7 K-Dramas That Gave Us Second Lead Syndrome

We have all been there. One minute we are minding our own business and the next minute we are falling hard for the second male lead. Second lead syndrome, as it’s called, most often befalls us in romantic K-Dramas. It doesn’t matter that the script and chemistry between the main leads are insatiable we still find ourselves rooting for the “other guy.” This is especially apparent when the second lead is just as handsome, charming, and endearing as the main. 

Here are seven K-Dramas that gave us second lead syndrome.

True Beauty

Han Seo Jun. Han Seo Jun. Han Seo Jun. Based on the popular webtoon of the same name, Hwang In Yeop’s, Han Seo Jun is caught in a love triangle between new student Im Joo Kyeong (Moon Ga-young) and best friend turned enemy Lee Su Ho (Cha Eunwoo). Between his fake bad boy appearance and heartbreaking past it’s hard not to root for someone who is so effortlessly charming and protective of the girl he loves.

Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon

You may have started Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon for the effortlessly cute way Park Hyun Sik’s character, Ahn Min Hyuk dotes on Do Bong Soon Park Bo Young), but you stayed for Ji Soo’s portrayal of the angsty Guk Doo. Guk Doo is Bong Soon’s first love and as such, he feels a sense of responsibility to protect her (maybe that’s why he’s a cop). He’s serious and distant, caring and loving, which are all the traits that made us swoon for this second male lead. 


While the Nevertheless’ playboy Park Jae Eon (Song Kang) may have given you heartburn, butterflies, and everything in-between as we Yoo Na Bi (Han So Hee) ignore all the glaring red flags, it was Potato Boy, or Yang Do Hyeok (Chae Jong Hyeop), that gave us all the feels. Do Hyeok and Na Bi reunite by chance and rekindle their childhood friendship – one Do Hyeok hopes to turn into a romantic one.

Romance is a Bonus Book

Before becoming an overnight sensation due to Squid Game, Wi Ha Joon was stealing our hearts as Ji Seo Joon in Romance is a Bonus Book. Ji Seo Joon is a charming book cover designer who develops feelings for his editor, Kang Dan-i (Lee Na Young), a divorcee and almost ten years his senior. While the two seem like the perfect match, there’s no room in Kang Dan-i’s heart for Ji Seo Joon. She gave it to her best friend, employer, and cohabitation partner, Cha Eun Ho (Lee Jong Suk). 

Her Private Life

In recent years Ahn Bo Hyun has proved his staying power, acting alongside popular stars Park Seo Joon, Han So Hee and Kim Go Eun. But it was the 2019 sleeper hit, Her Private Life that really made us swoon. He plays, Nam Eun-ki a judo silver medalist who grew up with Sung Deok Mi (Park Min Young). Raised alongside Deok Mi, he may be her knight in shining armor and best friend, but that’s it. The two aren’t destined to be anymore than that.

Cheese in the Trap

Cheese in the Trap is one of the few K-Dramas that left fans disliking the male lead from the start. He’s a sociopath with more than one ulterior motive, plus he didn’t make our hearts race anytime he graced the screen. Insert Baek In Ho (Seo Kang Joon), the token “bad boy” who’s actually kind, funny, and earnest to a fault. It was hard not to root for him with all the cute and sincere moments that played out between him and Hong Seol (Kim Go Eun). 

Reply 1988

Last, but certainly not least on this list is the most loved second male lead in K-Drama history. Kim Jung Hwan (Ryu Jun Yeol) has had a crush on his childhood friend Sung Deok Sun (Lee Hye Ri), for as long as he could remember. But when he finds out Choi Taek (Park Bo Gum) feels the same way, he takes a respectful step back so the two have a chance at love. Talk about being unselfish in love!

Which of these K-dramas was your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

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