After a consistent period of drama watching, it became apparent to me that there is a very specific recipe for concocting the perfect male lead. This recipe applies to both Korean and Chinese dramas.
Accordingly, I have taken it upon myself to list ten different traits/characteristics of the perfect/successful male lead because lets face it there are some leads which make it and others which don’t (and it is important to know why).
Let me know in the comments below whether you agree or if there are any other traits that should be added.
One | He must know how to say his name
First and foremost, a perfect male lead must know how to say his name (with perfect male lead style). This every-day task may seem trite, but when said with skill it makes for an unforgettable scene.
Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms | Chinese Drama | Ye Hua
My Love from the Star |Korean Drama | Lee Hee-kyung
Two | He must have perfect hair
Perfect hair is mandatory for the perfect male lead. Regardless of time period — he could be placed in a drama set a millennium ago or it could be a modern-day drama — a perfect male lead needs to have every strand in check.
Yan Xun from Princess Agents manages to keep his hair in meticulous condition despite trying to overthrow an emperor and have his bloody revenge.
Princess Agents | Chinese Drama | Yan Xun
Choi Young-do from Heirs must know his hair is flawless, right?
You can’t have hair like that and not know… (notice how it does not move even as he does)
The Heirs | Korean Drama | Choi Young-do
Three | He must have an impeccable sense of style
Whether he is a deity or just another heir of an international conglomerate, head-turning fashion is a must for the perfect male lead.
Son Oh-gong in A Korean Odyssey loves a striking coat —
A Korean Odyssey | Korean Drama | Son Oh-gong
… and so does Dao Ming Si in Meteor Garden.
Meteor Gardens | Chinese Drama | Dao Ming Si
Four | He must be in peak physical shape
Even the geeky IT nerds in Dramaland are in peak physical shape.
Take Min-hyuk from Strong Girl Bong-soon. He is President of a successful Gaming/Tech company. But, he still has spare time to fight bad guys…
Strong Women Do Bong Soon | Korean Drama | An Min-hyuk
Xiao Nai from Love O2O (similar to Min-hyuk) is the CEO of a successful Gaming/Tech company but is also an excellent sportsman…
Love O2O | Chinese Drama | Xiao Nai
Five | He must possess innate knowledge
The perfect male lead must be endowed with innate knowledge on all matters (yes, I mean all matters).
Do Min-joon from My Love from the Star is not afraid to flaunt his legal and medical knowledge as required.
My Love from the Stars | Korean Drama | Do Min-joon
As Ye Hua in Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms demonstrates, household responsibilities are also not exempt from the purview of a perfect males lead’s innate knowledge.
Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms |Chinese Drama | Ye Hua
Six | He must have an abundance of time to wait for Mrs. Right
Although the perfect male lead will always have critical/urgent issues to deal with, he must also make time to to wait around/watch his Mrs. Right (without her knowledge or consent).
As Lee Young-joon from What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim frequently demonstrates he always has time to wait around for Kim Mi-so.
What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim | Chinese Drama | Lee Young-joon
Runyu from Ashes of Love is next level and is not opposed to constant surveillance of his female love interest … privacy is a non-issue, clearly.
Ashes of Love | Chinese Drama | Runyu
Seven | He must be obsessive/possessive
Although being obsessive/possessive would be highly problematic in the real world, in Dramaland it’s a demonstration of love.
Sometimes, in circumstances where the male lead is a God of War, this base instinct makes sense. Xufeng in Ashes of Love demonstrates this.
Other times, when an alien becomes possessive/obsessive/ jealous such an instinct doesn’t quite make sense. Even Do Min-joon cannot explain his behaviour.
My Love from the Star| Korean Drama | Do Min-joon
Eight | He must get along with his love-interest’s family (the same may not apply vice versa)
The perfect lead men also have an uncanny ability to get along with their counterpart’s family. Unfortunately, female leads are not blessed with such fortune as demonstrated in Boys over Flowers and Meteor Gardens.
Meteor Gardens | Chinese Drama | Dao Ming Si
Boys over Flowers| Korean Drama | Gu Jun-pyo
Nine | He must be popular with the ladies
The perfect male lead must also be very popular with the ladies and have at least one stalker.
In Ashes of Love, Xufeng is the unwilling recipient of Suihe’s affection (despite being cousins).
Ashes of Love | Chinese Drama | Suihe
Oh Min-ji in Boys over Flowers was obsessed with Gu Jun-pyo from when she was 5 years old. She went so far as to drop out of school and undergo an incredible amount of plastic surgery after Gu Jn-pyo called her ugly… (it’s still not clear why she liked him so much and for so long).
Boys over Flowers| Korean Drama | Oh Min-ji
Ten | He must only have one love
Finally, the most important quality of a perfect male lead is that he is only allowed to fall in love once and once he is in love he must never be able to get over it.
Ye Hua falls in love with Bai Qian in the Mortal Realm…
… and keeps loving her (after both die and come back) in the Heavenly Realm.
Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms | Chinese Drama | Ye Hua and Bai Qian
Do Min-joon unable to get over his encounter with young Cheon Song-yi in the Joeson Era…
…holds out for 400 years until he is able to be with a reincarnated Cheon Song-yi.