Inside Hyuna and Dawn's rule-breaking relationship, from leaving K-pop idol groups to go public, to releasing their first couple album ‘1+1=1'

heavily encouraged to hide it, even considered a “scandal”, previously called E’Dawn, girl groups Wonder Girls and 4Minute, releasing seemingly competing albums, star in ads together now, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

In the world of K-pop, dating remains a big no-no. Contracts commonly feature relationship bans, and if an artist does date, they are heavily encouraged to hide it. Why? Because the K-pop industry apparently relies on a fan base that engages in a “pseudo-relationship” with their favourite idols. And so a music artist’s bankability is believed to decrease when they are found out to be dating an actual individual human being.

heavily encouraged to hide it, even considered a “scandal”, previously called E’Dawn, girl groups Wonder Girls and 4Minute, releasing seemingly competing albums, star in ads together now, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Hyuna and Dawn frequently post photos of themselves on each others’ Instagram accounts. Photo: @hyunah_aa/Instagram

Although times are slowly changing and amendments are being made to many idol contracts, dating still remains a question mark for most – and in K-pop speak, it’s even considered a “scandal”. Many stars risk their careers if they consider going public with a relationship.

But there is some hope, it seems. Here, we take a look at Hyuna and Dawn’s controversial love story. They had to fight for their relationship, and there’s even more reason to admire the two since they released their first duet EP, called “1+1=1”, on September 9 featuring the lead single, Ping Pong.

How it started: going public and getting shamed

heavily encouraged to hide it, even considered a “scandal”, previously called E’Dawn, girl groups Wonder Girls and 4Minute, releasing seemingly competing albums, star in ads together now, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Triple H, the unit which Hyuna and Dawn were a part of, had a retro sound to their style. Photo: @cube_triple_h/Instagram

Back in 2017, Hyuna, then under Cube Entertainment, was announced to be part of a trio called Triple H with label mates Hui and Dawn (previously called E’Dawn) of boy band Pentagon. Although Triple H was perhaps the first public encounter between the two, in hindsight, we realise that their relationship started way before this. The two even admitted to have started dating in 2016.

heavily encouraged to hide it, even considered a “scandal”, previously called E’Dawn, girl groups Wonder Girls and 4Minute, releasing seemingly competing albums, star in ads together now, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Hyuna laid rumours to rest by sharing news of her and Dawn’s relationship with Yonhap News. Photo: @hyunah_aa/Instagram

In August 2018, Hyuna, who has always been an outspoken idol who broke the rules (and fans love her for it!), revealed their relationship on her Instagram account, stating that she wanted to be honest with her fans. The two also confirmed their relationship with Yonhap News – a move that wasn’t approved by their agency.

heavily encouraged to hide it, even considered a “scandal”, previously called E’Dawn, girl groups Wonder Girls and 4Minute, releasing seemingly competing albums, star in ads together now, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Hyuna’s video of her hugging Dawn puts all rumours to rest. Photo: @hyunah_aa/Instagram

The announcement shook the K-pop world and, eventually, a statement from Cube Entertainment revealed the decision to terminate Hyuna’s contract. The idol then shared a video of her hugging Dawn in an Instagram post.

Barely a month later, Dawn’s ties with the agency were terminated too. Cube Entertainment’s decisions were met with backlash from the public, as fans reasoned that idols are human beings who can fall in love and date, too (!).

heavily encouraged to hide it, even considered a “scandal”, previously called E’Dawn, girl groups Wonder Girls and 4Minute, releasing seemingly competing albums, star in ads together now, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Hyuna debuted in 2007 with Wonder Girls under JYP. Photo: @dongminutt/Twitter

Hyuna, who had been with the agency since 2009, was previously part of girl groups Wonder Girls and 4Minute, and has had many successful solo hits, such as Bubble Pop! International fans may also recognise her as the girl who was with Psy in the world-conquering Gangnam Style viral sensation.

Fans pointed out that much of the agency’s success was thanks in large part to the Hyuna’s growing popularity; she was definitely in a league of her own.

How it’s going: five years strong, and with a duet EP to boot, too

heavily encouraged to hide it, even considered a “scandal”, previously called E’Dawn, girl groups Wonder Girls and 4Minute, releasing seemingly competing albums, star in ads together now, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Dawn released his first EP in October 2020. Photo: @hyojong_1994/Instagram

For Dawn, his departure meant leaving both Pentagon and Triple H, and so he had to rebuild himself as a solo artist. Hyuna likewise had to debut as a solo singer. They eventually signed with P Nation, which is Psy’s agency – where they made the potentially catastrophic decision to relaunch their careers by releasing seemingly competing albums on the same day.

Unlike Cube, Psy gave the couple free rein. According to Soompi, on the production of their duet album “1+1=1”, Hyuna and Dawn said in an online press conference: “When we first began this album, [Psy] told us, ‘Really, do what you guys want to do,’ and ‘I’ll trust you and leave it up to you,’ so we’re thankful he believed in us a lot.”

heavily encouraged to hide it, even considered a “scandal”, previously called E’Dawn, girl groups Wonder Girls and 4Minute, releasing seemingly competing albums, star in ads together now, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter

Hyuna and Dawn are currently promoting Ping Pong. Photo: @hyunah_aa/Instagram

Despite the controversy, the couple has stayed together and stayed strong through the years, while keeping their fans updated on their happy relationship through social media. They’ve become a high-profile couple who are also loved for their sense of style, unique energy and charisma. The pair even promote brands and star in ads together now.

On the variety show Knowing Bros, where they made their first public appearance as a couple, Hyuna admitted that she was the first to like Dawn and had noticed him since his trainee days. In fact, she’s his sunbae, his senior both in age and experience – Dawn is currently 27 years old, while Hyuna is 29.

To date, Hyuna and Dawn have been together for more than five years.

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