The Curious Ahjumma: Second Lead Couple

I recently wrote a list of second couples we love in K-dramas. After finishing that listicle, it kind of felt like I haven’t released all my ~feels~ for these secondary pairings. And so, I have decided to make a relatively longer feature for our beloved second lead couples in K-drama because they DO deserve more love.

Beta couple is most popularly known in K-dramas as the second lead couple (SLC). Because not like in other formats, SLCs in K-dramas have well-rounded stories and layered characters that could rival that of the main couple. But they really aren’t there to overshadow the lead OTP. Because if that happens, then that means something is wrong with the main storyline. 

These secondary love-line is created to complement the main couple’s story. Usually, they are there with us when things got tough with the main couple; giving us a much-needed fluff-relief. SLCs also seem to have better chances with happy endings. Their stories tend to go more smoothly compared to the ill-fated star-crossed main lovers. But in some cases, SLC’s stories also have an open ending or worst, a sad one. 

Second lead couples are usually composed of (er, well) second leads in K-dramas. They are mostly friends of the main couple who fell in love with each other. Because you know, their worlds too collided when their friends’ paths crossed. My first personally known case of having a second lead couple syndrome is actually an OTP who are friends of both the main leads.

My young heart invested a lot on So Yi-jung (Kim Bum) and Chu Ga-eul (Kim So-eun) only to get a vague sort of happy ending in the last episode. The SoEulmate couple from Boys Over Flowers is the story arc I look forward to more than the main couple’s problematic push-and-pull. I admit though that their story isn’t any better, it has flaws and Yi-jung’s “expiration” with his relationship will definitely raise some eyebrows these days. I watched this drama at a time when I thought playboys were cute and soft girls were there to fix them. Regardless, I have fond memories associated with this beta couple that can never be erased. Story-wise, I think I’m in the minority for saying I like Yi-jung and Ga-eul better than the Nishikado Sojiro and Matsuoka Yuki’s story arc from Hana Yori Dango manga. They have their own color without totaling breaking out of the mold of their source material. If you will actually watch cut clips of these two, you’ll realize their story could be a standalone drama as it is. I also think this couple is successful because of the undeniable chemistry of Kim Bum and Kim So-eun at that time. Now, you should all watch this video for nostalgias’ sake and for the wasted potential of them starring in their own K-drama.

Here’s another second couple from a now-classic K-drama. Like the SoEulmates, they are also in the same circle friends as the main couple. I’m talking about Kim Pil-suk (IU/Lee Ji-eun) and Jason (Woo-young) from Dream High. Pil-suk is best friends with the main couple Go Hye-mi (Bae Suzy) and Song Sam-dong (Kim Soo-hyun). She’s so close with these two that Jason even got jealous of Sam-dong in one of the scenes. Their young love has pushed Pil-suk and Jason to become the best version of themselves. We even got songs written by Pil-suk for Jason that are totally worthy of a full OST version.

If the SoEulmate and the Milky Couple had their own good share of screen time, some second lead couple aren’t as lucky as them. 

The recent second couple that I like is Lee Jang-woo (Lee Jae-wook) and Ji Eun-sil (Yang Hye-ji) from the When the Weather is Fine. It’s a slice-of-life series but most of the screen time rightfully focused on the main couple’s story. Lee Jang-woo is a side character through and through but I like his scenes a lot. And when his story arc revealed his love-line, I went totally all-in with it. They probably don’t have a traumatic past nor are struggling in their daily life but I would have loved to see more of Jang-woo and Eun-sil’s story. Also, this scene is the best in that drama.

As I’ve said earlier, second lead couples are usually created as a reprieve if the main couple’s story starts to get complicated. What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim has two SLCs that made us laugh with their humorous encounters and our hearts pit-a-pat during their sweet moments. @tipsyahjumma loves Bong Se-ra (Hwang Bo-ra) and Yang Cheol (Kang Hong-suk). And I couldn’t blame her because their soda confession can be line up with other classic confession scenes in K-drama. I, personally, preferred though the story of Kim Ji-ah (Pyo Ye-jin) and Go Gwi-nam (Chansung). They satisfied my craving for a cute enemies-to-lovers couple. Did I mention their story also involves semi-cohabitation? 

I will always have a soft spot for second lead couples. Not just because they gave me a lot of feels, but their stories – even the ones that have a lot of screentime – still left with places unexplored. The what-if that could have been dealt with if they have their own K-dramas. Nonetheless, I prefer getting the second lead couple syndrome rather than its sickeningly heartbreaking twin disease that’s plaguing K-drama for years – second lead syndrome. At least with second lead couples, it feels like getting a double romantic treat when you only expected one. A good deal that I won’t trade for anything else. And maybe one day, I might see these second lead couple shine in their own show. 

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