she told CJ Entertainment. The four dined and went for walks together every day.

      But pressure from the Chosun royal family forced the couple to divorce in 1982 because Mullock "failed to produce an heir."

      CJ Entertainment is working on a scenario for a movie titled "Last Princess" based on their story. The production company hopes to start shooting in the second half of next year, with a Hollywood cast and director.

      The company said it was not clear whether Mullock's failing health will permit her to attend the funeral scheduled for Sunday.

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