6 Second Lead K-Drama Guys Who Should Have Got The Girl In The End

They deserved better!

Cover image via Soompi , VOI , Amino Apps

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If you are a big K-drama fan, you may be familiar with the 'second lead syndrome'

The second lead syndrome is a very common trope in K-dramas that most viewers have a love-hate relationship with.

The 'syndrome' happens when you, as a viewer, root for the second lead to win the main girl's heart.

There is usually a very lovable second lead who falls for the girl first, treats her like a princess, is always there for her, and gets along well with her parents.

Yet, despite all that, he still loses to the main lead at the end of the series.

"Uh-oh, I think I'm definitely going to get second lead syndrome from this drama!"

There are times when you find yourself thinking this halfway through the series. Yet, you can't help but keep watching and rooting for the second lead anyway.

Sometimes, the drama even truly makes you believe that the second lead is definitely going to get her, because he seems to check all the boxes to qualify as the main lead. 

Here are six K-drama characters who will give you intense second lead syndrome feels:

1. Kim Jung Hwan from Reply 1988 switches from being the main lead to being the second lead

Image via Soompi

Jung Hwan waits for Deok Sun in front of her house every morning, re-tying his shoelaces again and again until she comes out just so he can walk her to school. And that's just one of the cute things he does for her! The two spent the whole drama dancing around each other, giving us hope that they were going to be an endgame, only to pull a last-minute bait and switch on us and have her end up with someone else, nuuuuu!

As much as Jung Hwan wants to be with Deok Sun, he is willing to swallow his feelings to let his best friend, who also likes Deok Sun, be happy with her :')

(Admit it, if you have watched this, you've never recovered!)

Image via TENOR

2. Han Seo Jun from True Beauty is an enemy-turned-friend who secretly pines for the girl

Image via Koreaboo

A bad boy on the outside, a softie on the inside.

Seo Jun and Joo Kyung first meet because the latter steals the former's helmet, and though they start off as a bickering duo, they quickly become friends. Seo Jun eventually develops feelings for Joo Kyung, but like other second leads, his best friend, Lee Su Ho, has feelings for her too.

Although he constantly behaves rudely to people he dislikes, Seo Jun is very caring to Joo Kyung. He stands up for her when she gets bullied and even comforts her when she's struggling due to her long-distance relationship with Su Ho.

Although he gets to achieve his ambition of becoming an idol in the end, he never gets to achieve his dream of being with the girl he loves (sigh, the fate of a second lead).

Image via Soompi

3. Gu Dong Mae from Mr. Sunshine is the lover who was never meant to be

In contrast to Ae Shin, who comes from a noble family, Dong Mae is the son of a butcher. When they were children, Ae Shin saves Dong Mae when he almost gets killed by the villagers before he leaves for Japan.

As the years go by, Ae Shin grew up into a fine woman who fights for her nation, while Dong Mae ends up becoming her enemy by joining a Japanese mafia association. 

Nevertheless, Dong Mae knows what he wants and never hesitates. Despite being on opposite sides with her, he always does what he has to do to protect Ae Shin from danger, including risking his own safety.

In the end, although he's suffering from severe wounds after fighting his enemies, he dies smiling and thinking of Ae Shin.

He truly loved her until his last breath :'(

4. Go Chung Myung from Hotel Del Luna has been in love with the girl for over a thousand years and counting

Image via Amino Apps

Over 1,000 years ago, after robbing Princess Song Hwa, Jang Man Wol meets Captain Go Chung Myung, and they fall in love. Unfortunately, in order to protect Man Wol and prevent her from being punished by the king, Chung Myung has to betray her and marry the princess.

Right after his wedding, he willingly lets Man Wol stab and kill him to rid himself of his guilt towards her. Not knowing the reason behind the betrayal, Man Wol continued living for 1,300 years resenting the man she used to love.

Unbeknownst to anyone, Chung Myung transforms into a firefly and stays by Man Wol's side while she runs a hotel for the dead as punishment for her past sins. When Man Wol discovers this, she nonchalantly tells him that she forgives him before sending him off to the afterlife.

Chung Myung extends his hand, inviting her to join him in the afterlife, but she does not accept because she wants to continue protecting her new lover, Gu Chan Sung.

5. Kim Ji Woong from Our Beloved Summer would rather keep his feelings to himself than be lonely

Image via MaryMeKpop

Kim Ji Woong falls for Yeon Soo the first time he lays his eyes on her in the school assembly hall. Not far from where he's standing, his childhood best friend, Choi Woong, is admiring Yeon Soo's beauty as well. That's when he knows that he should let his best friend get the girl and keep his feelings to himself. He chooses to watch the couple develop a romantic relationship and pretend like he does not care. However, the relationship does not last long.

10 years later, Ji Woong becomes a documentary producer who is in charge of rebooting an old documentary starring Choi Woong and Yeon Soo. Fearing that he'd be abandoned by the only people who cared about him, he once again witnesses the two rekindle their broken relationship, but this time, through the lens of a camera.

He represses his feelings for her until the end, for the sake of his best friend's happiness.

Image via jehoon

6. Han Ji Pyeong from Start-Up makes us wish he used his real name instead

Image via VOI

When they were young, Han Ji Pyeong promised his adopted grandmother that he'd write letters to Dal Mi, pretending to have a crush on her. However, instead of using his real name, he pretended to be someone else instead — a math prodigy named Nam Do San.

Years later, grown up Dal Mi, Ji Pyeong, and the real Do San all cross paths, with Dal Mi still in love with the 'Do San' from the letters. As Dal Mi and the real Do San start to develop feelings for each other, Ji Pyeong starts falling for Dal Mi too. But because of his deception, he can only watch from the sidelines as everything unfolds.

Ah, what could have been if only he had used his real name... </3

Image via Dreamers.id

Instead of second leads, here are antagonists who we tend to root for:

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