They really were the A-list celebrity couple with ardent admirers from Seoul to Shanghai. But now, their modern-day love story looks set to end in divorce.

Leading lady Song Hye-kyo and heartthrob Song Joong-ki were seen as Asia’s answer to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Just like Brangelina, they even had their own media moniker, the “Song Song couple.”

Yet all that is now show business history after fans of Korean drama were left mourning the news that the stars of the mega-hit television series, The Descendants of the Sun, were separating.

“I decided to start a court mediation procedure for my divorce from Song Hye-kyo,” the actor said through Blossom Entertainment, his management agency.

“I am sorry to give the bad news to those who love and support me,” he added. “Both of us hope to settle the divorce process in a smooth manner, rather than debating wrongdoing and blaming each other.”

In a statement released by her management agency, Song Hye-kyo cited “differences in personality” for the breakdown in their relationship without going into further details.

She then asked the public to avoid “speculative media reports and comments.”

K-drama royalty

The 37-year-old actress is considered K-drama royalty. Her breakthrough role came in the 2000 television series Autumn in My Heart.

But it was her performance in The Descendants of the Sun which catapulted her to super-stardom status across Asia.

Last year, she even attended a state dinner in Beijing as one of the guests when South Korean President Moon Jae-in visited China.

Along with co-star and husband Song Joong-ki, she helped burnish her country’s “soft power” image through the runaway success of “Descendants.”

The 16-part series was first aired in 2016 and revived “Hallyu”, or the Korean Wave of K-pop and K-dramas, which has washed over Asia to Europe and the United States.

A military romance, The Descendants of the Sun garnered billions of views on video-streaming sites in China and captivated audiences from Hong Kong to Hanoi with its simple but heart-rendering storyline.

Set in the fictional war-torn country of Uruk, the melodrama unfolds after South Korean Special Forces Captain Yoo Si-jin, played by Song Joong-ki, is sent on a peacekeeping mission, where he falls in love with Dr Kang Mo-yeon, played by Song Hye-kyo, a surgeon working with an NGO.

Off-screen passion

Immediately, the US$10.8-billion series gripped the nation and then went viral across the region.

Moreover, on-screen magnetism quickly turned into an off-screen passion when the Songs married in a glitzy ceremony in Seoul back in October 2017.

Less than two years later, real life, not reel life, has claimed another high-profile marriage.

“I can’t believe [the] Song-Song couple is divorcing,” one fan tweeted after the news leaked out that they were no longer an “item.”

Another passionate follower asked: “So they just got married because of temporary emotion?”

But, perhaps, the most telling tweet was this from @BbHourBlythe:

“It’s the end of [a] ‘once’ beautiful love story.”

– additional reporting AFP