Thi Luong

PhD Student in Media Studies

Vietnamese Reception of "Soft masculinity" in Korean TV dramas: Desires, Identification and Gender

Supervisors: A/Prof Stephen Epstein (School of Languages and Cultures), Dr Joost de Bruin & Dr Cherie Lacey


Over the past two decades, Korean TV dramas, along with other cultural products from South Korea, have enjoyed popularity in Vietnam. The dramas have brought with them icons of “soft masculinity”, a hybrid of Western-influenced “metrosexual” trends and Asian “pretty boy” images. This image of men with a feminized side has attracted considerable attention from Vietnamese audiences, despite running counter to hegemonic ideals of masculinity in Vietnam. Using a psychosocial method, Thi will conduct in-depth narrative interviews with Vietnamese male and female audiences to examine their reception of “soft masculinity” in contemporary Korean TV dramas. Her aim is to acquire a nuanced understanding of Vietnamese audiences’ experiences of desires and identifications through viewing dramas, and connect these with their lived experiences to examine the factors that shape their ideals of masculinity. The theoretical core for her study is based on Judith Butler’s feminist post-structuralist perspective about gender, which posits that gender is fluid and constantly in the process of negotiation. Her PhD research is expected to fill a serious gap in masculinity studies in contemporary Vietnam and to contribute to psychosocial studies in media reception research, where such methods are rarely applied.


Prior to her postgraduate academic pursuits, Thi Luong worked as a reporter in Vietnam. She holds an MA in Global Media from the University of Westminster in London. Her research interests include gender identity, masculinities, contemporary Vietnam, Korean pop culture, and psychoanalysis.