In Praise of Second Bananas

Sometimes I am watching a K-Drama and I just can’t help but yell at the screen, “What are you doing! You clearly should choose the second banana!” K-Dramas thrive on making their leads cry with broken hearts and the aching possibility that someone else may steal away the loves of their lives. If the lead hero is not being driven away by evil relatives or suffering from a brain tumor, a second banana is there to make the lead work to secure his love. Sometimes, though, the main lead is not right for the heroine. Why do you choose the young pretty boy over the hunkalicious CEO who will give you a giant rock? Why aren’t you choosing the sweet playboy who is reforming his ways for you? Weh? WEH? WEH?! Aigoo.
Sometimes you love the second banana AND the lead. If second bananas are REALLY lucky there is another person calling them “Oppa” at the end of the series. Sometimes though, they are left crying sadly until they are cast as lead banana in your next drama. Here are six supporting leads we were hoping had a shot at the girl. You can’t help but cheer them on, even though they are trying to rival Pretty Lee Min Ho:
1. Yun Ji Hu in Boys Over Flowers.fireman

“One will be your soul mate, the other your husband.” Never has a fortune teller had more chilling words for a heroine. Poor, lucky Jan Di she got Ji Hu and Pretty Lee Min Ho, I mean, Jun Pyo.
2. Lee Joon Gi as Seo Jung Woo in My Girlsnowglobe

This second banana made all the right moves. He used his words. He led her to his many stepped thinking spot. He played his hand as well as he could, but there is just no beating your good looking cousin with dibs and a snow globe.
3. Kang Ha-Nuel as Jung Sun Woo in Monstar.Cello

He’s handsome, rich, smart, carries a torch for Min Se-Yi for years, and plays cello so smooth and fine I had to go take lessons. Maybe if I play cello too he’ll come duet Nocturne with me. Luckily a certain gangster’s daughter with a rocking set of pipes will make him some sweet fashions and soothe his sad heart.
4. It’s an embarrassment of riches for Park Min Young in Sungkyunkwan Scandal. While I don’t fault her for choosing charismatic Park Yoo Chun (with a beard – mrrrrow!), a corner of my heart cheered on Song Joong Ki’s mischievous smile. Frootloops
5. Lee Tae Seong as Bong Joon Gu in Playful Kiss.noodles

Oh Ha Ni should be commended for her tenacity but Joon Gu would have cooked delicious noodles for you adoringly forever and he got along fantastically with your dad. I wanted Joon Gu’s noodle dream to have been realized.
6. Ryu Jin as Ji Seong Il in Baby Faced Beauty.MrJi

A handsome, rich guy, who shares your interests, whose little girl loves you, whose sister is a good friend – and you pick the guy who is 7 years younger than you with a overbearing dad? A guy moreover who is pressured into proposing because he is stubborn? Daniel Choi was cute and endearing as the lead here, but sign me up for Mr. Ji!
My K Drama friends tell me I have left out Kim Woo Bin as Choi Young-Do in the Heirs, but I think we all agree he needs to be saved for our favorite bad boy list.

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2 thoughts on “In Praise of Second Bananas”

  1. While I don’t agree with # 5, a few I would totally add to this list is Full House Take Two, Flowerboy Ramen Shop and Unemployed Romance. All three had better options in the second male lead. I want to add the first Full House to this as well, but I can’t remember the storyline well enough to remember if the second lead was a real choice or not. I just remember not liking Rain’s character to the hilt and not understanding why she liked him.

  2. oh my flower boy! You forgot the most tragic SLS of them all! the one who walks off into the sunset with NOTHING! Lee Ki Woo , who played the guy who inherited and saved the Ramen Shop, nurtured and protected the girl, only to have her fall in love with arrogant Cha Chi Soo. In the end he totally loses everything except his pretty hair and integrity. Flower Boy Ramen Shop’s Choi Gang-Hyuk 🙁

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