Bae Yong-Joon, Hybrid Masculinity and the Counter-coeval Desire of Japanese Female Fans

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Jung, Sun (2006) Bae Yong-Joon, Hybrid Masculinity and the Counter-coeval Desire of Japanese Female Fans. Particip@tions: Journal of Audience and Reception Studies, 3 (2). ISSN 1749-8716


This essay examines the transcultural consumption of new Korean masculinity in Japan using the star construction of Bae Yong-Joon (BYJ/aka yon-sama) as its key example. Through sociological research on the middle-aged Japanese female fans (BYJ’s largest fan base), this essay demonstrates how these fans desire BYJ’s hybridized masculinity in consumption practices and how these practices reflect the sentiments of Japan’s nostalgia towards Korea. This essay engages with John Frow’s argument on desiring the ‘Other’s primitiveness’, which he suggests is derived from a denial of coevalness. Extending this theory, I argue that the Japanese fans’ desire for BYJ’s hybridized masculinity can be conceptualized within the framework of a contradictory combination of ‘counter-coevality’ and ‘cultural proximity’. In this essay, I discuss how BYJ’s hybrid masculinity has been built up through transcultural flows in the region caused by the cultural proximity of geographical/spatial familiarity. Then, I examine how some middle-aged Japanese female fans desire his soft masculinity in terms of a counter-coeval sentiment towards Korea caused by the temporal difference between the two nations, possibly based on their post/colonial experiences. The counter-coeval desire of the Japanese fans is evident in their pre-modernistic interpretations of BYJ’s post-modern mom-zzang (muscular hard) body. His mom-zzang body is representative of the coeval ideology of post-modern globalized culture. I argue that Japanese fans ultimately still desire BYJ’s post-modern body through a traditional teleological lens – particularly, the framework of Confucian wen masculinity. Finally, I show how the fans consume their commoditized memories and nostalgia through their counter-coeval desire of BYJ’s hybridized masculinity, exemplified by their concept of Otokorashii Otoko (a man like a “real man”). This form of temporal displacement in transcultural Japanese consumption reflects how new Korean masculinity is constructed in Korean popular culture through the commodification of memory.

Item type Article
Official URL
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 1608 Sociology
Historical > FOR Classification > 2001 Communication and Media Studies
Keywords ResPubID18167, Bae Yong-Joon, Hallyu, Japanese fan, new Korean masculinity, wen masculinity, counter-coeval desire
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