Color Rush (2021) - a classic high school set BL with a unique paranormal twist that makes this a pitch-perfect allegory for the queer coming out experience and one of the best BLs of all time (I will fight you on this)
To My Star (2021) - limited use of BL tropes makes this more of a sweet contemporary gay romance between an actor plagued by scandal and the grumpy chef who adopts him, but the gentleness appeals to fans of the genre
Wish You the movie (2020) - similar to the above, only set in the music industry featuring a talented singer and the pianist who falls in love with him (and his music), achingly adorable
Just Friends? (2009) - Korea’s first BL features two high school sweethearts one of whom is now in the military on leave, both of whom are trying to decide on their futures, complicated by coming out
Where Your Eyes Linger (2020) - high school set with a bodyguard trope foundation and a sinister mafia aura that elevates tension
You Make Me Dance (2021) - oddly sweet story of a university student dancer getting involved with a lone shark... in all senses of the word involve
Long Time No See (2017) - hitmen who fall in love not realizing they are on opposite sides, includes violence and some high heat content
Mr. Heart (2020) - sweet sports romance (university marathon team), using traditional yaoi tropes like obsessive crush, comedic confession, and love offerings
Step For You (2018 microfilm) - student reporter is sent to interview rising ballet star, they fall in love, it’s adorable
My Pistachio (2018 microfilm) - boy is in love with another boy from the drama club, has to monologue feelings to win him
Korean BL in Brief
Korea has been in the BL sphere for longer than people realize, second only to Japan. This is probably because it has not been particularly prolific or consistent until Strongberry entered the field in 2017.
Korea is, however, new to the BL series game. Its series still tend to run short, so they can easily be converted into movies, but Korea plays hard ball with tropes (if not setting or age of protags) which has resulted in some of my very favorite BLs like Color Rush, To My Star, and Wish You.
Korea’s first BL-tangential gay film was No Regret in 2006. Which, in keeping with tradition, ended in death and was full of obsession etc. However 2009′s Just Friends? took a huge leap forward dealing with themes of coming out, family acceptance, and mandatory military service. It’s not really BL, it’s queer cinema, and I like it a lot. It ends happy, so give it a try. It has a certain flavor in filming style, honest emotion, and nested realism that you’ll see color all of Korea’s offerings going forward.
Starting in 2017, Korean gay film production company Strongberry started producing HEA microfilms. To date their only full length piece is the excellent Long Time No See (2017), which is a mafia hitman gay romance. Their microfilms lean more BL, all of them featuring university students. Some of them are quite quirky but I enjoy them, and I always look forward to something new from this studio.
Secret Spectacles (2017)
My Pistachio (2018)
Step For You (2018)
My Personal Trainer (2019)
Private Lessons (2020)
Fingers After (2021)
Confidential Coffee Break (2021)
Sweet Curse (2021)
Aside from Strongberry, the first Korean BL series of any length to make waves was Where Your Eyes Linger, which seemed to bridge the gap between Long Time No See’s hitman and true BL by using a bodyguard trope but in a school setting.
The success of that series rather opened the floodgates. It was followed by Mr Heart and more lighter fare like Wish You. Korea has a marked preference for limited cast, short runs (6-8 eps) that can be cleanly repackaged and cut together into 1-2 hour movies. But they honor these offerings with high production values and talent; great wardrobe, makeup, and lighting; workman-like yaoi influenced cinematography; and excellent sound & music - as one might expect from studios familiar with churning out k-pop music videos. Similarly, they often cast idols in lead roles for roll-over fan appeal.
As far as story is concerned, Korea tends towards:
three act structure
a strong setting
defined character roles & social positions
core concept frameworks
somewhat rushed endings
They really like a slow burn romance and weak seme/uke dynamic (so less heterosexually dysmorphic than Thailand but not as queer affirming as Taiwan). Their narratives tend to be lower heat (Strongberry excepted) with nothing more than a kiss at the end, in keeping with the purity standards of het romance K-dramas.
Nobleman Ryu’s Wedding, was positioned to cause major waves, as it featured most of these narrative elements as well as 3 established BL actors from 3 of their heavy hitter series. Korea was gunning for crossover eyeballs from both BL watchers and Untamed obsessives - then this was the way to do it. Unfortunately Korea has litigious IP and distribution issues around BL, which limited NRW’s international reach, but does stabilize the industry.
All in all, I would call Korea very smart and strategic in their production of BL.
You can watch me lose my tiny mind when they finally gave us the ultimate love triangle (a K-drama speciality) in Light On Me.
This is part of a series on top 10 BLs from each country coupled with a history of BL.
Where to watch it? Korean BL mostly launches in a way that is difficult to find internationally (sometimes you can catch a rip under a half-day time window on YouTube but it rarely lasts long) but it usually ends up on Viki. Strongberry often ends up on Drama Cool. Otherwise check Daily Motion.
(This post’s top 10 is as of early 2021. Noble Ryu’s Wedding & Light One Me would now make the list.)
bro listen if we get junior victor and junior yuuri seeing each other skate and setting up the timeline of fate for the hit gay romance sports anime that took the world by storm im just gonna disintegrate
Out now! 99c on Amazon and free on iBooks/Nook/Kobo! Reblogs much appreciated!!
What happens when you call your rival opponent Daddy?
Erik’s whole life is indoor volleyball. He wasn’t born a talented player, but through hard work he has honed himself into a great one. With a competitive streak a mile wide, he’ll go to any length to win—even flirt with his opponents to rile them up.
After losing the chance to compete in nationals, Erik enters college with a stronger drive, throwing himself into his passion for the sport. Head back in the game, he will follow his dreams all the way. He trains harder than he ever has before, pushes himself to the limit, and spares no time for distractions.
But summer break from college brings a surprise run-in with his old rival, Sam. Seeing him forces every bitter feeling about losing to Sam’s team to the surface and Erik can’t resist the opportunity to get some revenge. It’s only meant to be a joke, something to get under Sam’s skin and fluster him. Erik doesn’t expect interest to reflect in his rival’s eyes, or for the flirtatious prank to stir a serious need inside of him. It would be one thing if it happened once, but Erik and Sam’s paths keep crossing, making it impossible for Erik to ignore these urges.
Erik has no idea they are both playing with fire and if he isn’t careful, it may get him burned.
Riling Up the Rival is a steamy and fast-paced MM college sports romance featuring accidental kink discovery, flirting gone wrong (or very right), rivals to friends to lovers, a soft Dom, light daddy role play, a hot locker room encounter, and a HEA. This 22,000 word standalone short story contains explicit sex and strong language intended for 18+ readers only.
HIStory 2: Crossing the Line (Taiwan) volleyball (well done too, I used to play)
You Make Me Dance (Korea) dance
So Much In Love (Thailand) volleyball
Precise Shot (China) target shooting
Mr. Heart (Korea) marathon
Water Boyy (Thailand) swimming
Step For You (Korea) dance
This is another core trope that comes from regular old romance and not yaoi. The sport element provides the setting and main driver for the romance and means that the couple are usually competitors or teammates.
There are some shows that have strong sports elements like Until We Meet Again or Seven Days, but aren’t really sports romances per say.
Sports is A Secondary Trope
Until We Meet Again (Thailand) swimming
Love By Chance 2: A Chance at Love (Thailand) football
Put 'Em UP! Boxing Yuri Manga 'Magnum Lily' Released in English
On Saturday, February 27, Lilyka Manga released the first issue of Rei Abe's sports Yuri manga Magnum Lily in English. The manga is available digitally.
The publisher describes the doujinshi:
Feeling down after learning about her crush's girlfriend, Yuri lets out her frustrations on a punching machine, when a female professional boxer decides to cheer her up! Will her heart be as strong as her arms!?
Lilyka's release appears to include the first two episodes of Magnum Lily. The manga was originally released in Japanese on Pixiv. Notably, the series mixes Yuri with sports genres, a rare combination.
You can purchase Magnum Lily today digitally on Lilyka's online store.
Hey hey hey! Can I request a head canon for the Karasuno Team? Where they’re dating reader but the team doesn’t know but then one day she shows up in their hoodie? Thanks! Sorry if it was too long or specific :)
Hey hey hey! Since you requested the whole team, the HC’s are gonna be a little shorter, sorry!
Didn’t think much of it.
Thought it was really sweet of you to wear his hoodie.
Proud to have you, but never got around to explaining to the team that y’all were dating.
Wants the team to settle down so you don’t have a panic attack lol.
Thinks you look MAD cute in his hoodie.
Tells everyone that y’all are dating after Tanaka asks why you’re wearing Suga’s hoodie.
When everyone freaks out, Suga wonders why it’s such a big deal like ain’t he allowed to be yo man!
Threatens to throw hands with the guys if they dare try to hit on you.
Feels super shy/happy about it!
Embarrassed that the guys are making a thing out of it.
“Guys, cut it out…”
Secretly wishes you could wear all of his clothes!
“Yeah that’s right, I’ve got a girlfriend!”
Super proud & boastful, doesn’t mind the attention.
Give thanks to God for giving him a girlfriend.
Hopes that the guys are jealous that he’s got a girlfriend and they don’t!
Like Ryu, he’s undeniably happy!
A bit more shy about the whole situation but still really proud!
Loves when the first years act all excited and ask questions about your relationship.
“My girl looks so good in my hoodie!”
Tbh Tanaka and Noya suspected y’all were dating and when it was confirmed, they went in HARD with the hype.
Everybody congratulated Ennoshita & gave him pats on the back lol.
The third years came up to you and told you how you’re really lucky to be dating the future captain of the team.
Feels kinda shy about the whole thing but glad that the “secrets” out!
“You look really cute in that hoodie (Y/n)-chan!”
The team has big smiles on their face!
Genuinely happy that Hisashi found a girlfriend!
Third years tease him just a little and he can’t stop blushing!
Gives a shy smile when he sees you showing up in his hoodie.
Mentally preparing himself for the questions that he is about to receive.
“Sorry for not telling you guys…I wasn’t sure how you would react!”
Overall, the team is super supportive!
Shy about the whole situation but tries to play it off.
Tells everyone to shut up and get back to practice.
Deep, deep, deep down…he’s kinda excited that everyone likes you and is happy about your relationship.
Boys tease him nonstop like they go HAM ON HIM. They also ask why he’s kept you a secret for so long.
Angel boy feels pure joy from seeing you in his hoodie!
Doesn’t actually mind that the guys are asking questions and poking fun at him.
Hasn’t felt this good in a long time!
So proud of you and glad that his friends love you!
Your little ray of sunshine is so so excited to see you wearing his hoodie!
Was a little nervous to tell all the guys about your relationship but honestly, after seeing you wearing his clothes, he didn’t care. He literally screamed when he saw you show up at practice.
“Look, look! Doesn’t (Y/n)-chan look cute!”
Blushes, blushes, blushes.
When Tobio saw you, it was like a breath of fresh air.
The team goes wild, except the first years and Tsukishima lol.
They want to know how you’re able to put up with “the king” which causes your boyfriend to get all embarrassed.