Sliding Scale of When Lead Onscreen Chemistry Saves or Sinks Preposterously Plotted K-dramas

Four episodes into watching K-drama The King: Eternal Monarch and it’s a steady stream of “buh” and “huh” and “snooze…..” The story may be disjointed but there have been way worse written K-dramas that have worked better thanks to the onscreen romantic chemistry of the leads – not talking about acting ability, just whether the two leads make the viewer believe they are mere seconds away from boning if the camera wasn’t there. The leads of The King don’t just have no chemistry, they might have negative chemistry like two same sided magnets pushing off each other. I thought to make my list of when there has been a stupid/far-fetched,/preposterous/fantasy K-dramas and whether chemistry made it work. This isn’t about a well-written or substantive K-dramas as that can allow the story and directing to keep the interest and carry the day. This is about when everything is actually quite stupid but viewers love it because the leads sell it. Here goes!

Chemistry to Stupidity Scale – K-drama Leads Edition

Scale from 10 (high) to 1 (low). The higher both the chemistry and stupidity level shows how the two leads high chemistry managed to save an equally high level of stupid story. And remember – this list does not include dramas considered well-written by the general public, just silly fluff that either worked or flamed out spectacularly.

Lie to Me (2011) – Yoon Eun Hye and Kang Ji Hwan.
Lead chemistry – 10, Story stupidity – 9

Crash Landing on You (2020) – Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin
Lead chemistry – 10, Story stupidity – 6

The King 2 Hearts (2012) – Ha Ji Won and Lee Seung Gi.
Lead chemistry – 10, Story stupidity – 5

Descendants of the Sun (2016) – Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo.
Lead chemistry – 10, Story stupidity – 7

Goblin (2017) – Gong Yoo, Kim Go Eun and Lee Dong Wook.
Lead chemistry – Gong Yoo and Kim Go Eun – 2, Gong Yoo and Lee Dong Wook – 10, Story stupidity – 5

Why Secretary Kim (2018) – Park Seo Joon and Park Min Young.
Lead chemistry – 9, Story stupidity – 6

Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (2016) – Park Bo Gum and Kim Yoo Jung.
Lead chemistry – 9, Story stupidity – 6

You From Another Star (2013) – Kim Soo Hyun and Jeon Ji Hyun.
Lead chemistry – 8, Story stupidity – 5

Secret Garden (2010) – Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won
Lead chemistry – 8, Story stupidity – 5

Goong (Princess Hours) (2005) – Yoon Eun Hye and Joo Ji Hoon.
Lead chemistry – 8, Story stupidity – 5

Pretty Noona Buys Me Food (2018) – Son Ye Jin and Jung Hae In.
Lead chemistry – 8, Story stupidity – 8

Dream High (2011) – Suzy, Kim Soo Hyun, Taecyeon
Lead chemistry – all three with each other an 8, Story stupidity – 5

Full House (2004) – Rain and Song Hye Kyo.
Lead chemistry – 7, Story stupidity – 8

Big (2012) – Gong Yoo and Lee Min Jung.
Lead chemistry – 7, Story stupidity – 10

Boys Before Flowers (2009) – Lee Min Ho and Goo Hye Sun.
Lead chemistry – 7, Story stupidity – 8.5

Uncontrollably Fond (2016) – Suzy and Kim Woo Bin
Lead chemistry – 7, Story stupidity – 6

Legend of the Blue Sea (2016) – Lee Min Ho and Jeon Ji Hyun.
Lead chemistry – 6.5, Story stupidity – 7

Blademan (2014) – Lee Dong Wook and Shin Se Kyung.
Lead chemistry – 6, Story stupidity – 10+++++++++++

The Moon Embraces the Sun (2012) – Kim Soo Hyun and Han Ga In
Lead chemistry – 5, Story stupidity – 7

Heirs (2013) – Lee Min Ho and Park Shin Hye.
Lead chemistry – 5, Story stupidity – 8

Hotel Del Luna (2019) – IU and Yeo Jin Gu.
Lead chemistry – 5, Story stupidity – 4

Arthdal Chronicles (2019) – Song Joong Ki and Kim Ji Won.
Lead chemistry – 4, Story stupidity – 9.9

Memories of Alhambra (2018) – Hyun Bin and Park Shin Hye.
Lead chemistry – 3, Story stupidity – 9

Vagabond (2019) – Lee Seung Gi and Suzy
Lead chemistry – 2, Story stupidity – 10 + 10 = 20

Melt Me Softly (2019) – Ji Chang Wook and Won Jin Ah.
Lead chemistry – 1, Story stupidity – 10000000000000 to infinity.

Currently airing The King: Eternal Monarch (2020) episodes 1-4 – let’s see if this rating changes by the end of its run but so far no bueno.

Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun.
Lead chemistry – 1, Story stupidity – 8
Alternaships – Kim Go Eun and Kim Kyung Nam, Lee Min Ho and Maximus. Also “off with your head!” and scenes of the bamboo forest.


Comments

Sliding Scale of When Lead Onscreen Chemistry Saves or Sinks Preposterously Plotted K-dramas — 121 Comments

  1. Hhahaha. Hilarious article Koala gotta give it to you. I may agree to disagree with you here but still love the article tho. It’s hilarious.

    I Love the pairing of Lee Min-ho and Kim Go-eun for odd reasons and I can’t put words on it why. Is it me being to horny or what not maybe but I don’t know they just seem right to me maybe because of the same age-range

  2. Lmao heirs hahahaha. it deserves 4 while 5 is to generous. Melting softly gosh that was horrible tbh especially the story I completely agree with you on that.

    Maybe I am an outsider but I love LMH X KGE. I am waiting for dating rumours for these 2

  3. In Defense of Legend of the blue sea couple getting only 6.5 chem? I mean really Koala? Or Have I been living under a rock or that chemistry was legendary imho seems like the mermaid and ML romance the hell out of each other.

    Hotel del Luna lead chem 5. Noooo that is one of my favourite chemistry between any couple. I would give them 8.

    I agree with melting softly on both fronts you nail that one and couple of others

  4. Where is Itaewon Class? double couples! I would give the main couple 7 and stupidity 6. I haven’t still gotten over it

    • There are certain dramas that I believe do not need any romantic arc to sell cause their script and acting is good anyway. IC was one such. The story started on a high note but ever since the romantic angle came into forefront,other things took a back seat. That’s why I think it couldn’t maintain its ratings growth in the latter half unlike TWOM which is climbing the ladder with each passing episode. Over all IC was a great drama but I m just saying that the second half faltered in comparison to the first half. Although it already has good ratings but still could have broken the 20 pc barrier.
      Korean writers tend to insert romance in every existing genre. There maybe some dramas without any romantic angle but I m yet to come across one.Saw a video where koreans were asked what they think of kdramas. They said that all dramas will definitely have a love story in the background in any possible scenario.

      • @Asta

        Then check out Misaeng, a deliberate exception to that rule. The production insisted on no romance despite the public pressure to do the contrary. I have also seen a number of revenge kdramas or thrillers on OCN with no romantic plots whatsoever. A lot depends on the genre and whether or not such kdramas are your cup of tea. They tend to have pretty heavy subject matter and are not for everyone. There’s a reason why PDs like to insert to insert romance in most dramas no matter how unnecessary – they are crowd pleasers and often guarantee ratings. However, not all PDs are able to insert such subplots seamlessly, that’s why there are messes like the second half of IC – what a waste of an otherwise good drama.

      • @ Adal
        I have heard about Misaeng being a fabulous slice of life drama. I will watch it soon. Thanks for the suggestion.

      • “My mister” is truly a state of the art, please watch that drama, it is a story of humanity and kindness. It is truly truly one of the best dramas that I have watched that everything is good from cinematography to the acting, the script and the story unfold.

      • Task Force 38 or Squad 38 from OCN about delinquent tax evaders and the police force that try to catch them has no romance. Underrated gem with a great ensemble cast. Need more dramas like this with no romance.

  5. I died Blademan, Vegabond and Melting Me Softly…..good list. Please do one for second lead vs. first lead chemistry. Honestly, the story stupidity in Goong and DOTS should be higher.

  6. Great article Koala. Very Insightful. You are too generous in not assigning a Zero for no chemistry. I think The King has less chemistry than MIS so if MIS is 1, the king will have to be 0.5 if not 0. Thank you for a very enjoyable read. Keep up the good work!

  7. Okay I confess. I like the pairing of Lee Min-Ho and Kim Go-Eun. Stranger things have happened in my life but I find myself cheering for them to end up in this drama. They alert my shipper sense when I see them together

  8. You are being very generous to Blademan, Goong in terms of story stupidity…agreed more or less on the rest…Kang Ji Hwan…he is cancelled…there are so many shows I can’t watch due to him and Park Yoochan.

      • Forest is a drama that looked good on the paper but a total crap on screen. It’s one of the worst drama in 2020. But conversations and interactions between the leads were good. JBA isn’t a shy one in kissing department on screen, I only noticed the so called awkward kissing once but I put it as intentional or scripted.

        Forest is a drama where you can either feel deeply for the OTP OR totally hate it from the bottom of your heart, no middle ground.

  9. Am glad I didn’t see Lee Jong Suk’s name anywhere. He has good chemistry with most female leads except for Jin Se Yeon. Suzy and PSH were a little weak, but still okay.

    • I think his best chemistry till date is definitely HHJ..in W two worlds…It was my first drama starring him and I became a fan of the leads and ended up watching almost all of their works. (Couldn’t gather myself to watch WYWS though due to the fl)
      In “Doctor Stranger” LJS and KSR were rocking and I got a bad SLS.

      • Despite not being a huge fan of FL, I still like WYWS. The chemistry of all the cast is great.

  10. Back then, MBC has most of the worst dramas, but they’ve got decent ratings. K2H is one among them. Look at MBC now, they’re practically strugling, even with far better dramas. JTBC is now filling MBC’s spot in the past. They will get praised for everything they make.

  11. I can’t believe that CLOY has higher stupidity level than Goong.

    And KGE doesn’t have good chemistry with GY. GY has way off the chart chemistry with LDW.

    • Agreed on GY and KGE. In fact Goblin’s every other pairing had MUCH better chemistry than the leads. GY-LDW, LDW-Yoo Inna, GY-Yoo Inna, LDW-KGE. Even Sungjae had waaaay better chemistry with everyone including the child and butterfly lmao.

    • GY and KGE were fine for what the script was trying to deliver. People overhype LDW and GY’s chemistry. Most of their funny scenes seemed random and out of place and tbh a lot of the show, especially the funnier sides of their dynamic, doesn’t hold up on rewatch.

  12. Well you need basic acting to make viewers believe they love each other. So acting and chemistry also has corelation. The most important think is you need to feel comfortable with your partner. But you need better than that… You need emotional connection with your partner in order to believe you love your partner, this is where acting take apart to feel the chemistry. Also, a good writing really helping creating this emotion more believable imo.

    • Lmao koala… im a fan of arthdal but i wont defend it with nonsense arguments… PREFERENCE.. But the 10++++ lmao…

      What a good laugh.

      The last one buhahahaha… hilarious.

      Some people need to chill.. and accept the reality. Lols

      • Me too ..I liked AC a lot. Tagon and Tae-Alha were great. But I was shipping Tanya played by Kim Ji Won ,with her bodyguard Yangcha😂😂 . She was the only person able to hear his thoughts.

      • Agree! Her chemistry with Eunsom/ Sanya is almost nonexistent compared to yancha😂

        I have to disagree koala abt the chemistry of mlfts couple tho. For me they are solid 10😍

    • I don’t know. There are so many “making of” shows about tv or movies about actors who were known for their great chemistry but actually didn’t like each other or despised each other in real life. I mean, I guess it’s chemistry of a type. (In US tv the show Castle comes to mind…I mean great on screen but apparently seriously grew to despise eachother.)

      I actually think actors don’t need an emotional connection. It’s acting and it is a craft that can be honed. Movies can be shot in 6 weeks; there’s not time for that though it is great if it works that way. A couple has chemistry or they don’t. If they don’t the actors have to do their job and the director has to shoot scenes a certain way as well. In k-dramaland they don’t even bother to do a screen test where they can tell if they mesh together well. That’s my opinion on why so many romance dramas have chemistry issues.

      • @KAT, What I mean emotional connection it’s not neccesarily you need to love the person personally, or like of. Though it will helping your acting performances. It need emotional connection as a character between you and your partner when the camera roll on. There is alot of actor who has the ability to be comfortable, but lacking the acting chemistry. Heck, That’s why I disagree with lead chemistry rating here. Like I’m not a fan of Kim Soo Hyun – Jun Ji Hyun pairing, and Kim Yoo Jung – Park Bo Gum pairing. Emotional acting connection seems out of sync for me. But who AM I to judge?

        We have different preference for measure chemistry.

      • @Kat, Oh Sorry, but I mean is acting chemistry. You need emotional connection AS A CHARACTER between your acting partner. It does help when you can bond well, but If you can make connection without being friend, so be it. I think The good script with depict the relationship believable is taking apart creating chemistry. I disagree with acting value chemistry in the list above, Like Park Bo Gum – Kim Yoo Jung (PBG seems out of sync emotinally with Kim Yo Jung), and Jun Ji Hyun and Kim Soo Hyun (KSH looks like a statue, has no real emotion to JJH’s char).

        Rain and Song Hye Kyo has amazing chemistry be it emotional connection and comfortability, I rate it 10.

      • I totally agree with your POV. Especially the screen testing part. I was wondering if SK has that concept while watching TKEM. I like LMH and KGE and I didn’t mind her in Goblin. But LMH and her seem totally off sync. Plus the bad screenplay and the cheesy dialogue isn’t helping. On a side note, Castle news came as an absolute shocker to me. I loved the pair

  13. LOL this article. I don’t agree with the chemistry rating for some (DOTS should’ve been more around 4-5 range unless it’s 2nd leads we are talking about; Secret Garden and YFAS is a 10 to me).

    But what made me laugh so hard was that Melt drama with JCW. That was funny – didn’t realize it’s that bad? I obv didn’t watch it but worse than iron man?! REALLY?!? Damnnn.

  14. I love arthdal but i didnt feel offended.. some fans need to chill. It’s called PREFERENCE.

    Thanks koala, it’s a good laugh, especially the 10++++++ and the last one, buahahaha…

  15. I would add Strong Woman. I dropped but the leads were fantastic but the story…no. I don’t get the Lie to Me story being so high compared to the others but then I hardly remember the drama except the cola kiss.

  16. Ms koala should have added

    The K2. Yoona and JCW chemistry was really absent, score is zero or (even lower than that)
    It was worse than Melting Me Softly.
    It would rate Won Jin Ah abd JCW chemistry = 3.

    • @AM JCW had better chemistry with Yoona’s stepmom 😂😂Even his dead ex-gf seemed more believable with him. I skipped all the scenes involving Yoona and JCW.

      • Totally agree, Yoona seems to be so lacking in fire and energy in her acting. I skipped all her scenes in Love Rain only watch the show for Seo In Guk scenes. The rest just flat. As for K2, JCW totally set the screen on fire with the evil stepmother especially the famous umbrella scene. Some idols just cannot act but get plum roles. Yikes.

      • Don’t know about the rest but I found her chemistry with Hong Jong Hyun and Im Si Wan in “The King in Love “to be quite good. And yeah she was horrible in K2 just like a lifeless prop.

      • JCW can’t seem to save himself in his recent drama tho…? I don’t think this is exclusively a Yoona issue seeing as she has chemistry with other people like ISW or JJS in their new move. Takes 2 to tangle and all that.

  17. Lol!!such a funny article..I agree on Goblin main lead score of 2 for chemi.. While watching KGE I felt a kid was whining infront of her uncle to fulfill her wishes😂😂..But koala missed the second leads due to which I was able to finish the drama. LDW and YIN ..I will give them 10.. Even the young king and queen played by Kim Min Jae and So hyun had great chemistry.
    DOTS made me cringe hard🥴..Their chemistry appeared too forced to me ,one trying too hard(SJK) and the other doing nothing (SHK). I would give them 4 or 5. Second leads were better though.
    I already said this but would add to like it to ur list:
    My Princess- Chemi: 10 ,Plot Stupidity: 10.
    Even Koala has done a review on it and majority cared for the leads only. That plot was horrible but chemi superb.

  18. Lmao… this is so hilarious. Melt me softly and Vagabond, bwahahaha i just can’t. I’m now questioning my standard since i was able to finish those two.

    • I was live watching MMS and Vagabond.But after 8 episodes took a break from MMS as life got busy.I thought to pick it up again as dropping a drama at that time was against my wishes .As more episodes aired and I read the reviews I became more reluctant and finally never went back to watch MMS. So I dropped it midway.
      However continued Vagabond as my bias LSG was there and finished it. I was actually glad romance was not a major theme cause I can’t stand that actress. So I wasn’t bothered by their chemistry at all and individually they were okay.(Seungiiii never fails to impress me)

      • @Astar, i don’t have anything against suzy but the only project that i’ve liked from her was Dream High (Kim Soo Hyun, we miss u) So My love for seunggi is the only thing that made me watch and actually finish vagabond, period. Season 2? Ughhhhh please no. never. He’s better off with a different drama.

  19. Healer Chem 10, story stupidity 3. It’s okay chem 10, story stupidity 0. Love those shows…also loved Lie to Me (but see Kang Ji Hwan diffently now).

  20. Here’s my additional dramas by my bias, Jung So Min. I try to be critical
    Because This Is My First Life – Chemistry: 8 Story: 3
    The Smile Has Left Your Eyes –
    Chemistry: 7 Story: 6
    Playful Kiss – Chemistry: 7 Story: 10++++
    D-Day – Chemistry: 4 Story: 6

  21. Princess Hours is my fave during my high school days tho 🤣

    For me, of all the drama chemistry mentioned… Hotel Del Luna got zero chemistry between IU and Yeo Jing Goo. IU even got more chemistry with her former love interest tho.

    • Agree though. Koala gave a high score for HDL. YJG looke like a baby infront of IU ,maybe due to their characters. I liked the drama though minus the chemistry part. I found IU’s chemistry to be much better with her ex-lover.

  22. I just realized that despite not being the most handsome k-actors, Lee Jong Suk had chemistry with all his drama partners and even for bromance tho.

    • LJS is considered to be one of the most handsome actors in Korea.His towering height, pale skin, beautiful features , is what koreans desire for their beauty standard. He holds the record for being the youngest runway model for a collection in Seol Fashion week.
      Although I agree on the chemistry part. He has it with every one of his co-star.But I don’t think being pretty or handsome always guarantees that…look at SHK fo example.

      • Yes. Being pretty and handsome doesn’t really play a huge part when it comes to chemistry.

        Of all co-stars, I think SHK had the best chemistry with JIS, HB and a few others. Of course they are all good looking but visuals alone can’t be considered enough.

      • @Nad
        So far I have watched only two of SHK dramas so can’t compare with other co-stars. Never been much of a fan of her acting. The first that I watched is ofcourse DOTS. And the second one was Full House.
        I may have an unpopular opinion cause while I couldn’t feel her chemistry with SJK in DOTS,at the same time I loved her with Rain in Full House. So it is really a subjective matter.And definitely visuals is not the sole criteria.

      • Lol here I thought you already watched at least 5 of her dramas when you mentioned her as an example.

      • I know ..i should have said it after watching loads of her dramas. But while writing that comment, thinking about pretty face but not necessarily good chemi reminded of her.Of course there could have been other actors as well.I watch multiple projects of actors only when I like their acting.So if I don’t find them good,I rarely follow their work unless it is really raved about. SHK belongs to that category for me hence only two dramas .And I have read some reviews and articles of her work . That’s why I said that.

      • Not sure which reviews you were referring to but SHK was praised for her chemistry with most of her co-stars. For example WB, LBH, Rain, HB etc. It’s quite a long list tbh. To me, it just seems weird to make an assumption after watching only two of her dramas.

        Btw you’re a fan of HB, right? Being his fan, I assume you have watched a lot of his projects. Do you think he had chemistry with all of his co-stars? I remember reading your comment in another article before. I think you said you disliked the FL of Secret Garden. You probably didn’t enjoy their chemistry either. And you also haven’t watched Worlds Within yet..so why didn’t HB cross your mind when you made that example? Just curious. 🙂

      • Disagree here, SHK has good chemistry with all her co-Star in dramas. I don’t watch her movies so I don’t know.

    • @ Nad
      Nope I was not a HB fan .I clearly wrote it in that comment that after SeGa I didn’t follow his work cause his character pissed me off. SeGa chemistry didn’t bother me at all cause the whole drama was a meh to me.I found the ml over-compensating the fl for the romance part just like in DOTS.I stated before as well that Sega aired 10 years back and those days dramas may not suit everyone now. That could be the reason why I didn’t like it. Started watching CLOY as I had nothing to watch but I loved it. So can’t comment about his chemistry with other actresses.I recently became his fan and as of now I can’t bear to watch him in any other romantic work so I managed to watch his action flicks only.
      Now as you pointed out I too think why his name didn’t come to my mind??🤔🤔.If you see my previous comment I wrote that there are other actors too but SHK just popped up for a reference cause she is pretty and my DOTS experience of being let down heavily.However maybe right now I m a bit biased
      because of CLOY and HB slipped off my mind.If you want include him too. Afterall chemistry needs to be worked from both sides and pretty faces don’t guarantee it.
      Me not liking DOTS, Sega were my opinions only.PREFERENCE!!

      • It was just an example.No need to get hurt that I mentioned SHK.I may have watched only two of her Dramas but if I didn’t feel for her in her biggest hit then I think I can opine for the statement that pretty face doesn’t ALWAYS ensure chemistry .But it was me only and DOTS was a huge hit. Most of the time she indeed had good chemistry as felt by many but there were some bad as well especially in her movies and hence some reviews. Critics were not happy with her acting in some of those. And this happens with everyone. Even HB got flaked for his historical movies after military.You must be thinking I m one of those rabid HB fan running after SHK’s life. I already told you I have started liking HB just now and watched DOTS way before then. I have got nothing personal against her.It was just a thought which momentarily crossed my mind while naming SHK.

      • ..and I wasn’t even gonna question your preferences. If you see my first reply, I was actually agreeing with you. Then you said you’ve watched only two of SHK’s dramas which seems kinda weird to me coz I don’t normally make an assumption about someone’s ability to have chemistry with her co-star after just one drama (perhaps it’s just me). Besides, chemistry is totally subjective. What works for me may not work for other people. What works for them may not work for me.
        I also think it’s not really fair to blame just one side when it’s supposed to be the responsibility of both ML and FL to find the chemistry.

        Btw, sorry for my assumption. Thought you were a fan of HB.

      • @ Nad it is okay.Infact it would indeed have been weird if I start judging and generalising things just after watching two dramas.. Maybe my words confused you and I know you agreed with me initially. I just thought that TO STATE AN EXCEPTION TO A STATEMENT YOU REQUIRE ATLEAST ONE EXAMPLE. And I had that in the form of DOTS-pretty leads, forced chemi:my biggest letdown as I had so much hopes😔 .I watched two of her dramas which were polar opposites ,one I loved and the other I didn’t. And obviously SHK is one of the prettiest actress. So her name came out unintentionally. Anyways I m glad we ended on a good note without misunderstandings😊..

  23. Snarky. But i love it. I’ve been reading you for a long time and i know where you are coming from. I can still rewatch Princess Hours, even without audio, just english subs. That’s chemistry for me. Just wondering though whether it is our (women viewers) bias for the male lead that raises the bar for the female lead and hence unfulfilled chemistry? Or is there really objective chemistry such that the subjective viewers’ pov doesn’t matter? Just asking. For The King, is it possible there are only a few FL who can do action better than KGE and closer to LMH age? Its still early stage of the King so i’m still hopeful.

    • Close in age K-actresses I would have cast other than Kim Go Eun? Good question. Lee Min Ho is doing terribly as well but she’s doing worse so eh, she’s gonna get the brunt of the criticism. Below are some options but do not include any actress Lee Min Ho has previously worked with.

      Suzy – nope, can’t act and also Min Ho’s ex-girlfriend. Combustible mix in the worst possible way.

      Yoon Eun Hye – sure, maybe 5 years ago. Not the current state she’s in so far removed from acting.

      Moon Geun Young – best would have also been her Cinderella Unni days but I’m not feeling her intensity anymore when she acts. But she can turn it on.

      Han Hyo Joo – I can totally see her cast, she’s Kim Eun Sook’s style and a big enough name and right age and right visuals. I wouldn’t pick her for this role, her acting range is limited and she never truly had strong romantic (i.e. carnal chemistry) with a male lead. And she’s done the parallel universe drama already in W.

      Park Bo Young – too petite and cute, not believable as a detective and way too short opposite Lee Min Ho. But great actress with a lot of energy and charisma.

      Shin Se Kyung – right age, right visuals but her acting can be so……blank at times. Plus she does better with more animated funny roles. Not my choice here.

      Kim So Hyun/Kim Yoo Jung- still too young, not “close in age” that I’m looking for.

      Kim Ji Won – No.

      Moon Chae Won – Okay, yes yes yes yes yes. This could be her role. Sorry I know they did Mackerel Run together but that’s ancient news.

      IU – I’m undecided, she’s great as the cold aloof side but I don’t know if she’ll generate chemistry with Lee Min Ho.

      Kim So Eun – 100% yes but no name recognition or star power nowadays.

      Lee Yeon Hee – pretty but still flat in acting.

      Nam Ji Hyun – not right for the role in characterization, also tends to overact.

      Jin Se Yeon – hahahahahaha, no.

      Chae Soo Bin/Lee Se Young – not there yet in charisma or top lining roles in big dramas.

      Jung So Min – my #1 pick for the role of Jung Tae Eul, full stop. Too bad I’m not the casting director here heh.

      • Only two people who have played great Detectives in my book are Nam Gyu Ri, Dasom from recent viewing…neither would get cast, too low profile…if Tae Eul was a bit older, I would scream Park Min Young.

      • Well my pick would have been HHJ had she not acted in W two worlds. She is of the same age as LMH. Recently appeared as a spy in a US series called Treadstone. Plus her role as a badass cop in the movie “Cold Eyes” was praised a lot . Regarding her acting,I don’t have a doubt cause I enjoy her performance and she is a BAEKSANG best actress awardee. I have to disagree with Koala about her lack of chemistry with male stars cause I have seen some of her blockbuster romantic movies.Many people loved her chemistry with her co-stars and thats why those movies were a hit. Her movie “Always” was also remade in another country.

      • My recommendation is Kim Tae Ri. She has great chemistry with Lee Byung Hun in Mr Sunshine despite misgivings from many when they were first casted. She should be able to have great chemistry with Lee Min Ho too. She is beautiful and can act well too.

      • Agree Koala , the YEH of a few years ago , remember her cameo in “Personal taste” the few minutes she had with LMH were sparkling ! Nam JI HYUN had great chemistry with Ji chang Wook . I think about Park So Dam, Jung So Min, Park eun Bin,

      • It always pained me to see that they wouldn’t take a chance on Jung So Min because she’s not popular by their standards.
        One thing I would always count on her would be chemistry with him main leads. She works well with animated yet quirky characters. Those characters would be hysterical and all but she wouldn’t overact the cutesy stuff. It would always be great on screen and not be cringy at all. That takes the right amount of acting and visuals to put it together.

      • Curious – why not for Kim Ji Won? The only one without an explanation.

        I mean… personally I agree lol. I can’t see her with LMH. No concrete reason; I just can’t imagine it similar to her chemistry with SJK. She’s a bit of a coin toss with chemistry and can be amazing (i.e. with PSJ and Jim Goo). But I can see her being amazing with Kim Soo Hyun or Jo Jong Suk or something…

      • OMG. Moon Chae Won. Yes, yes, yes! I totally see her as a bad ass detective/criminal who can hold her own against LMH and make him fall in love with her.

      • I agree with you about Jung So-min and Moon Chae-won. Additional names I would suggest adding to the list of consideration for alternative casting choices to Kim Go-eun: Go Ah-sung, Kang So-ra, Seo Ye-ji, Lee Si-yong, and Lee Da Hae.

    • @merry, There is no certain objectivity about opinion. We are human all biased. Always measure based on what we think. It will be not right if all human has the same eyes.

  24. Chemistry is subjective imo. And most of the time, it’s hard to be objective coz we tend to be biased. Tbh I don’t have any specific criteria when judging. If I like a certain pairing and they don’t make me feel awkward watching them, I’d say the chemistry is good.

  25. Lol what a funny article. I might be biased but i love chemistry between jeon so min and her co-leads. Esp ha suk jin 🥰 10++

  26. LMAOO I literally laughed out loud reading this. Good lord I literally forgot some of these existed (looking at you Blade Man). BoF deserves a zero and definitely anything with PSH in it lol. Surprised Tamra isn’t on here lol…And as much as I loved Tamra (directors’ cut), the only reason that’s in my favorites is because of Im Joo Hwan (Team Park Kyu) and his chemistry with Seo Woo.

  27. I agree with the scale except I think LMH did. better with JJH in LOTBS , they were quite likeable as an OTP. His best was park min young in city hunter and perhaps even son ye jin in personal taste: so I Guess it’s not age related at the least. KGE was as terrible with Goo Yoo in goblin, her best chemistry was with park hae Jin in cheese in the trap but even that is a 6 for me. So I Guess in chemistry she is weak but I’m surprised by how weak it is with LMH. Visually they should play off each other and their vibes should parallel – it’s so weird I’m intrigued. And I agree at the moment their negative is not just missing, it’s negative – like why would they even be an OTP kinda of zone.

  28. Chemistry is totally subjective. I don’t agree even with half of this list. Some lower, some higher. There are plenty good/great K-dramas with less than stellar couple (steamy/romantic) chemistry, but actors have such a great acting chemistry, that you don’t even care. You may not even care about them as a potential couple, but you see how much strong actors they are and how good their acting styles match each other. That’s what I always inspire to see.

  29. Honestly KES should pick Jeon So Min (running man),
    I watch top star yoobaek and she is so silly yet has chemistry in that such a strange accent so when the king’s failed to be serious, she can handle the comedy pretty well.

  30. For showing dislike for this kdrama, you have put in too much effort to write articles about it for so many times. Click bait is the word. A negative article written with so much pride.

  31. OMG, this is a totally daebak article from Ms Koala. I really miss her sass and candour. Such a hilarious and welcome post. Ms Koala you have missed putting in Jo In Sung and Ha Ji Won chemistry in What Happened in Bali. You did a post in February 2011 in this blog about their raw, ragged chemistry that is so real, not manufactured. For JIS and HJW, 11 out 10 for chemistry, story stupidity 10 (that ending). I would give Seo In Guk and Nam Ji Hyun 10/10 for chemistry in Shopaholic Louis, story stupidity-7. Seo In Guk and jung Eun Ji 10/10 for Answer Me 97, story stupidity – 3 (who wouldn’t love the pungent Busan dialect, music, era feeling, boy band worship and Si Won’s epic fights with dad?)

  32. Chemistry by the way is also dialog for me, the repartee. It’s hard finding a pair for LMH in these wooden or stilted dialog roles, I think. It’s LMH that you see and not his character/role. He did well for city hunter and that mermaid story. The latter because the FL is strong and his role there was more relaxed. Yes, Jung so min (father is strange) is a possible good fit, tho I haven’t seen her in strong character,she’s quite petite, but maybe perfect to be bundled in the horse who is playing quite a character here. Maybe it played in the casting decision of KGE.

  33. I have been your reader for a while but have never commented before. But, have to say this post is really entertaining and I agree with you on most dramas.

  34. The reason Hollywood does screen tests is they can actually see the chemistry through the camera. I don’t understand it myself but if you watch enough interviews with actors and directors, they talk about that moment when they knew it was right. The #1 fix for chemistry issues is to screen test in romantic dramas.

  35. Please add Mary Stayed Out All Night. The chemistry between Mary Christmas and Kang Mugyul was so great that it made the stupid storyline still watchable

  36. Funny how people blaming KGE for everything. If you think Kim go eun has good chemistry with kim kyung nam then Lee minho is the problem for their dull chemistry. He dont have chemistry with WDH either.
    LMH acting is so flat. I felt he trying to copy Gongyoo voice tone When he said his dialog. But unfortunately he failed. In the end He is more like male vesion of park minyong, always trying to look pretty.

    • How is he trying to copy gon yoo at least be honest with your hate.
      Plus he Is a king from corea empire so he has to speak on their dialogue and tone.
      Only koreans can judge him on that one because they actually know the language.
      You are only saying that he tried to copy gon yoo because the writer’s last drama was goblin.
      Even in one interview he had to introduce the king he said that it was difficult speaking in that dialogue.
      Plus even woo do when says it. Everyone is working hard to make the drama good and you are seating your ass there throwing unnecessary hate.
      Me I’m liking this drama so far and I don’t find them awkward so for me the chemistry is good, guess we have different definition of chemistry.
      Really? Like really? Copying goo yoo? Really?

      Will you kindly let me know in the drama which part he copied him? or how he copied him?

  37. ⚔️When Mentioning Jeon So Min, I’ve Been Thinking About Song Ji Hyo(Running Man)For A While And Think That If The Character’Jung Tae Eul’Is Older Than She Should Fit In As The Character. Even Though I’ve Never Seen Her Doing Those Characters Before But She Has Potential, But Of Course This Will Have To Be A Noona Romance Then⚔️

  38. Loved King 2 hearts. Loved loved HJW and LSG in it.
    The male lead in princess hours was so unnatural at acting but still the chemistry was amazing.
    Can binge watch King 2 hearts, princess hours and secret garden anytime.
    TKEM should be zero. Bromance is also zero. King with Maximus ftw.

    • So agree with you Tara! My three faves are SG, King 2 Hearts and Princess Hours too. The OTP and a killer OST are the most crucial elements in making a certified hit. All the legit hits have super popular OTP love pairings and monster OSTs that stay in people’s minds for years. Have re-watch value too. The perfect example is the Reply or Answer Me series that were propelled by the younger generations because they tie in with popular music of a certain era making people nostalgic of their high school days until today. If you compare that to the OST of CLOY or TKEM, nobody give a toss about them or talked about by the young adults of today. Ratings not the only criteria anymore. It has to have a certain X factor that captures the imagination across all age groups.

  39. Arthdal Chronicles, I have to agree and disagree – Song Joong Ki and Kim Ji Won as Eun Seom/Tanya were not setting pants on fire (but they don’t have less chemistry than some of the specimens in your 7s range, come on lol).

    But SJK/KJW as Tanya and Saya?? I was disturbed by how hot I found that pairing! Probably because they’re more intense and also she spent 10+ episodes with him and only 2-3 with SJK as Eunseom. Definitely an interesting case, to see how chemistry can very with writing even with the same actors.

  40. I’ve been K drama lovers for years, even not all the popular drama are interesting enough for me to watch. I haven’t watch The King yet, cause I’m not interesting with the pairing. But to me, the best chemistry for Kim Go Eun so far was Park Hae Jin in Cheese In The Trap. They were perfect, I would love to see this pairing again in another drama (even it seems impossible regarding how the production went). I fond of Park Hae Jin, but I stopped mid way from seeing The Forest. The only Lee Min Ho drama that I enjoyed watching was Faith, even I found no chemistry for the OTP. And I love Jung So Min, she’s good with all the pairing actors. Oh well, that’s just for my personal opinion.

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