In case you’re worried that Zico’s worried about everything that’s been going on, I’ll start off with:
Come on–he’s just happy to finally have a girlfriend.
Anyway, because I take a ghoulish interest in the way (mis)information circulates in K-Pop, I thought I’d do a run-down of the way the Zico/Seolhyun news unfolded. Some of this will be information repeated from my earlier posts, but I think it’s a good idea to present what are essentially case studies from time to time so that people can see just how…unique this particular information ecosystem is. (And why you should really, really not believe everything you read, Jesus Christ.)
So, according to Yonhap News, Zico and Seolhyun’s relationship was an open secret for some time, but the couple consistently denied it. Then after Dispatch busted things wide open with some 80 gazillion photographs, there wasn’t much choice but to confirm, but the confirmation was worded very vaguely and managed to suggest that they were maybe just professional colleagues.
Why? Why not just say, “Hells yeah! We’re dating!”
Because Seolhyun is a normal idol. She is considered one of the more attractive members of one of the more attractive K-Pop girl groups. Girl groups tend to be marketed to two populations: Lonely men in the army, and lonely older men.
Neither group is going to be thrilled to be told that Seolhyun’s gone for the brilliant and famous young dude who drives a Porsche and has no problem getting hard (I mean, duh, what did you expect, loser). This is a bit like when the early Beliebers discovered that Justin Bieber wasn’t interested in a normal girl just like them–he was interested in Selena Fucking Gomez.
So, lo and behold, the confirmation was worded extremely diplomatically.
Korean netizens jumped all over this, of course. (“So they’re not dating, they’re just fucking–is that what you’re saying?!”) In a way, I can understand it, because this kind of thing happens often in K-Pop, and it’s a little insulting to be told that what you see isn’t what you see.
On the other hand, the motives of many K-netz are hardly noble (SLUT!!!!!! WHORE!!!!!!! BUUUUUUURN HER!!!!!!!). I personally don’t have a problem with people–even famous people!–carving out some privacy in their lives, and vague answers are a part of that. It annoys me when U.S. tabloids ask if a couple are dating, and their rep replies with some non-answer like, “They’re good friends and have a close relationship,” and then the couple gets married and the tabloids are all, YOU LIED!!!! as though we all couldn’t read between the lines on that one. (No, I’ve never been interested in celebrity journalism.)
Anyway, the next thing to come along was an article in the Korean publication Sports Daily (which Netizen Buzz posted about, so the dense accept it as fact). According to this story, FNC and Seven Seasons both released their statements of confirmation–but then Seven Seasons said that Zico and Seolhyun weren’t dating. (Dun-dun-DUNHHH!!!!)
The problem is that other Korean news outlets did not report this, and Seven Seasons posted the confirmation to social media (English translation here), so–dude, it’s not right. Zico’s label is not denying the relationship.
How did Sports Daily get it wrong? If this were the States, I’d feel confident in the theory that someone from Sports Daily questioned someone from Seven Seasons very aggressively (“So what does ‘a close relationship’ mean, exactly? That sounds like they’re dating! Are they dating? Huh? Huh? Huh?”) and the Seven Seasons person flubbed the response (“It doesn’t mean they’re dating! Leave me alone, you vulture!”). But this is the Korean K-Pop press, and they’ve certainly made up shit about Zico’s love life before, so who knows.
I do know, though, that when you’re faced with un-redacted official statements and dozens of stories that say one thing, and one story that says something else, the safer bet is the stuff that actually has some reliable sourcing. I think the only reason to ignore the un-redacted official statements and dozens of stories that say one thing is because you have a vested interest in the other thing being true.
Which is why bitter, bitter K-netz have accepted Sports Daily’s version of events–that way Zico is a cad, Seolhyun is a stupid whore, and these K-netz can feel slightly better about their miserable lives.
Likewise, Koreaboo has accepted Sport Daily’s version of events because Koreaboo will publish absolutely anything that might get it clicks. And Omona They Didn’t has accepted Sport Daily’s version of events because Omona They Didn’t will publish absolutely anything that might damage the reputation of Zico or Block B.
So that’s where we are: An ever-so-fun mix of indirection, unreliable Korean media, malicious Korean netizens, dumb international fans, and English-language news sites that are hoping to be sued into oblivion one day. Pretty much the normal thing for K-Pop, truth be told, and really nothing new for Block B fans.