1) Screenshot from the ‘Butter’ MV (released May 21, 2021)
2) Screenshot from the drama ‘The Sound of Magic’ (released on Netflix in May 6, 2022)
3) Screenshot from the drama ‘Yumi’s Cells’
(broadcasted on tvN in September 17, 2021 ~ October 30, 2021)
4) Screenshot from the drama ‘Reflection of You’
(broadcasted on JTBC in October 13, 2021 ~ December 2, 2021)
Hey! Minji from 유행 here!
Hi! It’s 유행’s 민지[Minji], your personal liaison to the world of Korean hipsters. Were you able to guess the correct answer to the question I just asked? Yep, right on the mark! They’re all famous Korean male celebrities who sport long, luscious locks💇.
These days, I’ve had multiple friends confess to me that they had trouble taking their eyes off of male celebrities with long hair. In a world where the age-old ‘men = short hair’ stereotype is being shattered by the day, it’s not uncommon to see male celebrities trying out various long hairstyles.
Jungkook of BTS is a prime example of a celebrity who’s undergone a dramatic image transformation, successfully breaking free from a youthful and innocent look by donning long hair. His long hair style, worn with confidence and flair in the music video ‘Butter,’ oozed with mature and sexy vibes that shook the hearts of fans from all over the world. Although he quickly returned to his signature short cut, fans have been awaiting the return of ‘long-haired Jungkook’ ever since. And this wish was granted (with interest!) at this year’s 2022 FIFA Qatar World Cup! Did you watch Jungkook's utterly enthralling live performance at the World Cup opening ceremony? Maybe it’s just me (🤭), but he seems to light up the stage just a bit more when he stands atop in long hair.
ⓒ FIFA World Cup official account
② Ji Chang-wook
A new K-drama wasn’t the only thing to premiere this past May. Actor Ji Chang-wook unveiled a new longer hairstyle in the drama ‘The Sound of Magic,’ released on Netflix in May of this year. ‘The Sound of Magic’ attracted worldwide attention from the get-go, reaching No. 1 most popular Netflix TV program in 15 countries immediately after its release. Actor Ji Chang-wook is said to have styled his hair with long black locks in order to evoke the mysterious and magical vibes of his role as the wizard ‘Ri-eul.’
③ Ahn Bo-hyun
Actor Ahn Bo-hyun, who starred in the webtoon-turned-drama ‘Yumi's Cells,’ became the topic of discussion when he thoroughly reinvented his image with long hair. Ahn’s portrayal, which involved adopting the same hairstyle as his namesake in the original Webtoon, was touted as ‘a webtoon character come to life’ and received positive responses from both fans of the drama and original Webtoon alike.
④ Kim Jae-young
Actor Kim Jae-young, in a flawless performance as ‘Seo Woo-jae’ in the drama ‘Reflection of You,’ swayed the hearts of two women with his charming chin-length haircut. The slight curl of his hair perfectly suited Kim’s role as a gifted artist also blessed with a sculptural appearance! Even I wasn’t immune to the ‘Seo Woo-jae fever’: I distinctly remember that for several days, I could do nothing but sit in front of my computer, eyes glued to Netflix. The work gained Kim the devastating moniker of ‘decadently sexy’ and catapulted his name into the lead roles of various works.
As seen above, Korean male celebrities are captivating our hearts💘 with their varied takes on the long hairstyle. And likely because of this, long hairstyles have been spreading like wildfire among the general public. Want to go for a decadently sexy look à la Kim Jae-young? Try your hand at a dyed cut, or style it with slight curls. Or if you favor a clean-cut style, just tuck your hair behind your ears like Ahn Bo-hyun. And if all else fails, simply tying your hair into a casual pony can help you exude a refined aura. Sometimes simple is best!
By owning and flaunting their attractive long hair with confidence, these male celebrities have challenged societal standards on what male hairstyles should look like. And thanks to their efforts, the prejudice against long hairstyles for men have begun to break slowly but surely, leading hairstylists to unanimously call this a generation in which even men can freely experiment with a diverse array of hairstyles. In fact, it’s no exaggeration to say the idea that men should cling to short hair exclusively has become a thing of the past.
💡Now that we have long hair on men…
What about short-hair on women?
How astute of you to guess the next topic! As far as trends go, short-cut hairstyles on women are a close competitor to long hair on men. If you catch wind that a female celebrity has made the decision to chop off their hair, you’ll no doubt find ‘female celebrity short-cut’ to be the new hot topic headlining major entertainment news sites.
It may come as a surprise, but short-cut hairstyles on women have actually been well-received in Korea for quite a while, long before the advent of long hair on men. And if we’re talking about short hair on women, Actress Go Joon-hee can't be left out of the discussion! Go has been rocking the shortcut for around 10 years – so iconically, in fact, that her style is now considered the epitome of what a bob/short-cut should look like. If anything, her personal epithet ‘bob cut star, short-cut legend,’ should clue you in to the impact she’s made in the world of women’s hair. Always with a chic cut that fits her face shape like a glove, actress Go Joon-hee's hairstyle only accentuates her stylish vibes.
Recently, a slew of other female celebrities have hopped on the trend. Here are some of special note: actress Jung Hye-in, who captured the attention of Korean viewers with her immaculately bleached and styled cut; actress Lee Joo-young, who flawlessly nailed the ‘comma hair’ (i.e., a hairstyle in which the front bangs are curled inward in such a way as to resemble a comma) that all male celebrities seem to wear at least once in their lives; and actress Song Ji-hyo of the variety show ‘Running Man,’ who’s succeeded in crafting a new image for herself by adopting a shorter cut.
In the past, short-cuts on female celebrities would be associated with modifiers such as ‘boyish’, ‘tomboy’, or ‘looks like a man.’ But as we continue to challenge our biases and preconceptions regarding gender and hairstyle, we’ve naturally strayed away from describing short-haired female celebrities as ‘manly.’
I’m also one of those people who tends to reinvent my image once in a blue moon. Whenever I find myself getting bored of a hairstyle that reaches beneath the shoulders, I try to switch things up by chopping off all the unnecessary length. And such a simple change as cutting my hair has the potential to drastically alter the way I’m perceived by others. Just the other day, my friend 지연[Jiyeon] told me that I look like a younger sibling when my hair is long, while I give off older sister vibes when my hair is short! Here, take a look at the two photographs below: both are of me, one in long hair and the other after taking on short hair! What do you think? Do I really become a different person depending on my hairstyle?🧐😝
💭Here’s a little dilemma for you!
Concerns about the price of a haircut✂️
I can’t speak on behalf of other countries, but in Korea, hair salons by and large assign different prices to haircuts depending on whether they’re ‘for men’ or ‘for women.’ Generally, haircuts marketed for men tend to cost around ₩2,000 to ₩5,000 less than cuts deemed ‘female hairstyles.’
But is it really fair to assign the cost of a haircut in such a manner in an era where gender demarcations are increasingly blurred (see: previous discussion on men with long hair and women with short hair)? As is the case with any controversial topic, netizens have been weighing in with a varied set of opinions: some assert that ‘it is discriminatory to fix the price of womens’ haircuts differently from mens’,’ while others may counter that ‘it is natural that women, who generally have longer hair than men, be dealt a higher cost when cutting their hair.’💬
There’s no clear-cut answer.
Nevertheless, the question itself disrupts our established preconceptions, encouraging us to challenge what we traditionally take for granted. Isn’t this the very definition of HIP?
👖There’s no right or wrong answer.
The HIP response? Genderless.
The popularization of long hair on men and short hair on women is also a reflection of the younger generation’s characteristic drive towards greater diversity. There’s no doubt that long hair on men had its own heyday in the past. But back then, there was a perception that the style contained a meaning which resonated only among a certain group of people interested in niche cultures. In other words, long hair was the domain and reactionary symbol of a limited population. It’s worth noting that the current trend of long hair on men has spread to a comparatively broader audience. Today, interest in the style stems from the growing tendency to slough off gender stereotypes in favor of emphasizing one’s individuality.
always have short hair?”
always have long hair??”
In constantly questioning such traditions on their own, the younger generation has freed itself from decades of accumulated biases. And in this newly opened space, it has begun pursuing genderless fashion not only in hairstyle, but in various other fields as well. Men who wear high heels👠 or skirts👗? Women who wear trunks🩳, a garment once recognized as men's underwear? Nothing strange about it!
The photos above are some examples of genderless fashion as worn (fabulously!) by Jo Kwon, a singer and member of the group 2AM. As you can see, high heels have become his trademark style.
ⓒ Taemin ‘MOVE’ teaser image
When it comes to ‘genderless,’ not mentioning singer Taemin’s ‘MOVE,’ the title track of his 2nd studio album, is an exercise in futility. Under the concept of ‘genderless sexy,’ this SHINee member sported fashion, makeup, and a performance style which blurred gender boundaries. Following its release, ‘MOVE’ became the topic of discussion, with countless cover videos uploaded to social media following Taemin’s ambiguous take on genderless fashion and performance.
To see its real time impact outside celebrity culture, try searching🔎 ‘젠더리스’ (genderless in Korean) on Instagram. You’ll be able to observe the range of distinct interpretations of the genderless trend with your own two eyes!
In “Honey tip Korea!” we’ll let you in on some useful tips to know when traveling or living in Korea. These include tidbits on commonly used expressions, cultural contexts, and other information locals naturally reference as they go through their lives. All the sweet information you need to know, delivered directly from local Koreans to you!
Happen to be near a Korean hair salon?
Experiment with K-hairstyles yourself!
I hope I’ve been able to convey to you the beauty and nuance of today’s trending hairstyles in Korea. If you want to experience some of the K-hairstyles I’ve introduced in this issue, read on! Korean beauty parlors operate on easy-to-use reservation systems, so much so that ‘booking culture’ has become a norm in the industry at large. Due to such an established culture, you won’t encounter any difficulties making appointments with most hair salons, whether they be large franchises or privately owned.
Here’s my recommendation: first browse through Instagram for inspiration using hashtags like #여자숏컷, #남자장발(#womenshortcut, #menlonghair). Once you’ve found a style that appeals to you, set up a reservation with a hair salon. Finally, show a picture of the cut you want to your hairstylist and watch them work their magic!
Having trouble choosing a hairstyle? Not to worry!
Kakao Hairshop* offers you a selection of hair salons with a good deal of designers, locations, and styles. One of these will be sure to catch your eye. Simply login to Kakao Hairshop using your Kakao Talk ID and you’ll be on your way to a hair salon in no time!
*If you’re in Korea and happen to speak a bit of Korean, Kakao Hairshop can offer a wide variety of hairstyles.
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