Korean-Chinese ‘Ping Pong Couple’ of the Century, Ahn Jae-hyung and Zhao Zemin, “Married 34 years ago, now a second couple”

“Ahn Jae-hyung and Zhao Zemin (焦志敏) finally tied the knot. At the wedding ceremony, which took place at noon on December 22 at the Waterfront Stage Hall in Seoul Olympic Park, the groom, Ahn Jae-hyung, rode in on a pony, followed by Zhao Zemin on a palanquin. The palanquin that Zhao Zemin rode in on this day was used more than 150 years ago and was brought from Jeonju. Only the groom’s side received the congratulatory money, and more than 500 guests, including Minister of Sports Kim Jip, Minister of Political Affairs Park Chul-eon, Hanyang University President Lee Hae-sung, and Customs Commissioner Hong Jae-hyung, celebrated their marriage.”

On December 22, 1989, the Dong-A Ilbo reported the wedding of the Korean-Chinese “ping-pong couple” Ahn Jae-hyung (58) and Zhao Zemin (60) as described above.

The story of the marriage of two of Korea’s and China’s leading table tennis stars made national news. At the time of their marriage, South Korea and China had not established diplomatic relations, so the couple had to overcome many obstacles to get married. They first registered their marriage in a third country, Sweden, in October 1989, and were officially married in Seoul Olympic Park in December of that year. The couple’s love story garnered a lot of attention in both South Korea and China, with articles covering their every move before and after the wedding. The couple’s love story was of such international interest that the then President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Juan Antonio Samaranch, personally sent them a wedding gift.

Ahn Jae-hyung and Zhao Zemin at their traditional wedding. Dong-A Ilbo DB
After living together for about 10 years after their wedding, the couple lived apart for about 20 years. Ahn Jae-hyung, the chairman of the Korean Professional Table Tennis League, coached unemployed teams after retiring, and later traveled to the United States to support his son, Ahn Byung-hoon, 31, as he studied golf in the United States. She even caddied for him for three years when he played on the European Tour (now the DP World Tour).

Zhao Zemin has been an entrepreneur since the early 2000s, working in telecommunications in China. As a well-known table tennis player in China, he capitalized on his fame to expand his business, which was very successful. After the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Mr. Zhao closed his business in China and moved back to Korea.

After spending about 20 years away from each other, the couple moved back together about two years ago and are living a second married life. “When I was a leader, there were too many times when my wife was home alone. I traveled to the United States, Europe, and elsewhere to support Byung-hoon, while she did business in China. Now that we’ve done enough for each other, we decided to stay together, so we’ve been living together ever since.” Ms. Zhao Zemin also said, “It’s been a long time since I’ve been with my husband in Korea, and I feel like I just got married in 1989. I feel so happy just being with him every day. We enjoy eating delicious food together.”

Ahn Jae-hyung and Zhao Zemin as a young couple. Ahn’s son, Byung-hoon, who is holding a golf club, plays on the U.S. Professional Golf (PGA) Tour. Dong-A Ilbo DB
Ahn was a gold medalist in the men’s team table tennis event at the 1986 Seoul Asian Games and a bronze medalist in the men’s doubles event at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Zhao Zemin also won gold in the women’s singles at the 1986 Asian Games and silver in the women’s doubles and bronze in the women’s singles at the 1988 Olympics. While still at the peak of her game, she retired from competition in 1989 when she got married. She was naturalized as a South Korean citizen and could no longer hold Chinese citizenship. After his marriage, he briefly coached the South Korean junior national team, but was forced to quit when his son was born.

“If I hadn’t gotten married, I think I would have stayed in the sport longer,” says Zhao Zemin. “I didn’t win a gold medal at the Seoul Olympics, but there were very few players who could beat me in China, the strongest country in the world. It was such a disappointing retirement that I would sleep for years after hanging up my table tennis stick and dream of training with the national team.”

He also had a brief stint as a talent. She played the role of a daughter-in-law from Beijing, China, in the daily drama “Daughter-in-law Three Kingdoms,” which aired on KBS for about six months from February 1996. The eldest daughter-in-law was played by Lim Ye-jin, while the second daughter-in-law from Tokyo, Japan, was played by the late Lee Ji-eun. “If you ask me to do it now, I don’t think I could do it. “At the time, I didn’t even know what the words meant, I just memorized the lines,” she says. “The senior actors saw my lines and said, ‘You know what? The senior actors saw my lines and said to the writer, ‘This is too hard for us to do. Please change it to something easier,” he said. “I had played table tennis, which I loved all my life, and I had been a talent, so I thought I would be able to do other things well,” he said.

Zhao Zemin (right) in the 1996 KBS daily drama Daughter-in-law Three Kingdoms. KBS screen capture
That was business. In the early 2000s, China’s internet and telecommunications sector lagged far behind South Korea’s. Zhao Zemin brought the cell phone ringtone, or coloring, business that was popular in South Korea to China, and it took off. Later, she started offering online music, games메이저사이트, and other services through Chinese telecom companies. Compared to today, Chinese workers were paid significantly less than their Korean counterparts.

It also helped that he was a household name in China. “As the years went by, there were many companies offering the same service, but many people chose us,” he laughs.

Ms. Zhao has had great success with her business in China. She recently closed her business in China and returned to Korea. Donga Ilbo DB
Ms. Zhao said that when she was doing business, she didn’t have to exercise to gain weight. This is because she has been in the habit of staying in touch since her athletic days, and she had to travel all over China. “I don’t usually eat fattening foods. I just like delicious food. But I try to eat about 70% of my portion size,” he says, which is why he still has a similar body shape to his playing days. “Actually, I’m not the kind of person who likes to move around outside the house.

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