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aespa Karina’s apology letter following dating news baffles international fans


Korean fans have a well-established history of driving straight to a K-pop idol’s agency to voice their concerns about something. On the one hand, fans of groups under HYBE Labels recently took their argument to the label’s doorstep, urging the company to divest zionist ties by letting go of the American unit’s CEO, Scooter Braun. On the other hand, another group of K-pop fans anticlimactically accused Karina of “betrayal” – for having a boyfriend.

On March 5, aespa's Karina posted a handwritten apology letter - for having a boyfriend - on her Instagram. International fans expressed their exasperation against Korean fans protesting the 23-year-old artist's consensual choice to be in a relationship. (Instagram / katarinabluu)
On March 5, aespa’s Karina posted a handwritten apology letter – for having a boyfriend – on her Instagram. International fans expressed their exasperation against Korean fans protesting the 23-year-old artist’s consensual choice to be in a relationship. (Instagram / katarinabluu)

aespa’s Karina recently made it to the top of the gossip corner when the news of her relationship with Alchemy of Souls actor Lee Jae Wook was outed in a flash. Instead of congratulating the star for finding love, some of her fans bashed her with discouraging words like, “Is the love given to you by your fans not enough?” branded on the electronic billboard of the truck they’d sent.

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aespa Karina’s apology letter

On March 5, the K-pop singer took to her Instagram, swiftly reacting to the criticism, sharing a handwritten apology addressing the issue.

“First, I apologise for surprising you greatly,” began her letter. Taking aespa fans’ (MY) disappointment in stride, she conveyed her sincere and grovelling apology, promising to “show … a mature and hardworking side” in the future. People encountering this novel ‘apology’ may be even more surprised to discover that this isn’t the first of its kind emerging from the K-pop scene.

From labelling artists as “idols” and completely erasing their humane sides, the industry has continued to pigeonhole K-pop performers as mere cogs in a machine.

Also read: Jisoo, Felix and other K-pop idols at Paris Fashion Week 2024

The ill-famed pressure K-pop (and Japanese) idols have been subjected to since time immemorial may have eased its grip on them over the years, but it still considerably continues to consume their lives. Being entangled in dating news is almost posited as a synonymous treatment to them committing a sin. International fans have often called out Korean netizens’ over-the-top “conservative” outlook as plain harassment. Old surfacing videos of many groups have reported how, over time, many idols weren’t allowed access to personal mobile phones, with romantic entanglements being reduced to scandalous affairs, resulting in dating bans altogether. 

EXO Chen’s example instantly comes to mind, even though he’s not the only one to have faced these scathing attacks for branching out his personal life. In January 2020, he officially revealed the news of his wedding with his non-celeb wife. Soon after, anti-fans mobilised a campaign for the company to oust him from the group. His relationship at the time also faced heavy criticism, with protest trucks knocking at SM Entertainment’s door, just like in Karina’s case. According to insiders’ revelations, BBC outed that these agencies seek to sell idols as “romantically obtainable.”

In turn, several comments from baffled international fans expressed their ‘sorries’ to Karina for stooping to address an issue related to her personal life. Many of them even iterated the “ridiculousness” of “a 23-year-old apologising for being in a consensual relationship”. Quite a few more comments arose addressing their befuddlement at idols having to apologise for “simply being human.”

Here are some other comments under a post addressing Karina’s letter:

  • “A handwritten apology for doing something normal is crazy”
  • “i can’t believe we are still doing this in 2024”
  • “If some of yall are upset over your faves dating then I need y’all to take a step back and re-evaluate your life. Getting mad at grown people for having a relationship is seriously so wild to me.”
  • “They don’t deserve an apology, I hope she used chat gpt to write this cause why do y’all feel entitled to her life and decisions.”
  • “Oh how I hate knetz”
  • “poor woman, i hope she realizes no one in their right mind would be mad at such a thing :((”
  • “imagine apologising for dating.. for being in love”
  • “This shouldn’t even exist”
  • “She didn’t even do anything wrong”
  • “It’s reasons like this that shows why these companies need to stop promoting parasocial relationships…”



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