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K-pop star Karina of Aespa dated an actor and it backfired on her: ‘it’s really harsh’

Dating “ruined” her career, Karina’s fans claimed, with one particularly enraged admirer sending a truck with an electronic hoarding to her agency that read: “Do you not receive enough love from your fans?” and: “Apologise, or you’ll see album sales decline and empty concert seats.”

The attacks prompted Karina, a member of the group Aespa, to post a handwritten note “to convey my sincere apologies to the fans”.

“An idol’s persona is expected to be romantically available,” said Stephanie Choi, a K-pop expert with the University at Buffalo’s Asia Research Institute.

Especially for young women, who often start in the business as teenagers, there is a lot of “promotional emphasis on innocence and chastity”, and it is hard for them to move past this, Choi said.

Western stars such as Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus have also experienced blowback as they turn from girls to women in the public eye, but the business model of South Korean K-pop makes it particularly intense for local idols.

But in return, they may expect their idols to be held to “gruelling professional standards” which extend into their personal lives, with young female stars particularly vulnerable, Bae said.

“Purity and ‘girlishness’ have remained important images, and unfortunately this can really backfire on the idols when they are discovered to be dating, drinking and smoking,” she said.

In the early 2000s, before K-pop swept to world recognition, dating was essentially banned for aspiring South Korean pop stars.


K-pop star Sulli found dead at home

Park Joon-hyung, a member of popular K-pop band g.o.d, famously gave a tearful press conference in 2001 when he was asked to leave the group by his agency following reports he was in a relationship.

“If I’m guilty of