Timing is indeed everything, for idols who no longer want to carry the burden of keeping their love lives hidden from their fans or “deceive” the relentless media with repeated denials, and instead want to come out with the truth.
But it works only if they already have an established fanbase, as in the cases of Wang Leehom and Wu Chun. Their fans mostly reacted positively and sent congratulatory messages.
In conservative Asia where these idols’ livelihoods depend (almost) entirely on their largely female fans, coming clean can make or break their careers as jealous fans might abandon them faster than you can say “sorry”.
Take popular K-pop boy band Infinite’s member L for example, as reported in The New Paper.
After his relationship with pretty online Korean personality Kim Do Yeon was exposed, his agency released a statement last month admitting to the romance and apologising to his fans for denying the rumours.
The news saw the 21-year-old star’s popularity nosedive, with fans closing down at least seven of his online fan sites overnight.
Choosing to be open about their love lives also places the idols’ girlfriends and wives under the unforgiving glare of the nosy public, something they might not be able to handle.
After Kim’s identity as L’s girlfriend was revealed, she was attacked by fans who threw rocks at her, scratched her car and emptied rubbish outside her office.
Kim lashed out at her attackers online and subsequently hinted that she and L have broken up as a result of the negative publicity. This was later confirmed by L’s agency.
And although some of Wang’s fans are elated that he has found his “Forever Love”, it sparked a flurry of gossip online and his wife’s supposedly “wild past” came under intense scrutiny, leading him to threaten legal action against the rumour mongers.
So unless wedding bells are expected soon, these idols should be wary of revealing their relationships. A premature announcement may place both the relationship and the idol’s career in jeopardy.
Coming clean may look like a no-win situation, especially for Asian celebrities who have to choose between telling a lie to protect their privacy or opting for a tell-all and then hoping for the best.
Perhaps, fans should cut their idols some slack and let them love freely, something their Hollywood counterparts seem to enjoy.
In the words of Wang, who was recently asked to describe himself in five words during an interview: “I am a human being!”
Question is, are we ready to allow him and his peers to truly be human?