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Cool Korean Trends (not cool otherwise)

July 1, 2011

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We’re noticing a trend with our TL;DR’s lately. We always want to start them with apologies and disclaimers. Some people might take offence to the opinions we post here, but we can’t apologize for them every time we start these posts. So, forget about it: on with the show!

The number one question for this week was “what are some cool trends in Korea that might not be considered cool in Canada or the States.” To which we answer: some Korean male fashion trends. The first and easiest one to talk about is those hideous sparkly, shiny suits that men wear. They’re just godawful. *Martina and Simon fight for the keyboard….* WHAT!? They are totally amazing! Simon, you’re crazy! I love those suits! They are really crisp and totally sweet looking!!!! *scuffle for the keyboard* Forget about a nice, professional three piece suit. Actually, don’t forget about it: think about it, but add some glitter and shine to it. BAM! Korean trend #1 that we can’t see transferring over to North America very well. Or maybe it has transferred over already: we haven’t been living there for over three years now. Please, oh please tell me people aren’t wearing shiny suits there! We just can’t take them seriously. *Martina throws Simon a ranch bone and he runs off* I guess our opinions are split here. I think the right person could pull off this suit, or maybe wearing them for a special occasion like a wedding would be awesome, but I think the everyday wearing of these suits to work probably wouldn’t be a catchy trend. Try googling “korean shiny suit” if you want an idea of what we’re talking about.

The second trend we’re gonna talk about is kind of a trend that requires you to be born as an exceptionally good looking guy. We’re referring to Flower Boys. They’re guys who don’t fit the typical look of manly looking men. Flower boys are pretty boys, VERY pretty boys. They’re usually skinny, have gorgeous hair and have feminine features. They’re not beefy or muscly, but are quite lean. Fashion is extremely important to them and they dress really really well, often with tight fitting clothing. They have exceptionally smooth skin, quite possibly from usage of BB Cream and sometimes they might wear gray or blue contacts lenses, along with circle lenses. They’re ridiculously and unfairly pretty looking.

However, to an uninitiated North American audience, they’re sometimes mistaken for women, otherwise thought of as looking quite girly. To a Korean and Asian audience, though, Flower Boys can be thought of as exceptionally beautiful and hot. If we could match it up with a North American archetypal equivalent, they would be the “jocks” or “preppy guys” of Asia. Not that they’re athletic or buff, they’re just the kind of guy that’s really model worthy.

We know that lots of people all over the world find Flower Boys hot (including Martina after a couple months of living in Korea). Our only point here is that if they were to form a kpop band and be presented in other parts of the world besides Asia, it’s possible they would be confused as girls and, possibly, mocked by some ignorant people. Remember Taylor Hanson…anyone? MMMbop? No? Guys? Anyone?

Anyways, this should not be seen as an insult to them, it’s just that to the uninitiated – like some of Martina’s friends – Flower boys are confusing. This is the #1 trend that we don’t think will transfer over very well into North American culture of be considered very cool. It’s hard to understand why. I mean, look, for example, at this article on Soompi, in which one of the members of Super Junior jokes about his looks as a girl. And, really, he pulls off a girl look quite well. In fact, many male kpop celebrities and actors have dressed up as girls on Korean variety shows just for fun. Can you imagine North American pop stars pulling that off well (apart from maybe Justin Bieber, of course). Oh, perhaps Lil Wayne? Foo Fighters? Now they’d make for some uuuuugly women. SEUNGRI! TIME FOR KISSES!

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Cool Korean Trends (not cool otherwise)

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  1. It is said that Korean language is the most feminine language of all languages in existence.
    Korean language has highly developed adjectives and adverbs and better suited for expressing feelings than describing events or ideas clearly, compared  to more masculine language like English. Maybe that contributes to the flower boy culture. If you watch the celebrated movie “춘향뎐” by director 임권택, the nude love scene between hero and heroine is striking in the sense that the hero’s physique is as fragile and feminine as the heroine and they look like like mirror image of each other. I believe it was intentionally done by the director and shows an aspect of Korean culture.

    5 years ago
    • This comment is a year old, but as a linguist I have to say that no linguist ever would classify Korean as the most feminine language, because linguists don’t classify languages as masculine or feminine. As someone who studies languages, there would be absolutely no way to quantify this because what is masculine and feminine relates to biology, not language. Also every language has highly developed terms relevant to their culture and are all equally complex. Korean is interesting in that we don’t really know what language family it came from. It’s pretty much a language isolate.

      3 years ago
    • Wow!  Thanks for the insight.  I really want to check that movie out now.

      5 years ago
      • You will be able to find a version with English subtitles. 임권택 won best director’s award at 2002 Cannes Film Festival with this movie. But be warned that the entire movie is narrated(rather, sung) by Pansori singing, a traditional art somewhat like a one-man opera. 

        5 years ago
      • You will be able to find a version with English subtitles. 임권택 won best director’s award at 2002 Cannes Film Festival with this movie. But be warned that the entire movie is narrated(rather, sung) by Pansori singing, a traditional art somewhat like a one-man opera. 

        5 years ago
  2. Funny enough, when I saw GD’s Heartbreaker back in August 2009 I was like…what’s that girl doing idgi no thanks. And then, March 2011 I saw a gif of Jaejoong/Hero and I was like…omg he’s cute, who is he…which is how I got into kpop. ;)

    5 years ago
    • But yeah I love GD now too. I just wasn’t ~ready for kpop I guess. You just need a trigger and you’re off into the fluffy world of kpop.

      5 years ago
  3. Oh wow, you guys finally talk about flower boys! Im from Canada too, and my friends don’t undertand it. Now I can just show them this video, instead of trying to explain it to them ^_^

    5 years ago
  4. Of course we know hanson! :)

    5 years ago
  5. i’m now scared of u simon! but hmmm i wound wat a flower boy looks lyk?

    5 years ago
  6. random question… just a small answer… how much do you two spend on groceries?

    5 years ago
  7. Shiny suits = sexy suits….in Asia :(. I agree with you guys and the commenters. The majority of non-initiated-Asia-lovers tend to find the fellows (that we find ridiculously attractive) feminine. I recently wore a pair of Kim Hyun Joong photo socks….and was asked why I had women on my feet TT_TT 

    5 years ago
  8. Well its like the Visual Kei bands of Japan. For example Visual Kei band the gazettE. All of their members are male but if it was the first time you saw them you would think they were girls. The very first time I saw them I was like “omg! so pretty!” and when I found out they were guys I imediately squeeled and blushed “OMG!! SO PRETTY!!!!!” XD

    5 years ago
  9. So I google “korean shiny suit“ and a picture of Daniel Radcliffe comes up XD

    5 years ago
  10. Aww Jaejoong! Ok well I have a question, do all women in Korea have very milky skin because having darker skin is seen as not as good? I heard that from my friend, but wasn’t sure if that was completely true 

    5 years ago
  11. Funny thing is my friends who were born in Korea, but adopted and raised here(US), are the ones complaining about how “girlly the men look and I’m thinking how gorgeous they are…..

    5 years ago
  12. Actually, I’m kind of glad these trends haven’t transferred over to North America…I really can’t picture the Westerners pulling it off. Korea has created something their own here that they can totally work & spread to other countries that will appreciate it. Like Europe & other parts of Asia. But as for America…I can’t see any Americans that would like or own these trends unless they were born in Korea themselves. Yeah…too many scary/ugly “flower boys” come into mind when thinking of American men doing that XD

    5 years ago
    • The difference in physique just makes us shudder to imagine our western boys in some of Korea fashion trends. The body type is too different. However, the younger generation is getting taller and lankier, so….

      3 years ago
  13. lol shiny suits = JYJ concert. XD They have shiny suits in their world tour.

    5 years ago
  14. I would like to know what the weirdest/strangest anime or cartoon  you have seen on Korea’s tv shows.

    5 years ago
  15.  i can see the shiny suits in north america….on pimps.

    5 years ago
  16. We show a JYJ video to a friend and she think that they are more feminine than her … oups…

    5 years ago
  17. kt

    ….so what does korea think of western celebrities…?

    5 years ago
  18. martina … sending pics of guys i like to my male friends and getting the “Who’s that chick?” is the story of my life.  Jaejoong, Kim Heechul … Taemin … I feel your pain hun, i feel your pain.

    5 years ago
  19. I’m from Canada and it took me a while to know when a korean guy was indeed a man, but now I’m loving it ^^.

    As you said, if I show a picture of Jaejoong (who is sexy Like A Man! <3) to my friends, they would say ''Is that a guy? He's so NOT manly!'' Imagine the japanese visual-kei trend : men are wearing dresses, have long hair and a lot of makeup (Versailles' guitarist, Hizaki, for exemple).

    5 years ago
  20. american culture eveyrthing has to be black and white, thats why there is such a line drawing for whats manly and whats feminie i dont think asians draw that line.
    if you dont spend time watching dramas, listening to kpop or much asian like things at all its hard for ppl to guess genders and ages. my friends still swear amber from f(x) is a boy and im like 3 more questions away from boping them on the head.

    5 years ago
  21. it would be great if you can show some pictures or videos about that.. “girly boys”.. to understand better, in a common day, like boys in a park or something like that.. no in dramas, because that is produced… 

    5 years ago
  22. I love the Flower Boy trend, I think that it is so unique and that the guys are sooo attractive. (Taemin of SHINee anyone?) So when inundating someone into the Kpop culture, it is best to do it gradually, like showing Lucifer before showing Hello or Replay, showing 2PM before showing I dunno, name the most flower boy-ish group you can. Silly Westerners need to be gradually immersed into the flower boy culture, then they’ll love it too! :D
    Omo, SHINee suits! ;D I think that will be an interesting trend, maybe I can talk my dad into getting a shiny suit. Hehehe…

    5 years ago
    • Haha I showed my friends Lucifer and they still picked on Taemin:( He does look very girly … sometimes I feel really weird for loving it when he dresses like a girl and acts like a girl but it’s so freaking cuuuute:) 

      5 years ago
  23. interesting interesting! I’ve noticed that a lot with Asian cultures (china, japan, korea) the distinct line of Masculine and feminine that is found everywhere in western culture is a bit blurry; but its usually just the masculine thats blurry, girls are girls and they do girl stuff, but guys are all cross dressing and wearing make up, and being fabulously fashionable. its really interesting. I personally think flower boys (not to the full extent) have translated into western culture, AKA metro’s! those guys everyone thinks are gay, but really they are just superduper fashionable. but like you say, all the manly football(hockey?) players are like “that Dude is so Gay”

    I posted a Shinee video on my sisters facebook page and a random guy friend was like “are these guys? because they REALLY look like girls. I am pretty sure they are girls. Ugly girls” and all I could say was “THEY ARE NOT UGLY!” hehe But Shiny suits are Totally Suave! but not for everyday wear, more for red carpet wear, that sort of occasion.

    5 years ago
  24. oh my friends also think that some kpop idols look like girls!!! It’s so annoing ><

    5 years ago
  25. I remember when Hanson first came out I swore Taylor was a girl. Same with Backstreet Boys when they first came out. I was really confused with Nick on the album cover.

    5 years ago
  26. Korea (and Japan) seems to have an affinity for androgyny there’s Jaejoong, Kevin (U-kiss), Heechul, Key, Amber- i know she’s not even Korean but her image was born in Korea right? think Hana Kimi and Ouran Host Club.

    5 years ago
  27. I am totally into the flower boy guys. They are so cute and adorable.*From America* My siblings all say things like wow is he gay and eww, and I am like are you crazy. But I have always been into the girly guys anyway. C: I have this guy friend and he is like that and everyone will ask if he was into guys and stuff, but he really isn’t that’s just how he is. And for the SHINee suits. I totally love that. Keke!~ Especially if it were in like a barney purple *kidding about the purple*. Also, I hate how people say Amber from f(x) is a guy. She is so pretty and nice. How could anyone say this. Ugh. People these days…

    5 years ago
  28. Thank goodness im not the onli one who thinks pretty guys are good looking~~ …. =D

    5 years ago
  29. :D

    Hahaha! from the Moffats? lmao

    5 years ago
  30. :D

    Hahaha! from the Moffats? lmao

    5 years ago
  31. What’s sad is that flower boys are almost always prettier than girls. So jelly.

    5 years ago
  32. What’s sad is that flower boys are almost always prettier than girls. So jelly.

    5 years ago
  33. Taylor Hanson from the moffats?

    5 years ago
  34. :D

    I immediately had to go listen to MMMBop after reading this.

    5 years ago
  35. :D

    I immediately had to go listen to MMMBop after reading this.

    5 years ago
  36. Actually, the flower boys here would likely be labeled as “metrosexual” which may almost be worse than people thinking they were girls…

    Personally, I think there are people here who have no issues adjusting to concepts like that, but they are not the average people, and they are not in the majority, which is a large barrier to KPop making it here in the States in a larger way than it has.  There is a lot more I could say on this (hubby and I actually discussed this for over two hours one night — I love KPop, JPop, JRock, CPop, etc, and he doesn’t, so it was an interesting discussion), but that is for another time..

    5 years ago
    • even worse than “metrosexual”, many of guys around me (and even girls) say they are totally gay…I so don’t get it…I thought that in 2011, people would realize that taking care of your body and dressing like that does not mean you’re gay…also, what if they would really be gay? they say that in such a negative tone… :(

      5 years ago
    • It’s not that metrosexual would necessarily be the correct term, simply the one that, in my experience would likely be used.  A good example of where my experience lies on this:  I live int he central portion of the US, and when I was working in an office, we had two gentlemen who dressed VERY well.  Both were usually up on the latest fashion trends and neither had any issue with wearing “girly” colors like pink or lavender.  One was labeled as “metrosexual” (or even gay by those who didn’t know he had a wife and three kids) while the other was merely “hot.”  The difference?  One had muscles and the other was very thin.  Guess which was called “metrosexual.”  Also, neither would have made good girls.  AT ALL…

      Personally, I like flower boys, but I find myself in the minority on a lot of things on this side of the planet when it comes to Western vs Asian ideas.  Unfortunately, I don’t think the US is ready for the concept of the flower boy and likely will  not be for a very long time.  Pity.

      5 years ago
    • It’s not that metrosexual would necessarily be the correct term, simply the one that, in my experience would likely be used.  A good example of where my experience lies on this:  I live int he central portion of the US, and when I was working in an office, we had two gentlemen who dressed VERY well.  Both were usually up on the latest fashion trends and neither had any issue with wearing “girly” colors like pink or lavender.  One was labeled as “metrosexual” (or even gay by those who didn’t know he had a wife and three kids) while the other was merely “hot.”  The difference?  One had muscles and the other was very thin.  Guess which was called “metrosexual.”  Also, neither would have made good girls.  AT ALL…

      Personally, I like flower boys, but I find myself in the minority on a lot of things on this side of the planet when it comes to Western vs Asian ideas.  Unfortunately, I don’t think the US is ready for the concept of the flower boy and likely will  not be for a very long time.  Pity.

      5 years ago
    • I agree.. I actually think europe would be a much better market for k-pop because people are more open minded about that stuff here.. in america it’s harder to bring the flower boys concept :/

      5 years ago
  37. My dad and sister say that about the korean bands I listen to D:

    5 years ago
  38. Everytime I show my friends a picture of Niel form Teen Top, they say ‘she’ looks pretty. I say that its Niel and he’s a boy but they  are just like “Umm no. That’s a girl.” I have to admit it’s kinda funny when one of my guy friends says “she’s” hot :)

    5 years ago
  39. is ‘non-testosteroni’ similar to ‘pepperoni’ ?  XP
    but i get what you mean…i’m way into kpop, but i still think hero is very feminine…

    5 years ago
  40. Vic

    I totally get what you mean!! In Australia …. it’s possibly even worse then the states… guys that dress well are immediately labelled gay!! My Aussie friends don’t get the whole pretty boy this either.  They look at my wallpaper and say they look like girls! ^_^ They once caught me watching gee where sj members all wore girls clothes, they asked me why on earth am i enjoying it!!  Hahaha but I always got the flower boy this ! Maybe cause I’m a half asian? idk.  But yes HEECHUL IS AN AWESOME PRETTY BOY!!! XD <3 

    5 years ago
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