Every drama needs a hero. I’m not talking about the kind of hero who fights to the death or saves the world, though those are pretty great too. By heroes, I mean the masculine half of our OTPs. The ones who overcome all odds to get the girl in the end. And Korean dramas like to throw some insurmountable obstacles in the path of our happily ever after.... Including but not limited to evil mother-in-laws, rain-induced illness, time travel, memory loss, and gender-bending mistaken identities.
Here is a list of my top ten favorite drama heroes. The ones who give up everything for love. The ones who are willing to cross time and space to be with the woman of their dreams. The ones who put even Mr. Darcy to shame.
(Warning: Contains spoilers!)
10. Cha Chi Soo (Flower Boy Ramen Shop) - Why include this spoiled man-child on my list? Because he’s willing to completely change his life for a chance at love. He might be immature, selfish, and cruel when the drama begins but, as his emotional awakening opens him up to the world around him, he changes into a fine and caring human being. One worthy of the awesome Yang Eun Bi. And come on, that impish smile is completely swoon worthy. His trademark “you’re pretty” might be as genuine as his hair color, but it still gets me every time.
9. Song Sam Dong (Dream High) – Shy, sweet Sam Dong is the biggest dork on my list. And I love dorks. The hair, the accent, the sense of style, all make Sam Dong the ultimate noona killer. I love it when our hero starts out as a good guy from the very beginning. It just sucks when it takes so long for our heroine to notice - so much less time for kissing!
8. Choi Yeong (Faith) – Faith may only be at the halfway point but, Choi Yeong sure knows how to pique a girl’s interest. Kidnapping and attempted murder might not create the best first impression but, his continued self-sacrifice and dedication to honor and the people around him kind of make up for that. Just so long as he can get over his suicidal tendencies and doomed first love, we might have a classic OTP on our hands.
7. Lee Jae Ha (King 2 Hearts) – Heroes can either save the world or get the girl, but here is one who does both. It took Lee Jae Ha a long time to admit to his feelings for Kim Hang Ah, but once he did, nothing--not even the threat of nuclear war--could keep them apart.
6. Yi Gak (Rooftop Prince) – I was in a long distance relationship for a few years, so I have some idea how hard it was for Yi Gak to fall in love with Park Ha, knowing they would have to be separated in the end. Of course, our 4,000 mile distance was a lot less insurmountable than their 300 year gap. For a drama about soul mates, Yi Gak seems like the kind of guy a girl could wait for. As long as he keeps the short hair.
5. Yong/Iljimae (Iljimae) – Okay, so maybe Yong isn’t really a romantic hero in the end, but I couldn't help including our tragic “Robin Hood” in sageuk gear. There’s just something about a guy who can kick butt and paint flowers on silk, almost simultaneously.
4. Kang Tae Joon (To the Beautiful You) – This might be another ongoing drama, but I’m already completely in love with Tae Joon. With every episode, he does something even more amazing to protect Jae He’s secret. Like killing at paintball, or getting caught with porn to keep her tampons safe (yes, you read that correctly). This drama is candy-coated fun, and Tae Joon is like the prize inside my Cracker-Jack box.
3. Choi Han Gyul (Coffee Prince) – What would your average heterosexual man do when he realizes he’s falling in love with his male co-worker (who just so happens to be a woman in drag)? Probably not acknowledge his feelings with abandon like Choi Han Gyul does. Being able to love and accept everything about your partner is a pretty rare thing. Especially when you think that person is the wrong sex. I think that most women yearn for someone to love them warts (or ugly toes, knobby knees, Buddha belly) and all, and that’s what we get in Han Gyul.
2. Kim Joo Won (Secret Garden) – So, the whole body swapping thing isn’t exactly relatable. But sacrificing yourself for the one you love is a universal feeling. I gasped when I finally realized why Kim Joo Won was looking for bad weather. For a man obsessed with order, status, and wealth, nothing mattered more than the life of the person he loved. Of course, it only seems fair after making Gil Ra Im put up with the most horrible mother-in-law in all Dramadom (and that’s saying something).
1. Kim Boong Do (Queen In Hyun's Man) – Kim Boong Do is perfection. He’s brave, intelligent, affectionate, and has a cheeky sense of humor. He always does the right and moral thing, and never once puts our heroine down. I don’t think I’ve rooted for an OTP as much as I did in this drama. And a man who can kiss like that. Gah….perfect.
(Editor Hangebokhan’s note: This list is obviously flawed, Kim Nam-gil’s Bidam (Queen Seon Duk) is not on here. Bidam waged war on his own country just so he could get the girl, this lead to the most tragic scene in drama history, imo.)