StarN Conducts Viewer Poll and Selects Top-5 Noona-dongsaeng Drama Pairings of 2013

I confess to not noticing the age gap in the OTP in Prime Minister and I. It’s not being blind to Lee Bum Soo being much older than Yoona, it just doesn’t stand out in the context of their characters or interactions. I see a closed off man with emotional baggage from a past marriage and a spirited woman falling for a smart and sexy competent politician. He’s older simply because to realistically be Prime Minister and have three kids he can’t be in his early 30s, otherwise age is but a number here. I really don’t get the fixation on older man-much younger woman or noona-dongsaeng pairings in K-dramas, as if it even needs to be debated conceptually. It’s either going to work because the two leads have chemistry and their characters make sense together or its not. Unless one party is under-aged then it’s still two consenting adults. It’s the same feeling that makes me uninterested in noona-dongsaeng romances in general by virtue of it being an older woman-younger man. Why should that be interesting alone, I need the bigger dramatic picture about what brings them together and makes them fall in love. Coming down the pipeline is a jTBC cable drama called Secret Love Affair with Kim Hee Ae and Yoo Ah In and they have a twenty year age difference in real life and I’m checking to see what the story is about before deciding whether to watch.

Last year had plenty of noona-dongsaeng romantic pairings and this week a newspaper conducted a poll in South Korea to rank viewers favorite 2013 noona-dongsaeng romances. I must be watching totally different dramas than most of the top-5 selected because it boggles the mind to see it on the list. The number 1 pick does make sense as Lee Jong Seok and Lee Bo Young in I Hear Your Voice. It wasn’t for me but so much love for them in it has to be grounded in some viable sparks. Number 2 is a LOL moment in Joo Won and Choi Kang Hee in the bizarrely lame 7th Grade Civil Servant. WHUT? Coming in third is an older sister corralling her puppy dog younger brother in Taecyeon and So Yi Hyun in Who Are You. Fourth is the stalker one-sided love of Emperor Ji Chang Wook for Ha Ji Won in Empress Ki. And rounding out the top 5 in 5th place is yet another Joo Won moment in his pairing with Moon Chae Won in Good Doctor. Was there even any romance in that drama? Anyone who watched it confirm or deny? If this was the state of how domestic viewers see as a “good” noona-dongsaeng romance in 2013 dramas then wowsers was it mostly an epic fail of a year. Maybe 2014 will be better? I already know the reverse of older man-younger woman is off to a whiz bang start with Lee Bum Soo and Yoona in PM.

It’s a damn shame this list missed the most amazing chemistry noona-dongsaeng drama romance pairing in 2013 – Yoo Ah In and Kim Tae Hee in Jang Ok Jung, Live in Love. With this mostly wonky list, it could only have been made worse if somehow the viewers voted in the noona-dongsaeng alterna-pairing of Jung Yong Hwa and Yoon Eun Hye in Marry Him If You Dare. *shudders*


StarN Conducts Viewer Poll and Selects Top-5 Noona-dongsaeng Drama Pairings of 2013 — 29 Comments

  1. Only one of those did I even notice it was a noona romance (I hear your voice) … good doctor had romance for the second half of the series and it was pretty cute but besides mentioning that she is a 3rd yr resident (I think) and he was 1st year, I don’t think they ever mentioned the age difference

  2. I agree with your comments about the age-gap fixation in general, but am holding out hope that Secret Love Affair could be interesting if it’s at least in part ABOUT that fixation. Examining the impact of societal expectations and prejudices on a romantic relationship can give good drama – Kim Sam Soon, and The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry for example. There’s also the chance to challenge the sexism inherent in the differing ways a 20 year age gap is viewed depending on which party is older. Whether any of that actually happens remains to be seen, obviously.

  3. Instead of ranking it, they should have just picked “the best one”.

    I’d also add the noona romance in “She is Wow”, even though it was a secondary couple (I guess).

    • I am glad you mentioned this one because when I saw this “ranking” I could not help but wonder if there any or many more to actually “rank the favorites as opposed to just picking the favorite. Or perhaps they just knew the favorite would be IHYV and they just wanted th rest. Can you think of any others?

  4. Luckily, I’m one of those who are smitten over the LBS-Yoona pairing. It’s surprising how they can make their age gap amount to nil when they interact. I mostly look at their eyes, and when I don’t see discomfort there when they look at each other, then I believe. Of course it’s not as simple as that. But I realized that I’m also not a fan of such a huge age difference in a pairing, but I make an exception for these two.

  5. I think this list is fair. It’s personal opinion plus a poll – which means it’s not just one but very many people who voted for this. Domestic and international audiences have different tastes. So for me, fair enough.

    Anyway, I personally didn’t see the ‘noona romance’ between MCW-Joo won because umm… They were born a year apart. I liked her chemistry better with JSW tbh. And I just realized YAI is doing another noona romance after JOJ. I really am not fond of him, but I think his new cable drama should at least interest me in giving it a shot.

  6. Why do you say that a Prime minister can’t be in his early 30s?maybe mid 30’s? …even so writing this I realized that our Premier is 41 years old at Olympic Games 2012 London was 39 and he and his wife looked like this:

    Nop I don’t like his politics but he has a very beautiful wife (she is in UE Parliament) and he doesn’t look bad himself… he divorced his first wife and then married this one 😀

    • I think for someone to be PM, he has to have extensive experience in govt or a lot of support and contacts. All of which require time to build up. Unless your family is a political one (what with your uncles and grandpas all a member of the parliament), it will be difficult to achieve all of it by age 30.

      You also need the support of your party and in general, they don’t choose very young members ahead of themselves.

  7. Yoo Ah In and Kim Tae Hee had the most amazing chemistry in 2013. If KTH wasn’t dating Rain I would have shipped them. They were my favourite OTP. And the incredibly romantic lines and sets were beautiful without passing the line of being cheesy.
    -“If I’m still not a man to you. And I’m the sky that you can’t get close to or touch. Then watch. Take a close look. That sky will fall on you.”- Lee Soon to Jang Ok Jung. And then the passionate kiss under the rain.

  8. I have been loving Yoona and LBS in PM & I which has really turned out to be a treat. I really don’t notice the age gap between them because they just seem like their meant to be together.

    Out of the 5 dramas listed, I only watched IHYV, which I might add is my favourite drama of 2013. The noona-donsaeng romance was so swoon worthy! I love seeing the development of their relationship from one sided love to a mutual one.

  9. It’s probably just me but I don’t like the LBS-Yoona pairing in Prime Minister at all. I watched 2 episodes but it didn’t work for me.

  10. I can’t believe that KTH and YAI didn’t make a cut. Can’t they see how amazing their chemistry is? I choose them over LBY and LJS anyday. IHYV has a great storyline but when it comes to great and sizzling chemistry btwn noona and dongsaeng, YAI and KTH wins hands down.

  11. I still think Yoona lookslike Lee Bun Soo daughter but the thing is he pushes her as an actress and it seems she is having fun acting with him.

    • I also think that YAI and KTH had the best chemistry as a noona-Dongseang onscreen couple ( I have yet to see a romantic scene beats JOJ ep 8 for me this year)

  12. So true. No couple can beat the pairing of Yoo Ah In and Kim Tae Hee. Perhaps because it was not a ratings hit so not many got to watch it. But for those who did will agree that they burnt our screens with their sizzling chemistry which none these top 5 did in any shape or form. I’m scratching my head over the pairing in 7th Grade Civil Servant?!?!

  13. I am disappointed along with you that Yoo Ah In and Kim Tae Hee did not make the list. They had the most sizzling chemistry on screen. They remain my favorite OTP.

  14. I like two out of the five pairing mentioned above.
    LBY & LJS and HJW & JCW.

    One of my all time noona-dongsaeng pairing is Lee Min Ho and Son Ye Jin (sizzling chemistry in ‘Personal Taste’)

  15. Honestly, I was never invested in the noona-dongsang in IHUY! It didn’t click on me! Siblings or even friends would work for me. But lovers, no not even for a second! I only watched the drama for the amazing performance from the both female leads and I still can’t understand all the fuss about LJS! But that’s probably only me.

    I agree about Good doctor too. Romance was there btw but I wasn’t convinced maybe. It had nothing to do with MCW and JW though. I’m sure both can work a hell of a hot rom-com about noona-dongsang. I did loved her confussion part though.

    I don’t know about JOJ since that drama was a mess so i skipped it. About Empress ki, is SN supposed to be older that TH? I haven’t watched it in a while so I’m not sure they spoke about it. They do have a great chemistry but not the noona romancing younger man. Which I really missed in 2013. Noona concept is one of my fav but I can’t remember anything from last year! I’m watching the tVN let’s eat now, so I hope it turns good.

  16. Just to confirm, yes Moon Chae Won and Joo Won end up together in Good Doctor. Some of the story centralizes on their budding feelings for each other, especially on Joo Won’s part. They were totally cute together, but you really don’t notice the age difference between them more so you notice their social differences. I agree these are kind of out there other than the I Hear Your Voice pairing.

  17. I liked the chemistry between LBY and LJS in IHYV but couldn’t get invested in the romance part of their relationship….wasn’t sold at all….

    Haven’t seen any other shows from the list….

  18. It’s hard to see much older woman with a younger guy right?i don’t mind,as long as no lovey dovey scene.emm,but i thought Koala ship LSG n HJW in the king 2 hearts.,they also noona-dongseng couple.
    For Yoona n Lbs i don’t really feel their love.,it’s just like 2 person helping each other to keep on living forward.,n fullfil their need in life..but Pmai still watchable compared to Mhiyd

  19. @hana “it’s hard to see much older woman with a younger guy, right?” Nope, not at all, not even a little bit. It happens in real life as in dramas, so it’s good to see dramas embrace the reality. Hoping for plenty of lovey-dovey in PMAI too. 🙂

  20. INR3 is going to blow all of them out of the water, in terms of hotness. And I agree that it isn’t the age of either party that is important, it’s the connection they share, what they bring to the table, how much they are willing to expose of themselves and risk for the sake of the other person. I like romances to be realistically messy and rule-bending…”falling in love” and “coloring within the lines” rarely cover the same territory.

  21. As for Yoo Ah In and Kim Tae Hee got the best chemistry in JOJ. So far one of my favourite in 2013!!!. ^_*:-)) l am sad n disappointed that they did not make it on the list.

  22. I understand Lee Bo Young/Lee Jong Suk and Ha Ji Won/Ji Chang Wook. Those two couples had loads of screen presence for me, even if story-wise Ta Hwan is kind of a creep. But the rest ranged from nope to alright for me.

    Even though I ended up not liking JOJ, I definitely agree that they should have been on here. If we’re going by chemistry, that is. They had OODLES. They could replace that milquetoast, lackluster pairing of Taecyeon/So Yi Hyun.

    Def the secondary couple from She is Wow were better than Joo Won/Choi Kang Hee in 7th Civil Servant.

    Who in god’s name put this list together?

  23. Moon Chae Won and Joo Won in Good Doctor did end up together. I thought they were cute. One of my fav dramas 🙂
    and just realized they’re not even a year apart.. but okay, she’s older and he’s younger lol

  24. I kind of forgot Yoo Ah In and Kim Tae Hee was a noona-dongsaeng romance. They don’t seem that far apart in age at all. I’m glad to see Ji Chang Wook and Ha Ji Won here. They’re adorable in the BTS videos.

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