aespa’s Karina apologized to her fans after Dispatch exposed her relationship with actor Lee Jae Wook.

Earlier this month, she posted a handwritten letter on Instagram in which she addressed the news and fans’ reaction to it. She apologized for disappointing them.


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Most fans rallied behind Karina in the comments, telling the K-pop star she didn’t have to apologize because she didn’t do anything wrong. Others criticized SM Entertainment, Karina’s agency, for what they perceived to be SM’s poor handling of the crisis. They believe the agency shouldn’t have let Karina write the letter in the first place.

The case of Minami Minegishi

Some compared Karina’s apology letter to the case of Minegishi Minami, a former member of the J-pop girl group AKB48. In 2013, she was caught after spending the night at the home of Alan Shirahama, the leader of boy group Generations from Exile Tribe. A few hours after the weekly tabloid Shukan Bunshun published its report about the incident, AKB48 announced that Minegishi would be demoted to trainee status as punishment. The idol eventually posted a video on the group’s official channel, in which she apologized profusely to fans for what happened. What’s more, she shaved her head for the video (in Japan, shaving one’s head is an act of contrition).

The Most Tragic Case Of Breaking The Idol “NO DATING” Ban

At the time, Japan Times writer Ian Martin published an article saying, “What is happening here is the protection of fans’ fragile fantasies automatically trumps the basic human right to a life outside that fantasy framework. Though as lawyer Hifumi Okunuki pointed out in a Japan Times article on Jan. 22, such an arrangement is probably illegal under Japanese labor laws.”

Minami Minegishi’s case is similar to Karina’s in the sense that both incidents revolve around the pressures and societal expectations idols face. In Japan and South Korea, idols must maintain the illusion that they’re pure as the driven snow—which includes avoiding dating or even talking about it. It’s exceedingly rare for idols to date publicly. Karina may not have had to shave her head, but the fact that she too felt compelled to apologize says a lot.

When did Karina start dating?

Dispatch was the first to report that Karina and Lee Jae Wook started dating after a Prada show in Milan last January. The publication said the couple would usually meet in Lee Jae Wook’s neighborhood and take late-night walks together.

Karina debuted with aespa in 2020. Their group is known for the hits “Black Mamba” and “Next Level.” Meanwhile, Lee Jae Wook debuted as an actor in 2018 and has since appeared in several K-dramas such as Extraordinary You and Alchemy of Souls. – K-Pop News Writer

Featured Image: The incident involving Minami Minegishi happened over a decade ago. It’s kind of sad that things haven’t changed much since then. Sources: X/@rinaoutsold, YouTube/@Sandwellnews.