Yearning for beastly masculinity: interrogating Japanese gay fans' desires for 'hard' male K-pop idols

Thomas Baudinette*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research on Japanese K-pop consumption has predominantly focused on the experiences of middle-aged female fans who idealize K-pop idols’ supposed ‘soft’ masculinity. Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork, this article explores how Japanese gay men consume and understand K-pop. I destabilize assumptions common to the literature on Japanese fandom for K-pop concerning male idols’ soft masculinity by critically investigating how gay Japanese K-pop fans position Korean masculinity as ‘beastly.’ I particularly investigate how gay fans situate Korean masculinity within the socio-semiotic system of ‘Typing’ that structures Japan’s gay culture. I demonstrate that, counter to common-sense assumptions of K-Pop idols’ softness which circulate in Japan, Japanese gay fans instead focus on their ‘hardness’ to strategically differentiate their desires for male K-Pop idols from those of heterosexual female consumers. In yearning for ‘beastly’ Korean masculinity, Japanese gay K-pop fans thus explicitly reject the valorization of masculine cuteness found throughout Japanese mainstream media.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-239
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Early online date15 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • cuteness
  • Japanese gay men
  • K-pop
  • Korean idols
  • Korean Wave
  • masculinity


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