[FEATURE] Pop Culture: Comparing Traditional Male Handsomeness Versus Korean “Flower Boy”

Note: This is an original feature written by Canto for JayneStars.com.

In this article, we attempt to review the traditional notion of male attractiveness represented by Chinese stars in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong and the popular Korean “Flower Boy”.

Traditional Male Aesthetic – Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, and Korea


1. Height is an advantage
2. Nice frame/ build
3. Handsome features
4. Personality

Typically there are some features we look for in a handsome Asian man. Height is an advantage; we like a tall man with a good build, broad shoulders. He should have a face with nice features. It doesn’t have to be perfect but there should be something about his face that is likeable. The traditional male aesthetic is a man who can provide for his loved ones and is a good specimen of his gender.

Roy Chiu 3aMike He 2a

Above: Roy Chiu and Mike He

Differentiation: Taiwanese Male Stars
Taiwanese male stars are portrayed as considerate, romantic lovers in dramas. They are not shy to spout sweet saccharin words to the female lead in dramas.


Above: Song Seung Heon

Differentiation: Korean Male Stars (Not Flower Boy)
Korean male stars are also portrayed as romantic partners which a macho manliness.

Huang Xiao Ming 3a1Hu Ge 11

Above: Huang Xiaoming and Hu Ge

Differentiation: China Male Stars
China male stars are strait laced and traditional. Their charm lays in their traditional gender roles, reminiscent of a throwback to the Confucian ethic, the gentleman. And yes, their mastery of the Chinese language makes it sounds cultured and poetic.

Louis Koo 9

Above: Louis Koo

Differentiation: Hong Kong Male Stars
Hong Kong male stars are urbane, sophisticated and cool. They are streetwise and worldly. They are down to earth, practical and very believable.


Above: Jung Il Woo and Yoon Shi Yoon

Korean “Flower Boy” 

Looks like:

  1. Thin face
  2. Young
  3. Long lanky limbs
  4. Tall, lanky frame
  5. V shaped chin
  6. Accepting of Visible Eyeliner

Like a drawn sketch of a manga character, the Korean “Flower Boy” looks like he stepped right out of the living pages of a comic book. He has a tall, lanky frame which shows off his clothes hanger physique. He can have some muscles if he likes but overall he must look thin and not bulky. Male celebrities with underdeveloped muscle tone are accepted. Typically like a youthful teenager, the charm of the Korean man lies in his romantic gestures and his propensity for love.

His audience comprises of prepubescents and teenagers, the young at heart and even married housewives and mothers, meaning his charm know no bounds.

Why is he attractive?

Trying to summarize the charm of the Korean “Flower Boy”, I can only surmise that he brings a comforting throwback to those comic book characters that we grew up with. His youthfulness symbolizes eternal youth. His innocence is attractive, his earnestness, his idealism that he can change the world and make it better place gives hope. His mannerisms are cool and trendy. You will fall in love with his adorableness, like a young puppy.

Why is eyeliner attractive?

Here I attempt to shed some light on why the use of eyeliner, even if visible, is acceptably attractive in a Korean popular culture. Eyeliner, if worn correctly on anyone, man or woman, can make one look more attractive. The eyes look bigger, brighter and more prominent, unless of course, one did not draw it well, upon which it may have an unintentional adverse effect. Eyeliner, long used by Western rock stars, hints at a rebelliousness nature. Couple with the Korean “Flower Boy” who wears a hint of rebellion, viola! You have your bad boy with a hint of danger and excitement.

Detractors and Dissidents:

Too girlish. Lack of manliness. Looks like a boy, not a man.

Disclaimer: I don’t profess to be the authority on this topic and I do not support generalizations as we are all unique individuals and human beings. Take this article in a light hearted mode – not too seriously, and in the spirit of entertainment. 

This article is written by Canto, a Contributing Writer at JayneStars.com.

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  1. I don’t care if below is plastic or whatever, he’s simply HOT period haha LOL….

    Song Seung Heon

    1. OMG yes he’s my pick too. haha
      He looks hotter here than he was in Endless Love. Whooo, nice nice…

    2. Haha, but I’m pretty sure he didn’t have any plastic surgery before. I remember seeing his past graduation photos somewhere and he looked exactly the same as now.

      1. Couldn’t he have gotten work done before he graduated?

      2. Possibly, but I saw his childhood photos (from age 10 to now(?)) and they look pretty much the same to me, except some small changes probably due to puberty. I think he’s also known for being natural.

        But yeah, who knows?

      3. Yes, one of my korean colleagues did say he is one of the naturals which i said YESSS…hahah..lol…but they also say most koreans not just celebs, even regular people love to do minor surgeries to make themselves prettier whether it’s male or female.

  2. Would love to hear from the guys what they have to say regarding the image of male beauty as depicted in Asian pop culture. 🙂

    Perhaps I’m traditional, I prefer the Hong Kong and mainland male aesthetics. My guy’s hair should not be longer than mine, nor should his waist be slimmer than mine.

    1. These dudes who become idols are usually born 8,9,10/10 before their plastic surgery.

      And the way they define what is desirable and what is undesirable means that us average looking dudes have even more work to do since your average female sets their standards to these dudes.

      Thankfully, us guys are not bound by 3-dimensional pig ugly women. No fleshbag can compare to my Asuka or my Rei Ayanami.

      Damn you, idol culture, you ruined my life.

      1. Most girls dont set their standards to their idols, my guy only needs to be fitter and tanner than me.

      2. For appearance, they all look good from certain perspective. Even when women or girls find specific appearance desirable. They may not choose those men based on the looks.

        I find most men above goodlooking but in the end I want a guy I admire for his personality/character. Someone with dreams, who is happy with what he is doing and hardworking. A guy who respect, cherish me and who is supportive of my choices. Preferable the best would be if we could bring the best out of each other. That would be my mr. right.

        If he is also goodlooking like Louis Koo, I’m blessed. hehe 🙂

    2. dd,
      Don’t let the idol guys undermine your confidence!

      Women know how to differentiate fantasy from real life. We may flock to handsome male leads, but women usually don’t consider looks as the number one criteria in finding boyfriends.

      It’s a man’s confidence, intelligence, and ability to carry an interesting conversation that impresses more. You sound like you have the latter two qualities, maybe missing a bit of confidence there?

      As in making friends, making an emotional connection is very important when chatting with someone you’re interested in. You have to make the other person you’re talking to feel that she is special without sounding desperate. Initial impressions count a lot, otherwise you may be filed away as “friends only” or “no chance”.

      And would you be interested in a woman who prioritized your looks?

      Do share your dating perspective as you have a lot of interested listeners. 🙂

    3. Nah, I don’t consider myself good-looking. If you look at the skin of some of these guys you can tell they started using creams and did facials since they were young. The difference is that I didn’t and I actually aged my skin a bit more from getting hit in the face in boxing and sweating a crapload in training. I actually have a small scar which I got when I got cut from a loose seam of a boxing glove.

      As for the looks of the girl, there’s some importance. We all become skin and bones at the end but you still need to keep appearances up to show that you respect yourself and that you respect your boyfriend as well. When I went back to HK my ex’s face had pimples everywhere and it was obvious she wasn’t taking care of herself because of her emotional issues and it contributed to me deciding to break up with her.

      1. dd,
        So instead of helping her with her emotional issues, you decided to break up with her because she wasn’t looking good anymore? I hope this was not the case and only your attempt at sarcastic humor.

      2. She kept lying to me and she turned it into a TVB drama where everything was fine one minute and then suddenly she’d get mad because I didn’t text her in the morning or something, or I didn’t go online on Skype every night to talk to her. This was during my thesis as well.

        I didn’t want that, it’s not a healthy relationship.

      3. And not because she wasn’t good looking, I’m no Takeshi Kaneshiro, but she just didn’t bother taking care of herself because maybe she thought “hey, already got a boyfriend, no need to do facials anymore since I’m set”. I think we need to keep on improving ourselves even if we got what wanted.

      4. dd,
        Perhaps she was going through a stage because of her emotional issues. Or maybe she sensed you were distancing yourself because of her destructive behavior, which ironically made her want a tighter grip on you.

      5. She wasn’t cutting herself or anything because of family issues. I just don’t think she was ready for a relationship.

      6. dd,
        It’s a matter of whether you felt it was worth it or not in the end. And how long her destructive stage had lasted.

        But emotional baggage comes with every relationship, as everyone goes through stressful points in their lives. Stress only seems to build up as we age.

      7. Handling stress and emotions is part of one’s character. Clingy and girls who depend on us too much are often undesirable traits we tend to avoid when we look for girlfriends.

        I had a Korean friend who swiped the side of her car when she was driving. When she told me she had to take extra jobs to make cash for the repairs and her mum wouldn’t increase her allowance because she was only gonna fund her uni fees (which are expensive on its own). I asked her what she was going to do and she told me something which I still remember to this day: “Don’t worry, it’s my problem and I’ll take care of it”.

        We were 19, that’s incredible responsibility for a 19 year old thousands of miles away from home.

    4. Take May Chan for instance. She’s naturally pretty but she weighs twice as heavy as a normal girl her age and height. She doesn’t want to be obese but there’s just some self-control issues when it comes to food which is making her obese. Or maybe it’s just that she doesn’t know how unhealthy and problematic being obese is.

      She wants a boyfriend but…she keeps being enabled by TVB to do these eating shows and her body size is a sort of characteristic which allows her to get roles in dramas and this influences her but to us guys it’s a bit unattractive.

      1. dd,
        Many women eat for emotional comfort/ happiness, which is why during times of stress, it’s so easy to gain weight. I have this weakness as well, but trying to exercise more now to keep a better balance.

        Instead of food, others turn to alcohol, drugs, smoking, video games, etc. for relief from a stressful day. Until we find a healthier habit, such things will do damage on us. To a degree, many bad habits are due to lack of self-control.

        Obese people still have love lives. There are online dating sites for obese people too. But wanting a relationship and actually trying actively to find one are separate things. May Chan can be losing weight and looking for boyfriend at the same time, but she is insecure and doesn’t even allow herself the chance to do so.

        It’s really the fear of the unknown that is holding her back.

      2. Yeah. There’s a reason why girls look towards strong and muscular men. It gives them a sense of security when they’re with them and they know that the guy spent a lot of time and effort in the gym which means they’ll be able to apply it towards other things.

        And the same goes for obese guys. Girls don’t like obese guys because it presents a lack of self-control and unhealthy eating and living habits.

        Of course there are people who like that sort of thing but it’s a minority.

    5. Korean boy actors are all younger than me. That is depressing. But I like their physical frame. They’re tall, great body, robust, dresses well and present themselves well. I am like ahjumma now. China actors now are getting taller and more robust too, which is great news. HK actors still skinny and decades older.

      And thank you to those flower boys for putting a dent on general male ego. Why? Well we women have suffered for many years living up to the ideals of those Hollywood stars type, so I am happy the guys now have these young guys to compare.

      But seriously they are in the entertainment circle because they’re good looking IN THE FIRST PLACE with the right physique. Physique being the number 1 criteria. Don’t beat yourself too badly. A guy can generally win over the flower boys for the affection of the fair maiden with 3 golden fules;

      1. well mannered and polite
      2. chivalry and gentlemanly, treating a woman like a lady
      3. be successful

      I bet, if you have 1 and 2, number 3 is optional.

      1. p/s I love Lee Seunggi!! Mainly because he is gentlemanly!

      2. Yeah. I don’t think a guy needs to be successful, but to work hard for what he wants in life – having something worth doing – is admirable.


        Most people love Seung Gi. Oh, the days of 1N2D… Even my current favourite, Seungwoo, is moving on as well.

      3. Seungwoo too old already. I pity him when I see him huffing and puffing. I wonder if Hodong will come back?

  3. Absolutely love Jung Il Woo! He’s def. a flower boy! Such a charming guy!

    Korean guys really can rock guy liner. Jang Geun Suk being an example!!! Japanese guys does it well too.

  4. Count me in for mature guys. Contrived androgyny is not a good look.

  5. Even though he’s not mentioned as an example here, I’m gonna say it anyway – in my opinion, Won Bin is one of the most charismatic and handsome actors with a great personality to boot. I’m also for the traditional looks (probably because my dad has them too! LOL). I mean the features Hong Kong stars have, e.g Andy Lau, Leslie Cheung, Chow Yun-fat. They have this classic manly beauty.. Dazzling.. *_* haha.

    Not sure why, but I have always thought that Huang Xiao-ming’s features are very feminine. I don’t think he’s handsome but he’s attractive… Ok, that definitely didn’t make any sense…

    1. That makes perfect sense, I don’t think HXM is handsome either, attractive in a way but NOT that handsome.

    2. It makes sense because you can be attractive but not handsome. Just like how you can be cute but not pretty or beautiful.

    3. HXM’s features are so perfect (bc of plastic) that it’s almost too pretty/feminine. That’s why he’s not really handsome, but you know he’s attractive.

      1. I don’t think HXM’s features are perfect at all. I have been following him since he first started and he does not look that much different from before. His features are far from perfect. The only thing that I heard he may have had some work done on was his chin, but that was it. His nose and everything looks the same as it always had.

    4. omg i 100% agree!! i think won bin looks better than those korean actors listed up there >___<

    5. I can see HXM as good looking, but I don’t find him attractive or handsome lol 🙂 I picked Peter Ho over him in summer’s desire and I picked Louis over him for being yang guo 🙂

    1. I only like him in CITY HUNTER hahha…very hot in there n that female costar is pretty too.

      1. boshu-
        No, I haven’t. Is it the one w/the time travel? I hate those plotlines hahah..so no thanks.

      2. haha i also only like him in city hunter~ i didnt think he looks good in boys over flowers

      3. I love him in faith, very very manly. Still can’t bring myself to watch city hunter lol 🙂 but faith is definitely a must watch, love it!

      4. Lee Min Ho was really manly in Faith! I love him in there and also in City Hunter. I highly recommend Faith to anyone who enjoys period drama. In person, Lee Min Ho isn’t as built as he is onscreen though. He is super tall but his face is quite small. As a Minho’s fan, I got to admit that he definitely had plastic surgery though cause his facial features are “too perfect”. I was walking right next to him when he was in LA and I’ve never seen anyone with such perfect features before so I’m convince he got work done but I still love him regardless. He is kind and friendly and that’s enough reason for me to love him.

      5. Lol, his nose totally got done, cos its sooo obvious :p anything else, not sure lol

      6. –jj–,
        I know, I didn’t watch any of the Meteor Garden series except the Taiwan version which i think i am biased since I find the JERRY YAN the most one of them all of f4. hahahha LOL..so I didn’t catch any other versions so I never really know this LEE MIN HO. I started watching this City Hunter on utube and I was hooked from beginning to end. Usually, I dont like Kdrams – sappy, fated love, rich me/poor girl, girl or boy is sick and will die soon kind of plotlines so City Hunter was very different in my opinion, faced paced and pretty interesting and of course the attractiveness of the main female and male lead seems quite interesting as well so I managed to finish that series. I like a bit of action and fighting in my series so that was perfect for me. Even if he is great in this ‘Faith’ and handsome, it would’nt hook me in because i really dislike time travel plotlines so however handsome/pretty the cast is, I just wouldn’t be interested. 🙂
        ohhh, I think he looks really ugly in F4 boy over flowers from clips, that curly hair has GOT TO GO…hahahah lol…

  6. Although I personally prefer the flower boy look, this is strictly an asian phenonemon. Western culture see this physique as lacking manliness and too camp.

  7. Tall and nice build… I think mustaches add a degree of manliness. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

    Can you do this for females too?

  8. some kpop singers are quite attractive too, imo choi siwon. as for eyeliner – it was weird at first, but it grows on you. but I think it’s a good thing hk actors/singers don’t wear it!

  9. Different cultures have different views on what is beautiful for their idols.

  10. How about the Japanese?

    My teenage crushes used to be Atsushi Sakurai, Yutaka Takenouchi, Odagiri Joe and Takeshi Kaneshiro.

  11. I’m NOT attracted to the flower boy look at all! I also think male Taiwanese stars tend to be pretty over rugged handsomeness and that’s not my taste either. I like Mainland, HK and normal Korean stars just fine.

  12. Nowadays, it’s not only a korean phenomenona . Look at Zhang Han or Calvin Chen. Sigh.
    Calling them thin and lanky is too kind, their arms are twigs.

    1. hahaha, twigs LOL, yeah, they are just too skinny. but why is that i found those mainland actors also growing thinner and thinner now. sigh
      HK actors are more manly looking

  13. Handsome actors:
    when they were still 20s: Julian Chen, Louis Koo, Steven Ma, Daniel Chan.
    Now: Lin Geng Xin, Chen Xiao, Vic Chou.
    Korean: So Ji Sub, Taecyeon, Won Bin, Eric Moon.

    1. So Ji-sub is indeed very HOT! I’m glad I’m not the only one think he is cute, LOL!

  14. i think HXM is not good looking. he is okay.
    but i totally agree with louis koo. i hhave a crush on him since little lol
    still do haha

  15. Obviously, KOR has many good looks package actor than others (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mainland, Japan). From Jang Dong Geon to Lee Min Ho, most of them are tall, lanky and of course handsome that’s why most of women are crazy about K-drama, he3x. HKG particularly is lack of this formula…

  16. Sorry not into the flower boy look, too girly looking.They’re trying too hard to look good! Also don’t think they can protect me during a fight!

  17. I actually like HK guys better as well. From where I grew up, all the girls are into the macho, manly types, but I like my men refined and elegant, yet still masculine and handsome. Flower boys are too pretty and feminine for my taste – I DON’T want my man skinnier than me. I think Chinese guys strike balance well.

  18. nothing wrong with not having a super fit body, but korean hairstyles = Fail + too bieber. Louis koo and hong kong are cool, least lo to. Win.

  19. Still prefer tanned and fit men with little makeup to the flower boys.

  20. While all the men are attractive, I am not attracted to any of them, personally. Odd how that works. I prefer the less pretty/handsome but more rugged types.

  21. Wth, Roy qiu and mike he are like carbon copy of one another. I don’t really follow Taiwanese entertainment but has anyone mentioned that they look like (well, at least in the photos above)

  22. Yan Kuan, Lin Gengxin, Yuan Hong should be on the list.

  23. I think there is no difference in leading men, where the pre requisites are handsome and slim. Tall is debatable since clearly some are much shorter than others. However as highlighted in the names thrown in this article, HK male stars ARE aging, and a good 20 years older than the usual Korean flower boy. Taiwanese stars are usually very tall and is probably a good 5 to 10 years older than Korean stars. Point is Korean flower boys have youth on their side. Talent is again debatable.

    Why not include Japanese stars? You can see looks is debatable but they certainly have style, a cut above the Korean, Chinese and Taiwanese counterpart. It is the way the industry is made of. Luckily HK or China is not yet 100% idol type industry, which allows for the less good looking to make it big.

    I dare you to do a Korean female star feature. 9 out of 10 complete plastic surgery. China female stars, place them all side by side and you can’t even tell the difference. HK stars, probably skinny teenage boy looking with the rare few with actual bosoms. And again youth is on Korean stars.

  24. It is pos thinking like this that is the cause of many young, and older asian women living in soap opera island. It causes many men to doubt themselves as a decent catch for a woman. God help us all, as it is going to get worse. I hope with the slightest grain of faith, there are still asian women who can look for a decent man through his morals, ability to respect them, love them, be honest and communicative with them, and a desire to work and achieve something in life. That is a real man, that is what a real man represents., not the fantasy fluff written here about these actors.

  25. The only Korean movies I watch are those horror/thrillers. I have no interest in their dramas. Japanese and Korean movies are always over the tough. They slap each each, treat women like dogs…but I guess that’s the culture! 😀

  26. The description for HK male stars seem contradictory: urbane and sophisticated yet they are streetwise and earthy.

    So which one is it? wine and cheese or pretzel and beer?

    Anyway, HK male stars are old and vertically challenged.

    1. Wine cheese pretzel beer donut and whiskey plus a bit of smelly tofu

  27. I really need some girl to explain to me why they like the flower boy Koreans. I can honestly not tell if they are male or female sometimes when I see them being interviewed on Scoop. Not to mention they all look unnatural. Not a great role model for the young if you ask me.

  28. I totally agree with the author’s point about the korean “flower boy”. In person, without getting to know them, girls like me would just fall in love with what their image claim them to be. They appear to be more mannerly, innocent, and they seem like a dedicated lover.. Yet appearances can deceive us when it’s judged to quickly. 🙁

  29. Personally, when i think of floer boy the first hings that come up is the hallyu idols and some actors,

  30. No HK actor or any Asia actor can be as cute as Korean actor So Ji-sub! Wao, this man is Sexy!!!
    But then he is the only Korean actor that I like, I’m usually not very fond of Korean dramas or stuff.

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