Realize it or not, as k-drama viewers, we are often showered with one or many similar characters. Shockingly, these characters still have the magic to make viewers melt, thrilled, or annoyed. These characters almost feel like trademark or right formula of what k-drama is all about, beside good music (OST), heartbreaking story, amazing cinematography, and lovely gestures.
1. Son of Chaebol
|Lee Min Ho as Kim Tan in The Heirs|
The son of wealthy or conglomerate family, which also known as Chaebol, is definitely the one character that viewers used to see in k-drama. From Go Jun Pyo in Boys Before Flowers to Kim Tan in The Heirs (both played by Lee Min Ho), the wealthy, spoiled, rich, cocky, and (definitely) handsome man is the character we love, hate, root, and expecting. This character usually takes the lead role in a drama. From what I see, son-of-chaebol-character used to late in developing his feeling for the female lead character. This character also appears to be a jerk in the early episode and transform into the sweetest guy near ending. Family issues, such as mommy-daddy-cold-relationship, evil moms who force him to do everything she said, brother’s hatred, as well as first love issues, often makes this character suffer, until the female lead knocking on his door for the rescue.
These are few of my favorite son of chaebol characters:
Jo In Sung as Jung Jae Min (What Happened in Bali – 2004)
Jo In Sung find his perfect role during 2004 in which he played the role of Jung Jae Min in What Happened in Bali. This ridiculously good looking guy is playing the ideal son of chaebol character. He’s not only spoiled and handsome, he’s also perfecting his role with his right-on arrogance vibe.
Hyun Bin as Hyun Ji Hun (My Name is Kim Sam Soon – 2005)
Before become an eccentric son of chaebol Kim Joo Won in Secret Garden, Hyun Bin has tasted what it feels like to be the son of chaebol in My Name is Kim Sam Soon. Hyun Ji Hun is son of chaebol who owns a restaurant and meet the first female lead there. He portrays the exact character of how son of chaebol used to. He is childish, arrogant, incredibly handsome, and has high self-esteem.
So Ji Sub as Jo Joong Won (The Master’s Sun – 2013)
Last but not least is the CEO we all loves. Jo Joong Won or Jo Goon (Master) is the perfect son of chaebol character. CEO of extravagant mall, Kingdom, met his love interest during an extraordinary meeting. From his first scene (negotiate with the land owner), Jo Goon has depicted the unbelievably annoying and calculative character we will hate and love during the drama.
>>Alternative Scenario: Daughter of Chaebol<<
|Yoon Eun Hye as Kang Hye Na in My Fair Lady|
Son of Chaebol character apparently way too boring for some scriptwriter and director which make them come up with an alternative scenario: daughter of chaebol. Few popular daughter of chaebol characters are Yoon Eun Hye as Kang Hye Na in My Fair Lady (2009) and Moon Chae Won as Seo Eun Gee in The Innocent Man (2012).
2. Broke/ Poor Girl
|Gong Hyo Jin as Tae Gong Sil in The Master's Sun|
Who’s best to be paired with the incredibly wealthy and handsome man? The extremely broke or poor girl is the answer. Broke or poor girl character is unquestionably another character that viewers often meet in k-drama. What interesting is that this character used to steal the female lead spot. The contrast between unbelievably rich boy and extraordinarily poor girl is the basic storyline of almost all k-dramas. Unlike her tragic fate, this character typically so bold and tough. This personality is what makes the son of chaebol (male lead character) falls for her in the first place. Despite of having tough quality, this character often hurt by the male lead’s attitude and tangled in confusion between her feeling for the male lead and second male lead. At the middle of the drama, this character also normally shows her fragile side. Issues she used to face are evil male lead’s mom who usually force her to give up her love story with the male lead and try to bribe her with money or ticket to travel or study overseas. Other issues usually came from second female lead character that appears to have million ways to break this character’s love story.
These are few of my favorite broke or poor girl characters.
Song Hye Gyo as Han Ji Eun in Full House (2004)
Han Ji Eun is the classic type of broke or poor girl character. After experiencing misfortune after misfortune, Han Ji Eun‘s life turns into sweet and romantic story when she meet and sign a contract marriage agreement with superstar Lee Yong Jae (played by Rain). Her character is bubbly yet fragile at the same time. She is also not forgetting the initial formula of poor or broke girl character, which is acting silly and cute all the time.
Lee Da Hee as Joo Yoo Rin in My Girl (2005)
If Han Ji Eun was tangled in contract marriage story with her lead actor, Joo Yoo Rin, poor girl who has million ways of getting money (thanks to her acting skill and overflowing ideas of lies) was twisted in contract siblings story with her love interest, Sol Kong Chan (played by Lee Dong Wook). Similar to Han Ji Eun, Lee Da Hee also has that poor or broke girl quality. Loved by many, hated by male lead actor (at first), and has happy-free-confuse-and-lonely-at-the-same-time nature.
Park Shin Hye as Cha Eun Sang in The Heirs (2013)
This fresh from the oven character is listed in one of the most legendary poor or broke character in my list. Who would forget the miserable and beautiful Cha Eun Sang? Her character brings back k-drama viewers’ mind to the memories of legendary poor or broke girl character in previous year. She’s not only poor or broke and has a mother who works as a maid, she also forced to eliminate her feeling for Kim Tan (played by Lee Min Ho), classic right? Cha Eun Sang’s on and off love story with Kim Tan also makes this character deserve poor or broke character of the year predicate.
>>Alternative Scenario: Poor or Broke Boy<<
|Song Joong Ki as Kang Ma Roo in The Innocent Man|
This character also has alternative scenario, which is poor or broke boy as the male lead. Few popular poor or broke boy characters are Kim Ji Hoon as Jo Gi Dong in Why Did You Come to My House? (2008) and Song Joong Ki as Kang Ma Roo in The Innocent Man (2012).
3. Overly Sweet Second Male Lead
|Choi Jin Hyuk as Daniel in Fated to Love You|
The overly sweet second male lead characters are common in the land of k-drama. From Prince Yul (played by Kim Jeong Hoon) in Princess Hours to Daniel in Fated to Love You (played by Choi Jin Hyuk), this character is the one we should thank and sorry for. We should thank them not only because of their sweet gesture and pure love to our female lead but also because their action is what makes our male lead leave his bad-boy quality and treats the female lead appropriately. We should sorry for these characters because in the end he’s not only losing the love of the female lead but also viewers’ love that roots for male lead-female lead couple. This character is the one that makes our female lead held her head high and continuing her desperate life. The overly sweet second male lead character will do anything for the sake of the female lead just to lose her in the end. Oh, dear.
|Uhm Tae Woong as Byun Hak Do in Sassy Girls Chun Hyang|
However, behind their excessively sweetness attitude toward the female lead, the scriptwriter sometime put bad side to this character by turning their angelic love to female lead character in early episode to devious love near the ending.
|Lee Jun Ki as Seo Jung Woo in My Girl|
Other signature quality of this character is his relationship with male lead. At the early episode, this character seems to have special bond with the male lead. Either he’s the male lead’s best friend, siblings, or co-worker. Yet after meet the female lead, he will turn into the nemesis of the male lead character.
Sometime we love him, sometime we hate him. Sometime we pity him, sometime we laugh at him. Sometime we’re rooting for him, sometime we’re cursing at him. The complexity of the overly sweet second male lead character is the reason why scriptwriter seems hard to eliminate him from one production.
These are few of my favorite overly sweet second male lead characters.
Lee Sun Kyun as Choi Han Sung in Coffee Prince (2007)
This handsome and kind ahjussi is the one who makes Go Eun Chan (played by Yoon Eun Hye) smile when she hits the rock bottom. With his sexy and manly voice, Choi Han Sung looks as if he’s the angel that brought to earth to save Go Eun Chan’s miserable life.
Kim Hyun Joong as Yoon Ji Hoo in Boys Before Flowers (2009)
Yoon Ji Hoo is the typical overly sweet second male lead character. He has that beautiful smile that every overly sweet second lead male character must have. He has gentle voice and warm eyes that provide comfort. He’s always there (whether it’s coincidental or not) to comfort female lead whenever she feels sad. He’s way more talented than the male lead character. One thing he’s lacking is that the female lead’s love, though he gains Geum Jan Di’s (played by Goo Hye Sun) love in the early episode.
Yoo Yeon Suk as Chilbong in Reply 1994 (2013)
My favorite! I’m not rooting for Chilbong in this series, but I feel really really really bad for him. If normal people compares him to Ssereuki (played by Jung Woo), he’s definitely will come out as the winner. Even though he’s not getting Sung Na Jung (played by Go Ara), his beautiful and pure love for her will always stay as one of the most beautiful story in viewers’ mind.
>>Alternative Scenario: Bad Boy Second Male Lead<<
|Lee Pil Mo as Chief Gook in Emergency Couple|
Overly sweet second male lead seems to be too mainstream, therefore some scriptwriters decides to put a hint of bad characteristic in second male lead role. Though in the end, this character will turn into the gentlest man ever for the female lead. Few popular bad boy second lead male characters are Kim Woo Bin as Choi Young Do in The Heirs (2013) and Lee Pil Mo as Gook Chun Soo/ Chief Gook in Emergency Man and Woman (2014).
4. First Love
|Wang Ji Won as Nam Se Ra in Fated to Love You|
K-Drama viewers always meet with first love character in one drama or production. This character mostly dominated by female, though in several dramas, it also filled by male. First love is the (first) love interest of lead character. The lead character will do anything to gain his/her love back. However, in the end the table will turn and the first love will chase the lead character instead. The first love usually comes out of nowhere. Whether from overseas, coincident meeting at a café or party, or in first lead’s home (the first lead often shocks when he/she’s seeing his/her first love is talking with his/her mother in a living room).
Viewers will be captivated with the beauty or attractiveness of the first love character. But it will turn into hate and annoyance later, especially after the first love tries to pull out his/her maneuver to steal back first lead’s heart.
There are two types of first love character: the one who stays graceful until the end and another one who turns into conniving in the end.
These are few of my favorite first love characters.
Han Eun Jeong as Kang Hye Won in Full House (2004)
Kang Hye Won is one of the second female lead characters I hate. She is the first love of our lovely Lee Yong Jae (played by Rain). Hye Won realizes that Lee Yong Jae is precious only after Yong Jae develops his feeling for Han Ji Eun (played by Song Hye Gyo). She tries everything to win him back, but in the end she loses Yong Jae to the beautiful Ji Eun.
Song Ji Hyo as Min Hyo Rin in Princess Hours (2006)
I seriously hate Ji Hyo’s role in this production. Min Hyo Rin is the first love of Prince Lee Shin (played by Ju Ji Hoon). If only she chose him over her passion for ballet, she will definitely end up with him. In the end she has to accept the fact that Lee Shin’s heart already belongs to Shin Chae Kyeong (played by Yoon Eun Hye).
Kim Ji Suk as Han Chang Ryul in Personal Taste (2010)
Kim Ji Suk is the absolute jerk in this production. He is the one who makes Park Gae In’s (played by Son Ye Jin) heart flutter for the first time, he’s also the one who wreck her heart in the end. As what other first love character did, Han Chang Ryul also a step late in realizing his feeling for Park Gae In. When he tries to get Gae In back, she’s already involved in more beautiful love story with Jeon Jin Ho (played by Lee Min Ho).
5. Devious Mother/ Father
|Park Jun Keum as Moon Boon Hong in Secret Garden|
K-drama viewers will never escape from this character. Almost on every drama, viewers will always meet with the devious mother (or sometimes Father) who makes us digs information about our boyfriend/girlfriend’s mother. The conniving or devious mother is the one that first lead character must avoid. Do not seal any agreement with this character if you don’t want to see your life broken into pieces. The devious mother can do harm better than any bad guys or criminals in this world. They will do anything to get what their want, including hurting her son/daughter’s heart.
However, several devious mother characters can turn into an angelic one near the drama ending, though it’s not happen all the time.
These are few of my favorite devious mother characters.
Lee Hye Young as Kang Hee Soo in Boys Before Flowers (2009)
Kang Hee Soo is the classic type of devious mother character. She came out of nowhere (when her son already in love with the female lead) and force the female lead to leave her son. If that’s not working then she will bring in other girl that will become her daughter in law and (once again) force her son to obey to her. But in the end, she just has to accept the fact that his son’s love is only for the female lead.
Jeong Dong Hwan as Kim Nam Yoon in The Heirs (2014)
Kim Nam Yoon is the example of devious father character. Similar to what Kang Hee Soo done in BBF, Kim Nam Yoon also willing to do anything to break Kim Tan’s (played by Lee Min Ho) love story with Cha Eun Sang (played by Park Shin Hye), including sending Eun Sang to remote areas.
Jin Kyung as Song Cha Ok in Pinocchio (2014)
Song Cha Ok is the brand new type of devious mother character. She’s not forcing her daughter to obey her command at all. In fact, she’s ignoring her one and only daughter and focus only for her career. She’s willing to do anything to raise her image, including making false news report and sacrifice others.
6. Goofy Sidekick
|Yoon Hyun Min & Kim Seul Gi as Do Joon Ho & Yoon Sol in Discovery of Romance|
Goofy sidekick or silly best friend is the vitamin of almost all k-dramas. Their silly attitude is what makes viewers’ smile and laugh. They’re also sometimes holds important information that can change our first lead’s fate. If lucky, the goofy sidekick sometimes has their own love story. And this love story most of the times more sweet than the first lead’s love story.
These are few of my favorite goofy sidekick characters.
Kim Sung Kyun as Samcheonpo in Reply 1994 (2013)
Honestly, I love all Shinchon board house’s members, but if I have to pick my favorite, the answer is Samcheonpo. He always has something that can make me laugh, whether it’s his hair, his accent, his fashion or his weird way to study. And he is one of the lucky goofy sidekicks in k-drama land since he’s having his own love story in the drama.
Park Hyung Sik as Jo Myung Soo in The Heirs (2013)
Jo Myung Soo is definitely the cutest sidekick alive. His character is the vitamin in the drama. He brings laugh and humor along with his adorable face. His bromance with Choi Young Do (played by Kim Woo Bin) is always interesting. Unfortunately the delightful Myung Soo is not having his own love story in the drama.
Hong Jin Kyung as Hong Bok Ja in My Love from Another Star (2014)
The comic book store owner who happen to be Cheon Song Yi’s (played by Jun Ji Hyun) best friend always has something that can make viewers laugh. Her one-sided love story with our handsome Do Min Joon (played by Kim Soo Hyun) is sad yet funny for viewers.
|Kim So Yeon and Wangjiwon as Frenemies Couple in I Need Romance 3|
Last but not least is the one viewers love and hate at the same time. We have seen a lot of frenemies in k-dramas. This character’s approach is similar to overly sweet second male lead character or first love character. They’re pretending to be sweet and care to our first lead character then turn into the most devious person ever in order to earn what they want.
These are few of my favorite frenemies characters.
Han Eun Jung as Yoon Baek Hee in Dream High (2011)
Yoon Baek Hee is once Go Hye Mi’s (played by Suzy Miss A) number one fan. She’s turning into Hye Mi’s number one enemy when she has to face the fact that Hye Mi only consider her as people from third group.
Kim Woo Bin as Choi Young Do in The Heirs (2013)
Choi Young Do used to be Kim Tan’s (played by Lee Min Ho) best friend, but after one misunderstanding their friendship turn into rivalry. The arrival of Cha Eun Sang (played by Park Shin Hye) makes their conflict grows bigger.
Yoo In Na as Yoo Se Mi in My Love from Another Star (2014)
Yoo Se Mi used to be Cheon Song Yi’s (played by Jun Ji Hyun) best friend, but after her best friend’s fame fade and her fame starts to rise, she begin to forget about her friendship and gently humiliate Song Yi.
There you go, there are the 7 people you likely to meet in k-drama. Which one you want to meet the most? ;)