Bad boys in K-dramas also come with their own set of tropes, but we love to hate them because some are written with beautiful character arcs; we can’t help but make a full 360 about them as well. So we thought we’d round up 12 baddies in popular K-dramas over the years, who also turned out to be loveable softies underneath all that tough facade!
Jo Sang Gu – Move to Heaven
In this healing drama, Jo Sang Gu (Lee Je Hoon) plays an ex-convict underground fighter who suddenly becomes the guardian of his autistic nephew, Han Gu Ru (Tang Joon Sang) after his brother passed away. They were working as trauma cleaners, which is a job that involved cleaning up and packing away the belongings of the deceased. He took over this business and had his nephew help him learn the ropes. While he never really cared for his nephew or his deceased brother, this unexpected time he had with him slowly changed his mind. This also melted away the anger and aggression he’s been carrying inside as they grew closer. Soon enough he starts to change and become a better person—a transformation so sweet and heartwarming to watch!
Shin Se Gi – Kill Me, Heal Me
This story is about a wealthy man named Cha Do Hyun (Ji Sung) who struggled with multiple personality disorder. This condition was a result of a traumatic childhood, which spurned seven personalities. One of them is Shin Se Gi, a tough and hard-headed guy who likes to wear dark eye make-up to match his brooding personality. He’s fallen head over heels for Oh Ri Jin (Hwang Jung Eum), and he would do anything to make her feel special. In one memorable instance, he throws her a party featuring all her favourite childhood toys. This naive sort of longing and love for Ri Jin was unexpected of Shin Se Gi’s character, but it made for some of the most adorable moments in the series.
Goo Dong Mae – Mr. Sunshine
Goo Dung Mae (Yoo Yeon Seok) is the kind of character with whom you’ll develop a love and hate relationship. He is conniving and deceitful, so it’s easy to conclude that he is pure evil. But who would have thought that a hardened man would crumble at the feet of a woman? In this case, there’s no other person who can do that except Go Ae Shin (Kim Tae Ri). Surprisingly, Dung Mae makes no qualms about letting everybody know this. He doesn’t shy away from making intense gazes which only revealed his softness. Unfortunately, the odds were not in his favour, and one can only feel sorry for him when he realized that as much as he longed for Ae Shin, he can never have her.
Wang So – Scarlet Heart Ryeo
In this epic love story, Prince Wang So (Lee Joon Gi) is one of the many princes who is in line to become king. But when he met Hae Soo (IU), he falls in love with her, but he can’t seem to find the right time to be with her. It was this longing that made him vulnerable to his feelings for this time-traveller, that we slowly see his bad-boy image wane over time. It’s entertaining to watch his constant struggle to succumb to his ways, but his heart remained loyal to Hae Soo. But when duty calls and Wang So was to become king, he was forced to make a heartbreaking decision.
Kim Moo Young – The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
In this drama, Kim Moo Young (Seo In Guk) is a character who is quite difficult to read and understand. He was a total punk with a chip on his shoulder, but as the story unfolds we get to take a sneak peek into his past and character. It made him much easier to understand and it also revealed how vulnerable and complicated his emotions actually are behind all that tough bravado. When he meets Yoo Jin Kang (Jung So Min), he falls head over heels in love with her. Seeing how he transformed from his bad-boy persona was refreshing and adorable to watch!
Kwon Shi Hyun – Tempted
Kwon Shi Hyun (Woo Do Hwan) is a rich and easy-going playboy. Without any desire to settle down, it’s almost impossible for him to even think twice about love. So when the opportunity to seek revenge against Eun Tae Hee (Joy) came, he grabbed it right away and pretended that he liked her. He is a real baddie who doesn’t think twice about toying with a girl’s emotions and neither is he concerned about his future. But when he came up close and personal with Tae Hee, he was able to see her innocence which shook him to his core. This pureness made him fall head over heels in love with her and soon started to realize that she is the one he needs in his life.
Lee Gang Doo – Just Between Lovers
Lee Gang Doo (Junho) has always lived his life on the edge after having undergone a serious accident as a child. The incident snatched his dreams away from him in an instant, and it made him care less about his quality of life. He easily gets into fights and has no intentions of putting his life on track. But things changed when he met Ha Moon Soo (Won Jin Ah), a girl who is his total opposite. She was a hard worker with big dreams. When they started to have feelings for each other, Gan Doo realized that his life can be better—she was his inspiration to change!
Ji Hyun Ho – Best Mistake
Ji Hyun Ho (Kang Yool), is the bad boy student who’s carrying some anger issues. He was infamously known as punk but is also very popular with the girls. When a misunderstanding brings him into a heated confrontation with Kim Yeon Doo (Lee Eun Jae), he starts to see her in a different light. He realized that she is everything he’s not—smart, quiet, and very sweet. He couldn’t control his feelings which only started to grow and transform him. These feelings pushed him to study hard just so he can go to the same university as her.
Baek Kyung – Extraordinary You
Baek Kyung (Lee Jae Wook) is a rude and arrogant student with an abusive father and a greedy stepmother. He is a member of the A3, a trio of the most handsome and powerful boys in their school. He is engaged to Eun Dan Oh (Kim Hye Yoon), whom he dislikes due to circumstances around their arranged marriage. Dan Oh, on the other hand, is in love with him even though he treats her like dirt. After observing the strange behaviour that people are showing, he starts becoming aware that he is a character in a comic book and slowly realises that he actually likes Dan-oh. This was also driven by his jealousy towards her close relationship with Ha-ru (Rowoon), Bae Kyung’s personal guard. He starts to change and do some sweet gestures towards Dan Oh. Eventually, Baek Sung’s hard exterior falls apart and these changes are sweet and heartwarming to watch!
Moon Jae Shin – Sungkyungkwan Scandal
This historical rom-com is a bit of a throwback but it aged pretty well. It stars Song Joong Ki, Park Yoochun, and Yoo Ah In – all scholarly flower boys who found themselves romantically linked to Kim Yoon Hee (Park Min Young), a young woman who dresses like a boy to help support her family. One character that struck viewers the most is Moon Jae Shin (Yoo Ah In), a quiet and brooding young man who goes about his fearless ways. With all that tough exterior, you wouldn’t expect him to be vulnerable and sweet around Yoon Hee. It reveals a very different side to him that will make you realise that he has a heart that is genuine and pure.
Doo Chil Sung – Wok of Love
Doo Chil Sung (Jang Hyuk) is a gang leader, a loan shark, and the owner of a rundown Chinese restaurant. He confuses you with his calm demeanor, but he’s actually a ruthless businessman. He bows to no one, and people are scared of him. But as the series progressed, we see that there’s more to his intimidating persona. First off, his loyalty to Seo Poong (Junho) was unexpected. He was willing to lend a hand and trust him even though he doesn’t know him too well. However, one of the highlights of this show is his love for Dan Sae Woo (Jung Ryeo Won), which made this ruthless gangster melt like butter in front of the woman she loves.
Baek In Ho – Cheese In The Trap
“Cheese in the Trap” is based on a successful webtoon and it tells the story of some college students who get entangled in a love triangle. In this story, Baek In Ho (Seo Kang Joon) is the classic bad boy who uses his fists before his brains. He is quick-tempered especially when he sees people being rude. With no holds barred against people who cross him, he starts to change when he meets Hong Seol (Park Hae Jin). She made him feel emotions he has never felt before as it is the first time he has fallen in love. Throughout the series, his love for her has only gotten stronger and he’s willing to protect her at all costs. The love he has for Hong Seol is so pure and innocent despite all the hardships he has been through. Within that tough exterior, we see that deep inside this bad boy is really a softie!