Asia Abuzz Over Chinese Actress Tang Wei's Engagement to South Korean Director

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Tang Wei

Fans and local celebrities are sharing their views about the Chinese superstar's surprise engagement to the older Korean filmmaker.

SEOUL — Asia's social media has been abuzz with various responses to Chinese superstar Tang Wei's engagement to the older and relatively lesser known South Korean filmmaker Kim Tae-yong. The two are set to be wed in a private ceremony this coming autumn.

When the two met on the set of the award-winning Korean melodrama Late Autumn five years ago, the renowned star of Lust, Caution was caught up in (false) dating rumors with her regionally popular co-star Hyun Bin -- not the divorced filmmaker 10 years her senior.

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One Chinese online commentator said "I don't understand why Tang Wei is marrying this ugly director instead of Hyun Bin," while others across Asia expressed bemused surprise over what many are calling "a real-life Notting Hill romance" -- inspired by the rom-com about a world famous actress falling in love with the guy next door.

Kim's fellow Korean celebrities also shared comments and congratulatory messages through social networking services, with some offering personal anecdotes about the couple.

"Two years ago I carefully asked Tae-yong about 'his true feeling' and he had said rather elusively that it was 'in progress,'" said director Leesong Hee-il through Twitter. "I'm jealous, Kim Tae-yong."

"It was last year that I heard from [Kim himself] that they had begun developing feelings for each other, beyond mutual interest. I received an SMS about the engagement this morning, congratulations," said filmmaker Byun Young-joo. "Tae-yong, you're Notting Hill!" Byun added, while director Kim Jong-kwan called the future groom "the Grace Kelly of the filmmaker's world." 

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Actress Kim KKot-bi (aka KKobbi) defended Kim, saying "Everyone is upset over the loss of Tang Wei, but director Kim Tae-yong is a man who truly deserves to be by her side. Congratulations to both of you."

Tang and Kim denied dating rumors that spread in 2012 when the two were spotted spending time together, particularly as it became known that the actress was reported to have purchased real estate in Seoul's satellite district of Bundang.

The two reunited in October 2013 when she visited Korea for a local advertisement, and became romantically involved.

"We were able to meet and understand each other through cinema. We became friends and we became lovers. Now we are about to become husband and wife," the couple said through a joint press release. "Of course this is in spite of the difficulty of having to learn each other's mother tongue, and even such challenges will prove to be some of our happiest moments together."

Tang has been extremely popular in Korea ever since appearing in Ang Lee's internationally acclaimed Lust, Caution, and swept best actress awards in Korea for her role in Late Autumn. In 2012 she became the first non-Korean actor to host the opening ceremony of Korea's Busan International Film Festival and continues to model for several local brands.

Kim, a graduate of the prestigious Korean Academy of Film Arts (KAFA), debuted through the local horror franchise Memento Mori, which he co-directed with Min Kyu-dong. He received multiple local film awards for his solo ventures Family Ties and Late Autumn, and recently won wide critical praise for his unique contribution to the Korean 3D omnibus Mad Sad Bad 3D.