Ki Sung-yueng, Han Hye-jin Go Public with Relationship

Footballer Ki Sung-yueng announced Wednesday that he is dating actress Han Hye-jin. On his way back to England after helping the Korean national team score a victory over Qatar in the final round of the Asian qualifiers for the World Cup, the 24-year-old midfielder told reporters that he is in love with Han, who is 8 years his senior.

"I do feel pressure from all the attention, but we are in love like anybody else," he said. "We have feelings for each other and we get a lot of energy from the relationship."

Ki apparently decided to announce his relationship with Han immediately after a news website caught the two together after the match against Qatar on Tuesday.

"In fact, I wanted to be open about our relationship and have been waiting for the right timing to make an announcement," Ki tweeted.

Rumors about their relationship had already circulated among fans as Ki appeared at a training session wearing shoes inscribed with "HJ.SY 24." Twenty-four is his number for Swansea City.

"I put initials on my football shoes. I did it for girlfriend," Ki explained.

The two first met at a charity football event hosted by the JS Park Foundation in Vietnam in 2011. Han was invited to help promote the event as she was hugely popular in Vietnam for her starring role in the MBC drama "Jumong"

They met again in August when Ki appeared on SBS talk show "Healing Camp," which Han co-hosts. "If I had a girlfriend like Han, I'd marry her instantly," Ki said on the show at the time.

Han admitted in December that she broke up with her boyfriend of nine years, singer Naul.

"We started going out in January. She makes me feel comfortable and supports me," Ki said.

Han also confirmed the relationship on the same day through her agency. "It's been two months since we started dating and we are getting to know each other."

englishnews@chosun.com / Mar. 28, 2013 10:28 KST