K-media Covers the Recent Spate of K-dramas with Big Age Leads Between the Leads

It’s a regular occurrence in K-dramas to have big age gaps between the leads, not so often as to be the majority but plenty often to merit an eyebrow raise from time to time. Such is the time again as K-ent points out a slew of recent dramas with big lead age gap – Ji Sung and Hyeri in Entertainer (18 years), Go Soo and Jin Se Yeon in Prison Flower (15 years), Lee Seo Jin and UEE in Marriage Contract (17 years), Park Shin Yang and Kang Sora in Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul Ho (21 years), and Namgong Min and Minah in Beast’s Beauty (16 years).

On the rare occasion there is the gender swapped age gap but it’s always written into the story like Yoo Ah In and Kim Hee Ae in Secret Love Affair (20 years) or Park Seo Joon and Uhm Jung Hwa in Witch’s Romance (19 years), but the recent batch doesn’t even need the leads to be that far apart in age narratively yet the casting made it that way. Of all the well known big age gap dramas, any worked or failed specifically because of it? I loved Prime Minister and I with Lee Bum Soo and Yoona, 17 year age gap not withstanding, but other than that it’s all meh for me.




K-media Covers the Recent Spate of K-dramas with Big Age Leads Between the Leads — 38 Comments

  1. Secret love affair and i missu….no problem with age gap coz they look great together..but the rest….like ahjussi or uncle with their niece or daughter

  2. It’s not a problem when the age gap is part of the story or the point of it like some of the dramas you mentioned. It’s a problem when you have actors/actresses playing much older or much younger for no discerning reason and it stretches suspension of disbelief to the point that it’s detrimental to the drama. It could still work if the actors selected look younger or older so they could still fit the part. But the way recent castings have gone make it seem like there was a zombie apocalypse and only a handful of actresses and actors remain in South Korea, so they just went with what they had.

  3. It wouldn’t be a problem if it worked both ways. But it is almost (almost I say) always male lead much older than the female. This is not only specific to S. Korea though, Indian cinema and Hollywood has it too. It is patriarchy affecting the industry I suppose.

  4. Lee Seo Jin (who looks much younger than his actual age) played a character younger than his real age in Marriage Contract, and UEE played a character slightly older than her real age. Ji Sung is another actor that looks younger than his actual age (although not as much as Lee Seo Jin).

  5. Ha… I just realized that Witch’s Romance features a much older woman, and Mirror of the Witch features a much older man.

    It’s the slew of upcoming dramas in which underage girls are paired with much older men that concerns me the most, even though in some dramas that may be historically accurate. I love Kim Sae Ron, but casting a 15 year-old opposite Yoon Shi Yoon is just wrong in my book.

  6. LSJ and Uee’s chemistry in Marriage Contract was outstanding..age gap didn’t matter at all. I’m still not over such a beautiful drama.

  7. There was some age gap built into PMAI too – Yoona was playing older than her age, but even in the drama there was supposed to be more than 10 years difference between her and LBS (her character was late 20s, his was early 40s iirc). I’m fine with stories about couples with a large age gap, but I dislike it when they take actors with a significant age difference and pretend they’re the same age, and especially dislike it when it involves minors. Also, as someone above said, it’s usually older man/younger woman and there are a lot of issues with how that plays out.

    That being said, Marriage Contract was a very good drama despite the age difference, and I’m watching Flower in Prison as well, so we’ll see how that one goes once the child portion is over. Even so, can the next trend please be same age pairings?

  8. Ji Jin Hee being 16 years older than Han Hyo Joo, yet I find that Han hyo Joo has the best chemistry with him comparatively with her other much younger leading men. I don’t see any problem with the big age gap as long as the pair can connect and looked so good together.

    • I agree. I liked her chemi with JJH. dY is one of my favorites. Just seeing it here makes me want to watch it again. Although I suspect she’d have good chemi withLJS too.

      JJH seems to get paired up a bit with younger actresses although not as much lately.

      Is the reason because actresses in their 30s somewhat get self selected out for personal reasons or family, on top on the fact that entertainment industry prefers the young 20 something over 30s and 40s. In any case, they need more written interesting roles for these actors in their 30s and older and actually cast them in it.

      • Hahaha. I am a fan of Dong Yi, I love the drama to pieces which catapulted my love for Han Hyo Joo and Ji Jin Hee. Been doing Dong Yi’s re-watching marathon lately. Having said that, I don’t simply say that they have the chemistry simply because I love the drama but because they really had amazing chemistry that I couldn’t find when HHJ being paired with Lee Seung Gi or Lee Jun Ki, when in fact those two are of similar age as hers.

        I don’t actually know how to articulate this and despite me being a woman myself, I hate to admit that I cant tolerate the love story between old folks (old man and old woman).

        Just to quote an example, as much as I love JJH, I can’t connect with his love story with Kim Hyun Joo in “I Have A Lover” despite their age gap is a lot closer. May be I have this whole idea that they are too old for love (though that should not be the case). May be I can buy their love story if they were paired up when they were younger.

        Suffice to say, when an older actor being paired with younger actress, the youth in the female counterpart that breathe in the fresh air that become the main element to completely sell the story.

        Those are just my opinion. Others likely won’t share the same opinion as mine.

  9. I’ve decided if it’s a good drama with good writing and both leads are legal, I’m gonna ignore the whole age thing. I remember a lot of comments about Marriage Contract before it aired but generally saw nothing but positive reviews during its entire run so the age thing ended up being no big deal. Again, 18 or older and good story and I’m good to go.

  10. I’m usually fine as long as both party is adult (unlike what’s happening recently). I think the trend keeps flipping because I remember a few years back it was the opposite where some were complaining of too many noona romances.

    Among the ones mentioned, I found Marriage Contract pairing pretty good.. Currently watching Neighborhood Lawyer and it doesn’t seem like they’ll have romance angle between the two.

  11. I am against the use of minor actresses (and actors, but that hardly comes up) but it’s interesting to me that people are pretending that the opposite hasn’t happened A LOT in the Kdrama industry and are trying to link an unrelated entertainment scene to despicable acting practices in Hollywood and Bollywood. For a few years it seemed to me that every other drama had the female lead around 10 or so years older – tell me, is that somehow more acceptable? Statistically speaking, it’s far more common for older males to be involved with younger females so one could argue that reel life should reflect real life.

    HOWEVER, I agree that the recent spate of pairings (some more than 15 years) is really pushing it and that the most true to life pairings are between people who are close in age. IMO, Kdramas need to quit casting people from different generations regardless of gender and pretending that they both are the same age.

    • I can’t think of 10+ years older. Less yes (like I remember you, you from another star), but 10+ no. On the other hand a 10+ years age gap with the guy being older was the norm and nobody mentioned it – like has anyone ever said anything about the greatest love pairing, or the princess man?
      Or as soon as the female lead is older it’s noona romance, when the guy is it’s just romance (like warm and cozy for example is not an oppa romance).
      So frankly,up to 10 years is just ‘normal’, you got to see both. Age gaps such as these now are more akin to the mentioned industries, especially with such young girls. Also, you don’t see such young boys paired with actresses that much older.
      So no, it’s not exactly the same, and the opposite hasn’t happened a lot.

      That being said, I like my couples close in age. Personal preference.

    • Agreed about everything. I don’t really care about age gap, but I DO care about use of minor actresses in a romance as the (or one of the) MAIN LOVE INTERESTS.

      Really, it’s a matter of acting for age gaps to feel natural or not, but I do not think it’s ok for minors to act as love interests with actors significantly older than them, good acting or no.

      My main issue which people don’t usually address is the double standard that’s being applied where as long as it’s the guy that’s a minor or the younger of an age gap, it’s fine, because “obviously, he looks older.” (yes, I’m talking to you Yeo Jin Gu fans from 3 years ago). I also have an issue with fans rooting for romances between high schoolers and grown adults, but that’s kind of a separate issue.

    • If we are going to question the acceptability of one of the partners being older, in real life as long as they are adults, it only concerns them. People may have opinions but do they have a right not to accept?

      The real issue here is this: when the woman is older (not the actress, but the actual character), this is portrayed as a problem in the story. The heroine has internal conflict, her family objects, his family objects, so on and so forth. On the other hand, when it’s the guy who’s older most of the time nobody bats an eyelash. It’s not even mentioned, let alone objected to because that’s the “norm”. It is this double standard that is the problem.

      • This double standard of the older woman with the younger man unfortunately mirrors reality. This is the reason why you don’t see an older man with a younger woman run into quite the same issues, though there are some counterexamples (My Spring Days comes to mind).

        I agree that society shouldn’t be so judgmental, but dramas unfortunately usually mirror what happens in society.

        The current norm in society is that a non-legal person should not be involved with a significantly older person, no matter the gender of either party. This goes outside what society as a whole views as acceptable that it deserves to be seriously questioned and brought up continuously each time it happens.

        The double-standard problem is that since most drama viewers are female who tend to have crushes over some non-legal actors that some try to justify their crush while deriding the non-legal actresses with the older actors.

        This double standard also seems to occur when it comes to tearing down female idol/actors who can’t act versus the pretty male idol/actors who can’t act.

        I’m not saying that it’s necessarily a bad thing, but people SHOULD look at their biases and try to see if they’re objectively applying a double standard.

  12. Jisung and Hyeri coupling annoyed me. Its obvious she looks like a school girl and he is an ajuhsshi with some kids. in short they look like father and daughter. to me age gap should be 10 years at max.otherwise they look silly.
    I think it is nothing to do with the trend, it’s because the broadcasters prefer actors or actresses who are bankable in their opinions which may translate to a better rating. they just dont bother about age factor

  13. I don’t set or expect any norm to define appropriate age gap as long as the scenes involved in the acting are appropriate and LEGAL for any minor actors/actresses. Some dramas do need portray huge age gaps between couples based on storylines, e.g. Secret Love Affair, Prime Minister and I, and Witch’s Romance. Imo, the OTPs in these aforementioned dramas all have great chemistry and make the plots convincing. So age gap isn’t really an issue. It’s just somehow it looks more awkward if the pair are not able to deliver story since it’s rarer to have a relationship with huge age gap in real life.

  14. BTW, thanks for mentioning Prison Flower. I’m so bored and have got nothing to watch after DotS. I’m gonna give PF a shot b/c it’s directed by the director who directed Dong Yi And Dae Jang Geum.

  15. That is the trend in Korea, old man with young girls, bunch of pervert. That is the message they are passing on. Do not see those artist who they are dating, all young girls . Disgusting. They already enjoy they young, now they are taking from ohters. And young fans will try to imitate them.it is a shame.

    • I don’t see why you should label older man dating younger girl as pervert. As long as they are of legal age, there should be no problem. Age is nothing but just a number. Its the compatibility that matters. Either we like it or not, sexism is everywhere. Actors in their 40’s can still easily book a job but not so much can be said for the actresses. Once the actress reach the age of 40, they have to be prepared to play the role of mothers and aunties. Can we really blame on the industry or should we actually blame the audience? Because as much as it is shameful for me as a woman to admit this, I can’t really connect with the older women portraying themselves being madly in love like younger girls. It’s just our natural perception, our taste that govern how things are and how the system works eventually.

      • Pure curiosity – do you find it natural then to see a portrayal of an older man being madly in love like younger boys?

        Honestly, from what I’ve been able to see, a lot of women who are 40+ and freshly in love don’t behave much better or more mature than teens and girls in the early 20s (crying and omg he didn’t text/call me all day sniff sniff included) I think that women who think like you are those who have been married (perhaps with kids) or in a stable relationship for a very long time. Because when most people fall in love, regardless of age, rational reasoning takes a backseat. So yes you can be 60 and in love like a teen.

      • As I said, age is nothing but just a number and love is for all ages, one is never too old for love.

        As I stated earlier, it is just my preference. No offence and I don’t expect others to share the same opinion.

  16. I don’t have a big issue with age disparity between leads, but I do have one when the acting skills are so sub par with the younger lead actor (usually an idol parachuted into the role). Bad acting coupled with age disparity magnifies flaws in our perceptions that would otherwise have given a pass in the presence of good actors elevating the story line. I’m wincing watching Hyeri and Ji Sung in Entertainer. She may be a wonderful person in real life, but Hyeri’s lack of acting skills makes the appearance of age disparity even more cringly apparent.

  17. The recently finished drama, Marriage Contract works for me despite the large age gap. Both leads have explosive chemistry that I couldn’t even handle it. Another dramas that I think I’ve no problem with this issue are Secret Love Affairs and Witch Romance. Like some of us here, I just couldn’t accept the pairing of underage actors and adults. This is just so wrong on so many levels especially when they play lovers.

    • Unfortunaly, most of us grown up somehow watching drama,and television, and many times we have the tendency to follow certain behaves that we see on the drama. So, young girls see on the drama old men and young girls, and their idols doing the same, they believe that is ok, to date or have an affair with old men. Losing the best time of their young stage of their life , fulfilling some fantasy of perverts old men that can not accept their age or refuse to mature, and using them. It is I wrong for television to portray these type relationship. It is disgusting .

  18. I think big age gap is not a problem , especially if the story require that/discuss about that like that like in my spring day, and they can pull the acting.
    Attraction is different,
    but for love line, I think they should careful about casting a minor cause they usually portray as young girl and it’s usually looks unnatural for ahjussi x teenager love story in normal context

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