BL and Shounen-Ai are have become quite popular themes in the world of manhwa and manga alike. BL manhwas portray same-sex relationships between two men, which has become a hot topic of discussion in recent times. And in conservative societies like Japan and Korea, these works of art can prove to be a gateway to introduce people to alternative lifestyles and human relationships as opposed to the heteronormative ideas of straight relationships.
In this article, I will be taking you through some of the most popular BL manhwas that have come up to be some of the most poignant pieces of work in depicting same-sex relationships in the world of fiction. Although a few of these are not very attuned to the realities of LGBTQ people, still are quite popular among fans nonetheless.
So buckle up and get ready to enter into the wonderful world of BL manhwas so that you can make sound decisions regarding what to read and what to avoid!
Top 7 Most Popular BL Manhwas of the 21st century
Cherry Blossoms After Winter
Cherry Blossoms After Winter is one of the best BL manhwa series to ever exist. It narrates the story of Haebom and Taesung who were once young friends but drifted apart as they grew older. Haebom was taken in by Taesung’s affluent family after a terrible tragedy occurred 10 years ago. Although they were housemates and even classmates, the two boys’ relationship was complicated, to say the least. While Taesung was the handsome and popular jock in his school, Haebom was rather timid and kept to himself. In spite of their contrasting lives, both the boys shared an inexplicable bond and Taesung made sure to be the shy boy’s silent guardian. Will they be able to solve their differences and get back together?
This BL manhwa is a slice-of-life series that documents the journey of the boys’ coming together and their lives throughout high school, college, and adult life. Definitely one of the best enemies to lovers BL manhwa recommendation, I would suggest all Yaoi and BL fans check out this gem of a series.
This BL manhwa is the most emotional and tear-jerking series I’ve read to date. It tells the story of Myongi and Seunho who cross each other’s paths again at a high school reunion. Back when they were still in school, Myongi had an unrequited crush on Seunho but was unable to confess his love due to the differences in their social status. While the popular and extroverted Seunho was always surrounded by friends, the timid and unsocial Myongi was cut out from the rest of the class owing to his physical problems. However, little did he know what Seunho’s true feelings towards him were. As the star-crossed lovers meet again as adults, will they be able to confess their true feelings towards each other this time?
Hyperventilation is an amazing BL manhwa that I would definitely recommend everyone to read. It also has a two-episode animation that you can check out. However, I must warn you that some of the scenes in the manhwa are 18+ and can be a bit too explicit for younger readers. So read/watch at your own discretion!
Here U Are
Probably one of the most popular BL manhwas, Here U are is an absolute gem that I had the privilege of reading. It centers around the life of out and open college student YuYang, who has an extroverted personality and is quite loved among his friends. One day, he comes across the withdrawn and introverted LiHuan, a new transfer student who is tall and towers over everyone else….almost like a giant! Well, according to YuYang at least. But it seems like he does not really like the new boy after all. However, he still takes an interest in him and decides to befriend LiHuan. But is the boy what he thought to be after all?
Here U Are takes you on an enthralling tale of finding love, acceptance, and healing throughout the entire course of the series. It really brought a tear to my eye by the end and I couldn’t help but grow a close connection with the main characters and even the background ones! This is one of my topmost gay webtoon recommendations and you are not going to regret reading it.
BJ Alex is the spiciest and the funniest BL manhwa that I’ve ever come across. Dong-Gyun is a college student who locks himself up in his room every night at 10 and logs into a live cam show to simp after one of the most popular BJs (broadcast jockey) named Alex. Shy and timid by personality Dong-Gyun is enamored by the ripped and muscular Alex and totally can’t help but lust after him. Soon he realizes that he has not only fallen for Alex’s appearance but also his outgoing and outspoken personality. One night at a networking event, he has one too many to drink and passes out. The next thing he sees when he wakes up is a shirtless hunk staring at him, as he finds himself on his bed. But this man looks similar, like some cam show host.
As Dong-Gyun comes to discover the real identity of Alex, he makes a pact with his unrequited crush. But soon, things take a different turn. BJ Alex is extremely explicit and I would recommend the viewers to read it with caution. This BL manhwa is definitely not recommended for younger readers but those above the age of 18 can read it with ease if of course you are not too put off by sexually explicit content.
Love is an Illusion
Love is an Illusion is set in Omegaverse, where humans display wolf-like qualities when it comes to pheromones and mating. This BL manhwa narrates the story of Hyesung, who has spent his entire life believing that he is an Alpha, the top of the chain. But his world is turned topsy-turvy when he discovers that he is nothing more than a mere Omega, at the bottom of the genetic lottery and an object of lust for the Alphas. Soon he comes across Dojin, a vain and haughty Alpha who detests Omegas. After the two engage in sexual relations owing to pheromones and their undeniable lust for each other, both men’s toxic relationship is put to the test.
Love is an Illusion is an extremely popular BL manhwa novel in the scene. It is quite explicit though which graphic depictions of intimate scenes. So, reader discretion is advised. However, the plot is quite interesting and the characters are dynamic, which makes this manhwa worth reading.
At the End of the Road
At the End of the Road is a pretty interesting BL manhwa. After a terrible truck accident, the protagonist of the story, Taemin awakens to find himself in the body of Siwon, a victim of bullying and harassment at his school. No longer a doormat, Siwon (or Taemin) starts fighting back against the bullies and soon comes across Woojin, a long-lost friend. However, somehow Woojin is able to call out Taemin’s real identity as he can “smell” his old friend in another boy’s body. What really happened between these two boys and what will it make of their relationship.
At the End of the Road is a darn good BL manhwa that tells an intriguing story. It also has supernatural elements which add a kick to the plot. However, I must give a trigger warning to all those planning to read it, since this manhwa features themes related to abuse, self-harm, bullying, etc.
This is a fantastic slice-of-life BL manhwa that focuses on the lives of three high-school teenagers. Kim Jumi is a regular student preparing for her SATs. But on a fateful summer day, she witnesses a strange scene on the rooftop of her school between two boys. Ever since then, she finds herself getting strangely entangled in the lives of these two boys and their rather complicated relationship.
That Summer is a coming-of-age tale of love, loss, and friendship and a journey towards finding one’s identity and accepting oneself. Every Shounen-Ai and BL fan should definitely check this manhwa out as you will not be disappointed.
BL manhwas are quite popular in the Korean webtoon community. However, a lot of these manhwas fetishize gay relationships and come with explicit sexual content. More often than not, children and minors come across these manhwas which can induce really bad ideas about gay relationships in their young minds. A lot of the time, these BL manhwas also glorify abuse, toxic relationships, and stereotypical portrayal of gay relationships which are definitely not in tune with the reality of the LGBTQ community. We need more manhwas that depict real-life same-sex relationships, in order to introduce the younger generation to healthy and realistic ideas about the same.
Which is your favourite BL manhwa? Let us know in the comments!