Breathe if you like Lee Dong Wook. Yea, I thought so. There are so many reasons to be a fan of Lee Dong Wook. He’s super good looking, he’s both hot and cute, he’s got a great sense of humor, he’s known for taking care of his co-stars, he’s a solid MC, and… he’s a great actor. And while it may seem like he’s a rom-com staple, Lee Dong Wook has actually been in quite a few different genres, from melo to rom-com, from fantasy to horror. He’s tried his hand at a little bit of everything, and each time, he completely submerges himself in the character, proving just how much range he has as an actor.
Here are eight K-dramas that showcase the talent Lee Dong Wook has, choosing some of the more unique entries in his extensive filmography:
My Girl (2005)
Lee Dong Wook debuted as an actor around 1999 and since then has been consistently acting. While he did win “Newcomer” awards for his early works such as in “Land of the Wine” in 2003, it wasn’t until 2005 when he hit the jackpot with the “My Girl” that he became a household name.
“My Girl” is a bubbly, quirky rom-com that stole our hearts when it first aired. It’s about a grandson, Seol Gong Chan (Lee Dong Wook), who fulfills his grandfather’s dying wish to meet his long-lost granddaughter by recruiting an expert scammer (Lee Da Hae). But after meeting this “granddaughter” of his, the grandfather is so thrilled he makes a miraculous recovery and insists she moves in to the family home so the whole family can be together. Cue shenanigans.
“My Girl” introduced us to not one, but two heartthrobs that are still mesmerizing us with their visuals and talents today — Lee Dong Wook and Lee Joon Gi. We also fell in love with the chemistry-filled pairing of Lee Dong Wook and Lee Da Hae, so fans around the world rejoiced when they reunited for another drama close to a decade later, in “Hotel King.” So if you’re keen for more of the Dong Wook-Da Hae pairing, be sure to check this love story between a hotel heiress and the general manager out.
Watch “Hotel King” here:
Watch “My Girl” here:
La Dolce Vita (2008)
“La Dolce Vita” is a dark melodrama that tackles themes of marriage and adultery, all wrapped in a murder mystery. When Hye Jin (Oh Yeon Su) discovers that her husband has been having an affair, she flees to Japan to end everything. There, she meets the alluring Lee Joon Soo (Lee Dong Wook), but unknown to her, this Joon Soo also happens to be involved with her husband’s mistress. This causes the relationships between these four individuals to become even more hopelessly entangled.
This is a terrifically written drama with noir-stylings and intricate details. It’s so honest and raw at times that it may be uncomfortable to watch because it has the viewer confront their own deep dark desires. Lee Dong Wook was one of the “greener” actors among a solid, veteran cast, but he, and his “My Girl” co-star Park Si Yeon, more than held their own and successfully lured us into their bittersweet lives.
And let’s not forget about the outstanding OST either:
Watch “La Dolce Vita” here:
Scent of a Woman (2011)
A meek, mousy woman in her thirties, Lee Yeon Jae (Kim Sun Ah), finds herself with only six months to live after a cancer diagnosis. Realizing she’s been missing out on life, she writes herself a bucket list, quits her job, takes out her savings, gives herself a makeover, and takes her first ever trip overseas. While in Japan, she meets Kang Ji Wook (Lee Dong Wook), a dashing man but without much purpose in life. Emboldened by her new attitude towards life, she makes the first move on him and he too becomes intrigued with her. When the two head back to Korea, Ji Wook continues to find ways to get close to her. However, Ji Wook isn’t aware of Yeon Jae’s diagnosis, and when he does find out, he’s taken aback and angry.
While this is a drama that is perfect for when you need a good cry, it can also be quite inspirational and uplifting in how it deals with the more morbid themes of death and mortality. Hopefully, it’ll inspire you to live your days to the fullest and look forward to the days ahead.
And when all else fails, there’s always this very, very hot tango scene:
Watch “Scent of a Woman” here:
Mandate of Heaven (2013)
While Lee Dong Wook has been in dramas that flashback to bygone eras, “Mandate of Heaven” is his first real historical drama. Here, Lee Dong Wook plays a royal physician who is unwittingly entangled in an assassination attempt on the crown prince.
As with most sageuks, this one is filled with political intrigue and thrilling action, as Lee Dong Wook’s character, Choi Won, becomes a fugitive on the run, with a mission to clear his name while also finding ways to cure his ailing daughter. Helping him and his daughter is royal nurse Hong Da In (Song Ji Hyo).
Watch “Mandate of Heaven” here:
“Goblin” likely needs no further explanation, because if you already were a fan of Lee Dong Wook, you would’ve watched this for him; and if you weren’t, you would’ve become one after watching it. Regardless of how you feel about the main OTP, you can’t deny that this epic fantasy drama as a whole is sublime and will send you on a rollercoaster of emotions.
Lee Dong Wook’s Grim Reaper plays a large part in why we love this drama so much, whether it’s his bromantic relationship with Gong Yoo‘s Goblin, or his star-crossed lover pairing with Yoo In Na‘s Sunny. Even now, we can’t help but have fond memories about how hilariously clingy he can be one second and all melancholic and earnest the next. This is one of the biggest dramas in Lee Dong Wook’s filmography for a reason.
And if you couldn’t get enough of the Grim Reaper-Sunny pairing and just wanted to see them be happy together, then be sure to check out “Touch Your Heart,” a bubbly and light-hearted rom-com in a law firm setting, with Lee Dong Wook as a successful lawyer and Yoo In Na as an actress who poses as his secretary.
Watch “Touch Your Heart” here:
Watch “Goblin” here:
Need to see Lee Dong Wook in a doctor’s gown? Then be sure to check “Life” out, which is much much more than just your average medical drama. Instead of solely treating the patients-of-the-week, “Life” largely focuses on the management side as well as all the (corrupted) office politics that come with it. It’s a constant struggle between the conflicting interests of the large business conglomerates that own the hospital and the medical staff who need to do their jobs. And the drama lays both sides of the story out, allowing the viewers to draw their own conclusions.
Lee Dong Wook plays ER doctor Ye Jin Woo, whose department is about to be shut down by the newly appointed CEO of the hospital, Koo Seung Hyo (Cho Seung Woo). “Life” is brilliantly written and filled with complex characters, brought to life (excuse the pun) by similarly outstanding actors.
Hell is Other People (2019)
“Hell is Other People” is about an aspiring writer, Yoon Jung Woo (Im Siwan), who moves into an apartment building named Eden Studio. However, there is nothing “Eden”-like about the apartment, as Jung Woo notices his neighbors are all various degrees of strange. Among them, is the dashing dentist Seo Moon Jo (Lee Dong Wook), who comes across as the most pleasant and friendly of the bunch. But as Jung Woo slowly discovers the true natures of these neighbors, he comes to questions his own sanity and morality.
The role Lee Dong Wook plays in “Hell is Other People” is the furthest possible from his usual rom-com image. Here, he gets to really stretch his acting chops by delving into a more antagonistic role for this horror-slash-thriller genre, and you may find yourself wondering how his smile — one that has made you swoon too many times to count — can suddenly make you feel so creeped out and unsettled. The drama really leans into the horror of it all, not just by showing some rather graphic scenes, but also by suggesting that humans are the most terrifying of all.
Tale of the Nine-Tailed (2020)
Lee Dong Wook dips his toes back into the fantasy genre, this time trading his black hat and trench coat for tails instead. Nine tails to be exact. In “Tale of the Nine-Tailed,” Lee Dong Wook is a 1000-year-old nine-tailed fox who was once a mountain spirit reigning over Baekdudaegan. One day, a young (mortal) girl appears in front of him, and the two become unlikely friends. As the girl grows older, the two fall in love with each other, but sadly her life is cut short when a dark force comes into play. This nine-tailed fox, named Yeon, thus spends his days searching for the reincarnation of his first love.
This currently-airing drama is all you could want from a fantasy genre — the cinematography is gorgeous, the storyline is filled with interesting supernatural characters, and the acting is all top tier. Plus, is there a more perfect choice for this gumiho role than Lee Dong Wook and his ethereal looks?
Watch “Tale of the Nine-Tailed” here:
Which drama made you fall in love with Lee Dong Wook? And which other drama of his is your favorite but is unfortunately not on the list? Tell us all about it in the comments below!