All of Kim Eun Sook’s Drama Leading Men Assembled in a Visual Walk Down Memory Lane

As top Korean drama screenwriter Kim Eun Sook preps for her next drama airing at the end of 2016, having lined up leading man Gong Yoo (squeeee!), it’s a good time as any to do a catalog of all the K-actors she’s made famous or made even more famous after doing one of her dramas. The most recent two being Song Joong Ki and Jin Goo in Descendants of the Sun, but twelve years ago in 2004 the trend started with Park Shin Yang and Lee Dong Gun in Lovers in Paris.

In those dozen years between, she’s crafted memorable male lead roles that have followed certain actors, such as Hyun Bin‘s iconic Kim Joo Won in Secret Garden, or become a lasting memory in Park Yong Ha‘s beautifully heartfelt performance in On Air. The commonality was that all the male leads were visually gorgeous playing a role that Kim Eun Sook wrote to be as indelible as possible, in ways good or bad or a mixture of both. Enjoy the picture walk down memory lane as we savor the DotS boys for a few more months when their buzz remains high, and look forward to what’s in store for Gong Yoo. 

Park Shin Yang and Lee Dong Gun in Lovers in Paris

Lee Seo Jin in Lovers

Kim Joo Hyuk and Kim Min Joon in Lovers in Prague

Park Yong Ha and Lee Bum Soo in On Air

Cha Seung Won in City Hall

Hyun Bin and Yoon Sang Hyun in Secret Garden

Jang Dong Gun, Kim Min Jong, Kim Soo Ro, and Lee Jong Hyuk in A Gentleman’s Dignity

Lee Min Ho and Kim Woo Bin in Heirs

Song Joong Ki and Jin Goo in Descendants of the Sun

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All of Kim Eun Sook’s Drama Leading Men Assembled in a Visual Walk Down Memory Lane — 36 Comments

  1. oh yeah . . . . is this post ask us to choose one?
    character wise, Yoo Shi Jin,
    Actor Wise : yoon sang hyun, Song jong ki (this is not bc of DoTS but The Innocent Man)

  2. I just realized why City Hall is my favorite of all of these shows: it is the one with the most character growth. When you compare where the leads are at the end, to how they were at the beginning, it is miles apart. So while DotS was a perfectly charming show with drop-dead gorgeous leads, it didn’t affect me as much because — well, they were cool at the beginning and cool at the end. And don’t even get me started on the disaster that was Kim Tan.

    • It took me a few episodes to get into City Hall, but I think it is one of the best this writer has done. I also agree on DOTS. I found myself enjoying the pretty, but I didn’t feel any emotional connection. When there were tears in the drama, I found myself not really caring all that much.

      • I agree about DOTS. I understand the most of Asian Countries loved the drama but I tired liking it and failed. It is okay but not one I will repeat.

    • Entertainment is tailored made for customers of different preference. Unfortunately City Hall may be the only KES drama that I did not have patience to watch through the end. I dropped it at the midway of episode 1. LOL…Not saying it’s bad in quality, just that topic and the way the story is delivered is not up my alley from the very start. I may try again later.

      As to character development. I only hear K drama fans talk a lot about this element. Is there any fundamental theory in drama 101 saying this is MUST ingredient in cooking up a “good” drama? For me and I believe for many audience too, it’s all about whether it is entertaining at the moment you watch. To this point, it’s totally nothing to do with character development.

    • City Hall is KES’s most three dimensional character writing, most of her characters are flat caricatures to fit a story mold, Mi Rae and Gookie were fleshed out through 20 episodes so that they felt like real people and not just shiny pretty objects onscreen. Still KES’s best drama by a huuuuuuuge gap.

      • I tried to watch City Hall b/c the cast are great and Kim Sun Ah is one of my faves. But somehow the drama all started dragging with all the awkwardness in KSA. I just hate to see clumsy heroines. I may give a shot once again. This unsuccessful watching experience is very similar to Six Flying Dragons. While so many ppl rave about SFD and I’m a huge fan of Yoo Ah In, I didn’t even get past ep 2 and didn’t even get to see YAI on screen. LOL. Koala, I’ll take your words and get my popcorn ready for the first few episodes of City Hall again. And let’s see.

        For SFD, fans may kindly tell me from which episode YAI entered the show. LOL…If it’s fun to watch with YAI swagger, then I may go back to the first few episodes to catch up the skipped narratives of his childhood. That was how it worked for me to watch The Moon Embracing the Sun and I ended up liking TMETS very much. I’m not at all a sucker of childhood storyline and very impatient with long narratives about a main character’s childhood story. LOL

      • +10000 City Hall is my all time favourite drama and I agree with your comment 100% if not more. After watching it I really couldn’t believe Kim Eun Sook also wrote Heirs, because the two drama’s are leagues apart on both story and acting fronts. And I just loove Kim Sun Ah and Cha Seung Won to bits <3 They had the best on-screen chemistry I've ever seen between a lead couple and the most character growth. I just really hope the next drama can be even one- tenth as good as City Hall, and if possible I hope Gong Yoo's co-star can be Kim Sun Ah–This woman has combustible chemistry with ALL her co-stars! If it happened it would make all my drama dreams come true 😀 <3

      • @Drama2016 But she becomes totally badass by the end of the show. City Hall is one of my fav kdramas ever precisely because of all the character growth. Okay, I loved the swoon-worthy love story, and cha seung won and kim sun ah are the most wonderful pairing imaginable, but, at least for me, the development of kim sun ah’s character made watching the drama so worthwhile – she literally goes from zero to hero.

        The only rom-com I can think of that had such amazing character development is dal ja’s spring (city hall’s ending was much better though, dal ja’s spring was a wonderful show with wonderful characters, but they messed the ending a bit).

        @akira they did a movie together, she’s on duty, and yes, the chemistry was off the charts 🙂

      • oh and another thing, @drama2016, I remember almost giving up after 2 episodes of city hall, I didn’t like it much. But fortunately I didn’t give up – so while it perhaps takes a bit to get into (only in the very beginning), it becomes something truly rewarding.

      • loved city hall – my favorite among her dramas
        no offense, but couldn’t stand heirs and i love lee minho, but just couldn’t not finish it

  3. Really love them all in their own way. Lovers in Prague was my first K-drama, ever. So it has a soft spot for me, but Kim Eun Sook has written many memorable screen moments, and Secret Garden and City Hall are in my top 10 dramas of all time.

    So far. I’m totally willing for her to kick one of them out with another new drama.

    • The only drama I’ve watched from KES is Lovers in Prague. And that was for JDY and KJH. I almost finished Secret Garden, but I lost interest about 10 episodes in.

  4. Wow! Such talent. Just for a quick moment, I thought I was watching Takuya Kimura instead of Yoon Sang Hyun. Also, miss Park Yong Ha.

  5. I still can’t believe she wrote City Hall. Maybe she had a particular co-writer or writing team for that drama alone. I’m excited to see Gong Yoo again but I hope she gives him some meat to work with.

    • Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but on this we’ll agree to disagree. Gong Yoo unattractive? How? In what way is that fine looking gentleman unattractive?

    • Gong yoo isnt my fave.. Never finished anything with him including coffee prince.. But he’s one good looking guy. Since i watched 9 of 10 dramas of kes, perhaps, im gonna watch the one with GY. But perhaps also, it would end up like city hall, the only drama that i couldnt even enjoy… So lets see…

    • I wholeheartedaly agree with this statement. Gong Yoo is so funny looking to me. I have never gotten the big deal with him. I still don’t get it. There is nothing spectacular about him, not even his acting.

  6. All her main men are good looking but the cheesy lines that come out of their mouths are just fantasy land. Maybe that’s why I found Hyun Bin’s character most memorable

  7. I think among the majority of drama characters (watched Lovers series some time ago and haven’t seen Heirs) that Song Joong Ki got the least aggressive (jerk) lead. He was insistent but always took no for an answer and (tried to) move on. If I remember correctly Cha Seung Won’s character was also on the better side (gotta re watch City Hall)

  8. I don’t know if KES’ screenplays elevated on-screen charm of these leading men or these already-charismatic actors elevated KES’ dramas. These actors are mostly top-notch in my book. But among them given the dramas written by KES, I was most impressed by Park Shin Yang, Lee Bum Soo, Lee Soe Jin, Hyun Bin, and of course Song Joong Ki acting wise. I have yet to watch City Hall that’s the only KES drama I dropped without finishing the whole series.

  9. Love them or hate them, her dramas are unforgettable, and they almost always shoot the male leads into crazy rabid popularity (even if they were popular before). I just wish I could say the same for her female leads.

  10. for me is Lee Min Ho – Kim Tan was one of the most unique leading man in my opinion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! it was the first time I saw a leading man be honest with their feelings and have the courage of expressing them!!! love him

  11. Kim Eun Sook always take the hotest men in town and done her story line quite unique and easy to digest. Gorgeous guys on TV with good story line in dramaland…hey why not! 🙂

  12. Speaking of character development, Choi Youngdo is my favorite Kdrama male character. And I realize KES is very good at writing interesting dialogues from him.

  13. I love City Hall. I watched it cause of KSA, but I fell in lve with CSW. Best chemistry, and all the charachters are superb.

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