When Dispatch broke the news that Seo Ji-Hye and Kim Jung-Hyun had allegedly been dating for almost a year, Korean tabloids went crazy. It was supposed to be a love story, but it developed into a series of revelations of a toxic ex-relationship. This, in turn, led to an expose of the reasons behind Kim Jung-Hyun’s past bad work ethic and problems with his company. Finally, there is now a legal battle in the making that the actor has to deal with, between him and his agency.

What a twist!

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Seo Ji-Hye, born on 24 August 1984, is a South Korean actress.

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Seo Ji-Hye is best known for starring in popular TV dramas such as ‘Don’t Dare to Dream’, ‘Heart Surgeons’ and ‘Crash Landing on You’.

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Seo Ji-Hye has won numerous awards in her acting career. Some notable ones include winning ‘Best New Actress’ at the 2005 MBC Drama Awards, ‘Excellence Award, Actress in a Daily Drama’ at 2012 KBS Drama Awards, and ‘Excellence Award, Actress in a Wednesday-Thursday Drama’ at the 2018 SBS Drama Awards.

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Currently, online news outlets allege that Seo Ji-Hye is slated to appear in two upcoming dramas: ‘Dr. Brain’ and ‘Younger’.

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Kim Jung-Hyun, born in Busan on 5 April 1990, is a South Korean actor.

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Kim Jung-Hyun started off his career by participating in several musical theatre plays. He finally made his film debut in ‘Overman’, which was selected to premiere at the 2015 Busan International Film Festival. This led to increased recognition for him as he earned ‘Best New Actor’ nominations for his role in the film.

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Kim Jung-Hyun is best known for starring in popular TV dramas such as ‘Welcome to Waikiki’, ‘Crash Landing on You’, and ‘Mr. Queen’.

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Kim Jung-Hyun won ‘Best New Actor’ at the 36th MBC Drama Awards for his role in the drama ‘The Rebel’ in 2017.

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On April 8, Korean news outlet Dispatch reported that Seo Ji-Hye and Kim Jung-Hyun were allegedly dating. According to Dispatch, the couple had been secretly dating for almost a year before the news broke.

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According to Dispatch, Seo Ji-Hye and Kim Jung-Hyun have been spotted going back to their apartments together on many occasions. Kim Jung-Hyun allegedly moved to Seongdong-gu to be closer to Seo Ji-Hye, as she resides there. The couple’s apartments are merely 10 minutes away from one another. They have also allegedly gone on many dates secretly and celebrated their birthdays together.

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Dispatch speculates that Seo Ji-Hye’s and Kim Jung-Hyun’s relationship may have already begun in 2016 when they first worked together on the drama ‘Don’t Dare to Dream’. Their romance developed further when they collaborated again on the hit drama ‘Crash Landing on You’ in 2019. Due to the popularity of their pairing, they played a couple again in the drama ‘Dinner Mate’ in 2020. Their repeated collaborations may have developed into real love for them.

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According to Soompi, both Seo Ji-Hye’s and Kim Jung-Hyun’s agencies have come out to deny their dating rumours. Seo Ji-Hye’s agency, Culture Depot, claimed that the actress met Kim Jung-Hyun regularly as a ‘close friend’ to help him with the issue of transferring agencies. The actor’s contract is due to expire next month. Meanwhile, Kim Jung-Hyun’s agency O& Entertainment has also claimed that the two stars are merely “maintaining a close relationship as senior and junior.” (Seo is five years older than Kim).

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Soompi reports that Kim Jung-Hyun was allegedly looking to join Seo Ji-Hye’s agency, Culture Depot, as his current contract with O& Entertainment expires in May. Culture Depot affirmed that they were indeed in talks with Kim Jung-Hyun over an exclusive contract with their agency.

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Shortly after his dating news with Seo Ji-Hye broke, Kim Jung-Hyun became embroiled in a scandal. According to The Korea Times, Kim Jung-Hyun’s agency, O& Entertainment, has filed a motion for settlement with the Korea Entertainment Management Association (KEMA) against the actor. They claim that the actor still has 11 months in his contract before it is up, unlike what he has claimed previously.

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From KEMA guidelines, talents and their agencies are forbidden from discussing or inking deals with third parties until there are less than three months to go on their current contracts.

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According to The Korea Times, O& Entertainment was extremely displeased when reports of Kim Jung-Hyun seeking to switch agencies came out in response to his dating news. They clarified that although Kim Jung-Hyun’s contract was supposed to officially end in May, legally it should be extended for another 11 months as the actor took a hiatus in 2018 for health reasons.

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The Korea Times reported that the actor dropped out of the MBC series ‘Time’ halfway through their broadcast run due to his eating and sleep disorders in 2018.

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As if things weren’t confusing enough, Korean news outlet Dispatch dug deeper into the scandal and revealed that is a darker reason behind Kim Jung-Hyun’s departure from the 2018 drama ‘Time’. The exposé by Dispatch revealed a series of text messages between Kim Jung-Hyun and his former girlfriend. It hinted that Kim Jung-Hyun might have potentially left ‘Time’ due to relationship issues rather than health problems as previously thought.

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According to Dispatch, their investigation revealed that the identity of Kim Jung-Hyun’s ex-girlfriend was the rising actress Seo Yea-Ji. The two stars first met when they collaborated on the 2018 romance drama ‘Stay With Me’.

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Seo Yea-Ji, born on 6 April 1990, is a South Korean actress. She is best known for the TV series ‘Save Me’, ‘Lawless Lawyer’ and ‘It’s Okay to Not Be Okay’. The latter series,  ‘It’s Okay to Not Be Okay,’ catapulted her into fame domestically and internationally after its release on Netflix. She was lauded for her performance and won many awards for her role in the drama.

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According to Dispatch, the alleged text messages between Seo Yea-Ji and Kim Jung-Hyun were leaked by an unknown source. The texts suggested that the actress did not want the actor to have any physical contact or “skinship” with actress Seohyun in the drama ‘Time’.

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Dispatch reported that Seo Yea-Ji allegedly also forbade Kim Jung-Hyun from unnecessarily interacting with female staff. She ordered him to send her videos of his time on set so that she could always know what he was doing.

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On April 13, Soompi reported that Seo Yea-Ji’s agency, Gold Medalist, released an official statement responding to the allegations about the actress. They claimed that Seo Yea-Ji had nothing to do with Kim Jung-Hyun’s personal behaviour and that he had acted out of his own free will.

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Seo Yea-Ji’s agency, Gold Medalist, also revealed that Kim Jung-Hyun had made similar requests towards Seo Yea-Ji. He had reportedly demanded that she was not to film kiss scenes for her drama. As such, the agency concluded, the entire controversy was taken out of context as it was just a “lover’s quarrel” between the two stars.

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Dispatch also referred to Kim Jung-Hyun’s allegedly unprofessional behaviour during the 2018 drama ‘Time’, which included him requesting multiple script changes to remove physical or intimate scenes from the drama. He also purportedly prevented Seohyun from immersing into her role, causing her to break down during filming.

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According to Soompi, Kim Jung-Hyun’s expressionless state throughout the ‘Time’ press conference in 2018 led to a reporter asking whether he was unwell. Although the actor attributed his state to him just trying to remain in character, the public berated him for his ‘bad attitude’ and lack of enthusiasm at an event promoting the drama.

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Kim Jung-Hyun was also criticised by the public for his rude behaviour towards Seohyun when the video of the press conference was released. In the video, Kim Jung-Hyun could be clearly seen rejecting Seohyun’s attempt at trying to get closer to him to pose for photos. He moved away from her instinctively and did not allow her to grab onto his arms. As they play a couple in ‘Time’, it is natural for Seohyun to want to come closer to Kim Jung-Hyun for ‘couple shots’ to promote their roles for the drama’s press conference.

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On April 14, 2021, Soompi reported that Kim Jung-Hyun had released a handwritten letter on social media apologising for his unprofessionalism on ‘Time’. He regretted his actions and poor attitude back then, as it had caused a lot of staff members to suffer. He reflected on his actions and was determined to personally apologise to anyone he had hurt and caused trouble to. He also vowed to become a better actor who’d be healthy and mindful of himself.

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The entire controversy seems to play out like a real-life K-drama. The news of Seo Ji-Hye and Kim Jung-Hyun dating was welcome to ‘Crash Landing on You’ fans. However, the slew of negative news about Kim Jung-Hyun – right when the contract dispute between Kim Jung-Hyun and O& Entertainment is being brought forth to the legal courts – makes it seem like an orchestrated attack on the actor rather than a coincidence.

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After Dispatch noted that they received the text messages from “an unknown source”, showbiz analysts speculated that Kim Jung-Hyun’s own agency, O& Entertainment, might be behind the whole controversy. It might want to “punish” the actor for trying to switch agencies by ruining his public image – especially in the eyes of Culture Depot, the agency of Seo Ji-Hye, who is his alleged current girlfriend.

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Unfortunately, Seo Yea-ji was a casualty of the suspected ‘orchestrated attack’ on Kim Jung-Hyun. She has been put in a very negative light with the revealed text messages. Kim Jung-Hyun, meanwhile, is forced to remain under his own agency while we wait for further developments on his contractual dispute with O& Entertainment.

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