Love knows no border

Updated: 2014-08-01 07:10

By Xu Lin (China Daily)

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When Chinese actress Tang Wei wed South Korean director Kim Tae-yong, they joined a growing number of international couples from the two countries walking down the aisle. Xu Lin reports.

Many Chinese netizens declared themselves heartbroken to learn of popular actress Tang Wei and South Korean director Kim Tae-yong's sudden engagement recently. But the shock of the announcement was soon overshadowed by the news that the two held an impromptu wedding in Sweden.

Tang's agency confirmed that the couple wed at the house of late Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman on remote Faro Island on July 12.

According to the agency, as diehard Bergman fans, the two decided on the spur of the moment to have a private wedding in accordance with the local customs, to commemorate their pilgrimage to the auteur's home. The wedding was a special memento that they gave to themselves as cinema professionals. The official wedding ceremony will be held this autumn, with family members present.

"I believe every woman wouldn't miss an opportunity that can change her destiny. If you grasp it, it may change your life," Tang told news portal NetEase when asked about her marriage. The Chinese movie star is now learning Korean.

Tang and Kim, 45, met in 2010, when Tang starred in Kim's English-language movie Late Autumn. The movie is about Tang, a prisoner released on 72-hours parole, who meets a South Korean man on-the-run played by Hyun Bin, during her visit to her family in Seattle.

The 35-year-old star is not the only Chinese celebrity to marry a well-known South Korean in the entertainment industry.

Taiwan pop singer Valen Hsu, 39, became engaged last year to Choi Jae-sung, who is in senior management at South Korea's top music agency, SM Entertainment. They are planning an intimate wedding in Seoul in September.

South Korea actress Park Chae-rim met Chinese actor Gao Ziqi when they worked together on a Chinese TV series. Gao proposed to her in June and they will get married in October.

The Beijing News reported that Gao says they talk things over when they have a difference of opinion and that he believes men should respect women's opinions and defer to them. The popularity of South Korean TV series has seen numerous young Chinese women declare themselves as fans of South Korean men.

"I like male South Korean stars because they are handsome, romantic, gentle and with a personality," says Jiang Nan, 28. "If I could choose, I would like to marry a South Korean man."

Jiang works in Beijing, but has visited South Korea twice, falling in love with the country and its language.

According to AJU Business Daily, at the end of 2013, more than 150,000 foreigners immigrated to South Korea for marriage, with 85.4 percent of those moving being women. Chinese made up the greatest number at 41.4 percent, followed by Vietnamese (26.4 percent), Japanese and Filipinos.

"China and South Korea share many traditional values, such as filial piety and social norms. Couples have less cultural conflicts than those who get married with Westerners," says Fan Xiaoqing, a South Korean movie expert from School of Television and Film Art, Communication University of China. She lived in South Korea for five years.

"I'm confident about Tang and Kim's relationship. Kim is a bit like Ang Lee. He is learned and refined, gentle and careful," says Fan, who has met Kim.

Fan says Tang is smart, independent, and knows her own mind, while Kim is like a sponge and can be her strong support. They share a lot in common and can work toward their goals together.

According to her, South Koreans like to go with the crowd. If most people think something or someone is good, they will think so as well, ranging from beliefs to cosmetics and trends.

"Kim's fans accept Tang because Kim likes her and they like Kim," she says.

Fan thinks most South Korean men are family-oriented, most men pay their salaries directly to the bank cards of their wives.

Zheng Kaiyue, 29, who married a South Korean, couldn't agree more.

"South Korean men think they should be the breadwinner and wives should take care of the money. Stay-at-home wives shoulder half the responsibility of family and work, so half of their salary is equal to be earned by their wives," says Zheng, a full-time wife who lives in the United States.

"I think South Korean men have a character of fortitude, perhaps because they have to serve in the army (mandatory) for two years. They have a strong sense of honor, with great cohesion and discipline. They have carried forward Confucianism very much, for example, to respect the elders."

Zheng says that many South Korean men are "chauvinistic", but the younger generations are more enlightened. Although most men "do not do housework after marriage", there are some exceptions. She says her husband sometimes helps her around the house.

"I'm very happy for Tang's marriage. Because of the news, the public will get to know more about South Korea and its people rather than the stereotypes," she says.

"For example, many South Korean that I met with have good impression of China. In South Korea, especially in Seoul, more and more students are learning Chinese."

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(China Daily 08/01/2014 page19)