Dating 101: How Korean Celebrities Date Secretly
Dating is always a hot topic of discussion, but celebrity dating generates discussion like no other. As soon as the dating “scandal” breaks out, we might find ourselves asking: “How did they do it? How did they manage to date without fans finding out about it?” The internet is immediately filled with news and gossip about the latest celebrity couple because everyone is dying to find out about the “when, where, how” of celebrity-style dating, as well as speculate about the possible hints and secret “messages” shared between the couple.
While each relationship is different, most celebrity couples have a similar dating routine and style due to the constraints of being a public figure, and here we list the some of the most common ways celebrities couples meet, date, and share their affection. From the first meeting to the expression of full-fledged romance, it’s all about secrecy.
1. The restaurant
Let’s start off with the restaurant. Restaurant dates are possibly the most classic ones out there, and celebrities are certainly no exception to this rule. Who doesn’t love them some good food and nice company? For stars, however, entering a random restaurant with their loved one can be risky, and celebrities often opt for privately owned spots that can provide them with much needed privacy.
Hong Suk Chun is not only a well-known TV star, but also an established restaurateur. His trendy restaurants in the Itaewon district are frequented by many stars, and not only for the tasty food. The entertainer revealed on a variety show, “Whenever top stars come visit us, we provide them with a private top floor, and make additional adjustments depending on their popularity.” Hong Suk Chun added that when the stars are ready to leave, the restaurant staff helps create gaps between the stars’ departure times to minimize the risk of getting caught.
More recently, actor Lee Jung Jae and entrepreneur Lim Se Ryung were pictured on a brunch date at an upscale restaurant. Turns out that the spot is actually run by Lim Se Ryung herself, which obviously provides the couple all the privacy they may desire. The restaurant is known for being quite the hot spot among celebrities, and I’m sure the menu is not the only reason for that.
2. The car
A car is a must-have for any celebrity, and it is also a great spot for dating. In 2013, star couples including Rain and Kim Tae Hee, Ki Sung Yueng and Han Hye Jin, and Jo In Sung and Kim Min Hee were spotted on private dates in their cars.
Former Fin.K.L member Lee Jin confessed a few years back that she used to go on secret car dates with her then-boyfriend. Whenever her manager drove her home, she would step out of the van and sneak into her boyfriend’s car instead of going straight home to enjoy the company of her boyfriend.
H.O.T’s Moon Hee Jun, one of the top male idols in the 1990s, also swears by cars. In order to accommodate full-fledged dates with his girlfriend, the idol customized his car by installing a dining table system to the back of the front seats. He could simply push a few buttons and a table would fold down for the convenience of the back seat. The H.O.T star’s efforts did not end there, however. He also installed a projector in his car, so that he and his girlfriend could watch movies in his car. Pretty impressive!
3. The staff
In most cases, the number one goal for celebrities is to avoid being caught. It can be difficult, however, to directly contact other stars without arousing suspicion. In order to avoid rumors, many stars decide to communicate with each other through their staff, mainly their closest managers and stylists. Sometimes, these partners in crime (or should I say cupids?) set their clients up with other stars, as was seen in the case of Won Bin and Lee Na Young.
The actor couple went public with their relationship in 2013. But how did the top celebrities end up together? Turns out that they were initially introduced to each other by their mutual stylist. While working with the same staff, Won Bin and Lee Na Young ran into each other often and they soon developed feelings for each other.
The title of staff can also be used to cover up traces of dating. When Super Junior’s Shindong had yet to reveal his relationship to the public in the late 2000s, the idol made his non-celebrity girlfriend act as if she was his stylist. This way, they could be close to each other without causing a stir. What a smart façade.
4. The couple items
Celebrities are no different from any other human beings. They have feelings, and when in love, they might have a tiny (or gigantic, let’s be honest) desire to declare it to the whole world.
Couple items are one of the ‘must-haves’ of any young couple in Korea, and especially idols have been discovered to own matching accessories or clothing items with their partners. Before admitting that they are indeed dating, f(x)‘s Sulli and Dynamic Duo‘s Choiza were spotted on a casual date wearing matching black-and-white sneakers, evoking questions about the nature of their relationship.
Similarly, fans have discovered that Girls’ Generation’s Tiffany and 2PM’s Nichkhun had constantly dropped hints of their relationship, even before confirming all dating rumors in early 2014. Although they do not admit to starting their relationship back in 2010, the two have been spotted wearing matching necklaces, cellphone charms, and even folders for the past four years. Sure, everything might be a coincidence, but they were also suspected to have written adorable shout-outs to each other in the thanks-tos of their groups’ albums. It all adds up to a fairly clear example of how idol dating tends to work when it comes to small and public expressions of love.
5. The hidden messages
Because stars are keenly followed by their fans and the overall public, they often try come up with meaningful yet inexplicit ways of expressing their affection for their significant others. This is where hidden messages – sometimes even encrypted ones – come in.
Another example comes from Super Junior’s Shindong. Again, in the thanks-to section, Shindong left an encrypted message made up of a systematic combination of numbers and letters, which netizens quickly figured out to be a creative proposal to his (now ex-) girlfriend, Nari.
Shoo from S.E.S once revealed that she used to keep in touch with her boyfriend at the time using – literally – hidden messages. They would write small notes for each other, fold them, and put them underneath a certain vending machine at a broadcast station, which they both visited regularly. Who wouldn’t feel excited about playing treasure hunt with their loved one?
More recently, netizens noticed a series of what they assume to be hidden messages that had been exchanged between Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon and EXO’s Baekhyun. The day before their dating news officially broke out, Taeyeon posted a photo of an Oreo cookie on her Instagram, which many think is a reference to her boyfriend, whose name literally means ‘black and white.’ Similarly, Baekhyun stylized the name of his group in a rather unique way on his Instagram, setting him apart from his teammates and raising questions about a possible hidden meaning. Instead of writing EXO using the alphabet, Baekhyun went for ㅌxㅇ. Netizens have speculated that the Korean letters actually refer to the initials of Taeyeon’s name, ㅌ (T) and ㅇ (Y), making it an encrypted expression of affection to Taeyeon. Although stars rarely confirm that such speculations are true, many believe that the encrypted messages are indeed dedicated to the celebrities’ significant others.
To accommodate tricks that do not really fit into the aforementioned five categories, here’s a bonus one that introduces the more creative ways of going on dates. While not many celebrities follow these rules, it is more than fascinating to learn how a few risktakers have gone on successful dates and stayed in touch with their crush.
It is no secret that Super Junior’s Heechul loves to cross-dress, but did you know that the has even gone on a date dressed up as a woman? And no, I am not making this up. Heechul revealed that he used to date a famous celebrity in his trainee days. In order to go out on a date with her, he put on a wig and a dress, met up with his date, and walked hand-in-hand in public without anyone paying attention to them. It is more than common for Korean girls (and even guys, for that matter) to hold hands when strolling around the city, even if they are just friends, and Heechul was smart enough to take advantage of this cultural trait. So, next time you see two pretty girls on a shopping date, make sure to check they are not male idols in disguise! (Although I doubt no one except Heechul is able to pull this off. If you disagree, please leave prove me wrong and leave evidence in the comments below.)
The “smart” generation
Rainbow’s Jisook explained on a recent talk show that approaching other idols is now extremely simple, as most of them are avid uses of social networking sites and “smart” phones. While the main purpose of maintaining a Twitter or Instagram account might be to get closer to their fans, establishing relationships with other stars is an important added bonus. According to Jisook, stars contact each other through private messages, which leave no visible traces to anyone except the two. This way, they are able to chat without going through the traditional process of asking ‘Hey, can I get your number?’ Celebrities can now simply search for each other’s profiles online, press follow, and start a private conversation! Like any other person on the internet, actually, when you think about it – it’s just that we rarely catch everything that’s going on behind the scenes.