Tag Archives: Kim Hyun Joong

Field of Flower Boys

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.

Prettier than flowers (plus most females) boys

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.

Kim Hyun Joong’s Reasons to Smile

Things are looking up for Kim Hyun Joong these days. Not only is his drama vehicle chugging along to higher numbers in recent episodes, but also personally, he is getting some reaffirming boost of confidence from fans in other ways.

Kim Hyun Joong’s drama Playful Kiss (MBC) is seeing its ratings hover up to 6% in the last couple of weeks, not exactly stellar numbers on their own, but relative to the 3% range in viewership turnout since its debut, this doubling gain is definitely cause to break open the soju bottles for a round of one shots.

In recent episodes, in lieu with the storyline, Kim Hyun Joong changed his hairstyle with his character’s entry into college. His new wavy perm look has struck an approving chord with fans and audiences and has garnered positive blogs’ and postings’ attention towards him.  

Additionally, on another front, Kim Hyun Joong has been voted #1 in a poll asking, “Which celebrity one wants to be in a relationship with this fall?” Whether it’s his looks, unpredictable 4th dimension personality, confidence, sexy dance moves, or a combination of all these and other traits, Kim Hyun Joong is still beating the competitive pack as the ideal boyfriend to most Korean pop fans. Close on his heels are Lee Seung Gi (My Girlfriend is a Gumiho), Song Joong Ki (Sungkyunkwan Scandal), and Yoon Shi Yoon (Baker King, Kim Tak Goo) in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place respectively.

Kim Hyun Joong sporting popular new wavy perm hair.

Mischievous Kiss After War

­­After putting up its own successful spin of already successful Chinese and Japanese versions of the hugely popular Japanese manga series, Hana Yori Dango (Boys Before Flower), the Korean production company, Group Eight, hopes to repeat the same commercial success using the same tried-and-true formula, namely remaking yet another hit Japanese comic that has already been audience tested by Taiwan and Japan and deservedly met with summary success. The company had even offered the lead to the star of its previous Boys Over Flowers venture, Lee Min Ho, who politely turned it down. Who did they finally cast then? From the same drama the other F4 (flower four) star, Kim Hyun Joong! Despite all their public persuasions and rational rationale arguing otherwise, it can’t be far from the truth that the root of this production stemmed from the old adage ‘if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.’

This time around, the manga in demand is Itazura na Kiss, possible translations being Mischievous/Playful/Teasing/Naughty Kiss. The general story starts with an overly ordinary high school girl harboring a one-sided crush on her school’s too extraordinary boy wonder, who is not only gorgeous looking, athletic, popular, but also brilliant with an IQ of  200. They accidently kiss one day during a mad dash due to X-situation (differs with each version) using the trite drama plot devise- colliding-cause-who-needs-to-look-where-they’re-running- giving the characters’ their first kiss. Needless to say, the girl is tickled red while the boy is wholly disgusted. Then due to the collapse of the girl’s family home, her family is invited by one of her father’s friend to move into his house for the time being. Take a wild guess who is the son of her father’s friend? Yep, it’s perfect boy wonder. And that’s the conveniently coincidental setup for this sugary romantic comedy.

The manga is written by the late Tada Kaoru, who died before she finished the series. This open end in the storyline allowed past anime and drama production teams the creative freedom to independently conclude their versions of the story without fear and pressure of literalist fans’ critique and wrath. However, in 2009 it had been revealed by the late artist’s husband that a conceptualized ending had actually been sketched out by Tada-san and with the family’s permission, the sketch and notes will be used to guide an officially published volume to bookend this series. Creatively, this will not impact the Korean production since, first, as the schedule of its production planning and broadcasting are ahead of the release of the manga volume it can’t be expected to stay true to the final arch of the story and second, it has no more privy to the contents of the private sketches than the public does, and thus should be safe from fans’ expectation of the ending.

With all that said, still there’s always pressure when you’re last in the pack, especially when the forerunners have set such high fans-lifted bars to reach. The Japanese and Taiwanese versions’ success owed in great part to the palpable chemistry between their respective leads, the distinct pop-culture landscape of their respective country enticing and educating the audience, and lastly, in figuring out that elusive equation of pacing, directing and editing. The upcoming Korean version will no doubt have high production values given Group Eight’s past record and the endorsement power of Kim Hyun Joong’s sheer popularity, as well as, have a differential Korean stamp on the story. But, will the acting, chemistry, and writing be able to power and sustain the drama throughout its whole run after initial episodes review and celebrity-brought fanbase support? That remains to be seen.

Playful Kiss will air this September 1, taking over Road Number 1’s time slot on MBC Network in Korea, but for the rest of us not living in Korea, tune in to your favorite k-drama viewing websites.

 
Summary Comparison of the Live Action Productions from Japan, Taiwan, and Korea for Itazura na Kiss
  JAPANESE TAIWANESE KOREAN
Title   Itazura na KissイタズラなKiss It Started With a Kiss惡作劇之吻 (Er Duo Ju Zhi Wen) Playful Kiss장난스런 키스 (Jang Nan Su Reon Kisu)
Broadcast Year(s) 1996 2005-2006 2010
Number of Episodes 9 20 20
TV Network TV Asahi CTV & GTV MBC
Cast-Role Male lead: Kashiwabara Takashi- Irie Naoki Cheng Yuan Chang (Joe Cheng)- Jiang Zhi Shu Kim Hyun Joong- Baek Seung Jo
Female lead: Sato Aiko- Aihara Kotoko Lin Yi Chen (Ariel Lin)- Yuen Xiang Qin Jung So Min- Oh Ha Ni
2nd Male lead: Aoki Shinsuke- Nakamura Kinnosuke   Wang Dong Cheng (Jiro Wang)– Jin Yuan Feng Lee Tae Sung- Bong Joon Gu
2nd Female lead: Ozawa Maju- Matsumoto Reiko Hsu Wei Ning (Tiffany Hsu)- Pei Zi Yu Jang Ah Young- Hong Jang Mi
Successful? Oh yeah! Mega huge! -TBD-
Sequel(s) No They Kiss Again (2007-2008)ISWAK 3 – No official title yet (end of 2010?) -TBD-