Bae Yong-Joon, Soft Masculinity, and Japanese Fans: Our Past Is in Your Present Body

Sun Jung

in Korean Masculinities and Transcultural Consumption

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9789888028672
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207127 | DOI:

Series: TransAsia: Screen Cultures

Bae Yong-Joon, Soft Masculinity, and Japanese Fans: Our Past Is in Your Present Body

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This chapter deals with the Japanese fandom of Bae Yong-Joon (BYJ) and explores the ways in which South Korean masculinity is reconstructed through the ambivalent desires of middle-aged Japanese female fans. Bae Yong-Joon has gained remarkable recognition in Japan after the South Korean television drama Winter Sonata was first screened on Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK) in April 2003. It is argued that the construction of BYJ's soft masculinity is reinforced by the postcolonial desires of Japanese female fans that engender “retrospective” and “nostalgic” sentiment. The chapter specifically describes how the Japanese embrace is underpinned by “counter-coevality” and “cultural proximity,” based on the disjunctive spatiotemporal contexts of South Korea and Japan. It starts by presenting the Yonsama syndrome. Moreover, the chapter reviews the three key aspects of BYJ's bodily performance that reinforce his soft masculinity through examining the characteristics of Joon-Sang in Winter Sonata. They are “tender charisma,” purity, and politeness. The chapter then highlights the ways in which the transcultural flows between Japan and South Korea operate in constructing South Korean soft masculinity as represented by BYJ.

Keywords: Bae Yong-Joon; Japan; South Korea; soft masculinity; Winter Sonata; Yonsama syndrome; tender charisma; purity; politeness

Chapter.  16634 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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