Manga in Real Life: Fired for Dating

From left to right: E’Dawn, HyunA, and unidentified

It’s a common plotline in the many manga series that deal with some aspect of the entertainment industry: “We can’t reveal our romantic interest in each other because we’ll lose our careers! Our managers won’t let us date!”

Now, it’s happened in real life, and it made the NY Times.

Two of South Korea’s pop idols, HyunA and E’Dawn, have learned of the painful cost of falling in love and declaring their relationship in public: On Thursday, they were fired by their management company….

“No dating” clauses were once common in the contracts of young K-pop stars, according to industry experts, with many managers saying that publicly disclosed romances would undermine their idols’ allure and careers. Avoiding romantic relationships, or at least keeping them secret, remains an unspoken rule.

From left to right: E’Dawn, HyunA, and unidentified

From left to right: E’Dawn, HyunA, and unidentified

In this case, rumors were out, the management company denied it, and the stars then went public with the truth, that they’d been dating for more than two years. Fan response, supporting the performers, may have crashed the company’s phone lines and website.

“The K-pop idol industry is still based on the agency owning the idol, whose character the company creates,” said Kim Zakka, a music critic in South Korea. “Since the business worked based on the fantasy of the fan having a pseudo-relationship with the idol, the idol dating in real life breaks the business model.”

Since HyunA’s character was built to invite “sex fantasy” among fans, the revelation that HyunA was dating a lesser-known peer may have led Cube to conclude that its business model for her would no longer work, Mr. Kim said.

Since the company’s stock price dropped on news of their decision, they may reconsider. I’m glad to see so many fans put supporting the real people’s happiness over perception of a false idol availability.

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