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In love or just teasing?

Some celebrities keep fans wondering if their chemistry is for real or only for reel

Will they or won't they get together? Singapore stars and best-friends-forever Rebecca Lim and Ian Fang have kept fans guessing if they are dating.

Others are hoping that the make-believe romance between K-drama leads Park Bo Young and Park Hyung Sik is real.

These much-hyped pairings are referred to as ships, derived from the word relationship and describe a romantic relationship endorsed by fans.

The Sunday Times looks at ships which have happily set sail (K-drama couple Nam Joo Hyuk and Lee Sung Kyung are officially together) and ships which have sunk (dating reality co-stars Shawn Yue and Chinese actress Zhou Dongyu).

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• Watch K-dramas Strong Woman Do Bong Soon and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo on Viu. Catch Riverdale on Netflix.


Singapore actress Rebecca Lim, 30, and China-born actor Ian Fang, 27

The oh-so-subtle flirting between Lim and Fang makes for even more exciting viewing than a Channel 8 drama. The official word is that the relationship is platonic.

But punters think otherwise. The most telling sign happened at this year's Star Awards when Fang singled out his "good friend" Lim during his award acceptance speech.

Deja vu? Just a year ago at the same ceremony, there was an open display of affection between actor "pals" Jeffrey Xu and Felicia Chin. They confirmed the romance months later.


South Korean model-actor Nam Joo Hyuk, 23, and South Korean model-actress Lee Sung Kyung, 26


South Korean model-actor Nam Joo Hyuk, 23, and South Korean model-actress Lee Sung Kyung, 26. PHOTO: VIU

Ahoy there. It is anchors away for co-stars Nam and Lee as they are officially together after playing lovers (above) on Korean drama Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2016). The confirmation came in April, shortly after South Korean paparazzi released photos of the couple on dates.

Fans have also been doing their own detective work. A blurry, now-deleted post on Lee's Instagram sent netizens on a hunt to uncover the identity of the mystery man taken at British rock band Coldplay's concert in Seoul. They found a photo of Nam sporting a T-shirt in the same shade of yellow.


South Korean actress Park Bo Young, 27, and South Korean actor Park Hyung Sik, 25


South Korean actress Park Bo Young, 27, and South Korean actor Park Hyung Sik, 25. PHOTO: VIU

A collective sigh of disappointment could be heard when the leads of K-drama Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (2017) denied they were dating.

How could the sizzling on-screen chemistry not boil over into real life? Evidence of the couple's romance is all over social media, courtesy of fans' investigations.

A viral video captured a sweet moment between the pair at Plaza Singapura here in April. Sadly, it was not a mall date, but a public appearance for a South Korea travel fair. Hyung Sik went to the rescue of his petite princess Bo Young, lowering a high stool for the 1.58m-tall actress because she was struggling to sit on the chair. Cue gushing.


American actor Cole Sprouse, 24, and American actress Lili Reinhart, 20


American actor Cole Sprouse, 24, and American actress Lili Reinhart, 20. PHOTO: LILI REINHART/ INSTAGRAM

Fans smell a budding romance on the set of American teen drama Riverdale (2017), which features characters from the classic Archie Comics. The prime suspects: on-screen couple gloomy misfit Jughead Jones (Sprouse) and A-star student Betty Cooper (Reinhart). The ship has even been christened Bughead.

On social media, Reinhart uploaded a video of the couple goofing around on set, talking in high-pitched tones after inhaling helium out of a balloon, while photography enthusiast Sprouse shared shots of Reinhart lying in a flower bed.

About the photo shoot, he told Teen Vogue: "I'm a sucker for friends, fashion and framing."


American comedienne Mindy Kaling, 37, and American actor-producer B.J. Novak, 37


American comedienne Mindy Kaling, 37, and American actor-producer B.J. Novak, 37. PHOTO: MINDY KALING/INSTAGRAM

Kaling and Novak are a match made in comedy heaven, specifically on the set of hit sitcom The Office (2005-2013). They dated as characters on the show and then dated in real life.

It has been more than a decade since the comedic duo broke up, but their flirting continues in full view of the Twittersphere. The inseparable besties also appear frequently in each other's Instagram posts on dinner dates, at the red carpet and at the beach.

Witty Kaling sums up their relationship as "romantically charged camaraderie with loud arguments".


Indian actor Tiger Shroff, 27, and Indian actress Disha Patani, 24


Indian actor Tiger Shroff, 27 and Indian actress Disha Patani, 24. PHOTOS: AFP, ST FILE

Patani was introduced to a global audience when she sizzled as an a**-kicking princess in Hong Kong star Jackie Chan's action movie, Kung Fu Yoga (2017).

Back home, the Bollywood babe is heating up the scene with her hot date Shroff. The actors have been photographed out and about in Mumbai, making headlines in the Indian press for their rumoured romance.

The couple may be coy in front of the paparazzi's lenses, but they ham it up as lovers in Paris in a music video for Befikra (2016), by duo Meet Bros and singer Aditi Singh Sharma.


Hong Kong actor Shawn Yue, 35, and Chinese actress Zhou Dongyu, 25


Hong Kong actor Shawn Yue, 35, and Chinese actress Zhou Dongyu, 25. PHOTO: SHAWN YUE/ INSTAGRAM

Netizens were sceptical about the May-December pairing on the Chinese celebrity dating show, We Are In Love (2016).

Even the baby-faced actress was conscious of their incompatibility. On the show, she said: "Don't I have a bad physique? I'm 24 years old, but I have the body of a 14-year-old."

He replied: "I'm 34 years old, but I have the mental age of a 14-year-old. We match."

Yue was right. Viewers could not get enough of the lovey-dovey pair with an inexplicable chemistry that continued off-set. They were even photographed in an embrace at the party to celebrate Zhou's Golden Horse Best Actress win last year.

Sadly, the ship sank when he admitted to dating Taiwanese model-actress Sarah Wang, 29, late last year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 11, 2017, with the headline 'In love or just teasing?'. Print Edition | Subscribe