The traditional traits of masculinity do not faze the men in the K-pop industry. These heartthrobs are desired by girls worldwide, all while exhibiting aegyo qualities.

Most find this quite confusing, as their style is still considered unattractive for men to have in most cultures. Ingrained in societies around the world, toxic masculinity, unfortunately, still exists.

However, fear not! With great power, comes great responsibilities.

K-pop stars have proven that they rightfully deserve their title as idols. Here are several ways the men in K-pop have been redefining masculinity.

Makeup & fashion is a must in the K-pop industry

Hollywood artists, such as Prince or Harry Styles, are no strangers to rebranding masculinity, but it’s deemed as something “different” in the Western hemisphere.

Whereas in South Korean culture, it has always been the norm. An everyday look for K-idols includes wearing tinted lip balm and crop tops.

TXT member, Yeonjun, sporting a crop top
Yeonjun, member of TXT, wearing a crop top in their latest music video “Blue Hour”.

To define masculinity in Korean culture requires a shift of focus towards one’s inner traits. For example, using respectful language or having a good work ethic.

Another way to show respect to those around you is by looking your best. Therefore, masculinity comes with the expectation that men are to take care of themselves just as much as women do. (Sure takes the pressure off of us too!)

“Beastly” idols that don’t necessarily fit in to the flower-boy aesthetic, such as Monsta X, still wear makeup.

Monsta X's makeup look redefines masculinity
Monsta X’s current member, Joohoney and former member, Wonho showing their makeup looks in a selfie.

Being vocal about mental health

The men in K-pop, more often than not, tend to use their platforms wisely. Many idols make mental health-themed music and aren’t afraid to share their personal experiences publicly.

Agust D (aka rapper Suga from the Grammy-nominated band, BTS) has released solo music that touches on mental health. The artist expresses the tough realities of depression, anxiety, and coping mechanisms in his music.

A snippet from Daechwita by Agust D.

Member of Block B, Park Hyung, has opened up on BBC Korea about how the pressures of being an idol take a toll on his mental health.

Park Hyung’s interview with BBC Korea.

Much like Park Hyung, BTS’ Jin has also publicly opened up about the relationship between his work dilemmas and mental health.

He released a song on his birthday called Abyss, along with a statement that mentioned he has opted for counseling.

Kim Seok-jin (Jin) of BTS.

Showing public affection

Confident in their masculinity, the men of K-pop never shy away from expressing how much they love their fans and each other.

GOT7 members, Jinyoung & JB, show their love on screen.
SHINee’s Minho always shows his love for his fellow maknae’s from BTS, V and Jungkook.

South Koreans have clearly been very much ahead of their years in raising their men to be comfortable with expressing themselves. They are allowed to experiment with different makeup and fashion looks, making them place importance on their inner beauty, such as staying respectful and humble.

This is proof of how cultural differences do affect the way we behave and what we choose to focus on. While the K-pop industry isn’t necessarily perfect, we sure can take a few notes from their modern twist on defining masculinity.

Read also:
The Art Of Healthy Masculinity In Brooklyn Nine-Nine
The Effects of Gender Differences In Mental Disorders
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