Extra! Korea

June 2, 2009

Do you know what a “Toyman” is?

Filed under: gender equality, rapid cultural change — extrakorea @ 5:46 am

Do you know what a “Toyman” is? Yonhap News tells us.

The term is taken in part from the 1990s pop group “Toy,” which enjoyed a substantial female following drawn to the band’s often sad and poetic lyrics, and reflects a blurring of gender roles in this traditionally male-dominated Confucian society.

Like the tunes that gave the phenomenon its name, South Korea’s new male is distinctly more feminine — sensitive, poetic, attentive. They don’t believe in extravagance, always happy to search for a good bargain, and highly egoistic.

A Toyman, among other characteristics, will gladly cook pasta for himself, is extremely picky about clothes, prefers classy scooters over sports cars, is strict in dieting, regards unrequited love as “sad and romantic,” despises self-help books, rarely watches sports, has a sweet tooth, plays musical instruments and will start searching for his girlfriend’s birthday present more than a month ahead.

[ snip ]

Several such male characters have in fact recently appeared on TV shows, including the singer Alex on the popular reality show “We Got Married,” Kim Hyun-joong in the drama “Boys over Flowers” and of course Yoo Hee-yeol, the vocalist with the group Toy.

Most South Korean men call them “annoying.”

“God I hate them. They’re men’s worst enemy,” said Ahn Young-soo, 37. “I hate it when my wife watches a sissy guy on television and compares me with him. I’d never ever befriend such a girlish man.”

Usually fair skinned and pretty faced, a Toyman cooks for women, goes shopping with them, sings for them and offers to listen.

This is a society that is most definitely in a state of flux. It makes living here exciting, and I never understood why the tourism slogan “Dynamic Korea” was not viewed positively by some expatriates. It’s an apt description, and after all this time, no one knows what “Korea Sparkling” is supposed to have meant.

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1 Comment »

  1. Hmmm, one thing I’ve never understood about Korean society is why it’s so hard for everyone to admit that there are gays here.

    Comment by angus — June 2, 2009 @ 12:53 pm


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