Episode 4: Flower Boys, Glass Skin, Killer Coats

Jul 23, 2021


‘Hello Hallyu’ is a six-part podcast series exploring how the Korean wave captivated Indian fans, and forever changed our ideas of gender, fashion and romance.

In this episode, we discuss product placement, the queer possibilities of soft boy stardom, and the fan-led backlash against Korean beauty standards. 

Full episode transcript:

Sadhana: It was the first time my aunt called me to ask me for advice, and I remember it vividly. My aunt’s concern was this: why were there posters of Korean boys on my cousin’s, her daughter’s, wall suddenly? “She used to have all these white boy punk band posters… What’s this Korean craze? Why are they all wearing makeup and eyeliner? Why are they all so… pretty? And what do I do about this?” 

S: Hi, I’m Sadhana.

Nirupama: Hi, I’m Nirupama. We’re journalists, but more importantly, we’re fans of Korean entertainment. 

S: And this is Hello Hallyu, the story of the rise of Korean entertainment in India. 

N: We’ve looked at K-drama and K-pop are the biggest driving force behind the Korean wave in the previous episodes. In this episode, we’re talking about “The Korean Cool” — the appeal of the Korean aesthetic. 

S: Eye-catching Korean fashion, 10 steps to achieve flawless looking skin and interestingly, how women in Korea are rejecting these [fads]. We also take a deep look at the “flower boy” concept — an idea of soft masculinity that’s appealing to women as well as many people from the queer community. 

———- MUSIC ————-

N: Picture this. A very pretty man who is super fit and is wearing a peach-coloured coat and perfectly tailored clothes. He’s wearing light make-up and his longish hair is falling perfectly, in a way that’s flattering [to] his clean-shaven, glowing face. His pants are cut smartly to end just a little above his ankle, as if to draw attention to his chic shoes. Now, what if I say this is just your average man, at least an average man in Korean entertainment. 

That’s the appeal of the Korean aesthetic, which you see in K-dramas as well as in K-pop idols, which pulls people in because of how different it is from the dominant Western aesthetic or the Indian one — of the guys who barely shower or have a rugged and messy look.

S: This difference in the aesthetic pulls people in initially, but it’s also something that raises that many more eyebrows. Like my aunt’s. 

N: Yes, there are a lot of people who just can’t seem to accept the soft masculinity that we usually see portrayed by men in K-pop and K-dramas. It could be confused [by] parents or uncomfortable men. 

S: Absolutely. But before we dive in, for those who may be unfamiliar, can we discuss what this “soft masculinity” that we see in Korean entertainment is really? 

N: It’s part of the “flower boy” narrative, right? Men who are pretty, chivalrous, yet strong — like the Hwarang warriors that were depicted in the series of the same name. 

S: Yup, “Kkotminam” in Korean, these are men who have flawless skin, maybe wear makeup, are slender, and also have perfectly defined abs — which they don’t fail to show off. 

N: Of course, not at least in dramas, they don’t. The brooding shower scenes are mandatory. But it’s so interesting that there is an actual concept like this, right? I’m guessing it’s unique to Korea? 

S: It’s interesting that you bring that up because it’s believed to be an influence of a similar concept in Japanese “Shojo” manga — manga aimed at women — that was also popular in Korea. The influence from Shojo manga, which has been there since the 1900s, was mixed with this older Hwarang/Kkominam ideal. But really, as a concept that’s this visible, it’s been popular only since the 2000s. 

N: Ah, again such a fascinating bit of history. So this is what a lot of K-drama and K-pop has been using, right? With dramas such as “Boys Over Flowers,” “Flower Boy Next Door,” and “Flower Boy Ramen Shop” having it in their titles, but every other drama [is] showing it in some way or the other.

S: Yup, in K-pop, too, that’s mainly been a trend. What’s interesting is that there’s actually another kind of masculinity that’s more familiar to us, a sort of hyper-masculine “beast masculinity,” which is also showcased by male idols as a concept. And the same bands may perform “flower boy” roles in one context or video, and show the “beast-like” selves in other contexts or songs. 

N: That’s so strange, especially because the public image of all idols is that of “flower boys.” But, I think this soft masculinity is overall much nicer and easier to accept — easier on the eyes for sure, but also less aggressive in general, that it’s a welcome change. At least for women. 

S: But this very difference is what riles a lot of men up, leading to namecalling and homophobic insults. Because it’s so different from what the “ideal” man is supposed to be like. 

N: Yeah, it might be even more confusing or unsettling to see a lot of women showing a liking for these sorts of men. We thought we should ask men. And remember Veewon, who earlier told us the history of Hallyu in the Northeast? He had some things to say about this. 

Veewon: So right now we have seen, there is a very different way of presenting men. So K-pop stars, you know, they have put on a new sort of, how do I put it, sartorial appearance. So with [this], sometimes people call they’re very peculiar, aesthetic, androgyny. And they are trying to be, moving away from the traditional understanding of masculinity — how men should have, you know, biceps, and then beards, and then all those sorts of things. But now it’s a very opposite thing that’s happening right now. They don’t have any facial hair.

They put on a lot of makeup and they are slim. They have slim figures, and then they have a feminine appearance. So, that’s how they [Korean men] are very different when they try to portray themselves in front of the public. And that’s how our understanding of men has been shattered by this, you know, Korean culture. So K-pop portrays a different picture, and it is a way of engaging with this very patriarchal and transphobic and homophobic assumptions of our society. And then, how they look in Korean, it is called “Kkotminam.” And they portray themselves as men, but you know, men can be beautiful.

S: Yes. What better [way] to showcase this than BTS’ Jin! 

N: Oh, also Jimin, he has the most beautiful eyes. Also, that guy who starred in “Tale of Nokdu” — Jang Dong-yoon. He is so beautiful that when he cross-dresses as a woman in the drama, it is so believable and not at all odd. 

S: Park Bo Gum! I find him very pretty.

N: OMG, how could I forget Kim Soo Hyun? And Park Hyung Shik, the lead in “Strong Woman Do Bong Soon.” 

S: Before this becomes an hour-long chant of beautiful Korean actors and idols, let’s move on? 

N: Right. Back to Veewon.

V: Men can embrace beauty and men can do makeup. And if you see or talk with [them], or have watched video, or if you read about them, usually they are K-pop stars or boys in Korean society who put on makeup. They basically talk about, you know, confidence, about self-love and about beauty, about aesthetics and about self-expression. So when they do makeup, it’s not that they are trying to be something else. They are, [or] they want themselves to feel good. They want self-confidence. You know how you put on new clothes, or how when you put on a new shoe, you feel confident, you feel good about yourself — just like that.

And whatever things that we talk about, K-pop is changing our society. You will find everywhere homophobic and transphobic [content] spoken about it because all these conversations are based on our patriarchal assumptions of how a man should “look” like. 

N: This is so refreshing to hear, isn’t it? To break down these social constructs and see them for what they are. 

S: Yeah, and to see people, cis straight men, who recognise that being different isn’t bad, is really nice.  

N: If we take a step further and look beyond the… looks, how K-pop idols conduct themselves and the way a lot of male characters are portrayed in dramas, that’s also so nice to see. Very little in-your-face thrusting of machismo. 

S: I think that’s what makes it appealing to non-binary people as well. 

Perse: So, I got into K-dramas mostly because [of] my pen pal, when I was like 15, [they] introduced me to them. And the first K-drama I watched was “Coffee Prince” and I was bowled away by it. It was so sweet, and I mostly follow K-drama because, even though the storylines are complex, it’s not very, you know, it’s not really heavy in terms of this masculine heavy-handed action and violence, which you get a lot [of] in American TV.

N: That’s Perse, a 25-year-old trans woman writer from Calcutta that we spoke with. To her, K-dramas and K-pop’s portrayal of masculinity is more acceptable or welcoming. 

P: These countries actually have really bad repression of queer ideals. Even like China has some really good boys love series, that Japan had those series for a long time. And they have really bad laws when it comes to queer people. But still, like, I think the queer community finds their soul in this series because it actually addresses the gender dynamics that they identify with. So well, because when they see Namjoon, I feel like, you know, a lot of my non-binary friends try to portray that aesthetic when they try on fashion and all that. 

S: She’s talking about RM from the group BTS. 

P: And even as a trans femme, I would relate more to someone in a K-drama, which is more easier to style, than let’s say someone in American drama where the styling is so extravagant and so overt. It’s almost overwhelming, right? All the time. And for me, that kind of distinction actually makes sense, the aesthetics of it, even if the substance of it is not much different. 

N: This is such an important point. I had never thought of how the dressing of characters makes a huge difference to whether or not certain sections of people can relate to it. Because I don’t think K-pop or K-dramas have much, or any, representation of queerness otherwise. 

P: At the end of it, it’s still a heteroromantic relationship most of the time, right? There’s not a lot of queer relationships in K-dramas. In fact, I don’t know of any. But when these things happen, when the aesthetics change, it’s easier to portray stories. And again, they are not trying to portray it as queer relationships. They’re straight relationships. They are not queer baiting. K-dramas are like, look, these are heterosexual romances, but you can find yourselves in them because the aesthetic is something that you are familiar with, and something that you can relate to and something that you can actually adopt into your daily lives. And the aesthetic allows for open interpretation. 

S: What we need to understand is that due to the existence of the concept of “flower boy,” it is more acceptable for men in South Korean society to do certain things that are considered un-masculine elsewhere. 

N: Yeah, it’s just normal there. It’s not like they are card-holding feminists trying to break gender stereotyping. 

S: You see this coming out in some of the things that K-pop idols do. Nuzhat Nasreen Islam, an Assam-based human rights researcher, who’s a queer feminist and a fan of Kpop, talks about what she finds appealing. 

Nuzhat: There are fan meets, and you know, where fans come in and interact, get to interact with [the band]. But I’m not sure, they’re all that respectful. I cannot believe that I am so used to seeing just terrible caricatures of women and trans people that I cannot easily accept that somewhere, the K-pop idols, on very close premises in those kinds of you know, events, what they do is like sometimes they cross dress like male idols would sometimes cross dress, and they look really good.

Like, they look better than a lot of female idols at that time. And they would perform girl group dances. And, you know, I don’t know if it was intentional on their part or their companies forced them to do that, but I used to think that that’s really cool.

When I was a kid I never saw, you know, Shah Rukh Khan crossdress or even Salman Khan crossdress. And not in a comedic situation, if actors would, if male actors would crossdress, then it would be a caricature of a trans person or something like that.

But when it came to Korean representation, you know, cross-dressing idols, they wouldn’t say “Oh my God,” you know, “Oh my God, I look terrible.” They would instead say, “Oh, you look so pretty.” Like their team members would be like, you look prettier than that Noona [Older sister or female], or that Dongsaeng [Younger sibling or friend], saying whatever.

N: This is so interesting! I didn’t know about this. Have you seen this? Do they actually not do it in a caricature-y way? I’m super sceptical. 

S: Yeah, I’ve seen a few such videos. It’s definitely not offensive in the vein that maybe some mainstream Bollywood jokes are, but I can’t believe in the world it doesn’t happen. Like, that’s how it should be, right?

To me, what’s really fascinating is how something that is the norm. And let’s not kid ourselves, when we look at some of the K-pop concepts or K-drama storylines, the men are still very much performing a South Korean version of masculinity. But in a different context, like the Indian context, that becomes a medium via which different people can find representation and aesthetic inspiration. 

N: Yes, it’s a welcome change here. Even though we see a lot of “flower boys” in K-pop and K-dramas, they are still doing a lot of “men” things, right? I mean, even these characters in K-dramas end up dragging the women by the wrist or saving her from drowning in the darn swimming pool.

S: Absolutely. And we should remember that South Korea is still a patriarchal society, and that is undeniable both on and off-screen. Pretty or not, men are respected more, paid more, and valued more. 

N: And I think that’s something we as fans should be aware of — I think many fans are, these days. At least that is the hope. 

Nuzhat: I try to be as conscious about the kind of social context, and you know, the social connotations of what I’m watching. So I try to keep abreast with, you know, gender news and stuff that keeps happening in Korea.

So, I would say that, yeah, I mean, even though that’s their version of masculinity, the South Korean version of masculinity is still much more flexible than the kind of toxic masculinity that we get to see on a day-to-day basis. 

N: She’s right about that. You know, after all the talk about men wearing make-up and being pretty, we should talk about the whole Korean look — which includes fashion, make-up and skincare routine, which is such an important part of the whole Korean aesthetic. For those of you wondering what exactly is the Korean look that’s so cool, here’s a primer from Anna, my friend. She’s a huge fan of K-dramas, and one of the people whose personal style has been influenced a lot by their exposure to Korean entertainment. 

Anna: I think it has more to do with, you know, your makeup and hair. I think there’s a particular way that Koreans do their makeup. They focus more on having a very clean base and the focus is very heavily on skincare. They’ll be more focused on having very nice skin, you know, a very keen base, they’ll do very light, natural colours. The eyeliner shape is also very different from what you’ll see in Western dramas. It’s like a downturn wing. 

In Western dramas, there’s a lot of skin showing. So, a lot of the people over there they’ll wear maybe revealing outfits, you will not see that in Korean fashion. I think women or girls over there, they might wear really short skirts. But you never see them wear a very low-cut top, because I just don’t think that’s something that they’re comfortable with.

S: She’s right in emphasising the make-up and skincare part of it first. It’s so hard to avoid for anyone who consumes Korean entertainment. 

N: Yes, I remember watching “Boys Over Flowers” and wondering why Ji-hu — the second lead — splashing some liquid onto his face is shot so aesthetically and given so much screen time. At that point, I didn’t even know about the concept of toners or of product placements in dramas, that is PPL. 

S: PPL! I think when you first start watching a drama, you don’t realise you’re being advertised to — at least I didn’t. But when I caught on, it was eye-opening just how many product placements there are. 

N: Exactly! After a point, it became a game for me to figure out which was PPL, which stars endorsed which brands and which brands were advertising the most. Plus, after seeing PPL over and over again, consciously or subconsciously, the brand registers in your mind and you wonder… Is it actually effective? Maybe I should try it out. 

S: That’s true. There are many times where you see a product so often you may get influenced [by it], but a lot of times spotting the PPL is comic relief because they’re inserted very very randomly and sometimes they become the story.  

N: Like how the perfume brand Atelier is the centre of the story of “My ID is Gangnam Beauty?” You know, the perfume she wears from childhood is from that brand, and then she interns at that company and then she wants to become a perfume-maker. So, there’s a lot of screen time for the brand. 

S: Yup. It’s really interesting how we’re kind of seeing advertising on sort of steroids here almost, right? The actors and idols who model for these brands are so desirable which leads to the products themselves being coveted, and this includes, of course, the famous glass skin trend in K-beauty too. 

N: To those who are not aware, a quick intro to glass skin. It’s this beauty ideal that’s prevalent in South Korea. But now, you can safely say it has made its way around the world, including India, where the ideal is to have smooth, blemish-free skin that glows like a glazed donut. 

S: Yeah, and they really emphasise having skin so nice, you barely need or use makeup and so [you] appear “youthful.”

N: That’s such an appealing promise, right? Who wouldn’t want that? I have been blessed with acne-adorned cheeks for years now, so I want it so badly. But it involves a bunch of skincare steps, right? 

S: Yes. 10 steps, which means 10 or more products, and it can take up to 40 minutes using them the “proper” way. 

N: I don’t know what part of that sounds achievable, but I keep thinking I should try it someday.

S: Yeah. So the time I started watching dramas and getting exposed to this whole skincare culture, is the time I really started to have some disposable income. So, out of curiosity, I tried some of it out. I put on a lot of toner for a few days, and I remember this one day where I was wondering if my skin looked dewy. And a neighbour of ours stopped by and said “Oh, today also you didn’t wash your face?” 

N: Hahaha, that is so funny. But, I totally get it. When I realised we could get Korean skincare products in India, I was so happy! I own a bunch of Korean products now. They’re actually quite good, and cheaper than U.S. products actually.

S: Which is why we see demand for it in India. There’s Beauty Barn, the website that exclusively sells Korean skincare and beauty products; and Nykaa has quite a few Korean brands too these days. 

N: Yeah, and they go out of stock so quickly! Which is probably why Nykaa didn’t want to give us their numbers. But a simple look at Google search trends showed us that Indians have been searching for “K-beauty,” “Korean Skincare,” “Korean beauty,” etc. a lot. And the searches for Korean beauty had a really sharp spike over the last year.

S: Oh. I have to say, given whatever I’ve tried, I think the whole 10 steps is just marketing overkill, but the Korean (and Japanese) sunscreens are a godsend for people with oily skin like mine. 

N: I don’t want to be like dramas and do product placements here. So let’s move on and talk about the other thing that is an important part of the Korean look that Anna talks about — the fashion. 

A: So Korean fashion for me was really exciting, and it’s quite eclectic. Because you get to see a mix of streetwear, you also see vintage pieces and trendy clothing, and it’s styled in a fresh way which you normally don’t see in Western shows. Well, my style was pretty simple, and it just mostly consisted of darker colours. 

But that changed, you know, once I got into K-dramas. Because when we were younger, one good example is that skinny jeans were like a trending thing, right? When we were younger, like all people used to wear, it was like skinny jeans, like the tightest of tight jeans. And gradually, once we shifted to right now, nowadays looser jeans and bootcut jeans are trending more. So, I first got into that after I watched the K-drama “Doctors,” which has Kim Rae Won and Park Shin Hye in it. When I saw her wearing boot cut jeans in that, I was like, Oh my God, that looks so nice. Where can I get a pair of jeans like that? And I went around every store in Delhi, searching for a pair of jeans that would fit me the way it fit her.

So I think K-drama really just, you know, makes you want to take a different step towards your own fashion sense.

N: That’s truly the case for me. In all the years I’ve watched Western shows, I’ve never paid attention to what the characters wear. But with Korean dramas, the fashion is so interesting and forms an important part of the story and character identity that you can’t miss it. For instance, in one [of] our favourite dramas, “Age of Youth,” each character has a unique dressing style that reflects who they are as a person. 

S: Oh yeah, I loved how they build the free-spirited one’s character, by showing her always wearing hippie and eccentric clothing. 

N: Yeah. And the hustling senior is always wearing black and grey functional clothing, and the introverted one wears clothes that don’t draw any attention to her. And they all look good in them. And because the women characters in Korean dramas are relatable for me, I started feeling like I could dress up well too. 

S: That’s interesting. But for me, it’s particularly all the power suits that the professional women of K-drama rock. Take “Search WWW,” for instance, which has three women at the helm of tech companies dressed in glorious power clothing. 

N: Oh yes, the suits are so enviable –and also the coats. I always have a weakness for coats I see them wearing because I can never wear them in this weather. 

S: While K-drama fashion is one thing, K-pop takes fashion to another level. Some of the stage outfits that K-pop stars — men and women — wear are just so mesmerising to look at. Just listen to Anna gush about it. 

A: I really like Jenny Kim’s style from “BlackPink.” I think most of the clothing that she wears, be it airport fashion or casual or even stage outfits, are just so, so amazing. I mean, I have an entire Pinterest board just dedicated to her outfits because they are so good! You really feel like going all out and dressing in that way once in a while. 

N: BlackPink’s Jennie, like a lot of K-pop groups, wears clothes that are a mix of streetwear, vintage wear, and some of these really outlandish out-there pieces that look feminine yet edgy. 

S: Yeah, in general when we talk about the Korean aesthetic in terms of fashion, I think there are two things. One is we see this sort of feminine preppy style in pastel colours that makes it look very youthful overall. Then there’s also the streetwear that you mention — Asia is fast becoming the hub of trends in streetwear and Korea is one of the countries leading the streetwear boom. So, when you see fashion in K-pop and dramas, this [trend] is very visible. 

N: Yeah. And a lot of consumption of Korean entertainment then means people wanting to achieve this aesthetic in their real lives, right? Like, we bought all that skincare we never knew existed. 

S: Not just skincare, but people are also wanting to emulate the fashion aesthetic shown in K-dramas or worn by K-pop stars. There are pages on Instagram, one called “K-drama fashion,” for instance, with over 250k followers that breaks down what the characters in a drama are wearing, and includes a photo of the product from the brand editorial. There are also many, many pages and websites that break down the style and outfits worn by K-pop groups like BlackPink or BTS. 

N: Yes, I’ve seen those! So, it’s becoming easier and easier for people across the world to catch on to the Korean look. 

S: But it also means, without trying to, we’re also importing all the downsides that exist to this beauty ideal and aesthetic — and let’s be honest, Korean beauty standards are harsh. 

N: Can’t disagree with that. You can’t find creams that match our skin tone — actually, maybe even some of their skin tones, because a lighter skin tone is their ideal. Which is another unfortunate thing that Indian society shares with Korea. And the reason why I can only watch and pine over the clothes is because a lot of them are not suited to my body type. 

S: Oh yeah, and even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t be able to find any in my size, LOL. Apparently quite a few Korean retailers only stock clothes in one size because, you know, that’s the ideal. There’s in general a lot of importance given to the external appearance of someone — it’s sort of treated like a reflection of their personal character. 

N: Yeah, which is probably why, and a lot of listeners might also know this, plastic surgery is very common in South Korea. 

S: It’s sort of known as the plastic surgery capital of the world, isn’t it? And we hear this common “gotcha” sort of anecdote whenever someone talks about plastic surgery in Seoul — that people are “gifted” plastic surgery when they turn 18 or [they] graduate because it would help them advance in society.  

N: Wow, that’s something else. It would be best to hear about what it’s like from a regular Korean. Someone like us. So I asked Meg, a 28-year-old Korean woman who works in the education space in Seoul. She talks about the over-emphasis given to looks, particularly for women in South Korean society.

Meg: At work, we should put on makeup for women and also, but sometimes I feel it’s not fair because all women, especially working in the field of customer service, they [are] always required to put on makeup. Men usually don’t have those kinds of orders from their boss. So, in my experience, when I was working as an intern at [a] customs broker office, there was no meeting. And [if] there was any job duty that I had to meet someone or I have to meet the clients, my boss forced me to put on makeup. 

N: Interestingly, there’s a movement in Korea pushing back against the harsh beauty standards. It’s called “Breaking the Corset” movement. 

M: So, I think “Breaking the Corset” movement is for breaking those kinds of rules, [the] same Korean society. So it’s really old fashioned and it’s not important for career and our skills. It’s actually the company or corporate [that] makes that to sell their product to the customers from like [a] really young generation.

Breaking corset, we call that movement “ttalku.” So, I’ve heard that word many times from news, or my friends and my seniors. They keep saying about ttalku, but it means we don’t care about our appearance anymore. So we have the freedom to stay our hair short, not long style, and we have the right to wear whatever we want. So we don’t care about our dress up.

N: While countries like ours are just starting to catch up to the elaborate skincare routines, things are changing in Korea. I was curious to know what Meg’s skincare routine was.  

M: My skincare routine? I used to use a lot of skin products when I was in college, but at the time it was a normal process. So there’s toner and emulsion, lotion and some cream, and there’s nutritious cream, and there are so many things. So I think I should apply [it] to my skin at that time. But, I realised that it’s not necessary. So these days I just put on lotion, like baby lotion.  

I think it’s getting changed. The trend is getting changed. I think when we were in [our] 20s at the time, the trend is that of beauty. So there are tons of beauty YouTubers, and there’s some program that makes people look beautiful. They show some products that make you look better, and they taught us some kind of tips for making our hair beautiful. Like those kinds of tips were very trendy at the time, but these days are not. And even those kinds of programs are all closed these days.

S: It’s good to know that there’s a movement pushing back [against] these harsh beauty norms in Korea. And I like how she said K-beauty is just not the trend anymore. Meanwhile, we as consumers of Korean media, have to be aware of what’s being actively sold to us. 

N: And I realise even when we get behind the whole perfect “flower boy” image, while we might be breaking away from the mainstream definitions of masculinity, we’re supporting some of these harsh beauty ideals. 

S: Yes, absolutely. We shouldn’t be supporting anything “perfect.” What we are drawn towards are the other aspects more than the perfect skin and looks. 

N: Yes, basically, you do you! If you’re a dude and you want to dress up, go for it. Don’t be held back by judgement. 

S: Yup, and for fans, this can be an empowering message to express themselves. Like Nuzhat, who was inspired by K-pop idols’ really striking hair colours. 

N: The biggest thing, like I would say would be how, you know, it’s okay to dress, really flamboyantly for me. And so when it comes to India, you know, like there’s that thing where, you know, when you’re in college, you can’t, put on too loud of makeup, or, you know, draw too much attention on yourself. Things like those, and that kind of bothered me a lot. But as I’m growing older and as I’m like, you know, having like, you know, BTS has this entire team about, you know, loving yourself and stuff like that. And then their lyrics are of course, so empowering. So I kind of have it in me that, you know, it’s okay. It’s okay. Like it’s okay for me too, because I’m from a very professional field, right, professionally. So it’s okay for me to colour my hair. It’s okay for me to put makeup [on] because it does not represent my competitiveness as a person or as a professional. And also, it’s sort of like right now having coloured hair is like my identity. I mean, I’m known as the person who changes their hair colour very often. And all of this, I was influenced by K-pop idols and they’re like really nice hair colours. 

N: So, I think one thing we can take away from the Korean aesthetic without getting overly influenced by it is to learn a thing or two from there which we can incorporate into our lives. Like I learnt the need to moisturise and use sunscreen. And how to style a boring shirt in a stylish way, like that kickass character in the drama I watched. This makes me think — they should show more women drinking water on-screen and exercising in K-dramas. Should I start a petition?

S: Not a bad idea. But first, let’s do our next episode. Which is on how fans of Korean entertainment find love of the content through subtitles, learning the Korean language and sharing these by translating this content for others. 


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