This article (by the AP, via Washington Post) notes that South Korean men are increasingly wearing makeup,1 and attributes this to the economy, the way men are portrayed in Korean media, the influence of Korean women, and anime/manga.
An interesting quote from the article:In 2002, large numbers were attracted to a hero of South Korea’s World Cup soccer team, Ahn Jung-hwan, who became a leading member of the so-called “flower men” — a group of exceptionally good-looking, smooth-skinned, fashionable sports stars and celebrities who found great success selling male cosmetics. Men everywhere began striving to look like them, with the encouragement of the women around them, and a trend was born.Are present day “flower men” a pun on/ a reference to Sillia’s hwarang (“flower boys”)? If so, could a cultural memory of the hwarang influence present-day Koreans’ expectations of male body image?
Clearly, the memory of the hwarang did not make men wear makeup in the period before “the late 1990s,” when, according to the article, “[t]he ideal South Korean man… [was] rough and tough.” But if the hwarang are valorized in the Korean historical memory, could it influence women’s ideas about what attractive men look like? Could the precedent of noble, makeup-wearing warriors2 make Korean men more willing to accept changing notions of body image? I don’t really know enough about modern Korean culture to come up with any conclusions, but it would be interesting to see if there are, in fact, any links.
In any case, it seems like the author (or the copyeditor) missed an opportunity to mention a bit of pre-modern Korean history.1 As in, according to the article, Korean men make up less than one-third of one percent of the global population, but make up over 20% of global sales for skincare products. (There’s a joke in here somewhere about “the one percent,” but I can’t come up with it.)
2 Even if the hwarang was not primarily military in nature, as Tikhnov argues (Vladimir Tikhnov, “Hwarang Organization: Its Functions and Ethics,” Korea Journal, Summer 1998), they may still be remembered that way.
The Pueblo’s crew members finally got their freedom on December 23, 1968, after U.S. officials hit on a formula for agreement with North Korea. It was a bizarre formula indeed. Maj. Gen. Gilbert H. Wood-ward, the senior U.S. representative at Panmunjom, signed a document that day admitting illegal intrusion and espionage in North Korean waters, apologizing for the Pueblo’s actions and assuring Pyongyang that no U.S. ships would intrude again. But before signing it, the American general announced: The position of the United States government with regard to the Pueblo … has been that the ship was not engaged in illegal activities and that there is no convincing evidence that the ship at any time intruded into the territorial waters claimed by North Korea, and that we could not apologize for actions which we did not believe took place. The document which I am going to sign was prepared by the North Koreans and is at variance with the above position. My signature will not and cannot alter the facts. I will sign the document to free the crew and only to free the crew. In other words, General Woodward was telling the world that the document he was about to sign was nothing but an expedient lie. But the North Koreans did not mind that part. “It satisfied their one condition, a signature on a piece of paper,” the general explained to an interviewer later. “Never mind the oral repudiation. In the Orient, you know, nothing is more important than the written word. Besides, the North Korean people would never hear about that repudiation. Their propaganda boys would take care of that. As for the rest of the world, well, they just didn’t care.” Or as Secretary of State Dean Rusk put it, “Apparently the North Koreans believe there is propaganda value even in a worthless document. It is a strange procedure. The North Koreans would have to explain it. I know of no precedent in my nineteen years of public service.- Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty (Bradley K. Martin)
Is the day Korea gained its independence from the Japanese occupation.
Happy Korean Independence Day ya’ll.