[HOT ITEM]Honey, what undies are we wearing Friday?

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[HOT ITEM]Honey, what undies are we wearing Friday?

In the early stages of romances, it's hard to keep couples apart. But in Korea, it's getting hard to tell the couples apart.

Kim Hyo-jin, a sophomore at Hongik University majoring in hotel management, found her Prince Charming late last year and has been going steady with him since January. Her Mr. Right, Lee Jeong-hun, is a junior studying in the same department. The two make a quintessential campus couple, or "CC," as students say.

The younger generation is starting to think that couples become one not only in heart but also in wardrobe. Though Mr. Lee and Ms. Kim have only been seeing each other for three months, they take pains to wear the same clothes, from head to toe, to create the perfect "couple look."

The couple's lives revolve tightly around their couple status. They take the same classes. They are never apart on campus. Once home, Mr. Lee calls his beloved every night ?he uses a special deal for couples that allows free calls between two specified persons from midnight to 6 a.m. ?to discuss what the two will wear the next day. In their closets and drawers, they've got the same sunglasses, shirts, pants, socks and sneakers. "Our favorite clothes to wear are purple shirts and beige wrinkle-free pants, which we usually decide to wear on weekends," Ms. Kim said.

Recently, Mr. Lee splashed out on an extra special couple item. "I originally planned to buy couple rings for our 100-day anniversary," he said, "but I just couldn't wait, so I bought them for our 80-day anniversary." Ms. Kim got a shiny gold ring inlaid with a cubic zirconia gem. Now people ask Ms. Kim if she's married, which can be a nuisance, but she is still happy to wear the ring. "Wearing a couple ring is like a privilege," she said with a proud smile. Mr. Lee bought the ring and its match for 131,000 won ($100) at a wholesale jewelry store in Jongno.

One thing that stands out about couple items is a lack of frivolity; everything couples wear in tandem reflects their obsessions to be the right couple.

The couple item craze is good for retailers, who are more than glad to cater to the trend. "Sales of couple-related goods, especially rings, are higher now than ever," Kim Jun-man, a public relations manager at Lotte Department Store, told the JoongAng Ilbo English Edition. He added that sales soared this year on Valentine's Day and its month-later partner, White Day.

Even the single crowd catches the love bug that compels young people to buy couple products. "I sometimes feel like a fool, just because I don't have a boyfriend," said Hong Jin-hee, a 23-year-old college student. To keep her hopes up, Ms. Hong recently bought a couple of pink polo shirts - one for her and one for her "future boyfriend."

Ready for the ultimate couple product? Try couple underwear. One style has a heart in the middle with a message shaped like an arrow that reads: "Don't you dare think about two-timing, honey, or you're dead."

What happens when the couple breaks up? After a painful pause, Mr. Kim said, "Well, then my life will come to an end, too." Heartache is worse, evidently, when you have to change your phone service and buy a new wardrobe in the bargain.

by Chun Su-jin

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