A while back, I posted the MV of Korean boy group Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry” on my Facebook page to celebrate SuJu’s end of year reign on top of the South Korean and other pan-Asian music charts. The comments and subsequent posts I received for it was completely not what I expected. Instead of “nice video,” “great song”, or “I like the dance choreography”, what poured in were “I enjoyed watching those girls dance…”and “what pretty faces…(and)…prettier frames they have” which pretty much sum up that post thread.
Growing up watching lots of Hong Kong and various other Asian dramas, I guess I got used to and became immune to the girlie boy stature of those East Asian men who paraded across my tv screen through the years. So it wasn’t a long stretch for me to accept this new breed of prettier than flower boys (translation: prettier than most females) who has saturated, been imitated, and drooled over in Korea, and then been exported to Japan, Southeast Asia , Hong Kong, and mainland China spawning, defining and dressing a new breed of acceptable and celebrated men-looking-like-feminine-prepubescents preference.
In all seriousness, one has to wonder after gaping and awing at how these full grown twentysomething heterosexual men can look soooo pretty. The usual reflex reactions of admiring ‘so cute,’ ‘so hawt’, etc take a back seat to envying streams of ‘how could they have such beautiful pearly skin!’, ‘how could they be so slim!’, ‘I want his skin or at least the name of his aesthetician!’, and ‘look at those perfectly manicured nails and long fingers!’ Of course there are also sufficient equilibriating eye-rollings and (shallow) critiques over the varying degrees of ridiculousness in these guys signature über coiffed hair of cascading waves or perfect ringlets, and ensembles of multi-graphic or flowing pastelly and bright colored tops complete with, more often than not, girlie legs touting skin tight pants. As if people aren’t opionated enough as it is, if you walk out of the house dressed in that fashion, you’re just asking for the claws to come out.
Feminine looking men have always been around but never as celebrated and strong in numbers on screen as they are now. In fact, Korean audiences and Korean drama fans can’t seem to get enough of them. Almost every single trendy drama these recent years stars at least one flower boy. The ultimate one is probably the self-crown titled Boys Over Flowers 꽃보다 남자(2008) with not one, not two, but four prettier than flowers, heck, prettier than supermodels not-boys-but-not-yet-men male leads. Even discounting the fact that the female lead is suppose to be a below average plain Jane character, the juxtaposition of her and them are like comparing Apollo’s radiant charge on an August summer with a flickering incandescent light bulb. It was too sad to watch.
Other flower boy drama show pieces include You’re Beautiful 미남이시네요(2009), Baker King, Kim Tak Goo 제빵왕 김탁구 (2010), Tamra, the Island 탐나는 도다(2010), Sungkyunkwan Scandal 성균관 스캔들(2010), Playful Kiss 장난스런 키스(2010), and Mary Stayed Out All Night 장난스런 키스 (2010). The general stew of reigning and rising flower boys include Lee Jun Ki (The King and the Clown 왕의 남자 2005, My Girl 마이걸2005), Kim Hyun Joong and his cohorts of SS501, Jung Il Woo (Return of Iljimae 돌아온 일지매2009, Take Care of the Young Lady 아가씨를 부탁해 2009), Jang Geun Seok (Beethoven’s Virus, You’re Beautiful 미남이시네요2009), Song Joong Ki (Sungkyunkwan Scandal 성균관 스캔들 2010, Will It Snow At Christmas 크리스마스에 눈이 올까요 2009), and Noh Min Woo (My Girlfriend is a Gumiho 내 여자친구는 구미호 2010).
There are so many more eligible for this list, but since the subject is on looks, I reckon it’ll be more effective for my point to post pictures of these pretty, dainty looking boys/men. You can be sure that there are plenty of other candidates I haven’t mentioned or missed.
Why do so many Korean girls and Korean drama fans like or accept this traditionally ridiculed look so much? Although I no longer have the one-note aesthetic and perspective of some of my western raised friends and emote shock, giggles, and sarcasm at the sight of these boys, personally I’m not attractive to them either per se, being steeped too many impressionable years in the school of it’s unmasculine, wimpy, and it’s-wrong-that-the boy-is-prettier-than-the-girl thoughts. I can’t even offer a non-statistical, unscientific guess on the mass attraction. Noticeably bizarre is that the younger generations of Korean girls (in Korea) are getting taller, bigger boned, and more statuesque these days right in stride with the guys. Could be all the mineral enriched and extra-amped up products they’ve regularly been feeding on since birth i.e DHA omega fortified dairy, well-being foods. One would think they would prefer men with even bigger not slighter stature than them. I can understand the attraction to the characters some of these pretty boys portray in their movies or dramas, but the look itself- no, not really.
Just to follow up on the Super Junior “Sorry Sorry” post story, I posted a comparatively more masculine looking MV of “Mirotic” by TVXQ/DBSK/Tohoshinki/東方神起 (the group goes by so many different monikers) to man and muscle up the Korean men’s image and offer some balance. Yeah, that calmed the giggles.