This is another slightly different Dear kfangurl post, you guys.
After my last interview with VOGUE India about the male gaze vs. female gaze in kdramas (more details here!), Hasina Khatib (@thejoblessjourno on Instagram), who writes for VOGUE India, reached out to me again.
This time, she asked if I’d be willing to talk about celebrity dating culture, for an article that she was writing, which features Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin‘s wedding.
I said yes, and you can check out the article, where she quotes me selectively, here!
At the same time, similar to the last interview, there was a lot that I said, that didn’t make it into the final article, so with Hasina’s permission, I’m sharing the actual interview questions and answers here with you guys.
The only difference is that I’ve added images to make this more reader-friendly. I hope you all enjoy! ❤️
What can you tell us about how idols are presented to the public within k-pop culture to fuel the fangirl/boy fantasy?
I would say that kpop idols are generally marketed as being single and available, and this is definitely to fuel the fangirl/boy fantasy that there’s a sliver of a chance, that you could one day be the one to date that dream celebrity.
In kpop, it’s not unheard of to have “no dating” clauses in idols’ contracts.
Where does fan backlash (if any) stem from?
It depends on the fans and the fandom in question, as that varies across the board, but yes, fans in general do tend to have some possessiveness over Oppa.
I’ve definitely come across cases where fan loyalty towards a k-celeb is eroded because the person Oppa chose to date or marry was deemed a poor or perplexing choice.
How is this stance changing in modern times?
I do think that things are evolving, in there are more idols who date openly now, compared to before.
Of course, the evolution is slow, and there are still many fans who still embrace the “single and available” fantasy. However, if you look at the kpop scene now compared to, say, 10 or 15 years ago, there are definitely more idols dating openly now than before.
Also, in the case of more mature groups, it’s not terribly shocking for marriage announcements to be made, and fans can and do give their blessings.
Case in point, 2PM’s Chansung recently announced that he will be getting married soon, and is also expecting a child with his fiancée, and fans were generally supportive.
Do k-drama actors (just dramas, not idol crossovers) have greater agency over their dating lives?
Generally speaking, I would say that actors do have more freedom to date compared to kpop idols.
However, not all actors choose to date openly. Often, this is more because they value their privacy and prefer to date quietly, rather than because they feel they have no choice but to date in secret, in order to protect their careers.
For example, Ji Sung and Lee Bo Young dated quietly for years before getting married. They didn’t confirm their relationship to the public for a long time, most likely because they just wanted their privacy.
Since their marriage, neither of them has suffered any career setback, and both are well-respected and much sought-after actors.
On the other hand, Kim Woo Bin and Shin Min Ah have dated openly for years, and both are still considered A-listers, and neither has suffered a setback, career-wise, due to their relationship.
Also, A-lister Park Shin Hye recently announced her pregnancy and marriage to fellow actor Choi Tae Joon, and the couple suffered no backlash as well.
For a layperson, celebrity wedding note announcements might initially strike as appeasing or apologetic. Can you please tell us where this stems from and what is the kind of relationship that Korean celebrities share with their fans?
The apologetic tone that you see in the announcement messages tend to be around “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier” or “I’m sorry that I was not the first to tell you” rather than “I’m sorry I’m getting married.”
This has to do with the culture in k-ent, where the vibe between celebrities and their fans is more familial, and where they tend to share personal aspects of their lives, to show their closeness with their fans.
It’s also a very common practice, for k-celebs to end any video greeting with their fans, with remarks about the weather, and earnestly request fans to keep warm and healthy, until they meet again.
This all adds to the familial vibe between k-celebrities and their fans.
In such a context, it makes sense why they would be apologetic, for not sharing the news earlier, or personally (in the case of those outed by news outlets).
The apology is in the vein of not having been completely honest with fans, despite their familial relationship, which is part of k-ent celebrity culture, rather than for actually dating or getting married.
Do Korean celebrities, in general, adhere to a greater level of transparency with their fans?
If we are comparing k-ent with Hollywood, for example, then I would say that while k-celebs may choose to be more private about their dating lives compared to Hollywood celebs, who generally date, get married and divorced very publicly, they also tend to share more of their daily lives with fans than the average Hollywood celebrity, most of whom appear to be quite private about their daily lives.
The degree of sharing would vary from celebrity to celebrity, of course.
For example, it’s not uncommon for k-celebrities to participate in variety shows (like “I Live Alone”) where they show fans their homes, and what a day in their lives might look like.
Some celebrities give regular personal updates via their Instagram accounts, and do livestreams where they interact with fans, answer questions, and just show snippets of their lives.
In this respect, I would say that yes, k-celebs generally work to be transparent with their fans, even though they may choose to keep certain aspects of their lives private.
At the same time, celebrities need to be sensitive towards fans, and keep in mind what fans would like to know, and what fans would prefer not to know.
With 2PM being a senior group, that sort of “it could’ve been me” fantasy was prevalent when they started out, which means that OG fans likely still hold that fantasy dear, even though things have been evolving.
So, when Chansung recently shared a tidbit of personal information, that he’d spent 2 hours at the Seoul Living Design Fair (which is a must-do for new parents or newlyweds or couples preparing for marriage), reactions were mixed.
Some fans were supportive, while others felt it was TMI, ie, they would have preferred not to know.
How fun, to be invited to be interviewed by VOGUE India for a second time! As always, if you guys have other perspectives, thoughts or insights, please share them in the comments!
Thanks for sharing the experience with me, you guys. I honestly couldn’t do this without all of your support. ❤️
On a related tangent, if you didn’t already know, the blog first got mentioned (and linked!) in an article in VOGUE India last September, which you can check out here!
Last but not least, since the VOGUE India article which triggered this particular interview specifically focuses on Hyun Bin‘s marriage to Son Ye Jin, I thought it would be quite perfect, to end this post with a splash of wedding photographs from the happy couple.
1. If you feel that I missed anything, or if you have your own insights that you’d like to share with the rest of us, do tell us about it in the comments!
2. Do you have a question of your own? Drop me a comment here or on the Dear kfangurl page, or send me an email!