News Update


Blackpink’s friendship between Jisoo and Ahn Bo-hyun has shocked the K-pop world.

Jisoo of Blackpink is one of the most famous K-pop stars to come out about her relationship. This is a big deal in an industry where fans are known to change their minds quickly and record companies keep an eye on everything their stars do in their private lives.

Korean media say that the 28-year-old and the 35-year-old star Ahn Bo-hyun are “getting to know each other well.”

Thursday, both of their agents confirmed that they were dating and asked the public for help and understanding.

Ahn is a model and actor from South Korea. He has been in famous dramas like Itaewon Class and Yumi’s Cells.

Even though members of well-known groups like EXO and Twice have come out with their partners in the past few years, it is still unusual for top K-pop stars to say much about their personal lives.

Ten years ago, it was normal for agencies to tell new stars they couldn’t date or even have their own cell phone. Fans thought it was shocking if a person said they were in a relationship or had a partner.

Sociologist Patrick Williams of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore says that it might be “bad for business” for idols to be in relationships with other people.

“They want to sell heroes who seem, at least in a romantic way, like they could be reached. Fans can picture themselves being friends with this hero, as Dr. Williams pointed out.

But Jisoo, who is the lead singer for the group of four women called Blackpink, isn’t your typical K-pop star.

Blackpink is one of the most famous groups in the world. They have been the main act at big music festivals like Coachella, and their concerts draw tens of thousands of people. Each of their Instagram pages has between 73 million and 93 million followers.

Jisoo is the first member of Blackpink to say that she is in a relationship, though. Their management company, YG Entertainment, has in the past either rejected or refused to talk about rumors about the group members’ relationships.

Fans of Blackpink have mostly liked the news. For example, a comment on Jisoo’s Instagram account that said “Congratulations BABY” has been liked more than 3,000 times.

“I think it’s unusual because she’s at the top of her game right now,” said Rob Schwartz, an Asian correspondent for Billboard.

In contrast, none of the members of BTS, who are probably the most popular boy band in the world, have said they are dating anyone.

There are good reasons to be wary.

When Korean media revealed that big K-pop stars Kang Daniel and Jihyo were dating in 2019, some fans were upset. Fans who were angry took it out on another star who was thought to be setting them up with each other. They left him threatening messages on social media.

But Mr. Schwartz said Jisoo’s new relationship shows that the “super powerful international industry” is changing as more K-pop bands show up on the international stage: “We could even say this industry is getting older.”

Dr. Williams also thinks that stars like Jisoo have more freedom because of their international fame. “I think they’re starting to feel confident enough to push back against some of the limiting aspects of [the K-pop industry],” he says.


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