Does aespa member Karina really have anything to apologize for?

Karina, a member of K-pop girl group aespa / Courtesy of SM Entertainment

Karina, a member of K-pop girl group aespa, issued a handwritten apology on Instagram, Tuesday, saying she was sorry for failing her fans. Although she did not specify what she was sorry for, people could easily determine that the SM Entertainment star was apologizing over recent news about her love life. But this has sparked a debate among internet users: Did she really have anything to apologize for?Karina’s letter came about a week after she admitted to having a romantic relationship with actor Lee Jae-wook, confirming a report by Dispatch, a local media outlet, that broke on Feb. 27. The news that a popular K-pop star and a prominent actor who starred in a series of Korean dramas including, the “Alchemy of Souls” series (2022-23) were dating immediately generated a buzz online, sparking mixed reactions among fans.”I am sorry to have surprised you,” reads Karina’s apology. “I know many of our fans must be disappointed and upset … I want to heal the wounds that I have inflicted. I will become more mature in the days ahead, so please keep an eye out for that.” In the wake of her “scandal,” some fans criticized the 23-year-old for being an “irresponsible” leader of her group, insisting that the “scandal” will deal a critical blow to aespa’s future career prospects.Many K-pop fans are very sensitive about their singers’ love lives as they believe romantic relationships can hamper their stars from focusing on their jobs and elevating their careers. Interestingly, some passionate followers also perceive them as their potential love interests, so they easily feel betrayed when dating news about their favorite singers arises.Against this backdrop, K-pop stars often witness a drop in their popularity — which can be evidenced by a dramatic decline in album sales or other indicators — when their once ardent fans turn their backs on them. In SM’s case, its market capitalization slipped to 1.86 trillion won ($1.4 billion) on the day that Karina confirmed her relationship with Lee, seeing a loss of 66.7 million won.Some fans, who reportedly hail from China, even sent a truck to the headquarters of SM in Seongdong District, Seoul, to vent their discontent.

“Is the love fans give you not enough?” read the message displayed on the screen of the truck. “Why did you opt to betray your fans? Please apologize to us directly. If you don’t, you will see a fall in album sales and empty concert seats.”It added, “You should feel more sorry to yourself than your fans. You have been working hard for seven years, but you messed up your own career. All your efforts are now being denied because of a single dating rumor. Are you satisfied?”Some followers even left malicious comments on social meda accounts of Karina and Lee, leading Lee to threaten legal action.However, not everyone believes Karina deserves such harsh criticism. A lot of people still support her, slamming her “toxic fandom” for going overboard.”The culture surrounding K-pop idols is so bizarre sometimes,” an internet user commented. “Isn’t a singer also a human being? What’s wrong with dating?”Another wrote, “Karina did not commit any crime. Why does she have to release an apology?”Karina debuted as a member of aespa with the song, “Black Mamba” in 2020. The quartet is one of the most sough-after K-pop girl groups today, with its latest mini-album, “Drama” 메이저 selling more than 1 million copies during the first week of its release.

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