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K-pop stars could be fired for falling in love


The careers of two of South Korea’s pop idols are hanging in the balance after they admitted publicly to being in love and dating.

South Korean solo star HyunA, 26, and her boyfriend E’Dawn, 24, from K-pop boyband Pentagon were accused by their record label Cube Entertainment of “broken loyalty and trust” one month after they broke their silence on their relationship to fans.

“After numerous discussions, it is with great pain that we have come to the conclusion that it will prove difficult for us to rebuild the broken loyalty and trust between these two artists, HyunA and E’Dawn; as a result, we have made the decision to remove them from our label,” Cube said in a statement on Thursday, without explicitly referencing their relationship.

The announcement lit up social media, with fans rallying to support the young couple and lashing out over the decision.

The company’s stock immediately plummeted by 9.43%, reported the AllKpop website. A few hours later, Cube backtracked, saying that the fate of the artists was still under discussion and would be handled at a board meeting next week.
BTS is leading the global rise of K-pop Credit: GC Images/GC Images

The dating controversy has shed a spotlight on the highly regimented world of the multibillion-dollar K-pop industry where stars are subjected to a gruelling training regime from an early age to project an image of perfection and utmost loyalty to fans.

According to the New York Times “no dating” clauses were once a common feature of artists’ contracts, with many managers saying that publicly disclosed relationships would detract from their idols’ allure. Keeping romance a secret remains an unspoken rule.

The relationship revelation by HyunA, one of Cube’s most bankable stars, and E’Dawn, a rapper with a smaller, but still significant fanbase, contradicted an earlier denial by their record label and initially created a backlash from some upset fans.

They announced the news in an August interview with the Yonhap news agency. “We thought it would be hard to look straight in the eyes of our fans once we got on stage,” said E’Dawn.

“That’s why we wanted to be honest at least to our fans who love and watch over us, and then go in front of the with our confidence and joy on stage.”

HyunA broke the news of her first public relationship in ten years to her 8 million fans on Instagram saying she wanted to “work hard on stage with a happy heart, with nothing to hide”.

At the time, many K-pop followers took to the Pentagon fan website to demand an explanation from Cube Entertainment, and some welcomed the decision to cancel their contract with comments like “I never thought I’d feel such a refreshed feeling thanks to Cube,” reported AllKpop.

However, with the global reach of the K-pop industry rapidly escalating, the shock decision also generated widespread outrage from bewildered and angry fans, many of them foreign.

“Hyuna and Edawn will make K-pop history. They will show the flaws in companies! Dating needs to be normalised! You guys are strong! We love you two!” said one popular post on Twitter.

“Cube kicked out hyuna and edawn? for dating? for loving each other? for experiencing human emotions? cube can choke,” said another.

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