Friday, September 2, 2011


I'm not at all sure what to make of this clip, which I just happened on. The combination of a very girlish-looking boy with the word "drag" in the title got my attention, though I knew that "drag" wouldn't have the same resonance for Koreans as it does in American English: I was just curious to see how it was used in this context. "Drag" here refers to moving icons and screens around on a touch-screen MP3 player; it's explicit in the video below, which is really just an extended commercial for Samsung.

But still: the hairstyle, the clothes, the scarf, the dress he's making, the body language, the Elizabeth-Montgomery moue he affects as he magically drags stuff around. The clip carefully establishes him as heterosexual, though the girl he's pursuing is butcher than he is.

So, what's going on here? Jang Geun Seok is 24, and has been in show business since he was five years old, when a talent agent spotted him and got him into modeling. At 10 he began acting in TV series, which he's done ever since. He's also had a few film roles, and it's reported that he wants to work seriously at acting. Because of the small size of the Korean entertainment industry, he does whatever he can, including commercials, as even more established actors do.

Meanwhile, he's packaged and marketed as relentlessly as any other entertainer. The pretty boy is a traditional type in Korean art and entertainment, with great appeal to young girls. (Though not exclusively to them.) It's okay for male K-pop stars aimed at a tween-girl demographic to be girly -- to weep on stage, to flirt with each other, to wear foofy scarves -- as long as they're not gay. As I've noticed before, K-pop stars (or their producers) take this to extremes. But Jang seems over the top even to me.