|A statue and a snow sculpture that depicts a romantic scene between characters played by Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo in the drama "Descendants of the Sun" on display at a park in Taebaek, Gangwon Province, in this February 2018 photo. The two announced Thursday they would end 20 months of marriage. / Korea Times file|
By Kim Rahn
The breakup of actor Song Joong-ki and actress Song Hye-kyo is dealing an unexpected blow to Taebaek in Gangwon Province, which has promoted itself as the location of 2016 mega-hit drama "Descendants of the Sun" through which the two met.
Officials of the city government said Friday that they are discussing whether to change the city's promotion strategy involving the drama, and especially whether to push ahead with the third "Taebaek Couple Festival" in July as planned.
The KBS drama was incredibly popular at the time, recording a viewer rating of almost 40 percent, and continued to remain relevant because of the real-life romance that developed between the leads which eventually led to their marriage in October 2017.
Some of the drama sets had been built at an exhausted mine in Taebaek, but were demolished before the drama aired. As the drama's popularity soared, the city government restored the sets at a cost of 270 million won ($233,000) in August 2016 and the next year, it also opened a park with a statue of the couple's kissing scene from the drama.
|Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo in "Descendants of the Sun" / Korea Times file|
The park and the sets have become famous tourist destinations, and when the stars announced their plan to marry in 2017, Taebaek citizens delivered a letter declaring their hope that the couple would marry there.
The "Song-Song couple," as they were known in the Korean press, married in Seoul but the city has held the Taebaek Couple Festival annually since 2017, with the third one scheduled for July 27 to 28.
However, following the news of the couple's breakup and divorce settlement, Taebaek City is at a loss for what to do.
"We have the couple's photos all over the sets, the park and the promotional leaflets of the festival," a city official said. "We are discussing whether we will continue to use them and whether to hold the festival as planned."
On Thursday, Song Joong-ki's attorney said he sought a divorce settlement with the Seoul Family Court to end the 20-month marriage with Song Hye-kyo.
It is said the two have already agreed to a divorce and only the formalities remain, which will be handled by their respective lawyers.