6 Korean celebrity couples who overcame tough times, from K-pop idols Hyuna and Dawn, and Shin Min-ah and Kim Woo-bin, to Hallyu legend Rain and Kim Tae-hee
Dating in K-biz is never easy – stars are constantly in the spotlight and the fate of their careers is at the mercy of public perception. It’s even more difficult when celebrities embark on non-traditional relationships, such as those between older women and younger men, which can face strong criticism. And let’s not even get into LGBTQ+ relationships. So it’s not surprising that many stars with unconventional love lives end up keeping their romances a secret.
Here’s a look at some K-pop and K-drama stars who overcame tough times and ended up together.
Shin Min-ah and Kim Woo-bin
The relationship between Shin Min-ah and Kim Woo-bin has not been smooth, despite recent wedding rumours. Kim started dating Shin, who is five years older than him, a year after his split from Dior model Yoo Ji-ah. The couple confirmed their relationship in July 2015, but Kim came under fire for moving on too quickly, according to KBizoom. The couple never spoke about each other in public again, creating speculation among K-drama fans that the two wouldn’t last long.
Two years after confirming their relationship, Kim was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer, prompting Shin to take a break from her thriving career to care for him. The actress often accompanied him to the hospital, KBIZoom reports. After two years, when Kim had recovered, Shin returned to her car, starring in horror film Diva. She also recently starred in hit series Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha.
The pair overcame all these hardships, from break-up rumours to a cancer diagnosis, over the span of their six years. Now, rumours are swirling that Kim and Shin are set to tie the knot this year, according to Korean variety and gossip show Rumor Has It. Could fans see a happy ending between the couple before the end of the year?
Rain and Kim Tae-hee
It was reportedly love at first sight for Hallyu King Rain and Stairway to Heaven star Kim Tae-hee, who started dating secretly in 2012 after filming an ad together, according to Channel Korea. But the pair came under fire in 2013 following reports that Kim went on dates with the actress while on official military duty, according to The Korea Herald, breaking military service guidelines. The K-pop star was sentenced to seven days of confinement as a result.
Kim stood by Rain amid his controversies. The singer said, “she is really great and truly cares about me”, according to Kpopstarz.
The pair, who are among the richest couples in South Korea, tied the knot in a small ceremony in 2017, according to Channel Korea. They now have two daughters together.
“I’m happiest when I come home, picking up my children’s toys when I enter the house,” said Kim, according News Beezer. “Family is the strength of existence and it keeps me from feeling lonely. My family members give me all my strength by being by my side.”
BigBang’s Taeyang and Min Hyo-rin
BigBang’s Taeyang and actress Min Hyo-rin went from on-screen lovers in the 2013 music video for 1AM, to real life partners. It was certainly not easy for Min, who is two years older than him, as she faced a lot of pressure from the much-loved K-pop star’s fans.
“If I was in a relationship with a non-celebrity, I think I could speak more on our relationship more openly, but because he is an idol, as he is being loved by so many fans, I try to be more mindful of that,” she said in 2017, according to KoreaBoo.
The couple kept their relationship a secret before making it official in 2013. During that time, Min revealed that the two even broke up briefly, but they quickly got back together. The pair married in February 2018 in a private ceremony.
Soon after their wedding, their relationship became long-distance after Taeyang had to enlist for his mandatory military service, but the strict rules he had to follow during his service and the distance only made their relationship stronger. The BigBang member would often send Min flowers and handwritten letters, while Min would visit his military base every week, reports KpopStarz.
Hyuna and Dawn
K-pop star Hyuna made her relationship with rapper Dawn public in an Instagram post in 2018, and the pair also confirmed their relationship with Yonhap News – a move that created controversy with their agencies. The former 4minute girl group member said she decided to open up about the relationship because she wanted to be honest with her fans.
In the same year, Cube Entertainment announced that Hyuna’s contract had been terminated. After the news broke, she posted a video on Instagram of her and Dawn together. Soon after, Dawn was also fired from the agency. Both decisions were met with backlash, with fans of both stars coming to their defence.
However, the two lovebirds bounced back. In 2019, Hyuna and Dawn joined P Nation, the label run by Gangnam Style artist Psy. They also recently released their first duet EP together titled “1+1=1”, showing their great chemistry.
Han Hye-jin and Ki Sung-yueng
The Jumong star and the former Premier League football player caused a stir in the first half of 2013. They denied dating rumours, then admitted to their relationship … but then denied wedding rumours only to tie the knot six months later. And that was all over the span of half a year.
In an appearance on SBS talk show Healing Camp, the couple revealed that they had a short break-up before walking down the aisle due to the pressure of being in the public eye. But Ki, who decided to end the relationship, patched things up soon after.
“I couldn’t imagine you with anyone else, and I felt that I was going to regret losing you over something like this. So even though I was really sorry, I wanted to be with you again,” he said, according to OfficiallyKmusic.
The couple tied the knot in an elaborate ceremony in July 2013. Later, Han – who is eight years older than Ki – moved to England to be with him, per Soompi. Known as the Posh and Becks of South Korea, the pair now have a daughter together.
Jung Suk-won and Baek Ji-young
Actor Jung Suk-won and singer Baek Ji-young also faced tough opposition towards their relationship due to their age gap – not only from fans, but also from their respective families. Baek, 45, is nine years older than Jung, who is 36.
“My husband’s family was against it and so was my family. Because of our age difference, it’s only understandable that there will be a lot of opposition,” said Baek, according to Kpopstarz. The challenges made Baek ponder a break-up, reports Soompi.
The couple got married in 2013 after two years of dating. In February 2018, Jung was arrested on suspicion of drug use. Baek apologised on his behalf, saying, “As his wife, spouse and companion, I am reflecting remorsefully [on his mistake] along with him. I don’t know how long it will take, but sometime in the future, we will show you that we are living well together as a couple,” she said, per Soompi. Jung was later released from detention the same month and admitted to using drugs, according to the same source.