Men Can Be Flowers Too: Asian Masculinities in Popular Culture

NIcholas Tse as Hua Wuque, The Proud Twins
Nicholas Tse as Hua Wuque, The Proud Twins

Every time I see articles about young Asian actors leaving behind their “flower boy” roles for more “manly” characters, I feel some kind of way. Such articles act like attractiveness and masculinity cannot go hand it hand. They might if their authors were watching what I watch.

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Cha Gun Woo…….Is On My Mind!

Kim Bum as Cha Gun Woo
Kim Bum as Cha Gun Woo

And not in a good way. Dude, we GET IT! You are carrying a grudge because someone killed your girlfriend. I like how at the beginning we are reminded that this is a fictional work. Of course it is, because no one could be as angsty as Cha Gun Woo (Kim Bum) in real life! He’s more upset than the girlfriend’s brother. And this stunt in Episode 9? That would get you more than kicked off the team. And here I was just about to forgive you for that unflattering haircut and straggly facial hair!

Get a New Plan, Stan!, or How Not To Storm the Castle in Hwajung/Splendid Politics

hwajung
Jungmyung (Lee Yun Hee) in Hwajung

Listen, I know life is rough as a princess in a K-drama. You’re just trying to dodge all the palace intrigue.  Sometimes, you end up on the wrong end of the stick and are forced to leave. But Jungmyung (Lee Yun Hee) needs to pull herself yourself together in Hwajung/Splendid Politics!

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Park Sung Woong. . . Is On My Mind

Park Sung Woong
Park Sung Woong

Team Leader Jang Moo Won (Park Sung Woong) is holding it down and too cool for school in Hidden Identity. If he told me I could fly a plane or do brain surgery, I would totally believe it. Now, if we could only get Cha Gun Woo (Kim Bum) to smile, it would be all good!

Allow me to elaborate. You see this look? Yes, THIS LOOK!! That look is the epitome of, “whatever.” It doesn’t matter what the situation is. He’s so cool about it! Pressure from the higher-ups? Whatever. Team members in danger? Whatever. Staring down some thugs in a junkyard? WHATEVER! Team Leader Jang can handle it!

He also believes in his team members. He trusts that they are handling things. In return, they trust Team Leader Jang, even when it doesn’t look too good for him. Teamwork!

Star Array: Dance and the Large K-pop Group

Super Junior
Super Junior

As we all know, dance is a central part of K-pop. I’ve written about choreography in K-pop in Dancing in the Street: Choreography in K-pop before. I’ve also created an exhibit in my K-pop history project, Hallyu Harmonyon choreography and the large K-pop group. Here’s a peek!

While the choreography is often a crucial part of the official music video, the dance versions and practice dance videos keep the focus on dance by stripping down, often eliminating distractions such as props and dynamic lighting. Super Junior’s “Devil” and APeace’s “Loverboy” are shot against stark, white backgrounds. . . .

To read more, go to Star Array: Dance and the Large K-pop Group!

What I’m Listening To: “Rally Go Round” by Lisa

Nisekoi
Nisekoi

Ever so often, I like to share what’s on heavy rotation on my iPod. It isn’t always the newest thing, or the most popular thing, but for some reason this is the stuff that I’m grooving to.   It’s just what I like, and some info about it. Maybe you might like it too. Today, it’s “Rally Go Round” by Lisa.

What I’m Listening To

 

Why I Like It

This song fits the frenetic pace of the anime Nisekoi! One boy, several girls and a mysterious locket.

What I’m Listening To: “결혼하지마 [Don’t Marry]” by Fly to the Sky

Fly to the Sky
Fly to the Sky

Ever so often, I like to share what’s on heavy rotation on my iPod. It isn’t always the newest thing, or the most popular thing, but for some reason this is the stuff that I’m grooving to.  I make no distinction between idol and non-idol K-pop, popular and obscure, mainstream and indie. It’s just what I like, and some info about it. Maybe you might like it too. Today, it’s “결혼하지마 [Don’t Marry]” by Fly to the Sky.

What I’m Listening To

Who Does It

Fly to the Sky is a veteran K-pop duo. While the group began as an idol group which played on the good looks of its members, it developed into a group that showcased the talented vocals of Hwanhee and Brian Joo.  This track comes from the duo’s 2007 album, No Limitations.

Why I Like It

This song is Exhibit A for why a lot of fans like K-pop: the music. Without even knowing the lyrics, and even the title, the emotional energy of the vocals is clear, and complemented by the sparse instrumentation.

This Goes Out To All My Asian Dramas That I Haven’t Finished

The Fierce Wife
The Fierce Wife

Sometimes when you start an Asian drama, it is love at first sight. You start marathoning it with no problem, eager to see what happens in the next episode. Then, there are other times when you start a drama, and you let those unwatched episodes languish in your queue. Here are some of mine!

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Brothers and Sisters in Kimi To Boku [You and Me] and My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

Anime series can be a frenetic experience with complex relationships, but some low-key anime series represent very sweet relationships between siblings.

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I Run This: Women and The Inner Court in Empress Ki and Virtuous Queen of Han

Asian historical dramas are replete with queens, empresses and court ladies duking it out behind the scenes while kings rule the country. Some might think they are something akin to Disney princesses with no agency and little power, but the Korean drama Empress Ki and the Chinese drama Virtuous Queen of Han both show that women are running things.

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Who’s Your Daddy!: Korean Fatherhood and The Return of Superman

Return of Superman, Screen capture, Drama Fever
Song Il-gook, with Man-se, Dae-han and Min-gook, Return of Superman, Screen capture, Drama Fever

If you have been watching the KBS2 show The Return of Superman, you have been hit with the overwhelming cuteness of the toddlers.  However, the show also shows another side of Korean masculinity through the interaction between the kids and their dads.

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