Gerhard Schröder, the former German chancellor, has been ordered to pay damages to his wife’s former husband for causing the break-up of their marriage.
A court in South Korea ordered Mr Schröder to pay 30m won (£19,000) in damages, according to court papers published by the Yonhap news agency.
Soyeon Schröder-Kim’s ex-husband, a plastic surgeon, claimed he only agreed to divorce her in 2017 on condition she ended her relationship with Mr Schröder, but instead the couple married less than a year later.
Mrs Schröder-Kim denied the allegations and said her marriage to her former husband was already over and they were living apart when she met Mr Schröder.
The former chancellor has long featured on the gossip pages of German newspapers for his love life.
Mrs Schröder-Kim is his fifth wife, and the 24-year difference in their ages made headlines when they married in 2018 — at the time Mr Schröder was 74 and Ms Soyeon Schröder-Kim was 50.
They met in 2015 at a business conference in Seoul where Mrs Schröder-Kim was working as an interpreter. She was married at the time and her former husband sued in 2019, accusing Mr Schröder of conducting an affair with her that wrecked his marriage.
Adultery was illegal in South Korea until 2015 and used to be punishable with up to two years in prison. An estimated 53,000 South Koreans were charged under the law before it was changed, and adultery is still considered grounds for a civil lawsuit.
“If a marriage that was entered into at a young age, as mine was, is broken and ends in divorce, the reason, in my opinion, lies with the two spouses,” Mrs Schröder-Kim said in a statement in 2018.
“This is especially true when both spouses have lived separately for a long time. That was the case in my marriage. Therefore one should not blame third parties for the failure of a marriage…Mr Schröder is not responsible for the failure of my marriage.”
Mr Schröder, Germany’s only living former chancellor, is no stranger to scandal. Once feted for keeping Germany out of the Iraq war and modernising its welfare system, he has become a deeply controversial figure.
Like Tony Blair, he has made millions since leaving politics but has been dogged by scrutiny of his business links with foreign regimes.
He has worked extensively in senior roles for Russian energy companies, a and has been accused of acting as a lobbyist for the Putin regime — an allegation he denies.
He spoke out in support of Russia following the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and last year he appeared to cast doubt on whether the Kremlin had been behind the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Mr Navalny responded by describing him as “Putin’s errand boy”.
Mr Schröder’s love life has long been tabloid fodder in Germany. He used to be known as “Audi man” for his four marriages, because the carmaker’s logo features four rings — until Mrs Schröder-Kim became his fifth wife.
Mr Schröder and Mrs Schröder-Kim have not commented on the award of damages.
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