updated 4 Jun 2012, 18:02
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The New Paper
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K-pop fans hit out at idol's 'ugly' boyfriend
by Charlene Chua

IT WAS a case of beauty and the beast reaction for K-pop's sexiest female star.

The gorgeous Lee Hyori, who was the highest paid female Korean singer in 2006, caused a controversy when she admitted last month that she was dating a man called Lee Sang Soon.

The problem some K-pop fans have with him?

Mr Lee, a singer-songwriter, is "ugly" - especially when compared to the attractive men whom Lee has dated, such as Rain, Lee Seo Jin and Choi Sung Wook.

Many think he is not "worthy" of the stunning beauty.

Wrote mizz_cindy on the AsianTown website: "omg eww he hella ugly."

Mr Lee's detractors complain that he is chubby, has single eyelids and sports a substantial nose, all of which contrast significantly with Lee's "sexy eyes, sharp nose and fairskin".

Lee is reportedly one of the few Korean female stars who has not gone under the knife.

Some netizens also felt that it didn't help that Mr Lee probably only earns a fraction of what she does.

So who is this 30-something Average Joe who has captured the heart of a K-pop goddess?

According to Korean entertainment news website allkpop, Mr Lee made his debut as a member of acid jazz-rock band Roller Coaster back in 1999.

He is reportedly recognised in the Korean music scene as a "very skilled, multi-talented musician".

Mr Lee's spokesman told the media: "He is a man of few words. However, his mannerisms and his actions show that he's a very trustworthy guy.

"He's a man that makes other people feel secure when he's around."

Cautious man

Continued the spokesman: "He's an extremely deliberate man.

"He was very cautious in approaching Hyori and also when making statements regarding their relationship.

"Both his lifestyle and music reflect that he is a simple, down-to-earth guy. He's quite a good person."

So could this be true love for Lee?

Lee said she didn't like "guys who are too good-looking", reported Korean news website Soompi.

The singer said: "I would want to date or marry someone that feels like my soul mate. It'd be really nice if he could understand me really well."

Some netizens have also grudgingly noted that Mr Lee seemed to have brought out Lee's happy, playful side.

Lee was dubbed The Untouchable Queen by the Korean media because men are said to be afraid to date her due to her popularity.

But she seemed to be in unusually high spirits on Boxing Day, when she appeared as a guest on Korean TV show Section TV and made a cheeky offer that caused more controversy on the Internet.

The animal lover was promoting her charity calendar that featured her and her dog Soonshim.

Said Lee, 32: "If I can sell 20,000 calendars, should I take my shirt off like Je Dong oppa (big brother)?

"Since idol companies have already made a lot of money from their idol calendars, will you please buy a calendar for abandoned animals instead?"

On Oct 26 last year, Korean actor Kim Je Dong encouraged netizens to vote in Seoul's mayoral elections by tweeting: "I'm going to take my shirt off at the boulder in front of the Samgak mountain and take a picture if we exceed a 50 per cent turnout."

While Kim has been praised by netizens for encouraging people to take part in the elections, Lee has been criticised for her "tasteless offer" even though it was said injest.

Perhaps Lee's quip was a nod to her boyfriend, Mr Lee, who is an animal rights activist. And both are part of Korea Animal Rights Advocates (Kara)

Last July, Lee also released a charity single, Remember, in aid of abandoned animals. The single was produced by Mr Lee.

The pair had been dating for five months when Lee's spokesman outed the relationship last month.

According to Soompi, they reportedly went out only at night to the park near Lee's house where they would walk her dog.

Said Lee's publicist: "Hyori and Sang Soon have known each other for a year.

"They began dating after working for a charity album over the summer."

'More than friends'

On whether the duo are in love, Lee's camp offered an enigmatic reply.

"Currently, the two are more than friends. However, it's difficult to say if they are lovers."

Lee made her K-pop debut as the leader of girl group Fin K L in 1998 and went on to an extremely successful solo career with hitalbums such as Dark Angel (2006) and It'sHyorish (2008).

Lee's friends say that Mr Lee could be TheOne if Lee's actions are anything to go by.

Lee is well known for being tight-lipped about her relationships.

One of her friends reportedly told the media: "The fact that Hyori has come out and admitted that she is in a relationship means that she has met someone (who) is worth it."

The couple's celebrity friends have also taken to the various social networking websites to wish the couple well.

Some have tried to "calm down" Mr Lee's detractors.

Tweeted Korean singer Kim Dong Ryul: "As a friend and also a senior, the two are a very pretty and cool couple.

"I wish that everyone will congratulate and cheer them on with honest hearts!" But not all of Lee's fans dislike Mr Lee.

Some are glad that their idol seems to have found the real deal.

Wrote a fan on the allkpop site: "They kind of look cute together. I'm happy for them."

"The fact that Hyori has come out and admitted that she is in a relationship means that she has met someone that is worth it." - A friend LEE Hyori is renowned in Korea for her beauty and sex appeal - and also for keeping mum about her relationships.

So who are the lucky few who have had the opportunity to be Lee's arm accessory?

Rain, 29

The K-pop superstar was said to have made a huge boo-boo in 2005 when he reportedly picked up a call from his friend and blabbed that he had spent the night with Lee.

His friend was actually calling from a radio show, so Rain was "live on air" when he reportedly gave intimate details of his time with Lee.

The radio show then apparently went for a quick commercial break.

Lee Seo Jin, 38

Five years ago, K-drama star Lee Seo Jin was rumoured to have married Lee after pictures of them holding hands were revealed.

But a check with Lee's dad confirmed that he didn't have a newly-acquired son-in-law.

Choi Sung Wook, 33

Pictures of the heir to the Dongyang construction conglomerate and Lee frolicking in a luxurious hot tub in Seoul were leaked in 2008.

Lee broke up with her billionaire boyfriend soon after and blamed the paparazzi for following them too closely.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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