Penny for Your Thoughts?


Photos are by Kim Ho Young. Originals are here.

While not considered conventionally handsome in his native Korea, Taeyang has been previously referred to as a bolmaenam – someone who’s face becomes more appealing the more you look at him.  (Something we’ve often said about his music, yes?) 

It’s tough for me to imagine anyone could imagine him plain to begin with, but as they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I can certainly agree that he’s become much more good looking with the passage of time though, and I do like him best when he’s at his most simple and casual as he is in these black and white portraits.

Love the expressions on his face and how they capture the serious, wistful and mischievous sides of him. He’s so different when he’s relaxed. I wonder what he was thinking during the shoot?

Some of these photos were previously featured on a Daum article last September.  They’re good enough to share again though.

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67 thoughts on “Penny for Your Thoughts?”

  1. I love YB in black and white. And I do love his face – it’s also very unique. I don’t see many people who look like him. He has very strange features even when you compare him with his family members like his brother and mother – I’ve never seen a picture of his father. He’s definitely different.

  2. This is what I think he is thinking he either wants to dance, act like a ninja, and depending on how close he is to his female acquaintances roll them up like egg rolls other than that keep doin what you doin man haha.

  3. my new favorite korean word is bolmaenam. haha i like that they actually have a term to describe “someone whose face becomes more appealing the more you look at him”.

    YB was already very appealing to me when i first saw him on his Wedding Dress MV. he didn’t look like the typical koreans i’ve seen and when i showed my friends his photos they’re surprised to know that he’s korean. i loved his piercing eyes and adorable smile. but if i do compare photos of his younger days to now, he definitely has grown up to be a very attractive man.

    i like the simplicity of these photos. less stiff and posed and more just laid back. i feel relaxed looking at these photos. 🙂

    1. I really like that these portraits are so different from his regular photoshoots. His usual photos are intense and charismatic or smiling or laughing shyly. He’s hardly ever relaxed and I think the photographer managed to capture a bit more of the “true” YB. And I really do find his expressions intriguing, especially the 2nd and 4rth shots.

      1. these look like really candid shots.

        sorta like he’s just sitting around and waiting for the photo shoot to start so his mind wanders (2nd photo), and then the someone calls his attention and he smiles (3rd photo), and then that someone asks what was he thinking about earlier, and YB tries to remember “what was it again?” (4th photo).

        HAHA 🙂

    2. he has indeed grown into an attractive man, Amanda!! a man who appeals to any woman (maybe not in Korea but internationally).. 🙂

      the aura which he gave me during this photo-shoot is somewhat laid-back, relax & natural.. i basically love every pics of this photo-shoot.. da black-and-white makes it even more attractive (in my opinion).. 🙂

  4. Isn’t this why YB appeals to so much of us? Because of his differences from the typical Korean male idols? Personally, I’d take YB’s bolmaenam over the feminine features that are so popular with the kpop idols nowadays.

    I guess YB is truly the ultimate creeper. Not only his music, but his physical features seem to take a while to build up before other people can feel the impact of all that greatness. Although, ATYers never seem to suffer from that. Guess that goes to show just how awesome we are. 😀

    1. DAMN I super agree! LOL. Koreans have such a different standard of beauty its strange. Being here for 3 months and i already feel brainwashed (slightly)…However, Taeyang is SUPER FINEEE to me by all standards, even korean. To koreans he’s bolmaenam or whatever, but to me he’s love at first sight! hahah. Clashing features and very unique indeed. His eyes could be piercing or innocent. He has the sexiest jawline ever but paired with the most innocent smile! Strange combination but LETHAL! lol…damn he so fine. Not only is his “beauty” one of a kind, it’s TIMELESS. I never get bored of looking at him. He’s like fine wine, he gets better with age LOL

  5. I also love how there’s an actual word to describe “the creeper effect”.
    Just goes to show cultural differences, I guess? Honestly, the first time I watched BigBang’s mv (Fool’s Only Tears), I was instantly attracted to YB b/c of his looks..and swagg. And later on, after listening to LOAM, did I begin to admire his music/voice/dance. I showed my sister, who doesn’t know anything about kpop, some of BB’s mvs, and she also thinks YB is the best looking in the bunch. Same goes for my friends.
    Now, I think TOP is best looking…I guess the right word would be most handsome? Yet personally, YB is more of my style (I like my men simple, casual, w/ swagg) kekeke.
    And I adore simple black and white photoshoots as well, they really speak volumes about the type of person YB is..esp the last two pics. Those are perfect

    1. TOP and YB to me are the best looking, but YB was the one to attract my eye first. He just looks so different then what I would picture as “Korean guy” and I”m not sure why. I can’t pin point the exact feature that makes him different but it’s there.

      TOP for me has a classic good looks that’s sort of universal. He’s not classically good looking by Korean standards either – Seungri is the best looking by Korean standards – but he does have something about him.

      1. TOP is always chosen the best looking in Korea. The older crowd favor him the most. By idol standards he’s overthrown by GD a lot because of the pretty boy trend. Seungri looks okay but koreans don’t favor his eyebags lol.

        1. lol, Ri to me is more good looking than GD in terms of idol pretty – but yeah, he does have those eye bags. TOP is gorgeous imo and I see why he appeals to older crowds though I was talking about idol demographics which are the young 12-14 girl set, which I think would favor Ri if GD didn’t have that charisma.

        2. I agree, TOP has always been handsome, is it b/c of his height, or chiselled face..probably a combination.
          Personally, I think GD has grown into a good looking young man, but during the debut days, he looked like any other Korean to me. Although I’m not sure if I would classify him as pretty boy (is that what ppl call him?). His hairstyles, clothes, and confidence makes him stand out.
          And I thought SR;s eyes were his trademark..lol.

        3. GD isnt pretty at all. Actually his features are average but its the way he acts and like toozdae said his charisma. but he’s super skinny, loves makeup,fashion, and wears women’s clothing so he can make himself into a pretty boy. heartbreaker concept showed how “pretty” he can be. but if he takes all that off he looks pretty normal haha.

  6. I’m reading comments what does a “typical” male Korean look like? physical features(not clothing)? why are YB’s looks considered so different? I’ve seen small eyes and full lips on other koreans i don’t get.

    1. I think the typical Korean guy has a very soft boyish-like look. when looking at other Korean guy groups compared to YB or his fellow big bang bandmates, big bang is very masculine. at least that’s how i see it. YB has a more rugged look compared to most other Koreans I’ve seen, and the look works for him. it’s safe to say that if he looked like a typical Korean, I might not have liked him as much.

  7. Well, YB by Korean standards is not your typical whispy super skinny, and that term that I heard so many times before, “Flower boy”. YB has some bulk to him that would that we do love in guys here in the states. If you look at S.k media, you can see the kind of look that is in for men and women. For a woman, having a small face and a tiny body and pale skin is what is in for the women. The guys can be a little darker and very skinny men that look like Those beautiful elf’s or fairies are considered beautiful. All of the different color hair and looking like characters out of Final Fantasy is ideal. Now take a look at YB. He is simple with his look. He loves wearing black most of the time, He is happy with his unchanging hair which I love, He has American swag that us American or North American girls like as well as Europe and the Philiphines ( I did not spell it right sorry). Taeyang is very manly(Sexy Beast) which is a little too much swag for them. “Cutesy” is the thing and they love “Cute” more than they love “Sexy” To many and not all but a lot, “Cute is sexy to them and they love girls that look innocent and that resembles that school girl look (purity) look than the strong grown woman features. Now take a look at YB, He does not fall under any of these things which would make him the least popular by Korean standards however, he is respected. You can tell that his Korean fans like this type of man.

    Taeyang also has American swag and this is his target audience us and others around the world but more American. He know for a fact that women here loves the masculine, nothing sweet and cute kind of men. His image and the way he moves would make you think that he is a take charge kind of guy. To me YB is fine as hell in my book and I love his American swag. Hey we’ll take him over here any day if they don’t want this sexy and not ultra skinny non “cutesy” guy. He don’t have to be cutesy because he his a sexy beast. I think he is killing them over there with all of that sexy swag.LOL! It is intimidating not only that, YB look like he can kick somebodies a**! (*_*)

    1. hahhaah you said it! Man he is sexy. I don’t understand the flower boy trend, it’s weird to me. I mean, if you’re to think of your ideal man that you want to marry and wake up to everyday, do you want someone who looks good at their simplest? or someone with 10lbs o makeup, wears more eyeliner than you, and has hair softer than yours! Not me! hahah dont’ get me wrong, i think TOP is super sexy too, and fun to look at, but when it comes to all out fantasy type of guy, lol, its YB. N i like him 1000x more for not being afraid of being different. That’s why i think TY probably has more male fans than anyone in BB (no proof, just my opinion)

    1. He does remind me of a African-American at times. I think that is because of the choice of music he favors the hip-hop gear, and that yes I have to say it again…..Swagger, Swagger, Swagger!….LOL! And his walk is mean!! Have you ever watched Taeyang walk…slowly.Hehe!! His walk is very sensual.

    2. He looks Black-Korean or something. A few friends I have introduced him to have asked me that question and I myself have had that question circulating in my mind.

  8. I think YB is very handsome. when I first saw pictures of him, I thought to myself, who is this guy? I think what drew me to him was his voice. hearing his voice made him that much hotter. I love his eyes when smiles. they twinkle every time.

  9. I think presence is what makes people beautiful. Even if their faces aren’t that ‘perfect’ or their bodies or whatever.The way how somebody expresses hisself makes him appeling or not appealing.
    And Youngbae has a lot of presence. When he is performing, he acts strong and manly. It gives you a feeling of safety (esspecially if youre a girl^^) But in real life, he is a shy and earnest person and thats what makes him so beautiful. But yes, also his face is very special and individual, I like his face 🙂

  10. To be honest, I’ve always found him attractive… even back when Big Bang first debuted. He’s the one that actually drew me into the group when I first discovered who they were back in 06. I think what drew me in about him was that he had a different style compared to most Koreans I did see and still see… and his style was more Westernized. I think most people would agree that his style was more targeted towards American/European cultures. Cornrows, baggy clothes (even though all of Big Bang had on baggy clothes back then), deep soulful voice, buff/masculine, more reserved attitude. He hasn’t changed much other than his hairstyle, his voice pitch (it was deeper in the beginning, now its higher lol), and he’s become more cut. I love that he is different… not so “typical.” Now if he would just keep the facial hair lol….

  11. I always thought he was hot. o_O It was pretty much him and his looks (sorry for sounding shallow) that got me into Big Bang and essentially into Korean Music.

  12. I always thought he was a cutie back in the conrow days lol But when he cut his hair off(buzz cut) then grew out the mohawk he became SEXY. You could see him turn into a man. The way he carries himself and the way that he chooses his words also contrubute to it. The mohawk really works for him though. Its like the icing on the cake.

    1. And the facial hair was ULTRA SEXY. I could believe that some of the kfans were complaining about it. It went along with the deep voice and mysterious but playful demeanor….

      1. I agree. I thought he was handsome as I don’t know what when he had grew a little facial hair. It was not even that much and many were complaining about how he looks like a old man. I forgot how to spell it in Korean but the word that was used for him was just that. Now I can see if he just let himself go or something then I can see people complaining.

  13. Oh how much he’s changed since this:

    ^He looks like a little kid with so much swag…he’s still got the swag but now he’s a man….his younger days makes me feel so nostalgic about BB~~

    1. nostalgia!
      yes i miss it too. change can be so hard to deal with.

      he still maintains his swagga in his everyday though…loose jeans, midtops, t-shirts, and a cap. perfect outfit.

  14. actually Taeyang is really handsome in korean standards. if we’re talking about kpop standards then thats a diffrent story lol. normal, typical male koreans look like Daesung or Seungri (not insulting them tho). dont let kpop and its thrist for pretty boys and plastic surgery fool you.

    1. I didn’t think daesung looked Korean at all. he has different facial features compared to seungri. I wouldve thought daesung looked more Thai maybe. maybe it’s the nose

    1. It would be even better if there was a picture floating around with the facial hair AND the earrings…..anyone wanna hook me up with that if possible? 😀

      But still, that picture is heaven BM! *dies*

        1. it’s when I see pictures like this, that I am 100% positive that boy is mixed (even though I know he’s fully korean). But, I mean c’mon, how can you look at that photo and not think he has a little bit of something other than Korean in him..

        2. @ Dil – lol yeah that kinda does make sense,I recenlty showed Taeyang to some of my friends at work because anyone who knows me “well” HAS to know about Taeyang,obviously (I only started working a few months ago)

          Anyway the point is most of them were like “is he mixed race?” “is he half black?” so yeah I guess it is kinda there and while I dont know what to make of the ‘mixed-race-looking-but-isnt’ thing,he deffinitetly doesnt look like a typical Korean.And he is heavily influenced by Black-American music so I can understand why he has that kinda swagger.

    2. Oooooo, if this is facebook I would have wanted to click “Like” on your comment so many times… Hhahahahaahhah! Both pictures are AWESOME. *goes off to spazz*

  15. I absolutely love this photographs. Most definately one of my favorite photoshoots. I always find Taeyang’s normal/everyday photographs the best. There’s this sense of friendliness and comfort. His “fashion” photoshoots are always awkward…you can tell this is not really who he is.

    Since we’re sharing photos, here’s one of my faves. JAWLINE GALORE.

    1. Oh Tofu, I can totally understand. *spazz moment*

      I haven’t got a lot of photos to share, but here’s one from WUA that I really liked =)

  16. YB has always been the one in BB that stood out for me. His swag (mentioned the nth time XD), his cornrows, and his facial features during BB’s early days – just somehow attracted more of my attention than the others. His voice though was the main thing that drew my attention. Not saying Dae Sung’s bad or anything, Dae Sung is a powerhouse too, and is a cute and funny guy. But I dunno, YB just has this aura that I like more compared to the others.

    I find it interesting that there’s actually a word for ” a face/person that grows on you” in Korean – with just a word! Whoa~ So cool. 😉

    I like YB when he’s most relaxed, because that’s when I think we see his true character… I love his smiles and his side profile, but I would also love to see the side that BB always laughs and jokes about…. The sophisticated, but sometimes dorky and funny YB.

    And I can see all of that from just four pictures up there, so that’s saying something. Not everyone suits a black and white photoshoot, but I think YB is the perfect model for it. Black and white is YB’s character (in our eyes) – simple but perfect. Plus most of his clothes are either black or white, LOL.

    I think the third and fourth photo are the ones I really like, but all four of them speak volumes of the depth and maturity of this man slash artist =)

  17. I always thought that Youngbae has some really unique and rare physical/facial attributes:long neck,plump lips,unique nose,charismatic eyes that twinkle when he smiles and a jaw line that could have been carved out of marble.(not to mention the well worked out body)

    lol,I know I make him sound like some perfect Greek God or something,he’s really not.He just has a really rare combination of features that I really like and to me thats Handsome.

  18. Haha, love this discussion.

    The first time I saw YB, I thought, “Oh damn, he’s HOTTT.” …Then immediately dismissed him because I assumed he must be an idol getting by on his looks only, LOL. So imagine my surprise when I learned that he’s actually considered one of the least popular members and even called ugly at times. I mean, I knew the trend in Korea was for pretty boys, but when someone’s HOT, he’s just HOT… no? pretty boy or not.

    Hmm… I think YB has absolutely gorgeous features. (His profile is adonis-like.) Every feature – minus his small eyes – is classically beautiful, IMO. And we all know his eyes ^^ are his greatest asset! Does the whole just not equal the sum of the parts or something? I don’t know – I’ve lost my objectivity long ago, LOL.
    Someone like GD, by contrast – his features, when taken apart, are not particularly attractive, IMO. But the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Ah, I don’t know what I’m blabbering about.

    Anyway, it’s pretty interesting to read the int’l take on Korean standards of beauty. ^^ I don’t have much to add, but I do find it interesting that YB is lacking in the 3 things that a lot of Koreans obsess over – big eyes, height and hair! (And early on, he was also Really tanned.)
    Big eyes and height are pretty self-explanatory. It’s kind of a mass inferiority complex, as I see it – Koreans/Asians are so much more fixated on it than western culture.
    Also, often times, short hair = ugly, unstylish in Korea. Because they equate it with the mandatory buzz cuts in high schools and the military.
    Just recently, I saw a comment about YB. The poster ranked him last in looks among BB and had this to say: “It’s such a shame he keeps his hair short. It’s so ugly. He would be a little better looking with long hair.” …. >.>

    Anyhow, it’s nice to wade in shallow end of the pool occasionally, hehe.

    Conclusion: YB is HOT.

    Not that I care, mind you! I’m all about the talent. :grope:

    1. Wow, I know beauty is subjective. But anybody who thinks YB is “ugly” needs their eyes checked. For real. When I laid eyes on him the first time, I wanted to kill myself just so that I could go to heaven and pimp slap God for creating something so strikingly beautiful.

      His lips are amazing and that jaw line alone is a work of art.

  19. This`s interesting discuss.
    yes he`s uniq creature not just from his profile, but from his name already create an rare profile, Dong Young Bae, there not so many with Dong family name.

    At first when i watched BB mv in my opinion he was the most ugly from all the member. But when i watched Heaven my eyes just become wided with shocked how can someone change a lot just with hair cut. He looks so damn fine. But TOP and GD always catch my eyes. Now i can`t take my eyes off from YB he looks more differ from other singer, when the other looks more like doll face and he was the one with simple and bolmaenam the more u look at him more u adore him. yup he`s a rare creature and so handsome, cute , manly at the same time. all i can call PERFECT.

  20. Off topic here…sorry BM!

    But anyone watch GD/TOP’s High High mv? YB was such an adorkable clubber! I would KILL to see him act that way for real in a club. He was like an energizer bunny. Haha

  21. I’m a lil bit different here. When I first looked at him when BB debuted, I thought he looked really gangsta what with the cornrows, swag and piercings. When I look at BB, the attention is on him cuz he just look gangsta. At that time I only thought SR was the best looking just because he was cute. And then suddenly, he shaved and hallelujah, he finally looks really good looking suddenly… but this is also because i just found out how good of a dancer he really was..(i tend to think good dancers are good looking, dunno why)…

    Though I was attracted to him solely by his voice… since this discussion is about his looks then I’ll talk about. His look gets better as he gets older… more handsome.. ^^ but he still has that innocent boy smile that I really liked in the first place.

    Gotta agree with some of you that he looks best in his everyday clothes.. clothes that are comfortable to him…really hot. 🙂

    1. definitely agree! he was always my favorite member in BB, ever since cornrows and the piercings and stuff. but during that time i was mainly attracted to his dancing and his voice. and then he shaved his head and popped those awesomely sexy caps on his head. SEXY. and then, the mohawk came along. that just made him perfect.

      as everyone else said, i love his jawline and his boyish innocence when hes truly smiling. hes so masculine and cute at the same time. i could go on forever, but i wont. he’s just perfect. why can’t there be like clones of yb to pass around to everyone. then everyone would be happy. 🙂

  22. well, i have to say that i was attracted to t.o.p first but then when i heard a fools only tear i think i started to ship in the taeyang camp 🙂 anndd then i saw the video and he was in the rain ahehehee and i loved him even more because i have a thing for guys that dance very masculine and he was just so in control and very smooth but thennnn it got better when he shaved his head and i asked myself why do i like this guy with a pink hat?. then it was love when they did the perfume add .. remember it was bbud or something? yeah and he was holding a giftbox in his hand, i dont know why but somehow i just knew it was forever ahahaahahaha and then he just had to be humble.. what more can you ask for?

  23. like what i said before,imho,YB will always be number one for me in terms of looks.hIs feature is so rare,i couldn’t find anyone in korea who looks like him.pictures don’t do him justice.

    he is physically beautiful(his jawline and bone structure OMFGFRKJLDR!!) and with his great personality and amazing talent,is the best combo.makes him stand out from the rest of kpop

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