By Nadine Kam I
Even if you’re not into Kpop chances are you may have heard about the saga of Hyuna and Kim Hyo-jong (introduced by his stage name E’Dawn at the time).
Their story made headlines around the world, including the New York Times and the paper I work for, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, which I can tell you has very little interest in K-pop. They made news because they were fired from their agency Cube Entertainment for the sin of dating. Gasp!
It was shocking in the west because dating who we want, when we want, is a basic freedom. In certain jobs it can become an issue when a person in a position of authority in a company dates a person in a lower position, because of the imbalance of power or accusation of favoritism that might arise from such a situation.
But in this case they were peers let go because of Korean society’s pressure on idols to conform to fans wishes that they be single and seemingly available, no matter how fantastical that may seem. As such, idol trainee contracts often have “no dating” clauses, although some may date in secret.
This was the case with Hyuna and Hyo-jong. They had been dating for two years by the time Hyuna ‘fessed up.
? Watch: One of Hyuna and Hyo-jong’s dance practices, from his IG feed. https://www.instagram.com/p/Bq_53h4l16I/
The backlash from Knetz—Korean netizens as they’re called—was so swift and severe that Cube felt pressured to let go of both artists, Hoyong first because he was the lesser known artist who had only recently debuted as a member of Pentagon. It was harder for Cube to let go of Hyuna, who had been one of its top earners for several years.
? Watch: Hyo-jong plants a kiss, or whatever that is, on Hyuna’s cheek. https://www.instagram.com/p/BrN1FO5loXa/
After their dismissal, international fans took over in chastising Cube, so much so that within a few days the company announced that it had all been a misunderstanding and the couple’s employment was reinstated. But the damage had been done and the couple left on their own, continuing to feed fans with their individual Instagram feeds showing them together, happily traveling, take a leisurely walks and continuing their dance practices. They didn’t shy away from PDA in a society that frowns on any public intimacy.
Typically, K-pop stars would have been expected to cower in the face of such controversy, apologized and gone silent on their social media, so it was refreshing to see Hyuna fighting back by comically addressing her attackers through her feed.
When they accused her of being fat, she got on a scale and posted her weight, at 5-foot-6 and 95 pounds. She went “bowling” with friends as human pins representing Cube and critics.
People were curious to see what they would do next, and the answer came Jan. 27, when the pair signed a contract with “Gangnam Style” star PSY’s new label, P Nation. Can’t wait to see what will come with the partnership, as both Hyuna and PSY are artists known to test boundaries. This will be interesting to watch in conservative Korean society.