K-ent Discusses Why So Many K-dramas Airing in the Second Half of 2021 are All Noona-Dongsaeng Romances

Yup, when you assemble it together like the Avengers its hard not to see the way wind trends are blowing for the second half of 2022. K-ent discussed that six big name female lead K-dramas scheduled for the second half of 2021 are all noona-dongsaeng romances or pairings, with an older woman and (much) younger man. We have Song Hye Kyo and Jang Ki Yong in Now We are Breaking Up, Go Hyun Jung and Kim Jae Young in Someone Like You (A Person That Looks Like You), Lee Do Hyun is rolling right into filming Melancholia opposite Im Soo Jung, and same goes for Seo Hyun Jin who will be doing Why Oh Soo Jae with new male lead Baek In Hyuk (after initial offers went out to Kim Young Dae and Hwang In Yeob), Park Min Young is Song Kang‘s fourth female lead this year in Office Romance Cruelty, and last but not least Jeon Do Yeon will be paired up with Ryu Jun Yeol for Disqualified as a Human (Human Disqualification). K-ent thinks this wave is due to women becoming more independently successful in South Korea so the noona-dongsaeng taboo is lessened as well as the lack of leading men in the late 30’s-early 40’s range to cast in a female lead dramas as they wouldn’t want to do it so the role goes to the younger gen male actors.


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K-ent Discusses Why So Many K-dramas Airing in the Second Half of 2021 are All Noona-Dongsaeng Romances — 79 Comments

  1. Pingback: K-ent Discusses Why So Many K-dramas Airing in the Second Half of 2021 are All Noona-Dongsaeng Romances - Kpopnchill - All About K-pop News

  2. Not 1 but 2 hot trend rising male stars turned down the SHJ drama? Either the script is extremely non beneficial to the male lead or SHJ doesn’t attract trendy male leads or both. Her upcoming drama also had trouble casting the male lead. What goes on when casting for dramas must be full of fun gossip.

  3. Song hye Kyo to start her third decade at top again❤❤ All those netizens will eat their words . She doesn’t need to work, when she owns like tens of millions of real estate investments paying her millions in rent. She is pioneer of hallyu.

    • Why is this even in the comment section when its completely irrelevant to the topic discussed?

      Go take your worshipping elsewhere.

      • You don’t own this site. You go take you hate anywhere else
        Shk remain queens you biatch

      • @BlackPinkModelsUntalented

        Asking you to take your worshipping elsewhere is considered hating? While your own user name screams a lot of hate.

        Wonder what you have been smoking out there.

  4. Not only the lack of male stars in the late 30s but also female stars in the 20s. The only significant actresses in the 20s are IU and Suzy and fast rising is Han Sohee who is extremely trendy while Kim Dami is more movie star. The Penthouse stars Han Jihyun and Choi Yebin still have to find their footing but it’ll be 2 more years before they become big stars. Apart from that there aren’t any strong or popular female actresses in the 20s.

      • Couldn’t agree more! They maybe talented but not that pretty or not appealing on the TV screen or they are pretty but not very talented

        or dont have the ‘magical star power’ for ratings

      • There were some actresses in their 20s that are now in their 30s/near 30 that should’ve been big too bad there was an idol obsession.

      • @naves iu and Suzy’s popularity was helped by their music background, they were already well known.

        What’s interesting though is how actors blow up immediately compared to their female counterparts haha. Take Kim ji won and lee jong suk during high kick era and her and park seo joon during fight for my way. I

      • @naves park bo young is still very popular. The you have shin hye sun and kim taeri who are very respected unlike Suzy who’s just a cf queen and till now even after 10 years has never put up a decent performance.

      • PBY, SHS and KTR are all in their 30s this entire section is about women in the 20s.

    • If you talk about significant actresses I could actually mention a lot. Nam Ji Hyun, Moon Ga Young, Chae Soo Bin, Krystal, Kim So Hyun, Kim Yoo Jung, Kim Sae Ron, Kim Hyang Gi. But if you talk about actresses with star power then you’re probably right, though kim so hyun and kim yoo jung are definitely included in that category too.

      • Compare them to the last 2 decades I would say OP is right because none of the people you mentioned have the kind of impact that actresses in their 20s had in the last 2 decades. SHK and SYJ at 20-21 were HUGE people could not get enough of them. KTH and JJH were literal obsessions everyone was fawning over them. Then came PSH, SSK, Yoona, Suzy and IU and while their popularity wasn’t at the levels of the previous actresses except Suzy who literally became a national first love after Architecture 101. PSH and Yoona especially with their massive Hallyu popularity at 23-24 were faces of the new hallyu wave holding sold out fan meetings all over Asia. In comparison all the actresses you mentioned have almost no fan power or star power nor are they ushering in a new era of superstardom. They are all good actresses but they’ll never reach the levels of their seniors not even in 10-20 years.

      • @Bear Very true that kind of madness and obsession isn’t there in this generation! Even their dating news or rumors used to fill the media on a regular basis! Suzy and Song Hye Kyo dating news and rumors always made noise! Everyone wanted to know who Jeon Ji Hyun was dating and Park Shin Hye had many dating rumors and Yoona was dating Seung Gi it was always active on screen and off screen! People would flock to see them at schedules not just fans but even regular people and copy their clothes and hairstyle but now nothing!

      • Don’t forget Yoon Eun Hye’s popularity , she was one of the most well paid actress in her 20’s back in the days . She was the muse for Cartier during a decade, YSL, MAC, Rouge and Lounge, Samantha Thavasa, Basic House, joinus, vivien, Cass Beer with 2PM, Swarovski made a special ring for her, L’oréal ,Calvin Klein, she was the 1st younger actresss to win the baeksang award and the grime award Her popularity was no joke back then ,she used to receive until 100 scripts . It’s a shame that all went down .

      • Somebody finally mentioned YEH. She was literally the face of kdrama for 10 years. Anyone watching kdrama in the 2000s only knew YEH. These days it’s fragmented and not one person stands out. Everyone is mediocre and fades out quickly after a short rise.

      • @Bear Yeah you are right.
        But I think, maybe it’s because the past 2 decades are really different in this new generation. I mean, back in the day, there’s no social media and the technology isn’t that great yet so it’s hard to see a glimpse of your fave. And now, you can fan girl or fan boy in just one click. And I also observed, KPOP really boomed so the K-Actor somehow has rival for attention. Hehe… I don’t know just some thoughts. But I think the bottomline is we got really entertain with whoever our fave is.

      • @Debbie Social media is the reason Kpop managed to boom by that logic Kdrama actors should be more popular not less. Contrary to what some might believe Kdrama is more popular now than it was previously but like @Bear mentioned young actresses are not popular as they used to be however young actors are still as popular which is why they refuse to act with their close age female counterparts since they are already more popular than them. CLOY, Vincenzo and Penthouse are more popular than True Beauty, Extraordinary You or Love Alarm. I’m not talking about within South Korea but internationally also they are more popular than youth dramas. Young actresses just don’t generate the kind of interest they used but male privilege ensures that young actors still soak up 90% of the popularity of their dramas.

      • Then there are lee see young, park euin bin, Kim ji won, nana,gong seong yeon who are all talented and nearly 30. There’s also Jung so min and kang sora who are both in their 30s and shouldve been more popular. Seo ye ji is another controversies aside, the girl is talented.

      • @Kailey yeah Suzy’s a cf queen who also can 4 times enter Gallup drama actors list, twice at top 10 at such young age, the public already told you how her performance was.

    • @Debbie, I kinda agree. It’s not fair to compare the old gen to this current one. I think with the industry going digital and catering more globally, the audience looks for more varied content or idea for dramas, not specifically for an actor or actress. And let’s be real, the current boom in hallyu is due to Kpop, particularly BTS, and BP to some extent. Kpoppies are the ones who do personality stanning to the extreme lol drama audience are kinda fickle?

      • BTS and BP opened the new global expansion but LMH and IU have over 20 million followers, PSJ, Yoona and Suzy have over 15 million and SHK and PSH have more than 11 million followers. Apart from KSH none of the younger actresses have a large following on IG despite their generation being more ‘digital’. Kpoppies aren’t the only extreme ones anyone who lived through the Crash Landing craze knows how crazy k drama stans get these days. I agree with the majority that people don’t stan younger actresses anymore unless they are super pretty like HSH which is possibly why she is the new IT girl.

      • I second this. We can not compare big actress in that era to big actress in this era. And to put kim so hyun or nam ji hyun as insignificant (i’m using the opposite of the term OP mentioned here) is a bit off for me.

        In the 90s kdramas were distributed overseas in a cd which was quite pricey for commoners at that time, especially if you consider that not every household had the cd player (luxury item at that time). Other way to watch it was through tv channels that bought the right to broadcast kdrama in their respective country. To do this they only chose the most famous dramas at that time. Hence the viewers were only able to see certain actors which were already famous in korea.

        As the technology evolves people are opened to more choices of dramas and genres. And i think nowadays people, especially kdrama fans are looking more for a substance instead of certain figure of actors. If people used to watch dramas for his/her favorite actors, i see people consider writer and PDs more now in order to decide what drama to watch.

      • But that is exactly the point that is being made isn’t it? That the new gen of actresses just aren’t as popular anymore but the old gen is still enjoying high popularity and becoming more popular now because of the expansion of the internet and better access. People are still watching Boys Over Flowers, Full House and My Love From Another Star till this day. For the first time in her career Son Ye Jin is a luxury brand ambassador something she could never do even at her previous peak.

      • What do these people mean it can’t be compared? Yes it can and it will. Social media/technology/digital era which has brought Netflix and co. has made it so easy for the new gen and opened wider doors beyond Asia for them YET they still can’t match up to the insane popularity and superstardom of the old gen.

        Drama fans these days have gotten just as crazy and fanatic as K-poppies. Few objectively consider the actual plot, writer or PD of the drama. Most idolize the stars and decide a crappy drama is a masterpiece just because their idol is in it. And go online to aggressively fight others who don’t see it their way. With this worse level of fanaticism, the new gen should be bigger superstars than the old gen. But they’re not. And they can’t. The old gen is just unbeatable and unmatchable. Period.

      • Exactly what BOOM said why are people saying it can’t be compared? Every generation is compared to its past generation thats how trends are developed. Its hilarious people are blaming going digital for the lack of popularity rather than rise in popularity. And who said Kdrama don’t do extreme stanning? Kdrama stan culture is peak toxicity at present it was never ever this bad in the past the way it is now. Lee Minho and Kim Soohyun fans are more actively hating on each other now than they ever did before. All fandoms are much more active now because of digital boom and fan projects are bigger than ever before. Younger actresses don’t have the same charisma the older ones did at their age and that is fact. TaeJiHye weren’t great actresses when they were young but nobody was watching dramas for their acting. Their beauty and screen presence overshadows the younger generation in every way and will never be dethroned.

      • Well it concludes the debate. And no it’s not about charisma. It’s about stunning beauty, barbie like body, classy attitude. Add femme fatale -i dont need boys but i can wrap them around my fingers- charm and voila you’re a superstar. Sadly no actresses in their 20s or 30s have all of those criteria

    • What makes some above the others is the fandom. Fandom that are willing to create multiple account to increase their faves followers or to spur cashes and lavish over what their faves endorse to increase the endorsement value. For male entertainers its easier to gain that. But for female, k entertainment fans are more strict. They need to have stunningly beautiful face, barbie like body, and classy attitude. It would be better if they are femme fatale who doesn’t need boys but manage to keep the boys under their feet. Other than that are just another pretty face on the screen and sadly most of 20s and 30s actresses fall into that category

      • How sad that nowhere in your listed criteria is actual acting TALENT. The obsession with visuals is too much in kdramaland. Everyone is good looking to start with. Now what makes you stand out?

      • @Ray I think Netflix may help shift that balance. It’s the biggest distributor of the Hallyu wave right now and has the money to flex ($500M invested and counting). Netflix caters to an international audience, who will be more attracted to talent than looks, and who also aren’t beholden to the narrow K-standard of looks.

      • @Ophelia, you’re right. International audiences need more than a pretty face to stay engaged in a series. The biggest kdrama Netflix series in the past year were probably CLOY, IONTBO, IC, and Vincenzo most recently. All dramas with powerhouse acting.

      • I’m not sure why anyone thinks Netflix is going to change the status quo when it literally turned pretty face Song Kang into a superstar overnight. If anything Netflix will make these pretty flower boys more popular by making their dramas more accessible. Hyun Bin is one of the OG pretty boys who is now a man so CLOY being popular means people still prefer pretty actors and actresses over talent otherwise Ju Ji Hoon should have blown up internationally after Kingdom but instead everyone has Hyun Bin fever for the swoony Captain Ri. The old formula still applies because dramas like Move to Heaven are far less popular than rom coms even on Netflix.

    • Nam Ji Hyun will be 26 this Sep. By right, she should be at her peak right now. She is one talented & wise actress that I respect. As an adult actress, she had 3 popular dramas SKL, SP & 100MYP that launched millions of worshippers into a frenzy with their oppas. Her work in 365 Repeat The Year despite low ratings was commendable. She was also very popular as a child actress & teenager WHTMF with Park Hyung Sik & Seo Kang Jun. Too bad either she personally or agency seems to be choosing more low-key & shorter projects after uni graduation. She used to do CFs, magazine shoots, high profile dramas while being a uni student but after graduation seems to be going all quiet. One small project a year is the new pattern now. What a shame. I want to see more of her.

      • Really wish we saw more of Nam Ji Hyun. She picks very good projects though, even if she doesn’t act very often. I trust in her choices.

      • True, I’m looking forward to Witch’s Restaurant on jtbc. Only 8 episodes. Sigh. I want to see doing movies as well. That will increase her acting range. I really miss in rom-coms. She has this joyful lively quality that I can’t describe. Must be inner beauty.

    • I think you’re forgetting a lot of actresses like Kim Yoo Jung, Kim So Hyun, Chae Soo Bin, Park So Dam, Kim Ji Won, Park Eun Bin, Nam Ji Hyun, Eun Ji, Kim Seul Gi….there are a lot more actresses than just Suzy and IU in their 20s. I think Kim Go Eun is not 30 yet either.

    • I’m not really inside on the perception Korea has of the 20s/30s actresses. Aren’t Kim Ji Won, Kim Go Eun, Kim So Hyun, Kim Tae ri relatively big? I’ve also watched Youth of May with Go Min si, and she was really good. Help me, if you may.

  5. Why are all the 2021 dramas melos? Either its romance melo or revenge action melo or human melo. Did the whole industry give up the romcom genre? In Mine even the makjang is melo.

  6. Because they go for more serious dramas like medical, saeguks, thrillers, legal prosedurals. What is the point of acting in lovey dovey genres all the time? The ratings doesn’t help either.

  7. Maybe because the young ones / young actresses aint that talented enough to partner with these actors or these young actresses dont hv star powers to handle the dramas.

    Or the ahjussideul MLs,e.g Gang Dongwon, Jung Woosung,Gong Yoo,Hwang Jungmin, Lee Jungjae, Jun woo and many others aint anymore taking ML roles in TV.

    Or, because the TV drama genres have already broken the thing ‘MLs should be older than FLs’ and the trend is this ‘noona-dongsaeng lovestory.

    Or, new genres have evolved already and ‘FLs age are older’ is one of them.

    Crazy hypotheses!!! 🤣🤣🤣

    • Young actors always get more hype than young actresses so they rise faster in stardom. Throwback to 2013 when the very young, mostly successful but still cementing his foothold Kim Soo Hyun was cast opposite the mega star Jun Ji Hyun. After the drama aired and became a huge iconic hit the status of Kim Soo Hyun was elevated to the same level as Jun Ji Hyun while she since she was already a big star couldn’t rise higher so he became enormous and she stayed where she was. Rising male leads what their star power to elevate at a rapid pace so they don’t want to work with young actresses that can’t guarantee that level of exposure and star power.

  8. They really are noona romances? I mean the plot is focused on the difference of age between them or it’s focused on another subject but the characters are not the same age. I mean we don’t comment everytime the ML is older than the FL…

    • Agreed! Im okay if even FL is older than ML as long as not a love story;crime or drama or investigative genres are good enough But people are sucker of lovestory and love scenes. Sigh!

      • These are all noona romances with the age gap written into the script not just in real life. None of these is thriller or crime focused.

      • I’m Okay with both. I like noona romances. I don’t see any issues like I like love stories with younger FL than the ML. The writing is the most important and the chemistry between the leads. Otherwise, I don’t really care. There are stories with characters with the same age : Youth of May, How to Be 30, At a Distance Spring Is Green, Hospital Playlist 2, Monthly Magazine Home.

  9. The Penthouse young actresses just got lucky to be the part of the makjang drama. After the drama sequels end we shall see what they will bring to the table. I dont think they are that drama FLs materials. But I hope I’m wrong.

    Why these PDs not cast Cho Bo Ah, Bang Min Ah, Jung Eun Ji, Gong Seung Yeon, Won Jin Ah, So Eun Seo, Yoon So Hee, Kim Seul Gi, Lee Sung Kyung, Park Hye Soo, Park Se Wan, Park So Dam and Jung Hye Sung. Actually there are many young actresses out there. They are talented and have pretty faces.They just need breaks.

    ***TalentedYoungKoreanActresses @MyDramaList

    • I know right! There are plenty of great young actresses, just seems like PDs don’t want to cast them because they lack star power. It’s unfortunate because I think some of them a quite talented. Korean romance dramas tend to cater towards women so actors benefit much more heavily than actresses when their drama becomes a hit. Unless of course you’re already an A lister like Son Ye Jin or Jeon Ji Hyun.

    • Most of the actresses you mentioned aren’t young anymore they are already in their 30s or on the verge of turning 30 which by Korean standards makes you an ahjumma. There have been many many articles explaining exactly why PDs prefer to cast idols instead of rookie or mid level actors because idols are much cheaper and even if said idol becomes popular after starring in a hit drama their fees will always be less than an actor. There is especially a lot of rage against young actors who become popular from a hit drama then double their acting fees which makes them unaffordable for smaller productions. Basically CEW despite his popularity still earns less than SK and LDH so if they have to hire an actor for that age range rather go to CEW than LDH or SK despite the fact that neither brings in ratings but with CEW they can be sure to have high overseas sales. Though SK is an exception as well because his overseas sales are huge and Netflix is basically raising him. The Penthouse actresses may have got lucky but that’s true for literally all actors and compared to Sky Castle these girls are more popular, prettier and better actresses.

      • Whatever his fee is, LDH has done dramas that are cameos (Beyond Evil) and main cast ensemble but not protagonist (Sweet Home). In fact his breakout was a lucky minor role in HDL. I don’t think it’s a fee problem but PDs making an excuse for not trying. They want the popularity and fanbase that idols built through their idol background and don’t want to work on building that fanbase for amateur actresses by casting them in any notable roles whether lead or just side characters.

  10. Matured guys in their mid-late 30s don’t usually take lovely dovey role. They leave it to the up and coming actors.

    If these actors keep taking rom-com, they will be criticised for not challenging themselves enough.

    Producer also don’t really want to match matured FL lead with older ML. Kdrama, unlike HK drama, have so many young guys to choose. Do you expect a LBH, JS, LSJ etc to act all lovely dovey over these ladies? The matured guys are all into thrillers, actions, etc.

    • Very true.Who wants to be pigeoned whole as the handsome but cold ceo or the romantic hero all the time. They have branched out to other enres like thrillers, medical, historical, political, crime and slice-of-life. They will not grow if they continue to act in romantic comedies, which is a safe genre

    • This is sadly true. But I still hate this trend because these 20 something actors look really young and they do nothing for someone like me in their mid 30s.

      Its one thing if its written into the plot like SITR but when its not the age difference is just jarring.

  11. Wait a minute. `A Person Like You` is a noona romance? I thought the story focuses on the two female leads. I don`t think Go Hyun Jung and Kim Jae Young will have a romantic love story arc but I could be wrong.I assumed he will have a story with the other female lead or not.
    It doesn`t matter. Let see how the story will unfold.

  12. I get why they do it but me personally i find it tiresome. It’s just not hot, you get these boyish young looking guys ugh. Take her private life how hot were park min young with the mature Kim jae wook now she’s act opposite a dude that looks 12. Song Kang’s new movie looks cute though since the female actress is of similar age. I’d rather see actors of similar age same with song hye kyo she’d look so good with gong yoo etc, an actor in their 30s or 40s. And there are leading men in their 30s maybe theyre not park seo joon level popular but still.

    • I for one can’t wait for Shin min a and kim seon Ho’s new drama, love that their similar age( which seems refreshing) and damn good actors.

      • SMA got lucky because KSH is crazy popular like trot singer level popular. He also happens to be age appropriate but even if he wasn’t he would have gotten cats opposite her with that level of popularity.

      • I think these days top actors will get paired up with less known costars coz most of them will not accept an offer where they have to play second fiddle to anyone. Unless the script is really good or the other actor is a well-respected senior

      • That’s fair wb less well known actors in their 30s? But then again the trend is the pairing of a rising actor in their 20s and a super famous older female lead

    • Me too. I haven’t watched lots of romance lately so my knowledge may be limited, but the only noona romance done right for me were birth care center and i can hear your voice. And those dramas are not romance focused drama. Give me search-www kinda noona romance and I’ll say thank you next.

    • Unrelated to this post. Why is jang ki yong getting all these roles and chance after chance despite the flop. Just why? I’m baffled by that, he’s only ever been good in my mister other than that so bland. Is it cause he’s a model lol? Meanwhile actresses of his age that are not idols rarely will get as much chances as him.

      • @kaileyB That’s also my greatest question. How on earth JKY has given all these roles when he doesnt even have a star power. He doesn’t have any dramas that have been buzzworthy. All are low rating dramas. He is handsome and a good actor but his star power is really lackluster so why these PDs cast him?

    • Yessss to that… SHK would be so beautifully paired with Gong Yoo or Lee Jeong Jae or Jung Woo Sung. It can even be this plot but then these MLs are not into romantic dramas these days,more of to crime or thriller dramas.

    • All this noona pairing or whatever should stop.. It is not cute and they rarely do well in ratings or otherwise. And also I think older male actors avoid it bcos it is an insult to them so they leave it for the younger guys to use as a stepping stone and once those younger guys becomes successful they avoid it too. Imagine LMH, KSH,SJK JCW, HB still doing this nonsense.. People will laugh at them

      • Well, If thee noona romance directed by Ahn Pan Seok, Who would Reject it unless they have busy schedule?

  13. I’m not into all the pairings sad to say. I’m getting sibling vibes. Noona-dongsaeng dramas normally don’t generate high ratings or buzz. The crucial 20-49 demographic which is the key group for advertisers will probably flock somewhere else. Maybe i-fans from Netflix or 50 & above ahjummas will still watch. Writers need a paradigm shift in writing romantic dramas so older established actors will go back to that genre. They mostly reject them coz the writing quality sucks. The film industry will die out soon so all the film actors may go back to tv. This is the chance for writers to re-imagine romance storylines infused with other genres.

  14. I never bought the lack of actresses in their twenties excuse, and I also don’t buy the lack of older male actors excuse. There were actresses like Kim So Eun who had a huge following after ‘Boys Over Flowers’ but didn’t get the lead roles that went to countless idols. You also had strong younger actresses stuck in 2nd lead and supporting roles. Older actors are working in dramas and their costars are almost always younger actresses. You don’t see enough older same age couples in dramas. There have also been times when an older actress gets an older and younger love interest in the same drama and the older actor winds up getting sidelined for the younger male lead to be pushed. This happened in ‘Empress Ki’, “Mirae’s Choice’, and ‘Cheese In the Trap’. It has happened multiple times because these dramas are still filming while on the air and sometimes audience reactions makes them switch gears with the plot. I think there are plenty of attractive older actors who are not doing movies or avoiding rom coms who would take any potential hit drama they can get. The male lead doesn’t have to be the female lead’s equal in fame. They have no problem casting lesser known younger actors; they could easily cast lesser known older actors. Maybe the so called noona dramas keep happening because the audience that watches them has a preference for eye candy in their 20s. Another reason why the noona dramas keep happening is because they produced some of KDramas biggest hits. ‘My Lovely Sam Soon’, ‘I Can Hear Your Voice’, ‘My Love From The Stars’, ‘Descendants of the Sun’, ‘When The Camelia Blooms’ were huge hits and all starred male leads who were younger than their female leads.

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