Since the mid-2000s, the term kkonminam (Hangul: 꽃미남; Hanja: 꽃美男; listen (help·info) kkot/n [꽃] = flower, minam [미남] = handsome man) has been commonly used in South Korea to refer to young men with a great sense of personal style and fashion, popularized by pop idols, who may seem effeminate, in part because they are often shown with make-up, such as eye-liner or lip gloss. Another cause may be that as most of them are in their late teens to early twenties they look rather boyish. Although they are sometimes regarded as Korean bishōnen, their gender is not commonly questioned, nor their sexual orientation.
Outside of Korea the concept is also prevalent in China, Taiwan and Japan. The concept is also now recognised throughout Asia through the numerous remakes of Korean dramas in Asian countries as well as the popularity of Korean dramas in Asia including Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
The Hwarang, or "flower youths"/"flowering knights/gentlemen" were an elite group of male warriors in Silla, an ancient Korean kingdom. Chinese sources referred only to the physical beauty of the "Flower Boys", known for their use of make-up and cosmetic decorations and accessories. The emergence of kkonminam is associated with the influence of Japanese bishōnen or yaoi manga that became available after the ban on the import of Japanese culture was lifted in Korea in 1998. Professor Kim Hyun Mee at Yonsei University attributes this to the growing independence and confidence of Asian women: "[they] can afford to be more selective when choosing a mate".
- Rutt, Richard, The Flower Boys of Silla (Hwarang). 1961.
- Sun, Jung (2010). "CHOGUKJEOK PAN-EAST ASIAN SOFT MASCULINITY". In Daniel Black, Stephen Epstein and Alison Tokita. Complicated Currents: Media Flows, Soft Power and East Asia. Monash University ePress. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
- "Mirror, Mirror...". Time. 24 October 2005. Archived from the original on 15 December 2005.
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