It was a celebrity relationship which shocked and rocked the K-pop industry.
Last week, Korean media outlets revealed that K-pop idol Baekhyun, from rising boy band EXO, is dating Taeyeon of top girl group Girls' Generation.
Leaked photos showed the two behaving intimately in Taeyeon's car.
Their agency, SM Entertainment, confirmed the secret romance shortly after.
The timing couldn't have been worse for EXO, which had just been hit by a controversy.
Band member Kris had left abruptly last month, over alleged unfair treatment by SM Entertainment.
Now, enraged fans in Korea and elsewhere in the region have launched an online petition, baying for Baekhyun's blood and calling for his exit from the 11-member group.
Many chanted "traitor" during his live music show's recording last Sunday.
Some even started selling Baekhyun paraphernalia at low prices after feeling "betrayed" and "angered".
Such are the rules of K-pop. You play, you pay.
When he made the decision to sign his life away as a K-pop idol, he should have been prepared for what it entails.
No misbehaving, no disrespecting, and most importantly, no dating.
By flouting that rule, Baekhyun has not only jeopardised his own career, he has risked alienating the band's fans.
There's a time for everything. And if he wants to remain an idol, now is not the time for Baekhyun to be romancing anyone. After all, the 22-year-old entered the competitive, volatile and highly fickle K-pop scene just two years ago.
EXO have so far achieved formidable results and enjoyed a smooth ascent, bagging more than 50 awards in the short time since their debut, including the coveted Best Newcomer and Song Of The Year titles.
But it is no secret that fans of K-pop boy bands can get extremely possessive and obsessive over their idols. They are also the ones who wield the ultimate power and determine the future of these young superstars.
In short, without these fans, mostly girls, these K-pop idols are nothing.
Baekhyun should not have taken for granted all the affection they have lavished on him over the past two years. In large part, that goes with his remaining single and available.
Imagine their shock and hurt when they realised that their favourite 'Oppa' (elder brother) has his eye on someone else.
To make matters worse, the rookie was audacious enough to hook up with someone older, a 25-year-old A-lister, no less.
The couple had earlier uploaded photos which alluded to their romance on their Instagram accounts, such as posting selfies with similar poses.
That made fans even more irate as they found out that the photos were not for them, making them feel like both idols were mocking them.
There is a reason information is so notoriously tightly-controlled in the cookie-cutter multi-million dollar K-pop business.
Aware of the dire consequences of such relationships, talent agencies usually impose dating bans on their artists.
Baekhyun hasn't embarked on any damage control, and I won't be surprised if his career goes down the drain now.
If his fans could lift him up to where he is today, they can also bring him down overnight.
With EXO coming to Singapore for a concert on Aug 23, we shall see if Baekhyun manages to survive the heat till then.
Meanwhile, all budding K-pop idols should treat this as a classic cautionary tale.
Start dating only after you've made it big and earned the unshakeable loyalty of your fans through years of hard work.
Or if you are willing to risk it, go ahead and fall in love. Just keep quiet about it and don't get caught in the act.
YOONA, 24, AND KOREAN ACTOR-HOST LEE SEUNG GI, 27
The year kicked off with a bang when it was reported that Yoona, the prettiest and most popular member of Girls' Generation, was dating Lee.
Both parties had named each other as their ideal type on variety programmes in the past.
The couple hooked up last October and admitted to the relationship on New Year's Day after photos of them on dates were published. Many fans expressed shock but later gave the pair their blessings as they felt that they were a good match.
SOOYOUNG, 24, AND KOREAN ACTOR JUNG KYUNG HO, 30
The pair had been rumoured to be dating from as early as last February, but denied the relationship, saying that they were just friends who attend the same church.
A day after Yoona's relationship with Lee was leaked, a Korean media outlet released the news that Sooyoung was indeed in a one-year relationship with Jung, with exclusive photos of the couple on secret dates.
The duo's agencies confirmed the news shortly after. However, it led to a backlash from fans as the couple had denied the relationship several times in the past.
Other girls' generation members' relationship exposed
HYOYEON, 25, AND KOREAN ENTREPRENEUR KIM JUN HYUNG, 35
Many fans thought it was an April Fools' joke when it was reported in April that Hyoyeon was taken to the police station for having hit a man, turned out to be her boyfriend.
The news made headlines when police confirmed the incident. Hyoyeon's agency later released a statement that the two were in a relationship, but they have since broken up.
This article was first published on June 28, 2014.
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