UPGRADED: From second fiddle to male lead

In this special edition of celeb crushin’, we bring you a list of actors who have made it through treacherous waters to become male leads

UPGRADED: From second fiddle to male lead
UPGRADED: From second fiddle to male lead
12 Jul 2016

UPGRADED: From second fiddle to male lead

In this special edition of celeb crushin’, we bring you a list of actors who have made it through treacherous waters to become male leads

In dramaland, the rule of thumb is that the lead actor gets the most screen time, along with the girl (and a happily ever after). The second male lead, however, is destined to pine after her endlessly, or perhaps be blessed with a short relationship which will end abruptly when she realises where her feelings truly lie. (However, there are many exceptions to the rule, but going into it will end up in a thesis of its own.)

While some actors upgrade almost instantly from second leads to male leads, others get stuck playing second fiddle for the longest time. In commemoration of Kim Woo Bin and Ryu Jun Yeol making it past the friendzone and into leading male territory, we bring you a list of actors who’ve made it through the treacherous waters to become male leads.

Read on for more.

Kim Woo Bin
Kim Woo Bin
12 Jul 2016

Kim Woo Bin

From his role as the gruff Park Heung Soo (School 2013) to the bad boy with a warm heart Choi Young Do (Heirs), Kim Woo Bin played the second male lead and found his place as a male lead in movies not long after.

From there, he starred in three consecutive movies - Friend: The Great Legacy, The Con Artists and Twenty, finally making his return to the small screen this year with Uncontrollably Fond.

While we’re only two episodes into the drama, viewers have praised him for his strong delivery and acting chops, but the (SPOILER ALERT!) terminal illness that his character, prickly superstar Shin Joon Young, has been diagnosed with from the beginning has us thinking that we’ll be needing those tissues we have on the table while keeping up with this drama.

Photos: KBS, SBS

Ryu Jun Yeol
Ryu Jun Yeol
12 Jul 2016

Ryu Jun Yeol

Yes, we know. Before you protest that he was most definitely the male lead in Reply 1988, we classified him as a second male lead in this drama because his reel-life love rival, Park Bo Gum ended up with leading lady Hyeri instead.

We remember the super intense debates that were going around during and after the airing of the nostalgic series – and it was with good reason. Ryu Jun Yeol captured many a heart with his character Kim Jung Hwan, but ended up getting a non-ending in the drama.

Fans of the actor can take heart that he quickly made the upgrade to definitive male lead (seriously, there’s no arguing it in this drama) in Lucky Romance, where he plays quirky genius Je Soo Ho. With the drama coming to a close this week, we’re keeping our fingers tightly crossed that he can have a happily ever after this time. Our K-drama loving hearts are too weak to accept any other alternative.

Photos: tvN, Marie Claire

Park Bo Gum
Park Bo Gum
12 Jul 2016

Park Bo Gum

Speaking of Reply 1988, Park Bo Gum had his fair share of lost puppy moments with Cantabile Tomorrow (the Second Lead Syndrome feels were strong with this one) and Hello Monster (his psycho act still gives us the chills), among others.

While there might be some who argue that he wasn’t the male lead in Reply despite getting his happily ever after, his upcoming drama will change all that. Period drama Moonlight Drawn by Clouds is set to air next month, and from the stills of him and Kim Yoo Jung released so far have gotten us all excited for these two cuties to light up our screens.

Photos: KBS, tvN

Song Joong Ki
Song Joong Ki
12 Jul 2016

Song Joong Ki

Big Boss might have captured hearts all over the world in his latest drama Descendants of the Sun, but there was a time where the baby-faced actor didn’t play leading roles just quite yet.

His role in Sungkyunkwan Scandal as the flamboyant Gu Yong Ha was the role that catapulted him to international fame, following which he played the leading male in drama The Innocent Man before heading off to the army. In the same year, he tugged at heartstrings with his role in the movie A Werewolf Boy and cemented his spot as a lead.

Descendants was his first drama after his discharge from his stint, and he will be concentrating on movie Battleship Island in the coming days.

Photos: KBS

Do Kyungsoo
Do Kyungsoo
12 Jul 2016

Do Kyungsoo

What’s this idol doing on our list, you ask? The EXO member, who is otherwise known by his stage name D.O., impressed with his acting chops as the off-kilter teenage version of bad guy Lee Joon Young in Hello Monster. He plays the second male lead in upcoming movie Brother, in which he plays a promising judo athlete who causes his older brother (played by Jo Jung Suk) to go to jail.

In Pure Love, a coming-of-age romantic film which was released earlier this year, he stars opposite Kim So Hyun as the male lead, the first in his career. With his acting career steadily gaining momentum, we’re anticipating seeing him in more projects soon.

Photos: KBS, Little Big Pictures, S.M Entertainment

Romeo Tan
Romeo Tan
12 Jul 2016

Romeo Tan

Romeo played second fiddle in a number of dramas, including 96°C Café, Don’t Stop Believin’ and Joys of Life before graduating to the lead male with Sudden, starring opposite Rui En.

From there, he’s gone back and forth from first to second male lead status, and is currently known to viewers as the multi-faceted baddie Tim Goh in The Dream Job. That being said, we’re kinda missing him in leading roles, given that his last male lead role was in 2014’s Yes We Can!.

The Dream Job airs on Mondays to Fridays, 9pm on Channel 8; watch it on Toggle-It-First. For more of The Dream Job, visit our microsite here.

Photos: Channel 8, Toggle

Aloysius Pang
Aloysius Pang
12 Jul 2016

Aloysius Pang

Aloysius has been racking up his drama credentials since his debut in 2012 and quickly worked up the ranks to be a regular fixture on television screens (he was involved in eight dramas last year, including cameo appearances).

His first lead role was in movie Young and Fabulous, where he plays a nerd with secret ambitions of being a fashion designer. Next month, he’ll once again grace our television screens with The Gentlemen (formerly Mercurial Men), where he will round up the trio of lead actors alongside Chen Hanwei and Pierre Png.

Photos: Channel 8, Joshua Tan/Instagram

Eddie Peng
Eddie Peng
12 Jul 2016

Eddie Peng

Eddie might be rubbing shoulders with the cream of the crop these days – just look at the star-studded cast of his latest movie, Cold War 2 – but he too had his days of being a second male lead.

After being casted as the second male lead in 2002 drama Tomorrow, he quickly worked his way up to leading man in about a year. 2003’s Scent of Love was his first leading role, and he has not looked back since.

These days, he’s working on more movies than dramas and has at least five other confirmed projects that have yet to be released. His last drama was 2014’s period drama Sound of the Desert, also starring Cecilia Liu and Hu Ge.

Photos: Edko Films, CTV, TTV

Aaron Yan
Aaron Yan
12 Jul 2016

Aaron Yan

Aaron burst onto the entertainment scene as the youngest member of boy group Fahrenheit in 2005. In the same year, he started acting with smaller roles in It Started with a Kiss and KO One before getting his first leading role in Pi Li MIT in 2008.

Since then, he’s done an average of one to two dramas a year, and has even started making appearances in movies.

Earlier this year, he announced his intention for a temporary retirement to study filmmaking or scriptwriting in UCLA.

Photos: CTV, FTV

Oguri Shun
Oguri Shun
12 Jul 2016

Oguri Shun

He might have a complicated personal life – the actor is widely regarded as a playboy despite him being married to fellow actress Yamada Yu – his acting chops are definitely not to be disregarded and gone are the days we rooted for his drama characters to have their happy endings against all odds.

Most notably, we remember swooning over his character Hanazawa Rui in 2005’s Hana Yori Dango (its Korean equivalent is Boys Over Flowers and its Taiwanese counterpart is Meteor Garden), but he kick started his acting career nearly a decade before that and worked his way up to be where he is today.

Since then, he’s cemented himself as leading material, headlining numerous dramas in recent years, including Hanazakari no Kimitachi e (also known as Hana Kimi), Tokyo Dogs and Rich Man, Poor Woman.

Photos: Tokyo Broadcasting System, Fuji TV

Related: Korean actors who give us the Second Lead Syndrome

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