K-pop star Karina and actor Lee Jae-wook split shortly after going public

SEOUL — A K-pop star who had to issue a grovelling apology to fans for having a boyfriend is single again.

Karina and actor Lee Jae-wook rocked the K-pop world when they went public with their relationship in February, with some angry fans accusing her of “betrayal”.

Lee’s agency C-JeS Studio confirmed the break up, saying he wanted to “focus on his filming projects”.

They added that the duo would “continue to support each other as colleagues”.

The backlash — which also saw Karina criticized for being an irresponsible frontwoman of her four-woman group, aespa — prompted her to issue an apology on Instagram, where she vowed “to heal the wounds” she had inflicted.

“I apologize for surprising you greatly,” wrote the singer, whose real name is Yu Ji-min. She pledged to show fans a “more mature and hardworking side” in future.

Some fans drove a “protest truck” to her management agency when the news broke.

“Is the love given to you by your fans not enough?” blared an electronic billboard on the vehicle.

aespa, which debuted in 2020 with the single Black Mamba, is expected to release a new full-length album this quarter. Lee, 25, gained prominence after starring in the hit fantasy period drama Alchemy of Souls. He also stars in the Disney+ original series Royal Roader which was released in February.

Karina’s apology and now, breakup, offer a glimpse into the world of South Korea entertainment’s “super fans”, who are increasingly trying to dictate their idols’ private lives.

Theirs is not an isolated incident.

Days before, South Korean actors Han So-hee and Ryu Jun-yeol had also announced that they have separated — just two weeks after publicly acknowledging their relationship.

The couple parted ways following a backlash from fans, who accused them of being in a “transit relationship”, noting that Ryu had recently ended a seven-year romance with his Reply 1988 co-star singer-actress Lee Hyeri.

Han, who most recently starred in the Netflix period thriller Gyeongseong Creature, took to Instagram last Friday with a lengthy and emotional message disputing the allegations. “Any more of these groundless speculations and it will really wear me out,” she wrote in the post, which has since been deleted.

After the split, Han’s agency 9ATO Entertainment said: “The two both found their roles as actors to be more important. They promised to no longer be emotionally exhausted with their personal life.”

Last October, Blackpink singer Jisoo and actor Ahn Bo-hyun ended their relationship just two months after they said they were dating. — BBC

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