New reports that K-Pop idols Krystal and Kai are a confirmed couple have fans suspecting April Fool’s shenanigans. But this ain’t no CornHub—the rumors are actually true. For a little bit of context: Krystal and Kai are both big money makers for the same Korean label, SM Entertainment. SM specializes in K-Pop sensations, and Krystal and Kai are both graduates of their famously rigorous trainee program—the South Korean equivalent of the Disney Channel star-making system circa the purity ring years (requisite link to my favorite celebrity piece of all time, Joe Jonas’ personal essay in which he describes losing his virginity while confidently assuring readers that he “did other stuff” in the meantime).
Given the intense fascination with stars like Kai and Krystal, its difficult to fully convey the impact of this new gossip bomb. The Internet response in K-Pop communities is akin to if Brad Pitt got back together with Jennifer Aniston, or Taylor Swift came out against female friendship. For the celebrity un-aware, try imagining if your mom started dating your high school English teacher. You’re now appropriately shocked enough to continue reading this article.
Krystal (the artist formerly known as Chrystal Soo Jung) is a member of the beloved girl group f(x). Because nothing says “worldwide girl group phenomenon” like a concept you vaguely remember from Algebra II! The group has churned out four beloved albums since 2009, so don’t be surprised if you hear f(x) soon at a function near you.
Kai (birth name: Kim Jong-in) is a fellow SM trainee who made his 2011 debut in the Chinese-South Korean boy band EXO. EXO premiered with 12 members, later separating into EXO-K and EXO-M, a move so needlessly confusing that it must be a testament to the talents of the divisive dozen. EXO hits include “Call Me Baby”, “What is Love”, and a myriad of other explosive tracks Justin Bieber wishes he wrote.
Both Kai and Krystal were born in 1994 and entered into their SM contracts at around the same time. For those of you who have yet to fall down an online K-Pop gossip rabbit hole, the SM training program is a mandatory finishing school for all potential K-Pop artists signed to the label. Think of it as a mixture of Hogwarts and Step Up—young, talented students with baby Channing Tatum abs compete for the praise and wisdom of their elders in categories ranging from dance to rap to song. In addition to providing the raw material for a reality TV show I genuinely cannot believe hasn’t been created yet, SM training creates K-Pop idols out of pretty-faced freestyle novices.
The extremely regimented program utilizes a ranking system and series of showcases to determine which trainees will be given the opportunity of a K-Pop group debut. Once a group launches, these impressionable young crooners will be launched to a level of household name-dom usually reserved for Heads of State or Kardashians.
According to Dispatch, South Korea’s first celebrity tabloid magazine, the longtime friends found time to date in between their busy schedules. The mag scored revealing pics after what must have been an extremely solitary stake-out in a Korean parking lot. On March 31, Dispatch published pictures of the couple entering a car together; these stunningly un-erotic snaps proceeded to shake the K-Pop world. The accompanying article alleged that the couple—henceforth known as Kaistal—spent February 17th together at Krystal’s favorite lobster restaurant. Cue the inevitable Beyoncé—Red Lobster—K-Pop Illuminati conspiracy theories.
According to one gossip website’s reaction, the coupling made sense to fans, since both idols are known for their “cold personalities and their good looks, as well as their fit bodies” Wow, #CoupleGoals. A slightly more tactful source told Dispatch, “they both know that they resemble each other not only in appearance, personality, music taste, fashion and hobbies. It was only time before they started to become a couple.”
Mere hours after reports of the K-Pop superpower’s love match started surfacing, SM Entertainment confirmed the news, saying, “The two were close friends and began having feelings for each other this year.” Kaistal is poised to be SM’s only current in-house couple, following the September breakup of Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon and EXO’s Baekhyun.