A Brief History of K-Most pop’s Controversial Trend, the Korean Wolf Cut
The “Korean wolf cut” tag on TikTok has over 230 million views, so even if you’re not an MOA, you’ve seen this Gen Z-approved cut. The “one-minute mullet” trend is a popular way for young people to give themselves the edgy chop at home, and the results are often on the shaggier end of the mullet spectrum.
The choppy, textured, and increasingly popular wolf cut gets its name from its wild nature, and it’s framed by gentle, graduated layers around the face. This style, popular in South Korean barbershops, is shorter in front and tapered in the back (much like a mullet) but is still carefree and piecey (like a shag). There is some duplication in the naming, but consider wolf cut female to be somewhere in the middle. Korean Wolf cut female are defined by their layering and adaptability. By shaving the sides of the head, one can achieve a more edgy (and mullet-like) variation, while a shag or a fade offer a softer, much subtler take “lengthened version of the Hershey cut. Bangs and sideburns can be styled freely with the best korean wolf cut.
Even if they don’t all go by the same name, the wolf cut is currently being worn by Miley Cyrus, Barbie Ferreira, Bretman Rock, and Debby Ryan. Choi Beomgyu is currently on top of the K-pop charts. According to the Twitter storm that ensued after Beomgyu said, “I think [I] suit this hair so well,” during a recent live stream, her fans couldn’t agree more. (Some MOAs have even started their own “sub-fandom” for the edit called Wolftoris.)
While the mullet and its many fashionable offshoots, such as short shags, soft-serve mullets, hime cuts, and hush cuts, are currently all the rage, the wolf cut has been a mainstay of K-pop fashion since the early 2000s. Jaejoong of TVXQ, Leeteuk and Eunhyuk of Super Junior and Taemin of SHINee, two of the second-generation idols who have brought this same shaggy cut back to South Korean Wolf cut entertainment after its most extreme version was made famous in the 1990s by soccer star Kim Byungji.
The primetime action series starring Richard Dean Anderson as the fictitious hero ran in the United States from 1985 to 1992. South Koreans adored the show, and MacGyver’s extravagant mullet soon became a cultural icon there. As a result of MacGyver’s popularity in South Korea, Swiss army knives are often referred to as, literally “MacGyver knife.”
This hairstyle hasn’t always been seen as the epitome of masculinity. Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie’s otherworldly alter ego, exemplified androgyny in the 1970s. It is said that a photo of a model wearing Kansai Yamamoto’s designs from a 1971 issue of Honey magazine. Served as inspiration for his signature copper high-low cut, spikey on top. His hairdresser Suzi Ronson was the one he enlisted to help him duplicate the look. In my head I was saying, “That’s a little weird — it’s a Korean wolf cut woman hairstyle.” “she told the You section of the Daily Mail. (Jane Fonda’s infamous 1970 arrest photograph features her wearing one. For her role in the film Klute, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1972, Fonda’s interpretation of the fashion quickly became iconic.
Rock musicians and punks of the era, such as Keith Richards, The Sweet, and Paul McCartney during his time with Wings, were responsible for popularising the genderless image and its various stylized forms. The Korean wolf hairstyle embodied a defiant, daring, and nonconformist spirit even back then. (There is also evidence to suggest that this particular cut has historically been favoured by radicals; Iran and North Korea have both banned it.)
As with most fashions, the mullet went global in the 1980s. Thanks to its widespread adoption by celebrities like Cher and Little Richard. And “hunks” like Patrick Swayze and Kiefer Sutherland from Hollywood. We needn’t look any further than Stranger Things’ own Steve Harrington, who boasts some seriously gorgeous hair. But fashions come and go quickly, and by the 1990s the Korean mullet had fallen out of favour in the West, making it hip and subversive. In the 1990s and 2000s, a mullet symbolized individuality and nonconformity.
Men in South Korea began to sport longer hairstyles due to the trend. A mullet, or Kim Byungji cut as it became known, gradually softened over time. Men began wearing multiple layers. Also, in 2005, during the Girls on Top era, pop princess BoA sported a Korean wolf cut. That harkened back to the hair metal style, proving that women could successfully wear the look. In the 2010s, the style roared back into fashion thanks to idols like G-Dragon of BIGBANG and Mino of WINNER.
It was, however, as divisive as ever. During a VLIVE broadcast in 2017. Baekhyun of EXO said that he has been sporting the wolf cut Korean since childhood. Baekhyun’s two-toned red and chocolate wolf cut throughout the groups. “Ko Ko Bop” era is frequently credited with helping to revive the trend. He wore the cut during the group’s “Ko Ko Bop” era. According to Naver’s transcripts, he said, “I tried this hairstyle when I was in kindergarten.” My mother gave me that haircut after seeing it on MacGyver. After more than a decade, trying it [again] brings back pleasant memories. The following suggestion may seem ordinary but bear with me. But I came up with this idea, so I’m hoping for applause. They ultimately succeeded.
Discussions about Baekhyun’s haircut were heated on Korean message boards, where many fans complained about the actor’s “dated” new hairstyle. The wolf cut, however, was reborn as a more fluid statement cut and began to make its way back into the streets. The wolf cut style’s growing popularity among millennials may be due to the fact that it blurs gender lines. Numerous modern youth value gender fluidity and independence. It’s not just a fad; the wolf cut female is a way of life.
Whether you like them or not, wolf cuts are now a standard feature of the K-pop scene. Beomgyu joins the ranks of artists like The8 of SEVENTEEN and HanSe of VICTON in encouraging. A new generation of listeners to let their freak flags fly. This should be taken as a cue to experiment with a Korean wolf cut. (I owned it.)