10 K-Drama Second Leads Worth Rooting For

We all want good love stories and K-Dramas know the right ways to tug at our heartstrings. We love their romantic plots, the twists and the angst. And of course we rejoice when at the end, despite all odds, our favorite leading man and leading lady live their own happy ever after’s. But this article isn’t going to be about them. As much as we love our dashing lead prince to end up with his princess, deep in our hearts, even a tiny bit, at a certain point, we wanted the princess end up with the other man—the second lead.

Second leads have always been known to be there for the girl but always ends up losing to the lead male. Surprisingly, many K-Drama fans root for the second lead more than the lead guy. Is it because of the relatable hugot moments? Or is it because every time he’d gaze longingly at the female lead in the lead man’s arms you’d go “I feel ‘ya, bro”?

And so KStreetManila decided to list (in no particular order) some of your favorite second male leads whom you’ve rooted for at some point.

1. Kang Joonhee, Reply 1997

“The reason I like you? Because it’s you. Just you. That’s the only reason. I wish I knew. Then I could figure out how to stop liking you. If I can’t avoid it, I only want one thing. To stay by you as a friend, unchanged. Here’s to heartache. To love.”

01 Kang Joonhee

Nothing spells painful love story than falling in love with your best friend, even more painful if you’re gay and your best friend is, well, not. Despite his unrequited feelings, and the fact that Yoonjae (Seo Inguk) is in love with someone else, Joonhee (Infinite’s Hoya) helps bring Yoonjae and Shiwon (APink’s Eunji) together, at the cost of his own happiness. Bro? Bro.

2. Kang Shinwoo, You’re Beautiful

02 kang shin woo you're beautiful

“I’m watching you, but who are you reaching your hand to?”

Shinwoo (CNBlue’s Yonghwa) is the first to discover that their new band mate (Park Shinye) of their all-male band A.N.JELL is actually female. Still, he was nice enough to keep it a secret and to try and make her as comfortable as possible, which ends up with him having feelings for her. Despite all of his efforts, Minam (or Minyeo) ends up with their cold lead vocalist Taekhyung (Jang Geunseuk).

3. Chilbong, Reply 1994

03 Chilbong

“I know that you like someone else, and so I’m about not telling you, but what can I do about liking you?”

Chilbong (Yoo Yeonseok) is close to heroine Najung (Go Ara), and, true to the typical love story, harbors feelings for her. And what’s not to like about Chilbong? He’s smart and caring, he’s got a shy, sweet smile, and he’ll love you like a puppy loves humans. But that love wasn’t enough for Najung when she ended up with Trash oppa (Jung Woo). It’s okay, Chilbong, you’ll find your one true love.

4. Choi Youngdo, The Heirs

04 choi young do the heirs

“Only thing I know is I’m sad when you’re gone, and happy when you’re here.”

Youngdo (Kim Woobin) plays part of a love triangle between his ex-best friend Kim Tan (Lee Minho) and the poor girl Eunsang (Park Shinhye). Compared to the sweet second leads we’re used to having, Youngdo is crafty and volatile and will do anything to get the girl, though he does have his soft spot. This bad boy with a hidden sensitive persona seems to be a breath of fresh air for K-Drama fans who are quick to rally on his side. Unfortunately, even that is not enough for him to win Eunsang’s heart.

5. Kang Woo, Master’s Sun

05 kang woo master's sun

“When your heart isn’t being honest … the pain gives you the answer.”

Seo Inguk plays neighbor to Gongshil (Gong Hyojin) who has this uncanny ability to see ghosts. It also turns out that he’s a bodyguard for Joo Joongwoon (So Jisub), who has taken an interest in his neighbor. Maybe it’s his overprotective side kicking in, but he claims he likes Gongshil, but that claim soon becomes real feelings. Like every other second lead, he doesn’t get the female lead, but it seems second female lead Yiryung (Kim Yoori) has taken an interest in him. Not bad, right?

6. Prince Yul from Goong/Princess Hours

06 prince yul

“But he snatched her away.”

If love triangles are bad for your heart, try putting love triangles in a royal setting. Prince Yul (Kim Jeonghoon) plays a prince who comes back from England after years of exile, determined to take back what’s rightfully his—the crown and the future Crown Princess (Chaekyong played by Yoon Eunhye)—whatever it takes. But not all stories have happy endings.

7. Lee Hwikyung from My Love From the Star

07 lee hwi kyung my love from the star

“Of course, I know that while I love you, you can’t love me back, and I’m a little unhappy. But still if you weren’t beside me, I’d really be unhappy.”

Hwikyung (Park Haejin) is Songyi’s (Jun Jihyun) childhood friend, and years of being together would bring out romantic, feelings, eventually. Although Songyi has feelings for Minjoon (Kim Soohyun), he never does anything to break them apart. Instead, he’s always there by her side whenever things go wrong, in the risk of his own safety, but he doesn’t force her to love him. Nor does he size himself up to show that he’s better than Minjoon. He’s certainly one of the few multi-dimensional second lead characters K-Drama fans have come to love.

8. Yoon Jihoo from Boys Before Flowers

08 Ji Hoo

“I don’t know when it started either, but now, I can’t be without you.”

Jihoo (Kim Hyunjoong) is the best friend of F4 leader Junpyo (Lee Minho) whose musical talent catches female lead Jandi’s (Ku Hyesun) attention. (But who won’t get bait over a man with a musical instrument?) Compared to the hot-headed Junpyo who bullies Jandi before falling in love with her, it’s Jihoo who protects her. But in the true K-Drama fashion, Jandi and Junpyo end up together, and Jihoo was left wondering what could have been.

9. Yoo Minhyuk from Full House

09 Yoo Minhyuk

“Youngjae doesn’t seem to appreciate you well. Will you like me?”

Minhyuk (Kim Sungsoo) plays best friend to lead man Youngjae (Rain), the receiving end of his friend’s thoughts of his affections towards Jieun (Song Hyekyo). Given his work, he’s used to getting attention from women, and he knows, upon realizing his feels for Jieun, he’ll do anything to get the girl. But eventually, he realizes that Jieun has feelings only for Youngjae, and what’s the point chasing someone who loves someone else, right?

10. Han Taehwa from Stairway to Heaven

10 Tae Hwa

“You must want to see the one you love with such clear eyes. I hope you can see all the beautiful things you want while you’re alive. [I’ll] become a blue sky and watch over you.”

Perhaps the most painful second lead story of all is in this 2004 classic. Taehwa (Lee Wan/Shin Hyunjoon) has fallen in love with Jungsuh (Park Shinhye/Kwon Sangwoo) since they were kids, and has carried that love on up until they grew up. He has always been by Jungsuh’s side despite many difficult circumstances, eventually making an ultimate sacrifice. If this story isn’t painful, we don’t know what is.

How about you? Which K-Drama second lead has given you many feels? Leave us a comment below and who knows, we might be actually sharing the same sentiments with you!

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