Before our popular oppas like Lee Min Ho, Song Joong Ki, Park Bo Gum, Nam Joo Hyuk, Park Hyun Sik, etc. captivated our hearts by their lovable characters, these first generation leading men did it first. They made us feel the feels and also became one of our biases when their Kdramas were aired in the Philippines in the early 2000s.
Here is the list of hot and dashing first generation leading men in Kdrama land. And some of them are still well known today. Do you still remember them?
- Song Seung Heon
He portrayed the character of Yoon Joon Seo in the hit drama “Endless Love: Autumn in My Heart” together with Song Hye Kyo as his female lead. He also became the male lead in “East of Eden”, “My Princess” and “When a Man Falls in Love”. Earlier this year, Song became Lee Young Ae’s onscreen partner in the pre-produced historical drama “Saimdang”. And now he is going to portray another spectacular character in his new drama “Black” with Go Ara.
- Kwon Sang Woo
Kwon Sang Woo is one of the good-looking male lead in the early 2000s. Being known for his expressive looks, he swoon the hearts of many viewers when he was first seen on the hit drama “Stairway to Heaven” with Choi Ji Woo. Aside from that, he was also known in some Korean melodramas such as “Sad Love Story”, “Queen of Ambition”, and “Temptation”.
He made his comeback drama this year in “Queen of Mystery”.
- Bae Yong Joon
He made his acting debut in 1994 and has eatablished his career through his previous works. But in 2002, he rose to stardom both in South Korea and the international scene for portraying the lead role in the Endless Love series, Winter Sonata, with Choi Ji Woo. He married actress Park Soo Jin in 2015 and welcomed their first baby last October 2016.
- Kim Rae Won
He became popular for his lead character in “Attic Cat” which was aired in the Philippines in 2005. Since then, Kim Rae Won has captivated the viewers. He also got major roles in other dramas such as “Love Story in Harvard”, “Which Star Are You From?”, “Gourmet” and “A Thousand Days Promise.” In 2016, he became the male lead on the medical drama “Doctors” with Park Shin Hye.
- Lee Seo Jin
Lee Seo Jin was first seen in the drama “Phoenix” which was aired in 2006 by one of the biggest TV networks in the Philippines. Being known for his manly looks and charming dimple, Lee also starred in the hit drama “Lovers” with Kim Jung Eun and “Wonderful Days” with 2PM’s Taecyeon. Last year, he made his comeback drama “Marriage Contract” with UEE and garnered high ratings in the weekend block in South Korea. He is currently seen in the newest season of “Three Meals a Day” as the cast member together with Shinhwa’s Eric and Yoon Kyung Sang.
- Eric Mun (Shinhwa)
As the leader of the first gen boy group Shinhwa, Eric became a well known actor on the dramas “Phoenix”, “Super Rookie”, and “Another Oh Hae Young”. He is also known as Chef Eric on “Three Meals a Day” because of his creative and delicious meals. Our “Romantic-Comedy King” is happily married to actress Na Hye Mi.
- So Ji Sub
So Ji Sub became one of the sought-after actors in Kdrama land after his hit melodrama “Memories of Bali”. He is also known for his other works like “Sorry, I Love You”, and “The Master’s Sun”. His charisma and manly looks were instrumental when he starred as a professional trainer, Kim Young Ho, in the rom-com drama “Oh My Venus” with Shin Min Ah. This hunky actor is one of the casts of the box-office hit movie “The Battleship Island” together with Song Joong Ki and veteran actor Hwang Jung Min.
- Jo In Sung
He is one of the main leads in the hit drama “Memories of Bali” alongside So Ji Sub which became popular in the Philippines. With his oozing appeal and sweet voice, Jo In Sung played a remarkable character on the dramas “That Winter The Wind Blows”, and “It’s Okay, That’s Love”. He made his cameo role on the drama “Dear My Friends” last year.
Being known as one of South Korea’s promising singer and total performer, Rain rose to stardom when he played the character of Lee Young Jae in “Full House” in 2004 and it became widely popular when it was aired in the Philippines. He also starred in dramas “A Love to Kill”, “My Lovable Girl”, and “Come Back, Mister”. While on his drama break, he is busy preparing for his singing comeback this November and he is also expecting his first child with his wife, actress Kim Tae Hee.
- Lee Dong Wook
Another first gen male lead is the wonderful and handsome Lee Dong Wook. His drama “My Girl” with Lee Da Hae became a hit in South Korea and in the Philippines. Due to its popularity, he made a special appearance as one of the guests in a noontime show in 2006. He is also known for his major lead role in “Scent of a Woman”, “Hotel King”, “Blade Man”, and “Bubblegum”. His awesome looks never failed to swoon the eyes and hearts of the viewers as he portrayed the Grim Reaper in one of the highest-rated cable drama “Goblin”.
- Lee Jong Ki
One of the earliest second lead syndrome in Kdrama land was caused by Lee Jong Ki in the hit drama, My Girl. Since then, he landed on amazing lead roles in several period dramas like “Iljimae”, “Arang and the Magistrate”, and “Scholar Who Walks The Night”. He made an exemplary performance in “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” as the 4th Prince Wang So and gained praises and love from the international viewers. Lee is currently on the Korean adaptation of “Criminal Minds” with Moon Chae Won.
- Song Il Kook
He is best known as the lead character on the popular historical drama “Jumong” and “Emperor of the Sea” which were aired in the early 2000s. Even though he is already a family man, the award-winning actor maintains his popularity especially when he became a cast member of “The Return of Superman” together with his triplets Song Daehan, Song Minguk, and Song Manse.
- Oh Ji Ho
He is best known in the hit Kdramas “Couple or Trouble”, “Get Karl! Oh Soo Jung”, “Queen of Housewives”, “Queen of the Office”, and “Cheo Yeong”. Oh Ji Ho played a father role in his latest drama “My Fair Lady” and also made an appearance in “The Return of Superman” with his daughter Oh Seo Heun.
- Joo Ji Hoon
Joo Ji Hoon made his first leading role as the Crown Prince Lee Shin in the “Princess Hours” in 2006 which also gained high viewership ratings. He also appeared in the dramas “Medical Top team” and “Mask”. Our dear Crown Prince is currently active in doing movies.
- Jae Hee
Actor Jae Hee became popular for his lead character in the rom-com drama “Sassy Girl Chun Hyang” with Han Chae Young in 2005. He was also the main lead in “Witch Yoo Hee” and “Three Dads and One Mommy”. This first gen leading man was one of the casts in the recently concluded weekend drama “You Are Too Much”.
- Gong Yoo
This ageless ahjussi is still on the track as one of the popular South Korean actors nowadays. Although he became one of the main casts in the early installments of the “School” series, Gong Yoo gained more popularity when he portrayed the character of a handsome barista in the hit gender-bender drama “Coffee Prince” together with Yoon Eun Hye. The “Train to Busan” actor made another great performance as “Goblin” and received awards on the recently concluded Baeksang Arts Awards.
- Hyun Bin
Hyun Bin was first seen in one of the highest rating Kdramas of all time “My Name is Kim Sam Soon” which was aired in the Philippines in 2006. He was also known for his lead role in the dramas “The World That They Live In” and “Secret Garden.” He is currently active in doing movies after his comeback drama “Hyde, Jekyll, Me” aired in 2015.
- Jang Hyuk
This versatile actor was first seen in “The Successful Story of a Bright Girl” in 2002. The said drama was the very first Kdrama to be aired in the Philippines. Years later, he was reunited with his Bright Girl lead, Jang Na Ra, on the Korean adaptation of “Fated to Love You”. His latest action-mystery drama “Voice” is one of the recommended dramas this year.
- Ji Sung
Being first known for his secondary role in “All In” and for his portrayal of a chaebol-turned-amnesiac in the melodrama “Save the Last Dance for Me,” Ji Sung is one of the actors who always gives an unforgettable and one of a kind feels in his Kdramas. This was proven through his several works such as “Secret Love”, “Kill Me, Heal Me” and “Defendant”. He is now happily married to actress Lee Bo Young which he met on set of “Save the Last Dance for Me”.
- Lee Min Ki
Lee Min Ki started his popularity in the drama “Love Truly” with Eugene and “Dalja’s Spring” with Chae Rim as his onscreen partners respectively. Though he became more focused in doing movies, he is making a drama comeback this year titled “Because this is My First Life” together with actress Jung So Min.
- Lee Byung Hun
He is one of the veteran South Korean actors through his dramas “All In” and “Iris” with remarkably high viewership ratings. Even though he is doing a lot of movies nowadays, Lee Byung Hun is also making his drama comeback titled “Mr. Sunshine” which will be aired in 2018.
- Won Bin
He was one of the main leads in the drama “Autumn in My Heart” together with Song Seung Heon. Unfortunately, Won Bin didn’t have any following dramas after that and he starred in several movies up until to his last project “The Man From Nowhere” in 2010. Nonetheless, he id still popular as his name was mentioned in the drama “Kill Me, Heal Me” in 2015 in one of Park Seo Joon’s dialogue.
- Kang Dong Won
Kang Dong Won was first seen in the 2003 version of “1% of Anything” as he portrayed the character of Lee Jae In. Although he gained popularity because of that drama, he didn’t do new dramas up to this date and he became more focused in doing blockbuster hit movies in South Korea.
- Park Shin Yang
He became one of the most popular actors in South Korea as he starred in the highest rating drama “Lovers in Paris” with Kim Jung Eun. He also appeared in the drama “War of Money” which was aired in the Philippines around 2008. He was awarded as the Top Excellence Actor in the annual KBS Drama Awards for his role in his comeback drama “Neighborhood Lawyer Mr. Jo”.
- Lee Dong Gun
Lee Dong Gun increased his popularity when he played the character of Yoon Soo Hyuk in “Lovers in Paris.” He also appeared in the dramas “Sweet 18”, “Stained Glass” and “Marry Him if You Dare” as the main lead. This year, Lee portrayed the role of King Yeonsangun in the historical drama “Queen for Seven Days”. He is happily married to actress Jo Yoon Hee who was his onscreen partner in the weekend drama “Gentlemen of Wolgyesu Tailor Shop”.
- Kim Jae Won
Kim Jae Won was first seen as Eugene’s leading man in the drama “Wonderful Life” in 2005. He was also the main lead in the dramas “My 19-year old Sister-in-Law” and historical drama “Hwang Jini.” He was best known in the movie “100 Days with Mr. Arrogant” with actress Ha Ji Won.
- Ryu Jin
He became one of Eugene’s leading men in the drama “Love Truly” wherein he played the character of a doctor who is a President’s son. He was also part of the drama “Summer Scent” together with Song Seung Heon and appeared in several dramas such as “Love You a Thousand Times” and “Prime Minister and I”.
- Jo Hyun Jae
Jo Hyun Jae became the main lead in the dramas “Love Letter” and “Only You” in the early 2000s. He gained more popularity on the drama “49 Days” with Lee Yo Won which was also his drama comeback after his mandatory military service. He was also in the award-winning drama “Yong Pal” as the half-brother of Kim Tae Hee’s character.
- Ji Jin Hee
He was best known for hit period dramas “”Dae Jang Geum” and “Dong Yi” as the main lead. He also became the leading man in “Celebrity Sweethearts” and even on the Taiwanese drama “The 100th Bride”. Ji Jin Hee had a remarkable performance as he portrayed the villainous role of Lee Jae Wook in the vampire drama “Blood.”
- Cheon Jung Myung
Cheon Jung Myung was one of the main leads in the period drama “Fashion 70s” together with Lee Yo Won and Kim Min Jung. He also starred in another noona-romance themed drama “What’s Up, Fox?” as 24-year old Park Chul Soo and other dramas “Cinderella’s Sister”, “Glory Jane” and “Heart to Heart.” Last year, he played the role of Moo Myung in the drama “The Master of Revenge”.
If you do remember all of them, then you are a certified Tita in Kdrama Land!
Bonus: Some of them are active on Instagram. See their official IG accounts here.
Written by: Jehan Del Ayre