Adonises who endow women viewers with fantasy superpower

By Raymond Zhou ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-02-23 16:26:30

Female obsession with male idols dates back at least to Rudolf Valentino (1895-1926), but still there are new psychosocial undercurrents to the prevailing craze in China over the crop of South Korean actors amorously staring from their streamed soap operas.

To put it simply, it is the flipside of male sexual fantasy and a natural byproduct of growing feminism in Asia, or in China in particular.

Adonises who endow women viewers with fantasy superpower

Brainwashed by soaps

Adonises who endow women viewers with fantasy superpower

Starry-eyed for roast chicken and beer 

Traditionally, young women served as the sex object in entertainment. They were portrayed as docile and considerate, always ready to submit to the whims of the master, who in Confucian concept is either the father or the husband, or any surrogate for the father figure.

Young men in these runaway hits embody all the "virtues" erstwhile associated with Asian women. They are always immaculately dressed, even off-screen, and attentive to the women around them. Their masculinity has been gradually chipped away - to the point they have reached the perfect middle between male and female, in both facade and disposition.

These Korean heartthrobs may possess the boyish looks of Justin Bieber but without the Canadian star's rebellious streak. They may purchase more cosmetics than the typical metrosexual man in the West but present a feminine side that goes much deeper than the skin.

They tend to act as the dandies in distress, waiting for Miss Right to rescue them. This is in spite of the fact they are invariably rich - not just middle-class rich but Bill Gates rich.

They don't sleep around as some good-looking young men do, but remain intensely loyal to one woman, sometimes for 400 years as shown in My Love From the Star, the latest hit drama with a supernatural bent. Supernatural, um. There's a hint.

And of course, they are never gay, as happens so often in US or British series, which would have injected too many platonic elements into the relationship.

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