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[Dramaland Catnip] Beta males and the alpha ladies who love them


Ho-gu’s Love

[We’ve had prickly tsundere heroes and bad boys, but there’s another much-beloved hero archetype in dramaland—the beta males we’re talking about today. ‘Cause while alpha authoritativeness has its whole host of appeals, the beta’s less forceful nature can be a refreshing contrast. –javabeans]

 
By @alert

Back in high school, I never fell for that handsome guy everyone goes ga-ga about, because realistically I know I would never get him, especially when I was a wallflower that nobody knows about. In contrast, I found myself attracted to a guy like me: always in the background, more of a sidekick to the hero, who sat in the front of the class studying in thick glasses, who was always been friend-zoned by the girls, and who was so shy he would be sweating bullets every time the teacher asked him something. All I could see is how adorable he was when he smiled with that dimple of his, and how charming he was when he quietly helped everyone without asking anything in return. He made my heart flutter, and I fell for his charm. So yes, I was attracted to a beta male.

My attraction to beta males knows no borders, and K-drama only helps to accentuate that feeling. It has always been my catnip, even with the rarity of finding beta males as heroes in dramaland. There’s always something so fragile about them that you can’t help but feeling protective and not wanting them to get hurt, and yet they can be so attractive when they did something that warms your heart.


Smile, You

Smile, You was my first 45-episode K-drama and I watched every episode because of Jung Kyung-ho. It was one of the first dramas I watched that featured a beta male as the lead. Shipping the main couple was great, because Jung Kyung-ho was an adorable noob when it came to wooing Lee Min-jung, and his epic fails in preparing grand romantic gestures were hilariously memorable. And their chemistry? It was off the charts.

Ho-gu’s Love was another favorite when it comes to the beta male leads in dramaland. I mean, how can you NOT fall in love with Ho-gu? He’s adorable, he’s loyal and he’s always there when you need him. And when he falls in love, it feels like the whole world falls in love with him. I rooted for him like no other—I wanted him to get the girl, I wanted him to know that he’s a worthy suitor, and I wanted him to realize that he deserves all the happiness in the world. Because Ho-gu was so timid, I cheered for Do-hee too, because she complements him in many ways—and I dig the pairing of alpha females and beta males in kdrama—especially in this drama where the alpha heroine shows admiration and respect towards him. What is it not to love?


The Producers

And remember Baek Seung-chan (Kim Soo-hyun) from The Producers? How can you say no to this slightly heodang maknae, who was so at lost with everything and got panic at the sight of problems? He was nervous as hell, but he worked really hard on everything, and when he did something right, you could see it clearly on his face that he was proud of himself, and I felt like patting his back and saying that I’m proud of him too. When it comes to love, he was adorably clueless but when his heart broke, I feel like my heart broke with him.

In My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho, Dae-woong exudes that heodang charm of beta males in full force. He’s a cutie pie and he loves like no other. And it was even better when he fell for Mi-Ho, even after being afraid of her at first. But she was utterly charming and awesome, and we saw that she adored him. Their relationship felt equal as they supported and protected each other—not in a grandiose kind of way, but in that understated simple manner that was always so honest it touched hearts everywhere.

The downside of crushing on beta males is that sometimes, you are bound for very painful heartbreaks. It gets worse when you think the beta males deserves someone better than the heroine. In Introverted Boss, I loved Hwan-ki with all my heart. I wanted him to be more confident in facing the world, and I cheered him when he managed to do that, albeit after struggling for a very long time. I wanted to give him that hug at the end, for being true to himself and still earning the respect that he deserved. But I also watched the show hating the heroine—no matter how much the show toned down her attitude in later episodes, I was never able to warm up to her. It felt forced, and I was so protective of Hwan-ki because I know he deserves better. And rooting for him with his cool first crush didn’t help either.


Introverted Boss

My most recent beta-male heartbreak comes in the form of Choi Woo-shik’s character Moo-bin in Fight My Way. I was probably one of the few who kept on defending Moo-bin’s awkward behavior with Ae-ra, because I kept seeing him as this awkward boy who is simply inexperienced when it comes to love. Of course he’s slightly weird, but his beta male status makes me simply wave that aside, and I keep giving chances to him to prove himself. Hence, I did not see the twist coming! I was so shocked and it broke my heart so badly I was almost traumatized by him. Perhaps I was blindsided because of my love for beta males—and Choi Woo-shik.

Oh well, I love my chaebol heirs, but I love my beta males better. It is more satisfying rooting for the underdogs who started at the bottom (or the middle) of the chain, and work themselves up. It was even more satisfying when the girls they have their eye on like them back for who they are, all charms and weaknesses included. I am bound for some heartbreaks along the way, but it wouldn’t stop me in my catnip quest for beta males in dramaland.

 
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Answer Me 1997

 
By Cafelatte

For a long time, I have been wondering what is that thing that makes me squeal, cry, hug my pillow, and daydream about even for days to come whenever I watch a Korean drama. If I tried to make a full list, it would probably reach the moon, but I realized that the storyline in K-drama which truly excites me is the reversed gender roles—that is, the famous alpha female and beta male line.

We have seen many alpha males in K-dramas and some of them are very charismatic, but when the guy goes to the world’s end for the girl and becomes a puppy in front of her, it delights me to no end. It is more squeeworthy when the guy is the glamorous, popular hero to the others, but becomes a puppy in front of the girl they like.

Take Answer Me 1997, Answer Me 1988, and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju as examples. The heroes Yoon-jae, Taek, and Joon-hyung are popular, charismatic and dominating in their fields but meek and abiding in front of their crushes. (Kyaa!) The cherry on top is when they get jealous. They become so petty that it is ridiculous and hilarious for us to watch. Dong-man (Park Seo-joon) in Fight My Way also shows his childlike pettiness whenever he sees Ae-ra with another guy, and it’s so satisfying to watch!


Answer Me 1988

I also adore the girl’s reaction when she realizes that she probably loves that one person she has never saw as a “man,” after crushing on the opposite alpha guy! Their light bulb moment happens when the guy takes the initiative and does something swoonworthy. When Joon-hyung confesses to Bok-ju, she thinks he lost all his marbles. Also in Answer Me 1988, when the ever-so-weak Taek picks up Deok-sun like its no biggie and runs, she looks as if Taek is an alien.

What I also adore about the alpha female and beta male setup is that the hero always shows respect and adoration towards the heroine, which I truly appreciate. I never liked the rude, bad-tempered and self-centered rich chaebol hero as presented in most of the dramas. Is it too much to ask for mutual respect between the guy and the girl?

The alpha female and beta male line is not about who is superior but how two imperfect souls come together when they realize that they both respect and love each other through their denials, trials, and tribulations. Of course, these denials, arguments, and imperfect confessions are also hilarious and squealworthy to watch!

This is my dramaland catnip because whenever I see the superior perfect heroes looking into the eyes of the heroine with all the love and affection in the world, I cannot help but to melt like a slab of butter and pray for the one who will look at me like that in the future.


Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju

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Alpha ladies and the beta males are always an interesting couple to watch. I love how the beta males are usually quite timid and cute at the same time, while respecting the Alpha ladies. In all of the Answer Me Series, Weightlifting Fairy, and even Fight My Way, these type of couples were always the one I tuned into. Here's hoping for more pair of lovers like that.

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True. Even Answer Me 1994's Chilbong should be included as he unravels in front of Najung. Though not as bullied as Yoonjae and Taek :)

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You, guys make me want to binge Answer me...
I loved Kim Bong joo like the best after IHYV... (i know, different genre, but still)...
Thanks for comments.

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Awww yes please. I love love love them. They are the cutest ever! How sad that most of the good guys in dramaland is ending up as the second lead which really breaks our heartuuu.

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Yesss, THIS!
This is my ultimate catnip. It's so fun to watch.

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I like this catnip. Was hoping for Ms. Temper and Nam Jung-gi to be mentioned :)

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That was one of the first dramas that came to my mind as well. It's a really good example of the Alpha Lady, Beta Male trope. And a really enjoyable one as well! :)

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Leads that are "popular, charismatic and dominating in their fields but meek and abiding in front of their crushes. (Kyaa!)" This is my weakness!!! When these moments occur I feel like, in their own personal way, they're sincerely expressing how they feel about their crush... which to me is uniquely romantic and very swoon-worthy.

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Me too. I like to see the so perfect guy becoming clumsy and shy all of sudden because of a girl. So sweet, so moving ^^

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Is Joonhyung a beta male? Strangely, I never thought of him that way. I thought as a couple they were on very even ground, which is what I liked about their relationship (also because I didn't see Bokjoo as an alpha female.)

I totally rooted for HK with his extra cool first love in Introverted Boss. I never outright hated RW at the start, but I couldn't find myself rooting for her at all. She was less alpha female and more... annoying child to me, hah!

I personally love the alpha male stereotype (in dramas, not RL!), because beta males seem more like the cutesy crush/younger brother type to me. But nevertheless, still very cute to watch!

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Haha yeah joon hyung totally is! Remember all the times bok joo got him in a headlock. I think she was a toned down alpha and he was a toned up (well yerrr anyone could see that phew) beta.

Well written Beanies!

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Bok-joo is an alpha girl for sure but I think that Joon-Hyung becomes beta sometimes and only when he is with her because he loves her soooo much haha

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Agreed. I don't think Joon Hyung can be considered a beta male - he was very much an alpha to match our alpha Bok Joo. And also about the alpha male stereotype in dramas - I think Ahn Min Hyuk from Strong Woman Do Bong Soon set the bar for dramaland alpha males (not that Bong Soon was a beta herself). ^^

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Right, I did think he was very much an alpha male too (is this perhaps a stereotype because he was a sportsperson?). She did grab him in headlocks but that's just a physical aspect to me... personality wise he feels pretty darned alpha to me, just... a sweet alpha, if those exist.

I'm very, very biased toward Min Hyuk, but I always say, Joonhyung and Minhyuk win best boyfriend of the year 2016 and 17 respectively, lol! X) I actually really like how female leads are becoming more and more alpha to match the male leads. I like this balance!

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Oooo my picks for Boyfriend of the Year 16 and 17 as well. ^^ I also agree about stronger women in dramas. Balance is a good word. ^^

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Agree with you. Min hyunk and Joon huyng were the best boyfriends ever. Really... but wait: Soo ah in IHYV is also in this list. ?... it is just that his relationship with HS was kind of unusual.
But i should be upset... thanks to these guys, it is hard to find or keep a nice partner in RL... ?
LOL...

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I agree he wasn't the typical beta. Personally, I didn't think of Joonhyung in terms of alpha or beta stereotypes. He was just equal to Bok Ju, which made WFKBJ so refreshing. :)

Note to self: these catnip threads are dangerous. Thanks to the ones about secret identities, disastrous first meetings and noona romances I'm now watching High School King of Savvy and I. don't. know. why. (worst female character I've ever seen). Actually, I have a very good reason: it's because of Seo In Guk.).

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Gah, thank you. I couldn't bear that female lead character and it ruins my memory of what was a great show for all the other characters.

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Oh no. I'm half way through and was hoping she'd change... *hopes dashed* I guess I'll try to imagine her out of the drama or skip her scenes? Drama watching gymnastics will be deployed.

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I think the same. I thought they both had moments of being alpha and beta. BokJoonhyung is my top fave couple because I see them on equal footing. They both give and take. They support each other. They drive each other mad. lol

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Ahhhhh, another one of my faves! ^^ Bok Joo and Joon Hyung are probably the ULTIMATE Beta Male and Alpha Female OTP's of all time!

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Woah I didn't even know that this is my catnip but I have loved almost every example given in this post (except the ones which I haven't watched till now)

*Note to self: find time to watch 'Smile, You'*

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Oh and Louis from Shopping King Louis was also an alpha male

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U meant Louie is beta male?

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Yup... he really is, isn't he?

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Yes he is! Puppy puppiest beta male version hehe

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Hehe yes!!!! ^_^

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You should definitely watch Smile, You. It still ranks number 1 in my family drama list. The main couple were beyond adorable together.

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Will definitely do :)
Btw I left you a response on the 'dramaland-catnip-noona-romances' post... I don't think you would have seen it (though I wonder if you will be able to see this one either as the notifications don't work)

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Hoguuuuuu I love ChoiWooShik sooo much❤️❤️

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Best beta males are from Reply 1997, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho & My Sassy Girl movie, they made me laugh so much, even remembering their antics cracks me upright now. This might be a sadistic side of me but I enjoyed when these guys were literally kicked & dragged around by the alpha ladies, there is plenty of love & feelings, but even towards the end, our beta males were pretty scared of their ladies' temper XD
This is the reason only these 3 make it to my list because, for example, in reply 1988, Taek was definitely a down to earth guy, but he was not pushed around by deok sun, rather she cared for her friends too much, that's why he loved her I guess.
But what I'm trying to say here is, my exclusive beta males have to be through a lot of suffering (physical) at the hands of the ladies to make the cut lol.

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This is definitely my catnip, I can't leave a drama no matter how worse it might be if it has a beta male like Lucky Romance... I think this explains my leaning towards 2nd ML's who are usually beta especially when 1st ML's are alpha. I keep thinking why is the FL getting attracted to the complicated guy while she can have the beta guy who is much simple. In real lives, I think most of us want a simple beta guy, don't we!!

Hogu's love is one of my favourites dramas and Fight My Way is the recent addition in the list of alpha female beta male.

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I loved Ryu Jun-yeol's character in Lucky Romance. Especially when he realized he was in love with Hwang Jung-eum's character. I died squeeing when they sent text messages to each other and the collapsed in a fit of giggles while reading the other's reply. And when she created that social app just for the two of them so they could text long-distance. I enjoyed Lucky Romance so much, it was cute, fluffy, and gave me all the feels.

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Choi Woo Shik in Fight My Way was such a waste, they just had to do that to his character, just so Ae Ra would complete her collection of so-called boyfriends from hell. Well, that's that, just as well, we can't let Woo shik play second lead again and lose out to his real life best friend. Can somebody pls give Choi Woo Shik a good drama?
In Introverted Boss, girl is just way too young and way too short for Hwan Ki. No matter what they do, there is no chemistry. But when Jang Hee Jin entered the picture as Hwan Ki's ex gf, the mood changed and had they gone and reconciled Hwan Ki and Yeon Jung, it would hv been better. They look good together, and the interaction is more natural and when she gave him that kiss, -fireworks! Well, would be the perfect alpha female to the beta male, right?!

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I would totally get with a beta male in real life, they are so precious and adorable. I'm a very headstrong girl so I would clash a lot with an alpha male.

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I didn't think this was a catnip of mine when I started reading this. Now I'm on my way to rewatch a few of these parts you guys mentioned and possibly rewatch Smile, You. Oh, the love of beta males!

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I never thought Reply1997 YoonJae was a beta male. To me he wasn't beta at all, just very cautious and very careful in front of ShiWon. Or maybe as someone else mentioned there really is a toned-up version of beta male too!

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Nice to know someone shared my love of Moo-bin! I don't think of most of these examples as beta males; to me they're just "actual decent guys who can handle a woman having a spine, that I might consider dating if I met them," vs. "over-dominantly rude boys who don't deserve the heroines who put up with them," but that's just me ;)

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I love beta males (Kdrama and real life hihi). There's something about alpha males in KDramas that bores me. Maybe because some of them are just standing there waiting for the female lead to act all clumsy and cute, while beta males are most of the time persistent to a fault.

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How could anyone forget the most adorable beta male of all, park hyung sik as min hyuk in strong woman do bong soon

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I'm not a fan of this trope at all, because in real life I like alfa male despite myself being an alfa. So alfa++ for me please :)

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This post is love! <3 Woong-ah from My Girlfriend is a Gumiho has got to be my favourite beta male.
I'm adding Hogu's Love to my list. It looks just up my alley. :D

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Joon Hyung's confession to Bok Joo is my favourite of al beta make confessions (so cute, so SQUISHY, so cute, so sweeet it's not only giving me cavities it's also giving me diabetes), but Taek's confession comes in a VERY close second... DAT KISS *swoooooooooooooooooon*

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The truth is that kdramas always picture the leading guy as the intelligent, experienced and charismatic character and the girl as the soft and cute character. Sometimes the plot line is a little bit sexist. I love to watch kdramas but hate those about chaebol stories where the plot undermines the girl by representing the guy as the cool character, I prefer to watch stuff like padam padam, it's ok its love and others, where boy and girl overcome life together helping each other.

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I got so excited seeing Hogu's Love as the cover photo for this article! It was my first kdrama and incredibly underappreciated.

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i think the ultimate beta male-alpha female couple is in the original 'my sassy girl' aka CTH and JJH.

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What I like most about this setup is how much respect and adoration beta male gives their beloved alpha females. Its what got me in Reply 1988, Introverted Boss and Weightlifting Fairy. I absolutely adore Taek, HwanKi and JoonHyung. They are such gentle creatures that you know they will never physically hurt and leave their crushes in a bind. So you can not help but want them to win the girl in the end.

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Awww SunTaek!! Now I want to re-watch Reply 1988.

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I love my alpha male leads but reading this made me realize that 3 of my favorite heroes are here and are some sort of beta male - - Joonyoung, Yoonjae & Hwanki.

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My ultimate beta-male is Hyun-soo! <3

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Do Bong Soon and her CEO. Whilst she's clearly the alpha, he can also handle her.

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I love both alpha and beta males. What I noticed recently is that after having finished watching a show with an alpha male lead I try to find a drama series that features a beta male lead. I guess you could say that I'm trying to balance things out in the back of my head.

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Taekie <3. The only drama where tsundere couldn't win me over. Taek came and it was like veni, vidi, vici.

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I have never liked the classification of men between alfa and beta. In fact, I find it annoying. Men are not dogs. It's like you admit somehow that certain type of men are worth less than others, and that certain qualities come together as a package, as if you could not have any other combinations of personality traits.
For example, I don't think you can call JongHyung a beta male, why?, because he loves Bok Ju and is not scared to pursue her, reveal his feelings and do things to win her heart? Because he listens to her and does things she asks for? To me, this shows a confident man that is not scared of what others might think, a man that does not need to play a character in front of others to be respected. A man that is an olympic athlete on top of that...well, it's just that I cannot understand why you would call someone like this a "beta" (this also goes for other drama characters). In my view, a leader (what an alfa male is meant to be in the end, I guess) might come in very different forms.

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So much this.

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The beta male isn't my catnip... unless it's a noona situation.

That being said, I'm re-watching my all-time favorite drama: Healer, and he ALMOST fits into this category. He's a badass with everyone else, and a complete marshmallow with her. Sigh!! ?

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Yes!! So true..he is adorable as park bong soo, so bad ass as healer!!
Oh my heart..
Healer is life, healer is love..

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I love my alpha heroines. But I love it more when my alpha heroine also has an alpha hero. ? I especially love dramas with heroines who can defend themselves, decide on their own, and succeed on their own. I guess this is the reason why I never really liked this particular drama (that I will not name for the fear of downvotes ?) where the heroine just basically mooched off the [older, much much older] hero. That made me feel a lot of not so good feelings ???

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Omg this!!! This is basically me, my love life and my ideal type - beta males.

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yesss,,,it agreeeee with this
yoon jae is my fave alpha male ??

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Ahh, Smile You! Cuteness to the Nth degree! Loved this drama and the OTP so much. It was my first long drama and is still a favorite of mine to this day.

Other good beta male dramas that come to mind are Reply 1997 and In Time With You (TW version).

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