Film, TV + Theatre

9 Romantic male K-drama leads that had audiences swooning

*Kicking our feet in the air*


By Marissa Chin

9 Romantic male K-drama leads that had audiences swooning

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that K-drama romances know how to do it right. From the heart-fluttering plots to the oh-so-sweet romance, writers of romantic K-dramas just know how to get audiences squealing into their pillows and kicking their feet in the air. One of the sure-fire ways of achieving this effect? Writing good male leads viewers want to root for. 

K-dramas tend to portray romantic male protagonists in several ways. There’s the tsundere AKA the cold, brooding bad boy who looks like he hates you but is an actual softie on the inside; the sweet and loyal guy who is an actual softie and exudes golden retriever energy; the rich and spoiled guy who lacks emotional maturity, and many more. Is it cliche? Yes. Is it addictive to watch and highly entertaining? Also yes. Either way, there’s a K-drama male lead to suit every preference.

For Valentine’s Day this year, we’ve decided to revisit seven of the most popular K-drama male leads who stole audiences’ hearts in their pursuit of love. Plus, scroll down to take our quiz and find out which one is your perfect match!

Minor spoilers ahead!


Ri Jeong Hyuk (Crash Landing On You)

Premiering in 2019, Crash Landing On You took the world by storm and became the first K-drama many international viewers watched for the first time. The romance between Yoon Se Ri, a South Korean conglomerate heiress, and Ri Jeong Hyuk, a North Korean soldier, was breathtaking to watch as the star-crossed lovers fought ceaselessly to be together against all odds. Hyun Bin as the military officer left a strong impression on viewers for his brave loyalty and heartwarming gestures in this touching love story. From delivering bras to peeling hot potatoes, you can’t help but love him!


Ko Dong Man (Fight For My Way)

Park Seo Joon has been a staple in the K-drama romance department and it was tempting to put his other roles in What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim and Itaewon Class on this list, but Ko Dong Man from Fight For My Way wins this round. After all, his personality in this rom-com is just too adorable not to! After getting together with his long-time best friend, he doesn’t hesitate to shower her with tons of affection—even showing his aegyo along the way! Fans adored how he constantly expressed his feelings for his girlfriend compared to typical cold and detached male leads. He’s also one big cuddle bug and, from the viral clips online, is a terrific kisser. Beware: their clips will make you feel terribly single!


Lee Jun-Ho (Extraordinary Attorney Woo)

The latest example of a walking green flag seen in K-drama Land is none other than the loveable Lee Jun Ho (by Kang Tae Oh) from the hit Netflix series Extraordinary Attorney Woo. Following the journey of Woo Young Woo, an ambitious lawyer on the autism spectrum, this character impressed viewers from day one with his kindness, patience, and understanding towards the female lead. Unlike other characters who show frustration, annoyance and even violence towards her, Lee always treats her with a puppy-like smile. Further, he always asks for her consent and is mindful of her boundaries. Who says nice guys finish last?


Jeong Gu Won (My Demon)


Song Kang as an all-powerful demon? Yes, please! While it must have been tempting to portray Jeong Gu Won as a typical tsundere, we’re glad that his character actually has some personality. Even though he possesses supernatural powers and exudes an intimidating aura, he’s also not afraid to use his charm as a weapon, engages in never-ending banter with Do Do Hee, has an alarming sweet tooth (don’t mess with his precious cakes) and doesn’t take himself too seriously. We can’t get enough of the duality!


Hong Du Sik (Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha)

Steering away from the usual cool and rich male protagonist archetype, Kim Seon Ho as Hong Du Sik is a refreshing breath of air for being just…a regular, normal guy. In this slice-of-life drama, he doesn’t have a cool job or drive a fancy car—he’s actually technically unemployed and is his town’s resident self-appointed handyman. But he prides himself in his work and is generous with helping people out. Even when he meets a big-city dentist who is wealthier than he is, Hong never feels insecure or tries to over-compensate to impress her. In one instance, he candidly tells her that he can’t afford expensive gifts and instead, builds his own jewellery box for her. It’s the way he squashed toxic masculinity for us!


Baek Yi Jin (Twenty-Five Twenty-One)

Enemies-to-lovers may be good but Twenty-Five Twenty-One proves that friends-to-lovers is also just as entertaining. While many of us are still processing that bittersweet ending, it’s undeniable that Baek Yi Jin (Nam Joo Hyuk) is a wonderful character that viewers were strongly rooting for. Even without the romance, his story arc as a hardworking young man trying to rebuild his life after his family went bankrupt is a compelling one. Throughout the series, Baek Yi Jin is shown to be kind and supportive of his love interest’s fencing dreams. His soft-spoken nature and emotional maturity make him a standout K-drama lead.


Lee Su-Ho (True Beauty)

Cha Eun Woo is no stranger to playing swoon-worthy male leads (have you seen that face?). As he is most known for playing cool and unbothered characters, his role in True Beauty as Lee Su Ho is memorable as it shows his chic yet playful side. With his cold and aloof appearance, Lee Su Sho is a lone wolf who doesn’t care for the status quo in school. When he finds out that Lim Joo Kyung wears makeup to hide her real face, he constantly assures her that she’s beautiful even without it and likes her for who she is on the inside. Because of this, the female lead eventually grows confidence in herself. Talk about a hype man! 


Ryan Gold (Her Private Life)

If your significant other discovered your secret obsession, how would they react? Sung Deok Mi is an art curator who is also a die-hard superfan of a famous singer. When her new boss, Ryan Gold (Kim Jae Wook), finds out her secret, he isn’t weirded out by it or treats her differently. In fact, he joins her fan club website! He might look intimidating but fans love his open-mindedness as he makes her comfortable enough to share her fangirling adventures with him on her own. For this, we love Ryan Gold for showing us what it means to accept someone wholeheartedly, quirks and all!


Go Jun Pyo (Boys Over Flowers)

Does this man need an introduction? We can’t have this list without at least mentioning the iconic character of Go Jun Pyo (Lee Min Ho) from the hit series Boys Over Flowers. More than 20 years later, his luscious curly locks and sass still have many K-drama fans in a chokehold. As the leader of the infamous F4, he is portrayed as a rich nepo baby who is used to getting what he wants. While he isn’t considered the most likeable male lead (compared to the other protagonists on this list), seeing Geum Jan Di knock him down a few pegs and improve him for the better is oh-so-satisfying. 



Now that you’re fully acquainted with the list, take our quiz below and find who which one of these male K-drama leads ticks all your boxes!


For more Valentine’s Day reads, head here.

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