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2AM Jo Kwon & The Role Of Male Divas In K-Pop

By Adrienne Stanley | June 28, 2014 04:13 PM EDT

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Jo Kwon is receiving criticism from fans for his role in 'Priscilla.'
(Photo : Priscilla)
Jo Kwon is receiving criticism from fans for his role in 'Priscilla.'

2AM vocalist Jo Kwon heads up the cast of the Korean adaptation of the musical “Priscilla,” in the dual roles of Adam and Felicia.

Jo Kwon is renowned within the K-Pop community as one of its many divas or male performers who exhibit flamboyant personality traits.

Jo Kwon has been known to incorporate elements of women's fashion in his wardrobe including the use of the heel-less hoof shoes worn by Lady Gaga for promotions of his 2012 release “I'm Da One.”

Known as the 20cm heels, they drew attention on variety shows and during fan events.

While his use of these shoes and other aspects of his persona are easily dismissed as quirky, his portrayal of an openly gay male who also cross-dresses has been disconcerting to some fans.

 “Priscilla” may hit too close to reality for many audiences. 

Jo Kwon in a recent Vogue shoot for 'Priscilla.'
(Photo : Vogue Korea)
Jo Kwon in a recent Vogue shoot for 'Priscilla.'

English language coverage of Jo Kwon's role in “Priscilla” have included an article in DramaFever with the headline “2AM's Jo Kwon May Look Better in Heels and Makeup than you do.” This articles touch on the sentiment that audiences, Korean and international, are able to embrace the role but are slightly unnerved by the authenticity of his makeup and costuming.

Jo Kwon responded to criticism from audiences by taking to Instagram with an English language message which was intended to reach a global audience.

Jo Kwon responded to criticism with an English language post on Instagram.
(Photo : Jo Kwon Instagram )
Jo Kwon responded to criticism with an English language post on Instagram.

While the message is now removed from his account, he addressed the backlash to “Priscilla” by including the statement, “It saddens me to see the ignorance in some of the comments closed minded people left on my personal page.”

Jo Kwon and other K-Pop idols who are often referred to as divas. 

Jo Kwon is amongst other so-called diva idols which include SHINee's Key and Lee Hong Ki of FTISLAND.

Key has also become synonymous with an effeminate personalty, an image which his appearance on “We Got Married:Global Edition” opposite the stunning Japanese model Arisa Yagi has attempted to tame.

Jo Kwon also appeared on “We Got Married” and was paired with female vocalist Ga In. The couple was extremely popular, lasting from episodes 21 through 80 of the series.

In similar fashion, FTISLAND's Lee Hong Ki incorporated his hobby of nail art into his appearance on season one of “We Got Married:Global Edition.” His passion for nail art has led to a book detailing the hobby and is often the topic of conversation during his variety show appearances.

Like Key's sense of fashion or the sense of flamboyancy seen with Jo Kwon, Lee Hong Ki and his nail art are dismissed by audiences as being a mere personality quirk.

K-Pop fans enjoy diva personalities, which is sometimes also extended to describe G-Dragon, for the unique qualities and the fact that it makes for better fan fiction.

However, the negative feedback regarding Jo Kwon and “Priscilla” speaks to the reality of Korean acceptance of homosexuality. While an overtly masculine actor like Cha Seung Won may not receive a backlash for “Man on High Heels,” Jo Kwon is representative of an image which may be more realistic in its portrayal.

Tagged :  2AM, Jo Kwon, Priscilla, JYP Entertainment, Shinee Key, FTISLAND, lee hong ki

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