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Reply 2015: Why Junhee was Gay
*BIG SPOILERS if you haven't seen Reply 1997 or Reply 1994!* ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Two high school boys are sitting near a basketball court on a summer night somewhere in Busan, South Korea, in 1997. “There’s someone else I like,” confesses Kang Junhee, turning to the boy next to him. “It’s you.” By this point, anyone watching Reply 1997 has fallen for Junhee’s charms, and is also aware that Junhee is not like the rest of the boys. He is not going to betray his friendship by falling in love with his best friend’s crush Shi Won. On the contrary, he’s going to fall in love with his best friend. Kang Junhee’s character is one of the most important characters of modern Korean dramas. In the midst of a changing cultural attitude towards homosexuality, his role shines an entirely new light on the image of gay men in Korea. I. Infinite Influence Hoya, of the idol group Infinite was a perfect choice for Kang Junhee. Hoya’s casting as Junhee was not only brilliant because of his surprisingly good acting skills (pardon my little faith in idols-turned-actors) but because of everything he brings with him to the role. To be honest, he was the reason I payed attention to this drama in the first place. Hoya has a strong fanbase and his group Infinite has endorsed everything from ice cream to chicken to school uniforms. With relatively few “cute” concepts, Infinite is one of the manlier boy bands in Korea, with Hoya fitting right in with his masculine image. Hoya has no damaging scandals tied to his name, and has risked everything for the life as an artist that he now lives. He followed his dreams of performing and has risen to a level of stardom that makes his parents proud. He is one of K-pop’s golden boys. Almost all of this fanbase will support his character without question, regardless of sexual orientation or personality. He has the incredible power of influence. If Hoya says something is acceptable, there is a large group of people that will undoubtably agree. This is the most important quality he brought with him to Reply 1997. II. The Perfection of Kang Junhee Hoya’s masculinity carries over to Junhee, an all around athlete who also happens to be fashionable, a great cook, and an even better dancer. The writers of this drama make him out to be the ideal man. Gay stereotypes in Korea are similar to the basic Western take on stereotypes. Gay men are portrayed as feminine and weak, often with higher pitched voices and limp wrists. How could Junhee, with all of his manly talents, possibly be a gay man? Junhee contains every character trait that an ideal Korean boy should have. He is intelligent and goes on to become a successful doctor. He is polite and charming to his elders. He is loyal, honest, and insightful, making him the best friend to have in tough situations. He is a good listener, puts others before himself, and gives fantastic advice. There is not a malicious bone in this boy’s body. His perfection seems too good to be true, and it is. He has one fatal flaw according to the Confucian society around him. He likes boys. While Junhee does seem more comfortable being in the kitchen and bonding with Shi Won’s mother over skin care advice, he is never made out to be an overly feminine or 'wussy' character. He is more mature than the other boys at school and seems to contain a wisdom far beyond his years. He is shown as the loyal and clear thinking friend. His sexuality isn’t the most important thing about him, it is overshadowed by his other fantastic characteristics. The script writers of Reply 1997 avoid falling into another stereotype for gay characters, which is over-sexualization. Junhee never tries to embrace Yunjae; he actually seems to avoid any physical contact. Their relationship is purely that of friends, although Yunjae hangs onto Junhee as if he is his personal plaything. Eventually, Junhee moves on, separating himself from his one-sided love. Junhee’s innocence makes him even more endearing to the audience. The only trait that someone could criticize Junhee for would be that he is far too nice, because we all know that the nice guy never wins in a Korean drama. Simply stated, Junhee does not have the qualities of a stereotypical gay man. This is why Bingrae, or Kim Dongjun, of Reply 1994 is so important. III. Bingrae: The Letdown? In Reply 1994, Baro plays the role of Kim Dongjun, who is known as Bingrae for most of the drama. Bingrae is a young boy from a farming family who has come to the big city to pursue a career as a doctor. He is enrolled in one of the best medical schools in the country, and has an instant group of friends in his boarding house. Even with all of these good things going for him, Bingrae stays in his room quietly reading anime or listening to cassettes. He doesn’t have a strong relationship with any of the people he lives with, and only seems comfortable around his cousin or food. He is nowhere near being an ideal man like Kang Junhee. Bingrae eventually drops out of school without telling anyone, and picks up part time jobs all over the city. This is where his storyline takes a turn, and throws him into the love octagon that is found in most Korean dramas. Sseuregi, or “Trash,” is the eldest boy in the boarding house. Although his personal hygiene is questionable at best, he is the perfect role model for Bingrae. Trash is on route to become a successful doctor and is completely comfortable with who he is. Bingrae, who already is uncomfortable and jumpy with others, can’t bring himself to treat Trash as a friend. He calls him sunbaenim, which is even more honorific than hyung. During these four years at the boarding house, Bingrae struggles to understand his feelings for the older boy. Trash decides to make Bingrae his dongsaeng, confiding in Bingrae that he has always wanted a little brother. Drinking games lead to a kiss between Trash and Bingrae, and Trash is constantly giving him special attention. Trash picks him up from work, buys him food, and pets him like a dog, even going so far as to call him Puppy throughout the drama. This unlikely couple had lots of fans, and many viewers were rooting for their success. With Bingrae’s uncertainty and shyness and Trash’s girlfriends, however, this pairing seemed doomed. Although they both struggled with understanding their love life, this mysterious and oftentimes withdrawn character is nothing like the confident Junhee of Reply 1997. IV. Why Bingrae Couldn’t Be Gay I have heard many fans of this drama complain about how Bingrae’s storyline ended in Reply 1994. An anonymous fan on Tumblr called it a great let down, and confessed that they never finished the drama because they were so upset. The reality is, if the writers had made Bingrae gay for the sake of having a gay character, they would have destroyed everything they had built with Junhee in Reply 1997. Bingrae is confused and unsure about every aspect of his life. He is unsure of what he wants to do in the future, of who his friends are, and especially of his own sexuality. He drops out of school, lies to his parents, and has no outstanding talents. Junhee is confident and comfortable with who he is. He has to hide his feelings from his friends and family, but he never questions them. He is hardworking, naturally talented, and undeniably charming. The ending that upset many fans of the Bingrae and Trash couple was very well thought out. In the episode that finally reveals Bingrae’s sexuality, the audience gets a sense of déjà vu. Bingrae steps out from the reunion party to meet a mysterious someone. As he waits at the curb for a car to pull up, the audience remembers the final episode of Reply 1997. After the reunion party as Junhee and the original gang of characters start to head home, Yunjae’s wife and Junhee’s childhood friend Shi Won offers him a ride home. Junhee smiles and declines, explaining that someone is coming for him. Junhee waits at the curb and gets into the flashy red sports car that comes to pick him up. The script writers kept the identity, and gender, of the driver completely ambiguous. There was never any confirmation of whether Junhee ends up with a man or woman. The audience finds itself blinded by headlights again in Reply 1994 as Bingrae stares down the street waiting for his special someone. Suddenly, the red sports car appears. The audience remembers where they have seen this scene before. As the sports car zooms past him, we are given an explanation of not only his sexuality, but of Junhee’s as well. V. The Key is in the Car Although Reply 1997 fans had to wait until the end of Reply 1994 for an answer, I loved the way the writers subtly tell the audience that Junhee was in fact, gay. The car that Junhee hops in at the end of Reply 1997 signifies his homosexuality, and it speeds by Bingrae as his wife pulls up in another car. The writers never had to say anything about Junhee’s relationships and that is what makes it so important. If Bingrae did not end up in a heterosexual relationship at the end of Reply 1994, the writers would not have been able to give this insight into Junhee’s life. With the sports car as a metaphor for homosexuality, the writers make being gay a completely normal way of life. The car passes Bingrae without causing a fuss and there is no dramatic music or lighting as Junhee gets in his sports car. Being gay is as natural as the cars passing you on the street and is not something that needs to be made into a big deal. That car, or that sexual orientation, simply was not for Bingrae, and saying this in such a natural, subtle way is incredibly important for the gay community. VI. Korean Attitude The gay community is still very much underground in Korea. In an Ipsos poll, 79% of South Korean participants said that they do not have a family member, friend, or coworker that is gay, bisexual, or transgender. Reply 1997 had an incredible following, with its last episode having the highest viewer rating ever for a drama produced by a cable network. The audience was mostly made up of men and women from their teens to their 40s, showing that the show had a wide range of viewers. The timing of these dramas was absolutely crucial. Just before the airing of Reply 1994, Korea experienced its first same-sex marriage. Legally, South Korea does not recognize marriage between same-sex couples, but that did not stop Kim Jo Gwang Su from marrying his long time partner Kim Seunghwan on May 15, 2013. The wedding was purely ceremonial, and their request to register for marriage was denied. The marriage opened up country-wide discussions about gay rights in Korea, and new legislation is being proposed by facets of the Korean government. The good news is, from 2007 to 2013, South Korea is the nation with the most significant change in opinion on the matter of gay rights. According to a poll through Pew Research, the belief that homosexuality should be accepted jumped 21% in six years. The same poll reports that 71% of South Koreans from 18 to 29 years of age support gay rights, showing a positive shift in society. With the open discussions and diverse viewership of dramas such as Reply 1997 and Reply 1994, I have faith that South Korea will continue in a positive direction towards equality for all sexual orientations. The work of the scriptwriters for these two dramas made their characters real, relatable, and relevant. It may be completely unconscious, but the Korean audience is being exposed to gay men not as forbidden lovers, but as friends, sons, and students. They are portrayed as human beings. Kang Junhee and Kim Bingrae are indispensable to Korea’s fight for gay rights.
Watch INFINITE Sing Live Even At A Dry Rehearsal
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTAatAJHRkA#t=234.761 Hello Inspirits! Take a look at this rehearsal from The 2016 Dream Concert back in October. Not only is it day time, cold outside and a rehearsal, but INFINITE is still singing live, not lipsyncing to a backing track. That's pretty incredible and speaks to their dedication and ability to perform with confidence. Just another reason on a long list of reasons I stan INFINITE. *Did anyone else notice Myungsoo's jacket/sandal combo? Are you stolling on the sandy beaches of Jeju or braving the harsh winter of Seoul, Sir? lol I guess he wanted the best of both worlds. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE ADDED TO THE INSPIRITS COMMUNITY TAGLIST, PLEASE LET US KNOW ODD SPIRIT MOD SQUAD: @LemonLassie @Helixx @PolarStarr @awkwardjazzy @InfinitySky @MelissaGarza @stefaniTre BEAST MOD SQUAD: @LemonLassie @MelissaGarza @AimeeH @StephanieDuong @KenyaMendoza @axosrain @Helixx MELODY MOD SQUAD: @LemonLassie @AimeeH @StephanieDuong @IsoldaPazo @MandyNoona @Bangtanss @MelissaGarza @Helixx BANGTAN'S ARMY MOD SQUAD: @PolarStarr @LemonLassie @IsoldaPazo @Bangtanss @SkyBlast @Helixx @mbg3t VIXXEN MOD SQUAD: @JiyongLeo @resavalencia @AimeeH @turntuptae @JordanShuler @awkwardjazzy @adritae @xoxorittie @InfinitySky @ChaErica @CrookedShadow @Helixx BIGBANG MOD SQUAD: @KwonOfAKind @lovetop @catchyacrayon @BBxGD @Helixx @WendyNegrete @phxcur93 CHOCO CONE CREW: Jiji- @JiyongLeo Helixx- @Helixx Mandy- @MandyNoona Stef- @StefaniTre Stephanie- @StephanieDuong Sol- @IsoldaPazo Lemon- @LemonLassie Vinny- @twistedPuppy Aimee- @AimeeH Stephany- @Stephany123 Michelle- @Bangtanss Emily- @ercurrent SAVAGE THUNDER MAFIA: @ashleyemmert @ElleHolley @NasiaWright @Isolate @EliseB @sarabear1021 @Lexxcisco @JessWang90 @Nadinerrz @jaiipanda @DianaBell @twistedPuppy @ScarletMermaid @narutobandgeek @KaiLuhan4ever @Helixx @Isabellaelliott @KhrystinaLee @ChubbyDumpling INSPIRITS: @StefaniTre @Sailynn @PrincessUnicorn @Bangtanss @XxGummybear92xX @mitchix5 @EliStacy87 @CrookedShadow @kpopandkimchi @Lexxcisco @luna1171 @VeronicaArtino @YessicaCardenas @KarenGuerra93 @callmejessixa @Starbell808 @karinamiranda81 @MaggieHolm @jexicaInfiniteL @AliceTetsuya @Baekyeol27 @Keldra @ibMIMI 인피니트우린해피엔딩이아닌네버엔딩 "INFINITE It's not a HAPPY ending it's NEVER ending!"
Kpop Relatables for every Kpop fan. You do this too, don't lie.
Hey everyone! In honor of today being my birthday starting.. 3 hours ago, I have decided to post these relatable and fun kpop pictures I have found and wanted to share with you all. I wanted to make sure you all got a couple laughs and know that you are absolutely not alone in this community. I just found some of these while I was looking up kpop things( like I always do) and stumbled upon them. Thank you all for always being there and tagging me in things i may like. It always makes me feel wanted and like I'm part of something which is something I have always wanted. If any of you ever want to talk or let me know what you want me to post about, you can always message me or comment, my inbox is always open!! Enjoy guys!!! I'm pretty sure most, if not all of us have done this at one point or another. Even I did it yesterday when I watched the end of the dance for EOEO by Uniq when they are grinding on the floor- yes I literally said "I wish I could be that floor." This is true in a lot of ways. Having a bias sometimes does seem better than having a boyfriend. Having a bias as a boyfriend would be AMAZING!! But also I've set my boyfriend bar so high to match my bias, so that's one reason I will never have a relationship. ㅋㅋㅋㅋ! Am I the only one that does this? Ah eye smiles. They hit you right in the feels! The eye smile isn't iconic just because our idols are so adorable when they do it (although it is a big part of it) but it's that they happiness that shows on their face that makes their smiles huge and their eyes sink away to tiny adorable slits. Haha. I think we can all agree eye smiles are dangerous, heart melting things. Who do you think has the best eye smiles in kpop? ^ㅅ^ This couldn't be more true to me. What people who aren't kpop fans don't understand is, we have all joined together and not just became friends and fellow fans, but we have also become a family who support each other and each other's fandoms. Yet another statement that couldn't be more true. Before kpop, I wouldn't have met so many people both here and outside of the Vingle kpop community. Before someone mentions they like kpop i find it hard to take a lot of interest in them but once the word kpop comes up, I break into my kpop loving self. And a lot of the time, we become friends and continue to stretch kpop love across the world. These quotes just make me smile and are over all inspirational to me. I really enjoy how wise and knowledgable our idols are. They are more than people may think. I've heard people say, "yeah they are good at singing and dancing, but that's all they are good for." But we all know that's not true. Our idols rank high in sports, school, languages, performing and so much more, which makes me happy when I read these amazing words they say in their music and in real life. Being a kpop fan takes a special kind of person. We are able to look past the language barriers, the distance, the age differences, the unnecessary and sometimes hurtful remarks from others and still support and love continue to love Kpop and idols with all our hearts. No matter how hard it may be to be a kpop fan, international or not, we still stick it out and support that Hallyu wave all the way!!! As I said before, we have some of the most wise people as idols. This quote from CL makes me incredibly happy and I couldn't have said this better myself. I get bashed all the time by people I don't know, non-kpop friends and even my family always saying there is no point to listening to music that you can't understand, but what they don't understand is music truly IS universal. You don't have to know the words to a song to be able to jam to it. Honestly, since I'm so used to kpop, even though I can't understand what they are saying, it doesn't seem like a foreign language to me. So there is no point to the hating on kpop music and it's fans, because to us, we can enjoy the music just fine without knowing the words. And we are proud of it!! And yes, I have thought about this a lot before. My parents don't really get why I like kpop, but I even said to them, "it could be worse, I could be drinking, doing drugs, partying and hooking up with guys like most kids my age." But I don't really do that. My social life is just a relationship between me and my cell phone. And all of you of course. I really gotta get out more, but I like staying in and doing nothing. Who else has had this problem where your family just really doesn't get that this is a good thing and you could be doing MUCH worse things? This is just a relatable kpop thing that I thought many of you would know about and have also done. There are so so so many pictures of my biases on my phone of the EXACT SAME PICTURE!! I just never know if I had saved it or not. There are times where I'm like "I know for a fact that I have seen this picture," so I screenshot it and when I go through all of my pictures later on, It turns out I have seen it before (a few times apparently) and thought the same thing back then too, so I have multiples of the same pics. These are just things I feel that I want to happen just because I am a fangirl and I do honestly think I can end up with my bias someday. It's true. There have been times where I needed to focus on my studies so I tried to leave the kpop world and I couldn't even do it for a day, let alone forever. Kpop is just to Fantastic to even try to leave. Once we got you, you ain't ever gonna be able to leave. You're in for life. I've done it. I bet some of you have too. Kpop does take over your world, but it's actually a good thing. Since I became a kpop fan, my life has become better and I've met some really good and dependable people who can relate to me as well. Fangirling is my job though, besides my actual job... Yeah, international fans can relate. Being an international fan, you learn to make it work. One of the things we must make work is the distance and knowing we won't be able to see concerts unless we watch the fancams. And even though it's hard sometimes, fancams are fun to watch because there are so many from so many different angles and shows that it makes being an international fan easier. Find your bias idols and groups! Let me know who is your favorite!! The light stick oceans. "Only in kpop can you see the different colors of the ocean" I love kpop oceans; they are a life goal of mine, and I really hope to get to be in one one day. What about you guys? Have you been in a light stick ocean before? Which ones if so, and if not whose would you want to be in most? And lastly, the things that connect us are not only how crazy we are, but that we are all crazy together. Kpop has the ability to bring different people together and give them something in common that most people can never relate to. It makes me really happy when I randomly think about the people I have met from being into kpop and the thing I have learned. Since I started listening to kpop and learning about korea in general I've learned to be more considerate of people and to try and understand people more for what they like and not judge them for it. Kpop has absolutely changed my life for the better and I can't and don't want to imagine what my life would be like without it.
Some Thoughts on Hoya's Departure
wow it has certainly been a week to remember. I've been fortunate enough to meet Hoya more and once and actually get a chance to talk with him one and one, and I dont think you need me to tell you this but he's an angel. (thats my red hair in the background behind hoya haha) Performing and creating music and choreography, as well as just entertainment in general, is what this boy was born to do. When you meet him you feel this immediate calm come over you and there is no idol-fan barrier. He's completely humble and seems almost as nervous/excited to meet people as they are to meet him. the pictures on this card are from their secret show in NYC where MTV gave me a staff badge and let me hang out backstage. Hoya was the only one who really came down and hung out with the people waiting there (like me, or the people from dramafever, or the people from mtv) and chatted with us. Sunggyu also lurked lol but he was clearly super shy - Hoya was like OKAY GUYS IM GOING TO GO SPEAK ENGLISH WITH THESE PEOPLE WATCH ME. I met him again at Dongwoo's family's restaurant where, again, it felt like seeing an old friend. I also got to talk to him at Simply Kpop where he randomly asked me where I was from (and I think this is because he saw a very small group of foreigners and wanted them to feel included since the show was all in Korean, so he switched to English for a short second. Even though it was only for a moment I know we all really appreciated it!) Below are two of my stories if you'd like to hear more: Basically, I just want to stress that Hoya is such a kind and loving soul. I'm sure the boys will not hold any resentment towards him for leaving, and I hope none of the fans do either. He's following his dream and fulfilling his promise to show us the best Hoya/Howon that he can! Good luck in the future Hoya, and stay strong INSPIRITS!