Among the long list of distinguished K-drama Oppas, Lee Min Ho has always been one of the top favorites. His indelible good looks and a talent to match is definitely the winning combination that brought him to superstar status. With over 20 million followers on Instagram, it shows that his star remains bright even after being out of the spotlight for some time for his military enlistment.
If you want to go on a “Min Ho binge”, the guy has a lot of notable dramas under his name. Here are 7 that should keep you hooked and satisfied!
1. Boys Over Flowers (2009)
First on the list is the drama series that placed Lee Min Ho’s name in the Hallyu map – Boys Over Flowers. The plot is based on the popular Japanese manga of the same title, which tells the story of a timid high school girl named Geum Jan Di (Ku Hye Sun). She is from a working-class family and she helps out in her parents’ dry-cleaning shop. Due to an incident, she ends up crossing paths with a group of notoriously wealthy, powerful, and good-looking young men called the F4. Min Ho plays its leader, Go Jun Pyo, the heir to one of the biggest companies in South Korea. In one occasion, Jan Di talks back to him and ends up getting bullied by him for her “rude” behavior. But over time, he ends up falling in love with Jan Di and makes a full 360 when he finds himself doing whatever it takes to protect her, even if it means defying his own mother.
Even though he plays a character who is arrogant and hot-tempered, this breakout role turned Lee Min Ho into a household name. Boys Over Flowers has raked in high viewership ratings in South Korea during its broadcast in 2009, but its immense popularity also extended all over Asia. For this drama, Lee Min Ho was recognized as the Best New Actor at the 45th Baeksang Arts Awards.
2. Personal Taste (2010)
Following the widespread success in Boys Over Flowers, Lee Min Ho’s next project was Personal Taste, which was based on a novel called “Gaeinui Chwihyang” by Lee Sae-In. In this series, he stars alongside another Hallyu superstar, Son Ye Jin. The series was a romantic comedy with a unique storyline. He played the role of Jeon Jin Ho, an architect who had to pretend to be gay so he would be allowed to live with Park Kae In (Son Ye Jin). He does this so he can dig up more information on her ancestral home called Sanggojae, in a desperate attempt to help revive the sinking firm he works in. It so happens that Kae In was in dire straits, so she had to find a tenant. During Jin Ho’s stay, the two strike a friendship which eventually grew into love. But as the two develop romantic feelings for each other, complications arise.
When he was asked why he chose to play this type of role, Lee Min Ho revealed in an interview, “I think I would do a better job playing heavy and more defined roles when I am older. I think Personal Taste was perfect because it is bright, cheerful but you can also laugh and cry over it as well.” More than that, many viewers find this to be such an underrated show as the lead actors showed incredible chemistry.
3. City Hunter (2011)
As Lee Min Ho enjoyed his new celebrity status, he moved on to another project with Park Min Young for City Hunter, which is also based on a Japanese manga series. The drama’s storyline revolves around revenge, romance, friendship and action.
He plays Lee Yoon Sung, an elite IT engineer from MIT, who enters the Blue House with the intent to eliminate the evils of society. More than that he is also driven by anger and a plan to exact his revenge on 5 politicians who were responsible for his father’s death. While he was on this mission, he met and grew feelings for Kim Na Na (Park Min Young), a bodyguard for the Presidential Security Service. They both learned that their plans for retribution were similar.
City Hunter was a commercial success locally and abroad, particularly in Europe which paved his popularity there. For his work in this drama, Lee Min Ho bagged both the Best Actor and the Hallyu Star Award at the 4th Korea Drama Awards in 2011.
4. Faith (2012)
This love story transcends time and space as a modern-day plastic surgeon falls in love with a warrior from the Goryeo period. In this ancient period, the King of Goryeo marries the Yuan princess, and they return to Goryeo (Korea). On their way back home, they are attacked and an assassin’s sword fatally injures the queen. To save her queen, the royal advisor thought they must seek the help of a great doctor and have to pass through a mystical portal.
General Choi Young (Lee Min Ho), the King’s royal bodyguard, enters the portal and travels to the future to find the sought after physician. Once he arrives at the present, his search leads him to Yoo Eun Soo (Kim Hee Sun). With a promise that she will be returned once the queen is healed, Choi Young takes the doctor 700 years back in time. However, the scheming royal advisor persuades the king to force the doctor to stay as she can be of good use to him. It was also impossible to go back since the mystical gate disappeared. Eun Soo was left with no other choice but accustomed herself to her new surroundings. Eventually, she has grown close and eventually fell in love with the handsome general.
5. The Heirs (2013)
Four years after Boys Over Flowers, Lee Min Ho once again played a chaebol heir for his new drama. This series, also known as The Inheritors, follows a group of privileged high school students who come from wealthy and powerful families.
Lee Min Ho stars as the wealthy Kim Tan. He is the successor to a large Korean conglomerate called the Jeguk Group. However, he is exiled to the U.S. by his jealous brother. It was where he meets and soon falls for Cha Eun Sang (Park Shin Hye), a regular girl struggling towards a better life. When he returns to Korea, he learns that Eun Sang is their housekeeper’s daughter. Eun Sang gets caught in a love triangle with Tan and Choi Young Do (Kim Woo Bin), the condescending heir to a luxury resort conglomerate
The Heirs had a star-studded cast, including Choi Jin Hyuk, Kang Ha Neul, Kim Ji Won, Park Hyung Sik, and f(x)’s Krystal. The show earned immense success in Korea and across Asia which only added to Lee Min Ho’s popularity particularly in China.
6. The Legend of the Blue Sea (2016)
This fantasy drama marked Lee Min Ho’s comeback to the small screen after filming movies such as Gangnam Blues (2015) and Bounty Hunters (2016), and it was his last before going into mandatory military service. This drama was also penned by Park Ji Eun, the same screenwriter of the record-breaking “My Love From Another Star”.
For this project, Lee Min Ho teams up with no less than Jun Ji Hyun for an entertaining 20-episode rollercoaster ride. It follows the reincarnation of a town official and a mermaid who fell in love during the Joseon era and then meet each other once again in modern day Seoul.
Lee Min Ho plays Kim Dam Ryeong, the son of a nobleman from the Joseon era. As a young boy, he meets the captivating Se Hwa (Jun Ji Hyun) who rescued him from drowning. The two meet again centuries later, with Min Ho reborn as Heo Joon Jae, a smooth-talking con artist who takes interest in Se Hwa’s doppelganger Shim Cheong and the $6 million dollar bracelet on her wrist.
What is truly noteworthy about this drama, besides Min Ho’s undeniable charisma, is Ji Hyun’s fish out of water experience (no pun intended). Adding to that, the beautiful cinematography adds to the beauty of this series.
7. The King: Eternal Monarch (2020)
After his mandatory military enlistment, Lee Min Ho made his much-awaited comeback in 2020 with a fantasy drama. The King: Eternal Monarch heavily revolves around time travelling and alternate universes. Min Ho plays Emperor Lee Gon of the Kingdom of Corea who sets out to travel to a parallel universe in search of a royal traitor and then closes the portal that connects his world from modern-day Korea. However, his plans were thrown for a loop when he meets a feisty Detective named Jeong Tae Eul (Kim Go Eun), a police officer who seems to be mysteriously linked to his past.
The drama broke audience and streaming records in its premiere, with big-name actors and an esteemed writer (Goblin, Descendants of the Sun) at the helm. However, its performance with the South Korean audience slowly lagged as the show progressed. But it seemed to do the opposite with its international audience.
So, what do you think? Which is your favorite among this list of Lee Min-Ho’s dramas?