Seo Tai-ji to Fight Ex-Wife's Claims

/Yonhap /Yonhap

Pop singer Seo Tai-ji appears determined to fight an alimony suit brought by his ex-wife, even though she has already dropped her claims. Seo on Tuesday submitted documents to a Seoul family court contesting Lee Ji-ah's withdrawal of her lawsuit seeking W500 million (US$1=W1,090) in alimony and a W5 billion share of his assets.

That is likely to leave the alimony suit open, though a suit for division of assets, once withdrawn, cannot be revived.

Seo's lawyers apparently felt that his reputation was tarnished by the lawsuit and believe he should defend himself in court, where he stands a good chance of winning. Lee's lawyers in a press release on April 30 said she decided to withdraw her suit "because not only she but those close to her were suffering from severe stress caused by invasion of privacy since the secret marriage and divorce became known." The suit led to a blizzard of hostile comment and speculation on the Internet about Lee and her family.

Seo's refusal to accept her withdrawal of the suit is expected to lead to more details about their secret marriage being revealed during the trial.

Observers wonder why Seo, who has anxiously guarded his privacy, is now determined to continue the case. His management agency Seo Tai-ji Company in a statement Tuesday said, "Lee Ji-ah's legal representatives sued without warning and withdrew of their own accord, apparently hoping to put the matter to rest. But the truth needs to be verified, so we decided to place it in the hands of the court."

Lee's management agency, KeyEast, said it would watch developments since the actress already withdrew her claims.

When Lee suddenly dropped her suit, there was speculation that the two had reached a settlement behind closed doors, since Seo issued his first official statement on the dispute just an hour before Lee announced her decision. There were also rumors that Lee received a substantial amount of money from Seo as a settlement, but both sides deny this.

The first preparatory hearing was held on March 14, and the third will be next Monday.

englishnews@chosun.com / May 18, 2011 10:38 KST