In what seems to be an anomaly in the K-pop world, it has been announced that Exo’s Kai and Blackpink’s Jennie are officially dating.
SM Entertainment, Exo's agency, confirmed the coupling with a statement saying "Kai and Jennie have become fond of each other" while Blackpink's agency YG Entertainment have kept mum on the subject - reportedly because they've been kept in the dark about the relationship.
Both artists are members of immensely popular South Korean pop bands. The news of their relationship was first reported by a local tabloid in Korea called Dispatch, which released photos of the two singers supposedly on a drive together after a date.
Kai has been a member of the K-pop boy band Exo since its formation in 2011. He traveled with his bandmates to Dubai last year as part of SM Town Live and to see their song Power included into the Dubai Fountain's list of melodies.
Meanwhile Jennie is a member of the four piece girl group BlackPink which debuted in 2016. The group is one of the highest-charting female K-pop acts although she's recently been focusing on a solo project and made her debut with the single Solo.
A policy of no dating
Usually most K-pop artists, often referred to as "idols", are not allowed to date in any form as stipulated in their contracts. Aspiring idols often go through a grueling training process that include singing and dancing lessons as well as needing to move away from home. Dating is often viewed as a distraction.
However, even once they reach their goal of "idol" status, they are told to keep their personal lives away from the public as they need to be viewed as positive role models who also manage to still have the allure of being attainable.
Just a few months ago, controversy arose when K-pop stars HyunA and singer E’Dawn were revealed to be in a relationship for two years but had hidden it from their label Cube Entertainment.
The label responded by saying they would terminate the contracts of both stars, saying in a statement: "After much discussion, the judgment was made that it is not possible to recover the faith with the two artists HyunA and E'Dawn, so their removal has been decided."
However, due to fan backlash against such a reaction, there was a drawn out battle as Cube Entertainment seemed to reverse course on their decision. Both artists eventually departed from the label in October and November last year and appear to be in a happy relationship today.
A shift in attitude?
Even during the turmoil, HyunA and E'Dawn found support from their fan bases, showing a gradual shift in attitude. The days when diehard fans would be upset to know their favourite artists were in a relationship seems to be diminishing. When news broke of the new relationship between Kai and Jennie, fans to took to social media to express their joy:
The couple haven't posted any photos together, but between their combined 15.7 million followers, it's not hard to think what might happen if they do.
Here's hoping for the best for the happy couple.