When it comes to owning their masculinity, K-pop boy band MONSTA X is perfectly comfortable in their own skin.
The topic came up in a recent interview with GQ UK and Shownu, Wonho, Minhyuk, Kihyun, Hyungwon, Joohoney, and I.M. did not hold back, so much so that writer Taylor Glasby was taken aback by their forthrightness, noting that "it's rare to see this kind of candour in a K-pop idol" in the article.
Speaking about the restrictive labels that society has on the modern male, rapper I.M. said, "[It's] about loving yourself, caring about yourself. That's first. And we don't think that women should be like ‘this' and men should be like ‘that'."
His fellow band mate Joohoney echoed the sentiment saying, "People talk about masculinity and femininity but, at the end of the day, MONSTA X is there to perform a show and we don't let that affect us. We do what we're good at."
Their performance outfits have also raised eyebrows for being too feminine and overtly sexual, but they brush off the comments and stand by their sartorial choices.
"We're stage performers, so I like wearing something that shines from head to toe," said Hyungwon.
I.M. concurs, "Wearing a harness is just to express our song concept. Showing the audience what we want to show is the most important thing. We're not ashamed. We've done a lot of sexual items, like harnesses and chains. We're comfortable."
2019 has definitely been MONSTA X's year: Between releasing new music — their most recent collaboration with French Montana, "Who Do U Love?" hit 8.8 million views on YouTube in just a month — and a wildly popular world tour on their hands, the group has also signed with Los Angeles-based label Epic Records, for their English language recordings and worldwide distribution, and are slated to perform at the 2019 iHeartRadio Music Festival this September.
But their success hasn't gone to their head, and they insist that their popularity stems from staying true to themselves.
"In terms of putting on a show, yes, that's common for all K-pop groups, but we convey a very specific message," said Joohoney. "We're telling the world that no matter what, we do what we have to do. We stick to our motto and I think that appeals."
Read their full interview over at GQ UK.