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  • Writer's pictureHans Ethan Carbonilla

Our Idols Are Dating, But Why Are We Calling It a ‘Scandal’?

Our idols, both in K-pop and P-pop, are dating; perhaps others are getting married—what should we feel about it?

During the time when iKON’s Bobby announced that he was getting married and having a child, he was weighed down by the reception from fans. In his Instagram letter (now archived), he expressed a “sense of responsibility,” feeling as though he was “putting a lot of pressure” on the people who have always helped him and supported him.

In recent years, the idol industry has been rocked by what some may perceive as “scandalous” revelations: idols dating. The mere suggestion that these individuals in the spotlight are engaging in the most natural of human experiences seems to send shockwaves through the fanbase and media alike. 

As the industry evolves and becomes more accepting, particularly in P-pop, exceptions persist. Back then, soloist HyunA and Pentagon’s Dawn were expelled from their agency for openly acknowledging their relationship. Similarly, EXO’s Chen faced division among fans after announcing his marriage, with some even calling for his removal from the group. Additionally, some P-pop idols were allegedly removed due to violations of the “love ban” policy.

But why is it that the romantic lives of our idols are treated as “scandalous” affairs, rather than normal human experiences?

The term “scandal” attached to an idol dating is nothing short of a societal construct deeply ingrained within the fabric of the idol industry. It becomes a norm that not only stifles the personal freedoms of artists but also perpetuates unrealistic expectations and unhealthy dynamics within fan communities. And this stems from the fact that management companies are imposing “love bans” in their contracts. 

These contracts, known for their draconian nature, are a glaring reminder of the exploitative and suffocative practices that have long plagued the industry. We can’t help but question, to what extent?

But beyond the legal jargon lies a deeper issue—a cultural mindset that idolizes perfection and condemns anything that deviates from the carefully crafted image. Calling dating as “scandals” reduces love and relationships to mere fodder for gossip columns, tabloid headlines, and noisy social media buzzes.

Looking through the fandom and participatory culture lenses, the industry, most especially in K-pop, often demands that idols maintain a manufactured image of singularity (IN THIS ERA, SERIOUSLY?), perpetuating the illusion of unattainable perfection to satisfy fans’ fantasies. 

Moreover, the outrage directed towards idol dating exposes a double standard. While fans may swoon over on-screen romances or ship their favorite idol members, the moment these idols engage in real-life relationships, they’re met with condemnation and negative feedback, most especially for girl groups. Time and time again, we witness the toxic backlash that ensues when an idol dares to pursue happiness outside the confines of their stage persona.

This hypocrisy roots from a possessive mentality and misplaced parasocial relationship that view idols not as individuals deserving autonomy but as commodities to be owned and controlled by them.

This expectation is not only absurd but also harmful, placing an undue burden on idols to suppress their natural inclinations for the sake of public perception. Their public figures, we get that. They are on another level, we also get that. But let’s be clear again that idols are not commodities to be owned.

It’s time to dismantle this outdated notion and acknowledge the humanity of our idols. Their romantic lives should not be subjected to public scrutiny or used as bargaining chips in the pursuit of fan loyalty. 

So the next time you hear of a dating “scandal” involving your favorite idol, remember that it’s not scandalous, it’s human, it’s normal. And it’s high time we treated it as such.

*Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not represent the official stance of Parcinq Magazine, its affiliates, or its staff.



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