K-Pop Star at Center of Boyfriend Brouhaha Has News

Karina, who faced scolding and threats for relationship, has split with Lee Jae-wook
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2024 7:15 PM CST
Updated Apr 2, 2024 7:31 AM CDT
K-Pop Singer Tells Fans She's Sorry About Boyfriend Shock
Karina, of the group Aespa, poses at a premiere in Cannes, southern France, last May.   (Photo by Scott Garfitt/Invision/AP)
UPDATE Apr 2, 2024 7:31 AM CDT

The relationship that roiled South Korea is over. Yonhap reports K-pop star Karina and her beau, actor Lee Jae-wook, have parted ways, just a few weeks after they took their pairing public, to much backlash. "Lee decided to end the relationship to focus on the work that he is currently filming," read a statement from his management company, C-JeS Studios, which added that the couple would keep supporting each other as "colleagues." Karina's agency also confirmed the split. The BBC notes they're not alone in quickly doomed romances: Last fall, Blackpink singer Jisoo broke up with actor Ahn Bo-hyun just two months after they conceded they were dating. And just days before Karina and Lee's breakup, actors Han So-hee and Ryu Jun-yeol split, only two weeks after they'd confirmed their own relationship. Han's agency noted they'd "found their roles as actors to be more important."

Mar 6, 2024 7:15 PM CST

"Is the love given to you by your fans not enough?" read an electronic billboard placed outside a K-pop star's agency's headquarters. "Why did you choose to betray the fans?" Karina's offense was having a boyfriend, for which she has now offered a deep apology. One of four women in the group Aespa, Karina recently confirmed that she's dating actor Lee Jae-wook. "I apologize for surprising you greatly," the 23-year-old singer, whose real name is Yu Ji-min, wrote to her fans on Instagram, the BBC reports.

Messages from fans, including the electronic sign, had demanded an apology and suggested Karina would otherwise experience a drop in the sales of albums and concert tickets. After the revelation last summer that Jisoo of Blackpink was in a romantic relationship caused upset among fans, analysts said the stars' talent agencies in South Korea and Japan market them as "romantically obtainable." Pop stars in Japan may have no-dating clauses in their contracts, per the BBC, and need permission to marry.

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The couple's agencies confirmed their relationship after photos circulated of them walking late at night in Lee Jae-wook's neighborhood, per Yahoo Entertainment. They reportedly met last year in Milan. Karina told fans in the handwritten letter that they'll see a "more mature and hardworking side" from her from now on, adding that she realizes that her apology might renew the hurt. "Starting now, I want to do a good job filling the places where" Aespa's fans "have been wounded," she wrote. (A male K-pop star's military enlistment caused a stir.)

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