This story originally appeared on the ID:K Snapchat mag back in February. This is my original draft, reposted on my blog to share more easily than what’s available on Snapchat. This is also pre-final edits, so the final story is somewhat altered from this blog post. Follow ID:K for more K-pop news, opinions, and other fun stuff.
Hyuna and Hyojong are the celebrity power couple K-pop doesn’t deserve. It takes a lot to get the New York Times to pay attention to breaking K-pop news, which goes to show just how big of a drop it was when Hyuna announced she’d been dating label mate Hyojong (formerly E’Dawn) for two years.
The news broke last August on Instagram when Hyuna confirmed a news story speculating about their relationship. She wrote, ”I really wanted to be honest. As always for the fans who always cheer and watch, I am going to be happy on the stage. I really appreciate it, but I don’t have a way to express it.” Her honesty is unheard of for most K-pop idols when it comes to their personal lives, and dating is especially taboo. On the flip side E’Dawn stayed quiet on the whole issue, wanting to protect Pentagon during their newfound popularity, which upset some fans because that left Hyuna to take the brunt of the immediate response. And Hyuna’s announcement definitely sparked a major reaction from their label, Cube Entertainment.
The harsh rules and scrutiny surrounding idols’ relationships is well known within the industry, and Cube’s reaction was more rule than exception. Celebrities often have to hide their dating lives for years–– Hyuna and Hyojong started dating before he debuted–– to preserve their image or comply with no-dating clauses in their contracts. If (or when) a “dating scandal” comes to light, the damage to their reputations and public opinion means the label will change how it treats the idol: Triple H promotions were stopped, E’Dawn had to take a hiatus from Pentagon, and Hyuna’s career with Cube, which began in 2009, became unclear when it released a statement ending their contract–– unbeknownst to Hyuna.
That backfired for them when the scandal became international headlines. Many Korean and international fans voiced their outrage at Cube for how it mistreated Hyuna and Hyojong; that outcry was part of the reason Cube backpedaled and said they were trying to work out contract negotiations. But it was too late: both Hyuna and Hyojong left the company.
In the immediate aftermath of the scandal, the two have been the definition of Instagram couples goals. Hyuna posted photos of them going on shopping dates, dancing together, and traveling to Europe. For fans who’ve followed Hyuna since her original JYP debut back in 2006, it’ll be a nice change to see her music continue under new control and hopefully with more personal and artistic freedom. E’Dawn fans will also be happy to know the songwriting powerhouse is continuing to do his thing.
At first glance it’s easy to say Hyuna and Hyojong came out as winners, and in many ways they did: they stayed together, many of fans still support them, and Cube looks like the bad guys. However, the two of them had to take some hard hits to their careers just for being together. Hyuna signed with Cube Entertainment back in 2008, after leaving JYP and Wonder Girls. Then her second girl group, 4 Minute, disbanded in 2016, five years after their debut. Hyuna was the only one to renew her contract and as a solo artist she’s seen stunning popularity; but she’s had to debut five different times over her career. Hyojong, too, risked upsetting a strong start to his career when he left Cube. Pentagon debuted in 2016, and he already became one of the more popular members. He also played a large role in the production and writing songs including Triple H’s “365 Fresh,”, Hyuna’s “Purple,” and Pentagon’s breakout hit “Shine.” Now he’s officially out of Pentagon and embarking on a solo career.
In yet another plot twist, Hyuna posted last week on Instagram a photo of her and Hyojong with Psy, signing to his new label P Nation. Hyuna and Hyojong were one of the biggest K-pop “scandal” stories to come out of 2018, and it’s nice to see them land on their feet. Scrolling through her Instagram page, there’s a noticeable time before she announced their relationship, and afterwards; the biggest change isn’t in seeing Hyojong show up all of a sudden, but instead seeing how happy they are together and being able to share it openly.