Former German leader Gerhard Schroeder sued by South Korean fiancée’s ex-husband over ‘affair’

One-time chancellor accused of causing ‘unbearable mental distress’ to man who was married to his bride-to-be

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 April, 2018, 6:27pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 April, 2018, 10:29pm

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has been sued by the ex-husband of his future South Korean bride for allegedly having an affair with her while she was still married, a report said on Monday.

South Korea remains a deeply conservative society where extramarital affairs were a criminal offence until 2015, with some offenders – both the straying spouse and the lover – having been slapped with jail terms.

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Affairs remain grounds for civil legal action.

The 74-year-old former German leader announced in January that he would marry Kim So-yeon, a South Korean translator 26 years his junior, after his fourth marriage fell apart.

Schroeder’s colourful private life and multiple marriages previously earned him the nickname “Audi man”, a reference to the German carmaker’s four-ring symbol.

Kim and her husband divorced in November. Doris Schroeder Koepf, the former leader’s fourth wife, said last September in the process of divorcing him that Kim played a part in the break-up.

The two started dating each other while both were still married, Kim’s ex-husband claimed, suing Schroeder for 100 million won (US$94,000) in damages for “unbearable mental distress”, Yonhap news agency said.

The suit had been filed in the Seoul Family Court, it said, without disclosing the husband’s name.

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“The accused (Schroeder) continued extramarital affairs with Kim knowing she is a married woman, causing unbearable mental distress,” it quoted the husband as saying in a document submitted to the court. “Our marriage eventually fell apart, and the accused should be held responsible for his action.”

Schroeder insisted in January that Kim had nothing to do with the break-up of his marriage.

Kim represents Seoul for the Economic Development Agency of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and has worked as a Korean translator for Schroeder.

The Social Democrat served as German chancellor from 1998 to 2005 and instituted labour market and welfare reforms which angered the left of his party.