I'll say again that I don't think the point is necessarily to maintain a fantasy of availability. I think the main point is to be more relateable to the (young) audience. Korean middle school students are also frequently under a dating ban until they pass their high school entrance exams, they also have to sneak around on dates and not get caught, etc. It's the same reason there are few co-ed idol groups (because Korean middle schools are also sex-segregated).My immediate thought when I first read this wasn't that it must be wrong, but that it makes assumptions that don't make sense to me: that no matter the differences among Korean middle schoolers in social class, social grouping (e.g., freak, jock, nerd, skater, or whatever the various groupings are in Korea, not assuming they're the same in all neighborhoods), religion, opinion, etc., they're all more or less living the same life and doing the same amount of homework and sharing the identical attitude towards whether stars should date. Whereas I'd expect a whole range of all of these. And if an issue is controversial, there'll be vast differences of opinions even among one's friends and in one's social set. So I'd expect that there'd be constituencies for all sorts of star behavior, not just for one type of star or star behavior. So if there really is an almost-across-the-board dating band for idol performers, or at least a don't-ask-don't-tell policy (I don't know that either is true, in Korea, not paying attention to the supposed-personal-life-of-stars aspect as much as some of you do), the question would be: why does one constituency seem to outshout all the others?
Also, what does "being under a dating ban" mean in regard to a middle school student? Even if parents say you shouldn't date, I'd think the crucial question would be what does your peer group and what do your friends think. They're the real enforcers here. Not that you want to get in trouble with your parents, but if you and your friends have a positive attitude towards dating (whether you want to risk it or not), then if you get caught or get in trouble or are afraid to you'll still likely have a positive attitude towards idol stars who date. Also, from Subdee's description, I'd think the ideal star would be one under a supposed dating ban who nonetheless dates, gets caught, but doesn't always give way or show remorse, or whose remorse is obviously only pro forma.
Speaking of which, over in Japan, according to Mat, Sashihara Rino won the election as most popular member of AKB48:
Worth noting about the Minami scandal, which you might not want to note since you have 500 other things worth thinking about, is that in their yearly election of the most popular member this June, the winner was big surprise Sashihara Rino, who had a recent bf/sex scandal end with her 'demoted' to a sister group of AKB48 (no hair cutting). Give away two minutes of your time though and you'll see this post-win interview bit which showcases the carefree attitude that's made her popular and gained her haters at the same time http://vid48.com/watch_video.php?v=OXABKRNX556YI like in the interview how she thanks the scandal mag that caught her with her bf. Reminiscent of 50 Cent back in the day thanking the New York Post for boosting his popularity by their attacks on him.