Boys Over Flowers: The Aestheticization of the Korean Male? Or THEY’RE SO PRETTY!!!!!!

Dedicated to my Kdrama Kousin, Emily!

Welcome to the inaugural post for the new category on High Yellow, the Kdrama Kafe! Spoilers ahead (like you haven’t seen it!)

Now, Boys Over Flowers is not my first kdrama, but I can see why it is much beloved.  And like many, I like it for the Boys! But let’s dispense with the girls first.  I can’t figure out if I’m not enamored with the actress who plays Jan Di, or Jan Di herself.  She starts out great: fiesty, sassy, and violent.  But as the series wears on, I can’t believe how passive-passive she gets.  Even her sidekick-friend Ga Eul has more character growth than she does.  But to her credit, she still wants to make her own way.  She could be nicer to Gu Jun Pyo.

Speaking of the men…..I know that this is based on a Japanese manga, Hana Yori Dango, which spawned a Japanese drama and a Taiwanese drama, but the Koreans showed why they OWN the drama.  Just for my own edification, I decided to watch the first episode of the other two, particularly the introduction of F4, to test a theory.  In Hana Yori Dango, the female progatonist seems more anti-F4, but F4 themselves do not strike me as particularly enviable.  In Meteor Shower, the Taiwanese version, the creators do a slightly better job of making you think these are privelged sons of industry (or in Woo Bin’s case, illegitimate industry). But the introduction of F4 in Boys Over Flowers convinced me that F4 was every bit as priveleged and snotty  as they are supposed to be, at least in the beginning.  They roll into school with that halo of light behind them with expressions that imply, “What?”

So why do I like them?  Because whoever styled them deserves a medal, hence the theme of this post!  These guys are dressed, I mean DRESSED.  Who sports white suits, canes and fur to go to school?  They are pimptastic! For real, it takes a special man to rock eyelet (yes, I’m talking to you Kim Bum!).  Now, some may argue that I am objectifying these young men, not allow them to be fully realized human beings with thoughts and feelings. Hey, I’m all ears to hear whatever they got to say. Hit me up on the blog! 🙂

But I think there is another way to read this.  Way back in the day, intentional clothes mattered. They were emblems of personal style and expression. When people dressed for dinner. You know you’ve caught yourself watching some old movie from Hollywood’s glamour period.  I can remember my mom talking about how they looked forward to dressing up on the weekend to go dancing (not even trying to put my mom in Hollywood’s golden age; she would kill me for putting her age on blast on the internet).  You don’t even have to go back that far. F4 reminds me of the New Romantics of the 80s. Clothes may not give us world peace, but there is a tradition of intentional dressing, significant to communities the world over.  It means something. And that’s what I like about the Boys in Boys Over Flowers.  THEY’RE SO PRETTY! And I say that with much love and affection!

So to close out the post in an appropriate manner, here’s a little video!  Gentlemen of the world, remember, women love a well dressed man! Shout out to SS501, who make that sneaky cameo in Boys Over Flowers! Oh, and one question: where does one find a Lincoln Continental in Korea?