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Exclusive Excerpt: The Deadly ‘Pretty Boys’ Who Were Korea’s Warriors and Assassins

hwarang

K-pop’s biggest male stars may be beauty gods but they’re hardly a new trend. While Korean pop stars may wear porcelain foundations, colorful eyeshadows, and blood-stained lips, there were men who walked — and worked — the earth centuries before. They were called the hwarang – literally “flower boys” aka “pretty boys” of Korea’s Silla dynasty – who sported crimson eye shadows, powdered faces, and slicked-back hair as a spiritual practice. These warriors were chosen for their beauty, as Silla’s king, Jinheung, believed beauty was power. In the excerpt below, we understand Korea’s rich history of beautiful men and how cosmetics, makeup, skincare isn’t a new phenomenon — beauty is literally embedded in the very culture. Here’s a history of the pretty boy warriors who were precursors for K-pop stars to thrive in our modern era.

South Korea is now known as the beauty capital of the universe, and its men hold the title of world’s biggest cosmetics consumers. Korean men glisten and glow, their complexions plumped and hydrated, as if serums pump through their very veins. But to understand why Korean men today care so much about their aesthetics, we must look to Korea’s sixth-century Silla Dynasty, and to the hwarang. The hwarang—which roughly translates to “flower boys”—weren’t only some of the fiercest weapons-wielding, martial arts–practicing assassins in Asia. They would become legendary for their fight and their faces. Aesthetics, and the spirituality behind beautifying, were paramount to their ability to defend their kingdom for over two centuries . . . and to lead the way for generations of Korean beauty boys to come. 

Why I Became a Therapist: To Heal the Silent Pain Every One of Us Carries Within Our Hearts

therapist

When people ask me why I became a therapist, I never quite know what to say. Not because the question makes me uncomfortable, but because it’s something that’s unique to Asian Americans.

I grew up the child of two immigrant parents, who came to the United States with nothing. My mother lived in a two-bedroom trailer with six other people. My father left behind all but his twin brother in Vietnam to pursue the American dream. When they had me, they worked endlessly with my mom toiling through nursing school and my father working double shifts, often with no days off. I learned to entertain myself. I remember playing on the swings with no one to push me, having a kite but having no one to teach me and daydreaming about the kids who played catch in their front yards.

How I Came to Terms With Being Asian

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I wasn’t going to write this article.

Normally, I publish about virtual and augmented reality and how technology can enhance our lives, so going deep within my personal experience and being vulnerable is something I truly have avoided, and have rarely spoken out about in the past. Frankly, I’ve never looked at myself as a voice for Asian people as I’ve always felt detached and disconnected from that identity.

Sery Kim is a Lesson for Those Who Think Pandering to Whiteness Will Save Them from Anti-Asian Hate

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the authors.

During a Republican forum last Wednesday, Texas congressional candidate and former Trump official Sery Kim made racist remarks about Chinese immigrants. “I don’t want them here at all,” she said. “They steal our intellectual property, they give us coronavirus, they don’t hold themselves accountable.”

Asian Women are Not Your ‘Sex Addiction’

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author.

Last Tuesday, Robert Aaron Long shot and killed eight people at Asian-owned massage spas. Six of his victims were Asian women. Long blamed his killing spree on a sex addiction, rather than racial motivation. But the shooter’s targeting of Asian-owned massage spas, where predominantly Asian women work, makes it unlikely that race had nothing to do with the tragic attacks.

How ‘Wokism’ Got Asian Americans So Wrong, and Why We Can’t Ignore That 

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author.

It began with the tedious contrivances of blaming “kung flu” or “Chinese virus.” Surely, “woke” critics thought, this was what accelerated the spike in COVID-19 anti-Asian hate incidents. Then soon came the invectives against “white supremacy” and “white nationalism.” 

Asian American Women Aren’t ‘Imposters’ But Society Makes Us Feel That Way

imposter syndrome asian

Vivian Chan is the co-founder of East Meets Dress, a contemporary fashion startup that serves thousands of brides each year and allows Asian Americans to celebrate their heritage without compromising style. Despite revolutionizing the wedding world and having the revenue to show for it, Chan didn’t feel like a success at the time.

Like many women in the workforce, Chan felt that she was suffering from “imposter syndrome.” The original term “imposter phenomenon” was first explored in a study about high-achieving women by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978.