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Five drama recommendations… with tsundere heroes

Fancy a stoic marshmallow as your drama hero? You’re in luck, because most dramas love the tsundere hero who’s a surly porcupine on the outside, and hot fudge on the inside — and so do we. The list of potentials is pretty endless, but here are five of our personal favorites.



Boys Before Flowers (2009)

 
As I’m sure is the case for many of us, Boys Before Flowers was one of my very first dramas, and I have to credit the iconic Go Jun-pyo (and specifically Lee Min-ho’s portrayal of him) with really getting me hooked on K-dramas in general. Sometimes I wonder what I would have thought of Boys Before Flowers if I’d watched it later in my drama-watching journey, because at the time it was a magical experience. Jun-pyo’s transformation from the bully who couldn’t express his crush in any way other than making the object of his affections miserable, to the guy who actually put in effort to earn Jan-di’s affections in return, gave me ALL the feels. It was also my first real introduction to the Noble Idiocy trope, which I thought was just the best thing ever. (The angst! The longing! The hidden feelings he couldn’t let himself express!)

Somehow, I think of Boys Before Flowers as both the quintessential gateway into dramaland and also not at all representative of what K-dramas are really like. It’s trope soup for sure, and yet feels like it should be placed in a class all its own. And if you were already well-acquainted with K-dramas before its time (or if you’re brave enough to attempt a re-watch) I’d love to know how it holds up when it’s not your introduction to the K-drama world. –@mistyisles

 


You’re Beautiful (2009)

 
Tsundere heroes come in many different varieties, and apart from the usual aloof and enigmatic male leads, we sometimes get the testy and sarcastic kind. That’s what You’re Beautiful offers us, with a hero that’s gruff on the outside but tender on the inside. When we first meet Tae-kyung (played by Jang Geun-seok), he’s sullen, grouchy, and more prickly than a cactus. Tae-kyung starts off absolutely hating Mi-nyeo’s guts, and with her constantly stumbling into his path and making a mess of things, it’s not difficult to see why they just don’t click. Before long, though, we learn that his surliness stems from a defense mechanism he adopted to protect himself. It’s not that he doesn’t care at all — in fact, it’s quite the opposite. He’s too afraid of getting hurt again, so he reacts with irritation whenever he finds himself caring about someone.

Of course Mi-nyeo, with her affable nature, isn’t cowed by this at all. It was beautiful (heh) to watch Mi-nyeo gradually learn to read Tae-kyung’s tells, see past his icy exterior, and melt down his walls to reach his heart. Tae-kyung takes the most roundabout paths to express his affection, but Mi-nyeo’s always willing to wait for him at the end of it, or even meet him halfway. Even though Tae-kyung isn’t particularly eloquent or expressive, his sincerity and his emotions always shine through in his actions. For that reason, the adorable Pig-Rabbit doll will always remain memorable. –@solstices

 


Falling for Innocence (2015)

 
Min-ho (played by Jung Kyung-ho) is a special kind of tsundere in that his transformation from a heartless, cutthroat businessman to a lollipop-sucking softie is attributed to a literal change of heart. Although a bit fantastical, Min-ho’s post-heart transplant metamorphosis is amusing because he — like the people around him — struggles to understand why he suddenly has a predilection for being… nice.

In addition to his newfound joviality is an inexplicable affection for the leading lady Soon-jung, his heart donor’s fiancee. It’s a bit hard to watch their romance in the beginning because of the sorrowful circumstances preceding his heart transplant and because he is such a massive abusive jerk before his surgery, but he grows on you the same way he grows on Soon-jung: by making a conscious effort to improve himself and win not only the affection of his heart’s desire, but the approval of his subordinates. –@DaebakGrits

 


Just Between Lovers (2017)

 
Putting aside the fact that this drama made me a lifelong Junho fan, the character of Kang-doo is also one of my favorite drama heroes (in a looong line of favorite drama heroes). Kang-doo is a version of the tsundere hero that we know and love quite well — the gruff exterior and hot-headed ways that just barely cloak the heart of gold that’s bursting from within. And in the case of Kang-doo, he’s unable to keep his wonderful heart under wraps from our heroine, despite his best attempts. It’s why we love him, and why we love her.

Just Between Lovers is a lot about healing from grief and trauma, so Kang-doo might be a bit more serious than some other heroes in this list, but it’s
also proof that this hero stereotype works across genres, and aren’t you glad? From parka hugs to construction site rescues to climbing into her bedroom window (okay Romeo), watching the journey of our wounded + wonderful hero made this drama worth the watch. And then a rewatch. And then bequeathed a permanent place on the favorites list. –@missvictrix

 


True Beauty (2020)

 
It’s not often that I have second lead syndrome, but Seo-joon (played by Hwang In-hyub) has all the proper characteristics of a leading tsundere man. The motorcycle, the black eyeliner, the leather jacket, and the piercings are all props to maintain his too-cool-for-school bravado. But anyone watching True Beauty can see past his roar and spot his inner kitten. He’s just a big ol’ softy for music, his sister, and our heroine Joo-kyung.

Unfortunately, he won the hearts of everyone but our leading lady, who I don’t want to insult but — girl, you crazy. To be fair to her, most of what made us fall head over heels for Seo-joon was the side of him that he never let her see — partly because he was in denial about his own affection, which he disguised as playful insults and teasing. Case in point: when he gallantly saved her from smacking her head on a tree but claimed he was protecting the tree from her forehead — Hah! We all knew he was secretly smitten, but it took him a while to admit it to himself, and even longer to confess to her. But it’s okay, Seo-joon, you’ll always be the number one tsundere in my heart. –@DaebakGrits

 
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Kang doo surprised me by really being the softest marshmallow of a ML. I loved how much he respected and loved the women around him.

I really want to see Hwang In-hyub as the lead in a rom com.

Reminders of You're Beautiful just make me smile. It is a drama that seems to have left me with some left over affection for the actors in it. Not that I follow them but when I see them I remember the warmth of watching this one. Maybe because I watched in the earlier phase of my drama watching and I found such a happy show.

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I really appreciated that about him too--he was never really mean to our heroine, although he was a bit gruff. I appreciated the most though that he was SO respectful to the women around him- his relationship with granny and the hostess were highlights of the show for me.

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Ahh Junho was such tsundere perfection in Just Between Lovers 😍. And while I like the first 3 too, their hair is doing them no favours 😑.

Some of my favourite tsundere leads, though I'm probably playing with a loose definition of the term -
- Kim Ji-hoon in Wish Upon a Star
- Hyun Bin in Secret Garden
- Ryu Jun-yeol in Reply 1988
- Eric Mun in Another Miss Oh

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Yes! Ryu Jun-yeol is such a fantastic tsundere that your heart just shatters whenever he finally breaks into one of those big smiles. Eric Mun is deliciously stand-offish in that role. I don't usually find angry swoony, but it worked for him.

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Yes, I like your list.

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Yes! Eric in Another Miss Oh!

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Your list is fantastic!

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I love the drama Wish Upon a Star, though a bit messy still underrated

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Yes the second FL and her mom were basically insane but if you focus only on the leads and the kids, it's a really fun show!

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When will we get a post on tsundere FLs?? Just asking :)!

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I second your request! My favourites are Cha Young-jin from Nobody Knows and Hong Ji-ah from Daebak Realty / Sell Your Haunted House.

Tbh tsundere male leads were one of the reasons why I avoided K-drama for long periods. Guys like the Hyun Bin character in My Name is Kim Sam-soon and the chef played by Lee Sun-kyun in Pasta made my blood boil.

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I didn’t mind Hyun Bin’s character in Sam Soon but my god the chef in Pasta was so awful. I had to quit watching because I couldn’t take any more of him being a patronising misogynist.

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Yikes you've just made me realise that I meant Hyun Bin in Secret Garden, not Hyun Bin in Sam-soon. I didn't mind the Sam-soon character that much either.

Pasta was full of ghastly characters but the ML was by far the worst.

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I will agree with you on Secret Garden, I didn’t like that character either!

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I’m exactly the same! The Venn diagram of early 2000s ‘tsunderes’ and ‘emotional abusers’ is alarmingly circular 😬😬

I feel like people try to create the ‘Mr Darcy’ effect whilst forgetting that Mr Darcy’s most likeable qualities were his respect for Lizzie and willingness to change and grow. (Not to mention that so much of his ‘rudeness’ stems from just being super socially awkward lmao)

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*Lizzie and her autonomy

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V. true re: the Darcy effect. And IMO Austen makes it very clear that Darcy's earlier bad behaviour isn't at all cool or glamorous or attractive, just incredibly off-putting and cringe-inducing.

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Yes.

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Yes, exactly.

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It always drives me insane that Darcy is seen as this archetype of the bad boy, when the guy was literally just a socially awkward introvert with a bad attitude. And one who’s from the upper echelons of society to boot. Quite the opposite of a “bad boy” from a hierarchical/class perspective.

You hit the nail on the head why, despite Pride and Prejudice being centuries old, Darcy remains such an effective romantic hero. His willingness to (eventually) acknowledge his faults and his genuine respect for Lizzie as a person. Sadly, it seems difficult for many a modern writer to do what Jane Austen achieved so deftly back in 1813.

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I do like Darcy but Ehmm being introvert is not an excuse for being jerk 🙏
😌 imagine if woman who behaves like that
I guess she will be never a heroine whom everyone loves

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@pohonphee: Yes absolutely! I never meant to imply that Darcy’s bad behaviour was in anyway excusable. The complete opposite, in fact. One of the things I like so much about Pride and Prejudice is how his initial deplorable conduct towards Lizzie and her family are never romanticized or even retroactively justified, something that is shockingly hard for many modern romances to not do. Darcy was an ass at the beginning and that’s just a cold, hard fact.

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I always thought that part of what Mr. Darcy liked about Elizabeth was also her brains.

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Not to get off too far the topic here, but as someone who had Pride and Prejudice memorized as a kid, and who fantasized himself as being like Darcy (when in fact I had the sex appeal of Mr. Collins), I really agree with this assessment of Darcy as being really socially awkward rather than being a bad actor. We learn that he always indulged his sister, and was a kind "master" (I'm not endorsing English aristocratic society here!) Even his worst behavior, dismissing local women when he wasn't aware Lizzie was listening, and urging Mr. Bingley to break off with Jane, was completely understandable and offensive mostly because we, as readers, knew the truth as Lizzie did.
Anyway, I feel that virtually every male actor that has played Darcy -- even everyone's favorite portrayal, Colin Firth--has exaggerated just how cold rather than awkward he was, so that his later behavior transformation seems just totally implausible.

In fact to bring it back to the topic, this is what I think is the worst part of the Darcy effect on K-romances--the exaggeration of early awful behavior of male heros so their"redemption" seems ridiculous, and in fact the redemption then excuses their bad behavior. That's why Junho's character in Just Between Lovers was effective. It was clear from the beginning that he was considerate even beneath his rough exterior, that his violent rages were the result of personal trauma, and so his love for Moon-Soo making him a better person was not some sort of total transformation.

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Dude, you need to find Adam Gopnik's New Yorker essay on P & P. This was the first and only book he ever went and read the end pages while only a few pages into the book. Because we all needed to relax into the knowing.
JBL had a shared trauma and an ML who exhibited both sides of his persona. Good call on that.
You'd like Greasy Melo/Wok of Love.

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@jossie4cheryl is Wok of Love good? I feel like I've only heard mixed reviews about it, but I've always wanted to watch.

@hacja that was wonderfully put. I totally agree--Darcy's behavior seems largely socially awkward, and beyond that he seems like a normal guy. By this I mean he's still not perfect--there are still a few rude things he says, and he's not an angel.... but he's not a jerk.

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A thread about the king of tsunderes - Mr. Darcy! As an Austen fan, this just made my heart sing. I am such a fan of Ms. Austen's work that I named my daughter after one of her main FL and after Austen herself.

I do agree that Darcy's aloofness is just because he is shy and could also be that he just didn't know how to react to Lizzie's "pair of fine eyes..." :)

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Lol re: avoiding kdrama for long periods of time. Yes. I never could get behind the guy being a total jerk to the girl and then expecting her to still fall in love with him. It takes a special kind of actor to pull that off haha :)

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Wok of Love is a really mixed bag with some delightful elements and some cringy ones. I overall enjoyed the OTP scenes, even the bickering and the small kitchen Hungry Wok crew bonding. There's a talking horse early on and a cute kitten near the end. The thug fighting, money laundering, financial hijinks - ehhhh, not so much.
Be warned that you may gain weight from watching because the food all looks sooooo good!

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Thanks so much for the recommendation--I love (fictional) shows and movies where food is central--I'll be checking this one out. Also, thanks for the recommendation of Gopnik on P&P. I couldn't find his piece, although it sent me down the rabbit hole of looking through his writings and others in the New Yorker archive. Two on P&P were relevant--one, funnily enough, given my sense of myself as a Mr. Collins type, on Charlottes choice of Mr. Collins "allowing" Elizabeth the flexibility of accepting Mr. Darcy, as she saw Charlotte's compromises and made her own; the other by Louis Menand on interpretations of Jane Austen. I'm not an English professor, thank God! (joking) but I do like the kind of deeper interpretations of novels and shows--that actually appear on this site all the time!

Again back to the topic at hand, one thing you vaguely get an awareness of in Austen, but is certainly explicit in these tsundere heroes is their sex appeal. Make them and Darcy less physically attractive, what are bad boys become just bad (as a Mr. Collins type says bitterly, although fortunately I found a real life Charlotte willing to compromise!)

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I also LOVE Cha Joung-jin from Nobody Knows, btw :)

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OMG yes, those two woman are the best!

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"This drama made me a lifelong Junho fan" -- yes! Me too.

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Me three!

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Me 4

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totally.

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My nomination is Lee Min Ho, not for "Flowers," but rather for "Legend of the Blue Sea." He was just about as prickly as he could be in that one, while melty as a smore on the inside. I liked the juxtapose position of him and a love interest that was so naïve that she didn't understand most of his prickliness, but was able to melt him little by little until he was putty in her hands.

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I too prefer LEGEND OF THE BLUE SEA. BOYS OVER FLOWERS was a remake of HANNA YORI DANGO and I much prefer the original (even though it had more violence) and also am enjoying the new Thai re-make which I would recommend to everyone.

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I don't really know if this character fits tsundere or not, and it's not from romance drama, but Han Taejoo from Life on Mars is quite cold to Go Ahsung's character (forget her name, sorry). In fact Han Taejoo is quite cold and stoic to everyone and we only get his smiles in later eps

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Thanks @laeonni for letting me go down LIFE ON MARS memory lane. When Han Tae-joo (Jung Kyung-ho, one of my favorites) flashed that smile at dinner late in the drama with his squad I was like 'wow'. I think it was his first smile in the drama.
@sunny used it as the last image in her episode 14 recap on Aug. 1, 2018:
https://www.dramabeans.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Mars-14-00096.jpg

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I certainly remember his first smile there! JKH’s performance in Life on Mars is different from all his other roles that could range from hugely jovial to super cold. Muted is how I would describe it with a hint of sadness and withdrawal from things around him. That might just be my favorite portrayal of JKH although I totally love his comedic turns in other dramas.

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There are a couple of scenes in LOM where I swear JKH paid homage to his Paksa adeul character in HEARTLESS CITY. When he went solo and had to kick butt. Iirc one time was in a hotel where he was looking for one of the bad guys.

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JKH is such a great actor, it's too bad his project picks are often wildly different from each other (Looking at you, Missing 9). They're all super fun to watch though, so I recommend him in anything :)

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Oh, i thought his first smile was when he got a lot of food from Park Sungwoong's character... i guess i was wrong🤣

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oh what a delicious topic to talk and even more beautiful list... love these "5 Dramas" chat threads....

Hwang In-hyub... was a treat in True Beauty.... can we get him as male lead already... oh yes he is coming in HER... waiting for it desperately.

Tae Kyung... made me forever fan of JGS.. i still remember how I binged all his shows till that time when i watched You're beautiful.... JGS is still one of my fav oppas...

I'll add few of mine
1. SHR ML... can we consider it too ??? Wang So was no less than a marshmallow in front of IU.
(I am sure.. I'll bring SHR in every 5 drama category in future to come... this show has so much impact on my psyche that i cant forget abt it even for a mint)

2. Dali - Moo Hak... i can never forget Moo Hak who is softie inside but just fakes his grand persona outside when he is just a puppy in front of Dali.

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Yep, I totally thought of Wang So for this list.

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oh wow.. hi fi chinguya...

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I never saw Moo-hak as a Tsundere character at all. Brash, ill-dressed and loud- at least at first- but almost from the beginning he is reduced to puppydom in front of Dali. The Tsundere characters tend to be insensitive but from the beginning Moo-hak is very sensitive to Dali.

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ah thanks for the details... i dint know exact meaning of Tsundere character and that made me add moo hak there... so i cancel it out but Wang So fulfills that criteria you just mentioned... so at least i got him right..
khumawo...

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almost paradise 🎶🎵

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My favorite tsunderes are Baek Kyung (Lee Jae-wook) in Extraordinary You and Kwon Ryoc (Lee Jun-young) in Imitation.

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I haven’t seen all of these but I loved Tae-kyung. He needed a hug.

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I know it's been done a thousand times but I just love this character type! I definitely agree with Just Between Lovers, did no one else heart melt when Kang-doo went out to get medicine during their office work drinks? So cute!

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Even I became a fan of junho after JBL. He played such a different character than the one from chief Kim.
As for my favourite tsundere, it will definitely be seo in guk from hello monster/I remember you. God he was rude, so rude initially but his cohabitation with jang nara and his protective older brother side with park bogum was such a delight to watch.

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Yes, also a favourite for me!

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Seriously. I didn't even recognize him, not at all. He's a great actor! Although, I almost want to nominate him for his character in Chief Kim as a tsundere instead, that was such perfection.

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For me, junho was more of a spoiled brat who would be downright evil if his interactions weren't so funny with NGM😁.More than a tsundere, he was just a character who knew when to cut his losses. I usually don't like such characters but again he played the part so well that I was able to put it behind me.

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In this list, I won't advice to watch Boys Before Flowers, it wasn't really a good drama... But it's true that character is the epitom of tsundere, so other versions could be a good watch.

I don't have a lot of memories of Falling Innocence. But the casting was great.

You're Beautiful was really a nice drama about idols with great music. Jang Geun-seok was really good in this role and I loved the doll too!

I liked Just Between Lovers but I lost interest with the illness plot. It was too much. I don't really remember the ML as a tsundere.

I totally had a second male lead syndrom with True Beauty.

Tsundere characters depend a lot of the actors who act them. It was kinda a constant in old dramas, it's why second lead syndrom existed, they always were nicer...

My favourite ones? I don't really know...
Eric Mun in Discovery of Love
Yoo Ah-In in Sungkyunkwan Scandal (he was the second lead but in my head he was the first lead :p)
So Ji-Sub in Master's Sun
Jo Jung-Suk in Jealousy Incarnate

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Yes! Eric Mun in Discovery of Love!

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Really good list 👍🏼

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Thank You 🥰

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I’ll split the difference with you. I’m one of the many who became a Junho fan because of JBL. I’d say his character was tsundere, but not as nasty as others. Speaking of, YES to So Ji Sub in Master’s Sun. My favorite tsundere, but I just love So Ji Sub. 😍

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For me, it's Kim Jun Wan (Jung Kyung Ho's character) from Hospital Playlist. Scary and sarcastic on the outside, mushy marshmallow on the inside.

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Oh my gosh yes. I would also totally peg him as a tsundere, he was great!

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Kang-doo is definitely a different breed of tsundere lead, that I usually didn't categorize him as such. He is kind and caring and respectful, and not just towards the female lead, which was quite a rarity for a lead that appeared brash and rough.

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Junho's Kangdo in JBL really set the bar high for tsundere MLs. I also liked Hwang Inyeob's Seojun because of the squabbling sibling energy he had with Jookyun. And also because he was a bit of a dummy, so funny 🤣
This said, I'm not very much into the tsundere archetype. Growing up in a fairly patriarchal society gave me enough jerks to study (suffer?) closely - I don't need them on my screen, thanks but no thanks

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This kind of character seems interesting on screen. Only on screen or fiction. But IRL the nice ,kind, soft spoken, gentlemanly one is much more interesting and sexier. Never understand the appeal of 'bad boy' type.

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A very interesting list... I found every single one of them as pretty undateable in real life. There would be no way, I'd ever NOT get hurt by one of these goofs repeatedly, NOT get frustrated with their immaturity and pettiness and NOT get put off by their jerkiness. Why do women have to be mature and patient and understanding, and men -- misunderstood geniuses that express themselves in all sorts of very problematic ways? That would probably be one of the thoughts I'd have while dating one of these men. And, oh for sure, I'd think twice to have them as fathers of my children, which makes them not a very good material for long-term relationship. But as romantic heroes in fictional word? Yes, give me more, sigh, I'm caving in to my baser desires.

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And sometimes the fiction makes this tsunder man' father issue as the explanation of all the unpleasant behaviors. Hah! Like whaaaa... why...
The girls must solve these men issue?

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Yep, this is a pure creative laziness when I see writers wrapping up everything in a nice bow as if a girl can solve that "tsundere" guy's ways of thinking and behaving. Maybe it can, maybe it can't. But based on my real-life experience, it hardly can. I always say to a guy, if you hit 30 and still have daddy-mommy issues, stop behaving in all sorts of bemusing and irresponsible ways (if that's what's causing it), stop wooing women, and start seeing the therapist regularly. That goes the same for women.

Honestly, I have still yet to find a "tsundere" man in the literature who realistically could be a good boyfriend-husband material and still be that temperamental romantic "tsundere". (Even D'arcy was more misunderstood than "tsundere".) More often than not, these men just come across as insincere, untrustworthy (because of all of the goings-back-and-forths) and exasperating. It takes a really subservient and placating women to marry them, and Emily Bronte knew that even back when female agency was practically a joke and that was a norm.

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Ugh, those Brontë heroes 🤦🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️

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Don't get me started. The chasm of dissonance between how I felt about Heathcliff when I was a teen and how I feel about him when I'm an adult is almost comical. I was so young, sigh.

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@bomibeans it is the reason why I never finished BBF korean version. I do remember how I loved F4 with Jerry Yan in it that I watched when I was a high schooler ha ha ha. BBF with Lee Minhoo was aired when I almost graduated uni, my tolerance with tsundere hero gets thin and thinner -> what I learn for real life about this type of guy. Well everyone has their mistakes ha ha ha

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@bbstl @bomibeans I've read Wuthering Heights only once and that's quite enough for me. It's a brilliant novel, but I just couldn't connect with any of the main characters. In fact I kept wishing Heathcliff would drop dead asap.

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Lol, Heathcliff... why do we do these things to ourselves??

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Heathcliff as a supposedly romantic character was and remains a bit of a standing joke to me. I know it is a great novel but even so....

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I was wondering if Yeo Jin‑goo as Han Joo‑won in Beyond Evil can come here??
Except of JBL, I haven't heard or seen others (ok I've seen true beauty on webtoon)
wait, boys over flowers I've heard, I had no clue there was 'boy before flower' too (not a min ho fan uk)
jung kyung ho I recognized, so, is that drama really good?

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Han Juwon! How can i forget?? The only young prince i approved

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how will you not forget when you spent all you time teasing me for fos!?
I wish I could've added hwang si mok here, but he still has a long way to go, no?

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Han Ju-won absolutely counts as a tsundere male lead. What an inspired choice. I’m almost upset I didn’t think of it myself. Always fascinating to get fresh, outside-the-box answers from the community.

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Yep, that choice also made me think. Very interesting.

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Oh interesting. I looked up the definition of "tsundere" on viki, and it says:

"Tsundere (ツンデレ, pronounced [tsɯ̥ndeɾe]) is a Japanese term for a character development process that depicts a character with a personality who is initially cold, stern, stoic, harsh, temperamental, hotheaded (and sometimes even hostile) before gradually showing a warmer, friendlier side over time."

I think it could have applied to Han Joo-won, as someone who's inexperienced, immature, initially cold and critical to his police buddy. But I always thought, "tsundere" was more applied to romantic heroes, rather than a cop buddy, no?

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I think tsundere in romance genre is way more easier than in others, like you weren't in love and now you are (which makes me wonders, will hatetolove tropes includes here or not) and love "so called-ly" changes the person, BUT if it's not for the romance and something like cop as you said, that's more complex and big deal acc. to me!
(Am I making any sense, no? leave it)

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I always thought that tsundere is an East Asian counterpart of Western “Byronic hero”, brooding, suffering, hotheaded, cynical, moody, with soft undercore. I don’t read much manga but I thought it evolved in the Japanese market precisely as that…but maybe I’m wrong. When I think of “Byronic hero” I think of a certain romance component but now that I’ve done some quick research it appears to be not necessarily so. Interestingly, Byron himself came to view this “Byronic hero” notion in a negative light, enlisting into the army to present a more idealistic and lively “image”.

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Falling for Innocence is not what I'd classify as 'good'. It's like a makjang-lite romance I'd say? But it has best buds Yoon Hyun-min and Jung Kyung-ho, both of whom I like a lot, so I watched all of it 😅.

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I think FFI was the last drama Jung Kyung-ho and Yoon Hyun-min have worked together and in FFI they were antagonists. I have been patiently waiting for those two friends to be reunited in something and hopefully as friends not enemies.

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Same here 😭

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Boys Over Flowers and Boys Before Flowers are the same show. It's just two different translations of the title.

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Both are awful translation, in my opinion. Here's more context (from Reddit commentator) behind the name, which came from an original Japanese namesake.

"Boys over Flowers is the translation of “Hana yori dango,” which is a proverb (I think that’s the right English) meaning you prefer “dango” which has substance over something that’s just pretty like a flower, “Hana.” For the drama, it’s supposed to signify wanting a good (decent) guy over just a good looking guy."

...which is ironic.

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Yes, neither English translation really makes sense. Thanks for the background info.

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Huh, interesting, I didn’t know that. 🤔

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aigoo!

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Just Between Lovers did indeed make me a lifelong fan of Junho as an actor. I have him as my profile picture for a reason lol. Kang-doo, to me, is the perfect archetype of a male tsundere lead of the 2010s/2020s. Most of the other options are older classics for sure, but would border into emotional abuse if one would actually look at their behaviour critically. That’s not to say that one must dislike or immediately condemn them. The nostalgia factor exists for a reason, one way or another. And god knows I love some good trash myself. Hell, I’ll fully admit that Tae-kyung from You’re Beautiful was one of my first drama crushes, even if I would stay a mile away from his emo mess in real life.

And yes, absolutely to Hwang In-yeop as the perfect second lead. I’ve never been a person who gets SLS often (I just think that a heroine should be allowed to make her choice in a romantic partner and we should - in most cases - respect that), but Han Seo-jun got me. I wasn’t expecting much from True Beauty and I honestly didn’t by the end - except that Hwang In-yeop was awesome and I know who I would’ve chosen if I were Ju-kyung.

Some other choices for this category:

• Seo Hwi-young/Han Se-joo (Yoo Ah-in) in Chicago Typewriter
• Moon Jae-shin (Yoo Ah-in) in Sungkyunkwan Scandal
• Kim Jung-hwan (Ryu Jun-yeol) in Reply 1988
• Park Do-kyung (Eric Mun) in Oh Hae-young Again
• Nam Se-hee (Lee Min-ki) in Because This Life Is Our First
• Crown Prince Lee Shin (Joo Ji-hoon) in Goong (this is trash, but it’s MY trash)

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Lee Min-ki as Nam Se-hee is probably the only "tsundere" guy I'd envision as a good BF/Hubby material in real life, lol

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He’s the only one who’d be a good partner/husband for sure. He’s just socially awkward, not an ass - not even in his worst moments (which are super tame compared to the rest on the list). Even if my idiotic self would yearn for a Seo Hwi-young type. I am a fool.

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Yeah, I love Se-hee but wouldn’t classify him as tsundere. He’s reserved and closed off, but he’s never a jerk and never acts mean or harsh towards Ji-ho, even when he makes missteps.

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The term, "tsundere" is open to interpretation for sure. I posted the Wiki definition (above), and it seems like acting mean or harsh is not necessarily a pre-requisite of being "tsundure". I think the definition of "tsendure" continues to be evolving around the expectations and norms in modern world. I actually can see how in some more patriarchal societies "tsundere" might mean more bullying and harsh ways because the society expects men to be strong and "heads" of the family; and in more equal societies, it might mean, "cold, pondering, reserved." So I imagine in a modern Korean drama "tsundere" of Se-hee has a different connotation from 2010's "tsundere" of Go Jun-pyo.

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I dont watch The Heir, because I dont like school drama and isnt Lee Minho character in also tsundere type? Correct me if I am wrong.

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@pohonphee: Lee Min-ho in Heirs is less a tsundere and more an abusive jerk. Tsunderes can be rough, but he would stretch the limits of even this category far too much to be considered as one. I’d argue you need at least one redeeming quality to be a proper tsundere, while Kim Tan had none.

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@ladynightshade LOL 😆
why many people like Heirs
ML and FL are not redeemable.

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I am a fool too. I dated guys like Seo hwi-young, sigh, and it's just plain not easy. I realized I'd need to continue to be a fool-in-love deluding myself constantly, or a very, very patient, tolerant and forgiving. And I was not ready to sacrifice my mental health well-being for the sake of an idiotic man...or wait out till he ages out of his "youthful" ways. Bad timing is always a factor too, sigh.

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"Moon Jae-shin (Yoo Ah-in) in Sungkyunkwan Scandal"

THIS! A million times YES!

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Well, I did like the tsundere leads of other Boys Over Flowers versions, the japanese original Tsukasa as played by Matsumoto Jun is still one of my favorite leads.

Han Seo-joon is the only one of the above I like, his confidence was really attractive. My favorite tsundere is also second lead, Kim Bum in Tale of the Nine-Tailed. The evil baby brother with the family complex. I want to go 'aww' just thinking about him.

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I couldn’t bear to watch any other BOF version - they made him just funny enough in the J-dorama that you could cringe and laugh.
“It’s a saying from Hemingyay” LOL

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Shakepear

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Lesson panda

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I completely agree with the suggestions already but here are few more:

Gogh's Starry Night
Something about 1%
Tale of the Nine Tailed
Touch your heart
Search WWW: Ji Seung Hyun played the husband,who is secretly in love with this wife but trying to divorce her role perfectly. It's almost a shame that we didn't get to explore his character more.
L in Shut up Flower Boy Band! It's criminal that his tiny arc with Ye- rim was barely 15 minutes.

Sometimes it feels like the characters in the kdramas are so extreme in that you find it impossible to like them..
In defense of Pasta, which I've talked about it before, what bugs me the most is that she gave up her dream to be shouted at in the kitchen and call him Chef! He recognised how talented she was and again due to his own ego, stunted her growth..

A recent cdrama "You are my hero" the ML was a tsundere character but never belittled the other person or stood in the way of their ambitions!

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I’d like to add Lee Seungki”s role in Brillant Legacy/Shining Inheritance. It’s been so long ago, I forgot the details but it was one of my fave older dramas.

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Omg Shining Inheritance. You just brought back so many memories. That was one hell of a show.

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I know, right? No one talks about it anymore.

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I’m still hoping against all odds for Lee Seung-gi and Han Hyo-joo to reunite in a drama.

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I am looking forward to Lee Seung-gi’s upcoming romantic drama on KBS: LOVE ACCORDING TO THE LAW. I haven’t seen SHINING INHERITANCE/BRILLIANT LEGACY (2009) but all 28 episodes are available on Viki US. Its final episode (28) had a nationwide rating of 45.2%. Those were the days!

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Wow, I completely forgot it was 28 episodes! I remember bingeing and it kept me awake till past 2 AM. Dramawiki says final episode rating was 47%. What drama gets that kind of rating today?

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Random thought. Lee Seung-gi is now 35. Another 35er is Yoon Shi-yoon. Both of those guys (and many more actor/actresses) have been in the business long enough to remember the days of (super) high ratings. Another example. YSY’s 2010 drama from KBS: BREAD, LOVE AND DREAMS (30 episodes) (Viki US) had a final (30) episode rating of 50.8%

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What a great list! Hehe thanks for these posts, they're fun :)

I admit I had to look up the definition of tsundere, because I always differentiated between the straight up jerkwad bad-boys who later melt, and the merely gruff men who are a bit standoffish at first but don't appear to have it out specifically for the heroine. Without further ado, my lists!

Hard-Core Tsunderes
1. Master's Sun - The ultimate tsundere. His signature "get lost" phrase rings in my ears to this very moment. I can't believe I loved this drama when I first watched it, I must have hated myself. He's so mean to her!! But it was sweet watching him fall for her, and Gong Hyo Jin did a WONDERFUL job acting the part of the desperate heroine.
2. I Remember You - Lol rewatching this I am continually surprised the heroine fell in love with Lee Hyeon (Seo In Guk), he was so mean to her! The bromance is to die for, though.
3. Tunnel - Kim Seon Jae to me is the definition of tsundere, because he wasn't even mean to our hero because he was secretly in love him them... he was just a regularly prickly guy.
4. My Love From Another Star - Heh. Watching Kim Soo Hyun pick on Jeon Ji Hyun was one of the highlights of this show. Watching him fall so hard for her later on was such sweet, sweet justice. :)
5. Scholar who walks the Night - Kim Seung Yeol was disenchanted with the world, which makes me hesitate to put him in this list... but he was also rather pointedly mean to our herione at the beginning, which makes me feel like he deserves a place on our list. Beautifully acted by Lee Jun Gi.

Fluffy Tsunderes (categorized as people I can more easily tell are just wary and burnt out, who don't trust easily and seem a bit gruff)
1. Just Between Lovers - Lee Kang Du was such a marshmellow. Even when he was being gruff, he just kind of screamed "don't take it too hard, I'm just hurting". I too became a die-hard Jun Ho fan after this drama.
2. Chocolate - Lee Kang had SUCH a good reason to be a bit cold to our heroine at the beginning. I don't know if I can even really call him tsundere for that--he's just got some good commons sense lol.
3. Marriage Contract - Han Ji Hoon (played by Lee Seo Joon) is a bit of a tossup for me. On the one hand you can definitely see he's a product of his environment... on the other had he was a bit out to get our main girl for a while. Either way, a WONDERFUL gruff marshmellow. Even after he melts for our heroine, he's still a bit brusque.
4. Stranger (Forest of Secrets) - I put Hwang Shi Mok here because he doesn't show his emotions well at ALL, but I believe he still deeply feels stuff. However, he's probably not really a tsundere since he's got that whole brain/emotional disconnection thing going on.
5. Prison Playbook - At this point, I'm just listing male leads who I thought did a phenomenal job. Everyone go watch Prison Playbook, Kim Je Hyuk and Lee Joon Ho were a great pair with phenomenal acting by...

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Oh what a wonderful list! A lot more men I could seem myself trying to date in real life, lol. For Master's Sun, in particular, there were moments, when I felt like Joo Joong-won (Master's Sun) was more on an Asperger's syndrome than a "tsundere", and that was a positive for me.

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I just remembered -- he lost an ability to read due to trauma of kidnapping, correct? The way So Ji-sub interpreted his character was so endearing and amusing, with such determination and precision, that with worse actors it could have gone oh-so-wrong. God, I miss him in rom-coms.

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Yes, he did! I'd forgotten about that part until you mentioned it, haha :)

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Tae Woo in Que sera sera. Eric Mun has played his share of tsundere characters. Although arguably this is more jerk territory... Definitely not datable material!!

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It's 2022 and I can't believe I see Falling for Innocence being mentioned. It was definitely a drama that turned my sentiment on Jung Kyungho upside down (pardon me my teenage self couldn't make peace with a boyfriend of my favorite girlgroup ever) and ended up pretty much watching most of Jung Kyungho's dramas after that.

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Aww. I like JKH since FFI too. Well that's the first of his I watched anyway. But his relationship with SY is so adorable, if anything that elevates both their images.

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Yess, they're soooo cute their phone call in three meals a day doctor made me sob tho it wasn't initially portrayed that way (i don't think kyungho was known as much as SY that time) coupled up with my own prejudice towards ANY of snsd boyfriend that time lol (in 2014 literally the only ones without dating news were sunny and seohyun kdhdhdj)

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This is random but please don’t hate or get angry at me for asking this but I’m genuinely curious, why the love for Baek Kyung's character in Extraordinary You?
I definitely say he’s tsundere but I was not rooting for him. Am I not seeing something?

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At the end, he had a redeempting arc?

Personally, I never had a second lead syndrom in Extroardinary You. Danoh always was very clear about her feelings and Baek-Kyung was a jerk during almost the whole drama.

But, he had a deep backstory with his father, the death of his mother... So we could know why he was acting like that.

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I guess so?
I mean I understood what they were going for, but I don’t see how he was so loved when he was a jerk the whole time. I also never had second lead syndrome there.
But that scene where he starts crying when Eun Danoh forgives him, oof. That was some good acting there.

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For me the majority of tsunders are just brats that need character development as fast as possible. I don't think I there was one moment of JBL were I was rolling my eyes because of Kang Doo. For me he was always a warm and nice dude even if the way he expressed it wasn't convencional. Like he lived a really hard life that's way he didn't go around giving free hugs, but if you see him with his friends, with his halmoni, you know he's a sweetheart. And in general, he actually wasn't rude or acted like he was superior, he didn't treat our FL like crap or anything.

Anyway, I'm not a fan of tsunders but I really like their character development. I always have the patience to wait and see how they become a better person even if I hate them for the first 6 episodes, so I was fine with the guys from BOF and FFI.

I'm not a fan of second leads either, so when the second lead is a tsunder I just really don't care about the dude (FBND, Start Up). In the case of True Beauty I thought the tsunder was the lead? I only watched like 2 or 3 episodes of the show but I thought the second dude was better. I don't remember much so maybe I'm wrong.

Sometimes I just can't stand the dude and I can't wait for the character development, and that happened with You're Beautiful and Secret Garden. The experience with YAB was worse because the only character I actually liked was Jeremy tbh (yeah, FL, ML and SL didn't do it for me).

And a few times I get the second lead syndrome, wich means that I have to drop the show LOL. I remember I didn't drop Rich Man, Poor Woman and I was having SLS so bad and I (well, everyone) hated the ML and the writer was like "no, you can't hate my ML so let's make the SL a bad man, let's send him to jail even if it doesn't make sense and the show is about to end" 🙄

Tsunders I like:
King2Hearts
Mad For Each Other
Zombie Detective
Master's Sun
Jugglers
My Princess

I didn't got SLS with Jung Pal in Reply 88 but I loved him, he's probably my favorite tsunder ever (even if it was more like he was trying to be a tsunder lol). His scenes with Taek and his mom are the best.

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Seojun is not even a tsundere... Suho is and there are several mistakes in the Seojun post. The actor is Hwang In Yeop, and Seojun doesn't even wear black eyeliner.

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