While it sometimes can be a pipe dream to see the K-drama leads you love reunite in another drama, historical and fantasy dramas always tend to leave viewers wondering how well they could fair in a more modern-timed drama.
Did your favorite historical love story get derailed by political uproar by the time the drama ended? When the leads have great chemistry, you often wish for more tender moments, such as hugging, kissing, and hand-holding, but these actions can be rather limited due to the time period. Not to mention, sometimes their screen time together goes awry as usually one of them is secretly plotting to usurp the throne while the other is left in the dark. This happens in fantasy dramas as well. There are often such high stakes to stop a raging murderer or the world is on a brink of an apocalypse that suddenly the leads barely interact on screen.
While individual journeys are important for each character and their development, it’d be nice to see them work together rather than separately. Especially when the leads are not communicating for the sake of “protecting the other.” Plus there’s the ultimate devastation when one of them dies while the other lives.
It’s always exciting to see well-paired leads get together for another project, so here are seven leads from historical and fantasy dramas that I wish would have modern dramas with preferably a happy ending.
Warning: spoilers for the dramas below.
Lee Hwi and Seong Ja Hyeon from “Grand Prince”
Without any political desires to up his rank, Prince Lee Hwi (Yoon Shi Yoon) has only one wish: to find a love of his own and not have an arranged marriage. Luckily for him, in a fateful moment in the marketplace, he meets the strong-willed Seong Ja Hyeon (Jin Se Yeon). And although he aids her when she is about to get swindled by a paint supplier, they quickly bicker after leaving the art store. As they keep bumping into each other, their affection grows. They spend lots of time painting, horseback riding, and once they even go into a gisaeng house (despite Hwi’s objections).
One scene, in particular, that really makes me wish for Yoon Shi Yoon and Jin Se Yeon to reunite is when Ja Hyeon risks drowning to return to Hwi. Ja Hyeon is so confident in Hwi that she jumps into the water, despite not knowing how to swim, because she knows he would save her.
This scene is great because both actors nail what each of them feels for the other. Jin Se Yeon easily conveys the unwavering confidence and trust Ja Hyeon puts in Hwi not only through her actions but also with her shy but assured confession. Meanwhile, Yoon Shi Yoon easily conveys all of Hwi’s worried emotions despite not even remotely hesitating to jump into the water and save Ja Hyeon. When they’re above water, you can feel the anger in his voice but you can also tell it’s out of worry. Their chemistry carries the scene it allows the viewers to fall for their romance.
However, the political desires of Hwi’s brother, Crown Prince Lee Kang (Joo Sang Wook), derail their romance. Instead of living a peaceful life together, Hwi has to stop Lee Kang from ruining Joseon. Luckily, their romance isn’t completely a subplot in a large political scheme, and Ja Hyeon helps Hwi usurp the throne. While there certainly isn’t time for holding hands and tender kisses, it’s refreshing to see them work as a team.
There’s one scene where Hwi steals a moment with Ja Hyeon before she must return to the palace to help trick Crown Prince Lee Kang. You can feel the anguish, longing, and impatience that they both feel for this plan to work so they can finally be together. Hwi is the more emotional of the two as he carries a rather somber expression. Ja Hyeon is like an unwavering light as she promises Hwi that if he thinks of all their past times together, he can move forward. From Hwi’s back hug to Ja Hyeon’s hands caressing Hwi’s face, Yoon Shi Yoon and Jin Se Yeon’s chemistry shines.
Yoon Shi Yoon and Jin Se Yeon’s chemistry would be quite enjoyable in a romantic comedy where they could not only have endearing scenes but could also show off their chemistry through some more banter, much like the scenes at the beginning of “Grand Prince.”
Catch the first episode of “Grand Prince” below:
The hwarang boys from “Hwarang”
While there is romance in “Hwarang” between Moo Myung (Park Seo Joon) and Aro (Go Ara), the more memorable characters in the drama were all the knights. Banded together to help protect the new king Sam Maek Jong (Park Hyung Sik), all the men train together.
While some of them, namely Moo Myung and Maek Jong or Suho (Minho) and Ban Ryu (Do Ji Han), tend to be rivals, it’s exciting to see how they all end up working together as one big team. One of my favorite scenes is when they all break out in dance while they practice sword fighting. Suho asks if everyone is ready and the reactions as follow effortlessly show the dynamic between the characters. Han Sung (V) is eager to start, Moo Myung is confused, Maek Jong is just not having any of it, but they all effortlessly begin to do the choreography of their dance in sync. Despite everyone’s initial reactions, when it comes down to it they’re beyond ready to work together as a team.
The chemistry between all of them is hilarious and very palpable. This scene perfectly showcases their camaraderie and makes viewers wish for group scenes like this to happen more often. No matter how cutthroat and high stakes the political drama became, you knew they were bonded enough that a happy ending would ensue.
While the actors all seem close off-screen and have all spoken highly of each other, if we can’t have all of them in a new drama, it’d be really enjoyable to see at least Park Seo Joon, Park Hyung Sik, and V reunite. They have a striking bromance of their own and it’d be hilarious if they starred in a modern, slice of life comedy!
Catch the first episode of “Hwarang” below:
Won Deuk and Yeong Hong Shim from “100 Days My Prince”
After being chased far away from the palace due to an unexpected attack on his life, Crown Prince Lee Yul (D.O.) gets amnesia and ends up in the protection of Hong Shim (Nam Ji Hyun) and her stepfather (Jung Hae Kyun). Not wanting to follow the new law that all single women must get married, Hong Shim renames Lee Yul to Won Deuk, her long lost husband, and has to clean up many of his messes that result from his aloofness.
Due to this many shenanigans ensue. One memorable scene is when Won Deuk and Hong Shim get caught wrapped up together in a hay sheet. As soon as Won Deuk wakes up Hong Shim, they start bickering as they struggle to figure out what to do. The close proximity they must share despite having just met is hilarious. Nam Ji Hyun effortlessly shows Hong Shim’s forthright personality as she takes charge and instructs Won Deuk on what to do so they can get out. However, Won Deuk is much more apprehensive about her solution and instead asks to stay there for a moment. D.O. effortlessly transforms Won Deuk’s hesitant expression to a soft but intense gaze that softens Hong Shim. Their chemistry here truly brings the start to their romance.
What makes matters more intriguing is the wait for them to discover that they were once childhood lovers. Eventually, Won Deuk rediscovers his identity and has to return to the palace. This is when angst ensues, making it very difficult to watch them be apart. However, D.O.’s and Nam Ji Hyun’s acting never fail to deliver.
A standout scene is when Hong Shim sneaks into the palace as a maid to see how Won Deuk is doing. She discovers that he looks rather gaunt. After they catch up and she cooks for him, Won Deuk laments how they would have been married and shared more of their lives together if it hadn’t been for the past. D.O. effortlessly switches his gloomy and stoic attitude to one of relief as Hong Shim is by Won Deuk’s side. You can see the peace settle over his face as he lays down on Hong Shim’s lap. Hong Shim softly caresses Won Deuk’s eyebrow as Nam Ji Hyun portrays Hong Shim’s dismal feelings with the frown on her face. Even though your heart may be fluttering as a viewer, you can see and feel the worry and heartbreak she has that as of that moment they must be apart. At this point, you can only hope they’ll get their happily ever after.
HS: “It is time for me to leave.”
WD: “Just a moment”
WD: “If only I was really Won Deuk…”
By the time “100 Days My Prince” finished, I just wanted more of the lead’s story and chemistry. It was sad to say goodbye to the drama and the characters as it came to a close. Just imagine how intriguing it’d be if D.O. and Nam Ji Hyun could be paired together in a modern drama. Fortunately, we do have a little taste of that as they cameoed in “Eun Joo’s Room” with other cast members from “100 Days My Prince.”
Catch the first episode of “100 Days My Prince” below:
Jang Man Wol and Goo Chan Sung from “Hotel Del Luna”
Cursed to run the Hotel Del Luna for eternity to pay for her past sins, Jang Man Wol (IU) is a stubborn and lonely woman. She may seem like the strongest person in the room, but she is actually quite fragile, having closed herself off to human connection. Enter the perfectionist, Goo Chan Sung (Yeo Jin Goo), who is forced to help run the hotel due to a deal his father made with Man Wol in the past. While he is not very impressed with her in the beginning, he soon becomes a driving force in Man Wol’s life to help her go to the afterlife peacefully.
Despite both being unwilling to soften up for the other, they soon take up a large part in each other’s hearts. This turning point happens when Man Wol asks Chan Sung to stay by her side until she disappears. IU effortlessly portrays Man Wol’s vulnerability with tear-filled eyes. Yeo Jin Goo conveys Chan Sung’s steadfastness easily as he steps forward and wipes a tear away from Man Wol, promising he won’t let that happen. Their chemistry carries the rest of the scene without words, as Man Wol’s flowers finally bloom on the tree.
While it was very likely for this drama to end with Man Wol and Chan Sung separated, Yeo Jin Goo and IU’s chemistry easily makes you hope they will remain together despite the odds. They have many cheeky and memorable scenes. A personal favorite is in episode 11 when they are eating rice cake soup together and Chan Sung says he will eat everything including her earrings (since they look like the food). Man Wol laughs and you can tell that it’s an adlib. It speaks highly to Yeo Jin Goo and IU’s chemistry and how well they work together.
GCS: At Harvard, I was famous for eating fast.
MW: I am already 3500 years old.
GCS: 600 years.
MW: 3500 years.
GCS: You can’t beat me. Admit it. I’m eating everything here. I’m going to ear everything including your earrings.
Director, IU and Yeo Jingoo on the famous rice cake soup scene when Jingoo ad libs he’s going to eat Jang Manwol’s earrings pic.twitter.com/6KaICD1HHV
— t �dc99�df39 (@jieunlui) December 15, 2019
Moments like these make you think that it’d be exciting to see them end up in another drama. Preferably one where their romance isn’t doomed from the start. There was enough angst in “Hotel Del Luna” that a soft, simple, and comedic romance would be good enough if they ever reunite in another drama.
Catch the first episode of “Hotel Del Luna” below:
Jeon Nokdu and Dong Dong Joo from “The Tale of Nokdu”
This is probably the most wholesome sageuk drama you could ever watch. If you’re more in for political intrigue, then this may not be your cup of tea. However, if you’re here for romance then this drama is 11/10.
After tracing back assassins to a widow village where men aren’t allowed, Jeon Nokdu (Jang Dong Yoon) disguises himself as a widow. There he meets the ever-stubborn Dong Dong Joo (Kim So Hyun). While they don’t get off on the right foot right away, they grow on each other very quickly. Dong Joo even discovers that Nokdu is in fact not a woman and agrees to keep his secret. Dong Joo is very closed off due to losing her family when she was young and keeps Nokdu at arm’s length. But even as the political betrayals of the past seem to be slowly driving a wedge between them (especially on Dong Joo’s part), there are plenty of scenes that establish that they do not want to be without each other.
The scene that brings this to fruition is when the widow village is being attacked and Dong Joo is in danger of being killed. Despite her efforts to push away Nokdu, she asks Aeng Du (Park Da Yeon) what Nokdu’s name is. As one of the invaders chokes her to death, she barely lets his name out. Kim So Hyun delivers a single tear rolling down Dong Joo’s face to exemplify that her dying wish is for Nokdu to be there. Of course, in K-drama fashion, Nokdu appears just at that moment to save her. He effortlessly catches her and spares a moment to look at her with worry and concern. However, he wears a grim and angry expression as he hasn’t finished keeping her safe yet. The emotional intensity of this scene is definitely felt by both actors and keeps you rooting for them to survive.
Usually, there’s a point in all historical dramas where the romance takes a back seat to politics. This is understandable given the genre; however, “The Tale of Nokdu” does shy away from that, especially in the finale. Instead of getting a five-minute happily ever after, “The Tale of Nokdu” gives a very wholesome ending that fits perfectly into the arcs of each character. Dong Joo and Nokdu live a very peaceful life, free of worry and the chains of the past. One of the cutest scenes that is sure to put you in your feels is when Dong Joo reunites with Nokdu after he had been working out of town. Jang Dong Yoon and Kim So Hyun both look incredibly comfortable with each other, which brings this beautiful scene to life.
You may think this drama is so satisfying that you don’t desperately need Kim So Hyun and Jang Dong Yoon to reunite, but that’s precisely why I hope they reunite. Their chemistry was so palpable, whether it was when they were bickering like a married couple or tearfully walking away from each other, that your heart would feel every emotion. Imagine a drama that’s filled with more of their adlibs and cuteness or even a bunch of angst that drives their characters apart and brings them closer all at once. They could certainly pull it off! Even Jang Dong Yoon expressed how wonderful it was to work with Kim So Hyun and how he wouldn’t mind doing it again.
Catch the first episode of “The Tale of Nokdu” below:
Jin Sun Mi and Son Oh Gong from “Hwayugi”
Oh Yeon Seo and Lee Seung Gi deserve a romance that doesn’t have an ill fate. After freeing Son Oh Gong (Lee Seung Gi) from a prison made for him by the gods, Jin Sun Mi’s (Oh Yeon Seo) fate becomes inexplicably bound to him. While she does not remember his name, she reunites with him when she is much older. After facing a life of loneliness and having to deal with demons all on her own, Jin Sun Mi soon discovers her punishment from the gods for freeing Son Oh Gong. She bounds Son Oh Gong to her using a geumganggo (a magical bracelet), and they work together to stop an ultimate evil from creating an apocalypse.
It’s really entertaining to watch them defeat demons, but it’s most satisfying to see how their romance progresses. It’s clear that even when they bicker, they are rather enamored with each other. This drama always has Jin Sun Mi’s death looming over your head, so it’s nice to have scenes that take a reprieve from such dramatics.
But the cruelest part about this drama is that as they fall in love, Son Oh Gong and Jin Sun Mi are certain they will escape their ill fate. They fail to communicate on how to stop the impending evil together, and Jin Sun Mi dies in Son Oh Gong’s arms. This scene is incredibly heartbreaking and both actors do an incredible job of showcasing their emotions. Lee Seung Gi’s tears move hearts as Son Oh Gong desperately tries to keep it together. Meanwhile, Jin Sun Mi just comforts Son Oh Gong and tells him he can go finish what she was supposed to do. Despite having been stabbed, Oh Yeon Seo wears a soft smile on her face and tells him she can leave with no worries knowing that he won’t have to mourn the loss of her love. Their chemistry carries this melancholic scene and easily leaves the viewer’s hearts absolutely crushed and begging for a happier ending.
SOG: Jin Sun Mi. Jin Sun Mi.
JSM: I’m sorry. You shouldn’t be here. Go.
JSM: You must go.
JSM: You do anything I ask you to. Song Oh Gong, The Greate Sage, go and finish it off for me. I actually hoped our love wouldn’t disappear. Now, I’m okay you have geumganggo. I can relax when you are left alone, my love won’t be left behind. That’s such a relief.
SOG: Jin Sun Mi? Jin Sun Mi?
I would combust if Lee Seung Gi and Oh Yeon Seo ever reunited in a drama. They had so much chemistry that people swooned every time they had a tender moment. To heal the wounds of “Hwayugi,” they should have a drama with a tender romance that takes the front seat instead of punishment from the gods.
Catch the first episode of “Hwayugi” below:
Kang Chul and Oh Yeon Joo from “W”
“W” is honestly one of my all-time favorite dramas. It has intrigue, suspense, and a nice amount of fluff and romance to tie you over. After being pulled into a comic world by Kang Chul (Lee Jong Suk), Oh Yeon Joo’s (Han Hyo Joo) fate is dramatically changed. Instead of long shifts as a surgeon at a hospital, she desperately tries to help Kang Chul escape death from the killer who murdered his whole family. Along the way, they fall in love, and despite the high stakes, there are some points in the drama where Kang Chul really tries to give Yeon Joo a soft, fulfilling romance.
One of my favorite scenes is in episode seven, where Kang Chul and Yeon Joo are cuddled up on the bed looking through a book that details an everyday romance. In the beginning, he teases a kiss before he pulls away and beckons for her to cuddle closer. As they flip through the book and make plans for the future you can’t help but feel the butterflies. Lee Jong Suk and Han Hyo Joo’s chemistry really pull you into the scene and you almost forget everything else about the drama.
However, due to the constant threat of the killer, their romance always seemed to be cut short. Even when they were reunited for good in the end, there is still a melancholic undertone to it all. Lee Jong Suk admitted that he found the ending to be sad rather than happy. They deserve to have a drama together where there is more focus on the romance and less emphasis on fantastical dramatics. Their chemistry really makes your heart flutter, and also how could we ever forget their kisses?
Catch the first episode of “W” below:
What are some historical or fantasy drama characters that you’d like to see reunite? What genre do you hope for them to have? Did any of them make this list? Let us know in the comments below!
kaityv spends most of her time watching K-dramas even though she should be writing. If she’s not watching a drama then she’s for sure dying over BTS’s and Red Velvet’s music and videos.
Currently watching: “Chocolate,” “Crash Landing On You”
All-time favorite: “Strong Woman Do Bong Soon”
Looking forward to: “So I Married an Anti-Fan”