Romantic Korean dramas are known for their portrayals of nearly perfect male leads, which also explains why the industry amassed widespread popularity around the world. Even though people are aware that these characters may be written for TV, they don’t mind having a peek at something perfect.
However, the typical male lead didn’t start out with the characters we’ve grown to love in the most recent crop of dramas. Popular series like Boys Over Flowers and Secret Garden gave us smart and attractive characters, but they were slightly arrogant. The shows we see today have modified the formula making these characters more relatable and appealing. They may be unrealistic, but these K-drama boyfriends would make you long for their real-life counterparts! We’ve narrowed down 10 of the best ones below.
Kim Seon Ho – Hometown Cha Cha cha
Hometown Cha Cha Cha is one of the most successful K-dramas of 2021. Besides it’s a feel-good story about healing, fans also got to know the adorable Hong Du Sik played by Kim Seon Ho. People in the small countryside town of Gongjin fondly call him “Chief Hong,” and he’s known as a warm, kind, and helpful man. Hence he is well-loved by the villagers. This is why it’s no surprise that he is also the perfect boyfriend to Yoo Hye Jin (Shin Min Ah)—and for many reasons! He supports her even without any recognition, he stands up for her, and he also doesn’t hold back in correcting her. He is your no-nonsense guy who can challenge you in ways that count!
Jang Ki Yong – My Roommate is a Gumiho
In the 2021 fantasy rom-com, Jang Ki-yong plays Shin Woo Yeo, a mythical nine-tailed fox, called a gumiho, that can transform into an irresistibly attractive human. This transformation helps them seduce humans so they can easily suck in their energy so they can stop being monsters. However, the process can be dangerous for the person involved. After 999 years Woo-yeo is already inching close to becoming human, but he just needs a tad bit more human energy to complete his transformation. While Woo-yeo embraces his fate which means that he will be harming humans, he becomes oddly tenderhearted and overly concerned when he meets Lee Dam, played by Lee Hye-ri. He could extract her energy and realize his goal, but he cares for her and wants to protect her. The scary gumiho of horror stories shows a softer side.
Cha En Woo – True Beauty
Lee Su Ho (Cha Eun Woo) was a boyfriend that’s written to be swoon-worthy in every way. He’s a straight-A student, incredibly handsome, fashionable, and he doesn’t care what you look like! He fell in love with Lim Ju Gyeong (Moon Ga Young) long before she had that killer makeover. His natural protective nature and respect towards her was enviable. He made hearts flutter when he never shied away from showing everyone that he loves Ju Gyeong. Although he seems mysterious and guarded, he is actually sentimental and loyal to those he considers his friends. This character may seem too good to be true, but fans don’t mind stanning this ideal Oppa!
Park Bo Gum – Record of Youth
If you have to pore through Park Bo Gum’s acting repertoire, there are plenty of roles that would fit this category. But the most recent role he had in Record of Youth is also one for the books. His character Sa Hye Joon is a model who aspires to be an actor. He hustles hard to achieve his dreams and is a doting son to his mom. When he meets Ahn Jung Ha (Park So Dam) he finds himself connecting with her and it didn’t take long for him to fall in love with her. He was honest with his feelings, but he never pressured her or even made her feel uncomfortable. When he got famous, he took the effort of making sure that Jung Ha never felt insecure. He wants to show his love any chance he gets.
Jung Hae In – Something in the Rain
In the romance drama, Jung Hae In played Seo Joon-hee, a game designer in his early 30s who is free-spirited but also passionate about love. Turns out, the girl who caught his eye was his older sister’s bestfriend, Yoon Jin Ah (Son Ye Jin). Tackling dating taboos in Korea, Joon Hee learns that this noona romance (older woman-younger man) won’t get the warmest reception. But at the heart of it they make the cutest couple. Despite the hurdles, they both face, Hae In defines unconditional love throughout the series. But it’s those loving stares, boyish smiles, and warm demeanor that left a soft spot with female viewers.
Hyun Bin – Crash Landing On You
Crash Landing On You became one of the most successful K-dramas to date mainly because of the dashing Captain Ri (Hyun Bin). The North Korean army officer never realized that the woman who would change his life is a chaebol from the other side of the 38th parallel. It was a love story that seemed doomed from the beginning, but he came through. What you would initially think of as an unyielding and dangerous captain, only gave us one of the dreamiest oppa in Korean TV! For Yoon Se Ri (Son Ye Jin), Captain Ri was able to plot daring escapes and heroic saves. But behind all that tough exterior, he was a true softie at the core. The duality in his character is what drew audiences to adore him even more. As a man in uniform, he had no qualms in bringing down the evils within his ranks, but he was vulnerable when it came to Se Ri. He was willing to go through hell and high water to save her, and don’t we all want some of that too?
Lee Jong Suk – Romance is a Bonus Book
Cha Eun Ho (Lee Jong Suk) has always loved his friend Kang Dan Yi (Lee Na Young), but never had the courage to tell her. So he had to painfully watch her getting married to a man who didn’t deserve her, but he continued to love her from afar anyway. The dedication and loyalty he has for her is the kind of love everyone would dream of. He started to express his feelings for her and patiently waited for her to realize her own feelings too. His compassion and generosity is endless and it comes with an assurance that she can stay with him for as long as she wants until she gets back on her feet. On top of all that, his poetic and heart fluttering lines only left many to fall deeply in love with this character.
Park Seo Joon – Fight For My Way
Not all TV boyfriends are perfect, and sometimes, it’s this realness that makes them even more endearing. That’s the case with Ko Dong Man, played by Hallyu superstar Park Seo Joon. His character is not your typical rich, handsome chaebol. Instead, Dong Man was a struggling athlete who had to make ends meet through odd jobs. He’s rough around the edges, but loveable nonetheless. He falls in love with his long-time bestfriend Cho Ae Ra (Kim Ji Won) while struggling to succeed in his career. He redefines the template of that ‘dreamy boyfriend’ with his simple approach to life. Albeit his simple-mindedness and easy-go-lucky outlook, he has a keen sensitivity to know when his lady needs him—a poster boy of a reliable boyfriend and a protective lover.
Kang Ha Neul – When the Camellia Blooms
The lovestruck Hwang Yong Sik (Kang Ha Neul) is everything you could ever want in a boyfriend. He doesn’t beat around the bush and is upfront about his feelings. He is not afraid to commit and stand up for Dong Baek (Gong Hyo Jin), a woman who was vilified in their small town for being a headstrong single mom. Yet, Yong Sik never saw anything that could waver his love for Dong Baek. He even took her son under his wing and made sure to always be there for her, playing the father figure effortlessly. This makes it easy to look beyond his goofy personality as he only repeatedly proved to be the perfect countryside boyfriend!
Kim Soo Hyun – It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
For this 2021 romantic drama, Kim Soo Hyun transforms into Moon Gang Tae, an orphaned caregiver who has dedicated his life to helping his older brother who has special needs. Having faced a difficult childhood as the main caregiver and selflessly devoted his life to being one, he’s grown to become more caring and compassionate. So when a romantic relationship came, how he is as a boyfriend is a direct reflection of the way he loved his brother. With someone as volatile as Ko Moon Young (So Ye Ji), a woman with antisocial personality disorder, he became the only warm and steady presence in her life. He was hard to get at first, but when he fell in love, his capacity to do so without condition would make you wish you’d switch places with his moody girlfriend!