Friday Feature: The other man

It’s Friday, and what better way to start the weekend than to celebrate second male lead syndrome? Here’s a roundup of our favourite guys who didn’t get the girl.

Pretty Man

Jang Geun Suk plays Dokgo Ma Te, the titular character, who lives up to the billing and seduces a series of older women. In contrast to the sophisticated women in Ma Te’s life, Kim Bo Tong (played by IU) comes across as his adoring kid sister. Her silly and cheerful demeanour is mirrored by Daniel Choi (Lee Jang Woo), who instantly falls in love with her. While Bo Tong is busy being treated by Ma Te like slave labour, Daniel supports her by quitting his job to join her at Ma Te’s company, letting her stay at his house so she can promptly do Ma Te’s bidding, and just being her #1 fan. However, after years of pining after Ma Te, there is no room for Daniel in Bo Tong’s heart. – Junggugeo Kaenada 중국어 캐나다

The Greatest Love

Greatest Love Yoon Kye Sang
If this was not a drama, Gu Ae Jung (Gong Hyo Jin) would stay miles away from actor and over-the-top narcissist Dokko Jin (Cha Seung Won), who literally does everything wrong, including doubting his own feelings on the basis of a faulty heart monitor. Instead, she would run screaming for Yoon Pil Joo (Yoon Kye Sang), a sweet, handsome, intelligent doctor, who remains steadfast in his feelings for Gu Ae Jung, and unlike Dokko Jin, is pretty well socialized. Sadly, it is a drama, and Yoon Pil Joo’s love is, unfortunately, not the greatest. – Only 만

Lie to Me

Sang Hee (Sung Joon) loses the girl not once, but twice to his older brother, Ki Joon (Kang Ji Hwan). In round one, the woman he loved became engaged to his brother. In round two, he spotted Ah Jung (Yoon Eun Hye) first and took an immediate interest in her. Sang Hee develops an easy rapport with Ah Jung, and they spend a lot of time together just shooting the breeze. Whereas Ki Joon is ready to take legal action against Ah Jung, Sang Hee is a ready accomplice in her schemes. Predictably, Ah Jung ends up with the rehabilitated-by-love Ki Joon, and Sang Hee fades into the background. – 중국어 캐나다

Emergency Couple

Emergency Couple dancing Cheon Soo
A crotchety bachelor who’s too dedicated to his patients and his ER to get into a relationship, Kook Cheon Soo (Lee Pil Mo) is one of the most appealing characters on “Emergency Couple”, especially compared to Oh Chang Min (Choi Jin Hyuk) with his tendency towards immature jealousy. I present this one with mixed feelings, firstly because the show’s not over yet, so who knows how it ends? Secondly, because I don’t want Oh Jin Hee (Song Ji Hyo) to get together with Kook Cheon Soo. Instead, I hope Kook Cheon Soo will get together with his awesome ex-girlfriend Shim Ji Hye (Choi Yeo Jin), because their chemistry and flirty interactions are blazing hot. Also, this is how they look when they’re dancing. –

Dream High

To the credit of the show’s writers, the race between Jin Guk (Taecyeon) and Sam Dong (Kim Soo Hyun) for Hye Mi (Bae Suzy) was neck-to-neck, each having their own special moments with the girl. Sam Dong is a naive hick who follows Hye Mi to Seoul believing her lie that she liked him, transforms nasty graffiti by classmates of Hye Mi into an angel, and takes a flower pot meant for Hye Mi on the head. Jin Guk is a problem student who takes a beating from debt collectors who were after Hye Mi, saves her from social ostracization by sharing non-functioning earphones with her, and places his motorcycle helmet on her head so she can cry with privacy. Call me crazy but I preferred Jin Guk’s valiant knight to Sam Dong’s puppy love. Apparently, Hye Mi did not feel the same way. – 중국어 캐나다

Last Cinderella

Last Cinderella Tachibana
Childhood friend, neighbour and manager of the hair salon where she works, Tachibana Rintaro (Fujiki Naohito) has an easy, fun rapport with Sakura (Shinohara Ryoko), where they bicker constantly and tell each other everything. Not strictly a second male lead, since it’s neck-and-neck until the end, Tachibana makes this list for actually being the better match. Where Sakura acts weirdly shy and girlish around much younger pretty boy Saeki Hiroto (Miura Haruma), with Tachibana she’s a much less annoying version of herself; honest, funny and relaxed. Unfortunately, she can’t have them both. Or maybe she could, but that would be a different kind of show. – 

The Heirs

Heirs Young Do
No list of second male leads in K-dramas would be complete without the inclusion of teenaged chaebol bad boy Choi Young Do (Kim Woo Bin). I continued watching “Heirs” long after I lost interest in the story, just to see what kind of bitchery he’d unleash next, and he never disappointed. Did I actually want him to get the girl? Not really. I enjoyed his antics far too much to want to see him redeemed by the love of the weepy Cha Eun Sang (Park Shin Hye). If you’re wondering why he’s smiling like that, he’s about to drop her into a pool. –

I agree with my co-blogger in that I did not want Young Do to end up with wet napkin, Eun Sang. Admittedly, I did enjoy the way Young Do tormented Eun Sang in a misguided attempt to catch her attention. One favourite moment: Eun Sang telling Young Do to move out of her way, and Young Do obnoxiously questioning if he really stopped her followed by a mock display of ineffectual roadblocking with his arms. Not even the lead male’s endless parade of bad sweaters could compete in terms of pure entertainment with that jerk. – 중국어 캐나다

Readers: which second lead should have come in first?

List your favourite ‘sloppy seconds’ in the Comments below.


  1. You’re right about ” The Greatest Love” drama! In real life, not just Gu Ae Jung, but all girls would run screaming for Yoon Pil Joo.
    I started watching “The Heirs” for Choi Jin Hyuk. I kind liked the first episodes,but then I lost interest in this drama. Like you I kept watching it until the end to see what will do next Choi Young Do.
    The pool scene and the one with the motorcycle are memorable and funny.


    1. Speaking of Choi Jin Hyuk, “The Heirs” was my first exposure to him, so you can imagine how my head exploded when I saw him in “Emergency Couple” in which he is the opposite of intimidating.


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