From princes in love to knights in shining armor ready to sacrifice themselves out of duty and love, K-dramas of the era have epic male protagonists, but also young boys on the verge of becoming men, who are skilled warriors excelling in the arts and literature, while helping to change the socio-cultural fabric of society. Here, check out some of the most epic male characters from K-dramas of the era.

  • Crown Prince Yi San in “The Red Sleeve”

6 Characters Who Made These Period K-dramas Worth Watching K-Selection

Setting his sights on the young and fiery courtesan Deok Im (Lee Se Young), the handsome and pleasant Crown Prince Yi San (Lee Junho) is charmed and, over time, he falls madly in love with her to the point of wanting to make her his concubine. Far from playing difficult, the latter however refuses his advances and even takes the habit of avoiding his loving glances for the simple reason that she does not want to lower herself to being one of Yi San’s many women. However, he is devoted to her and makes it clear to her that his heart belongs only to her and as the inevitable dictates, Deok Im becomes the Royal Noble Consort, but fate plays its cruel hand and tragedy strikes the couple .

Inspired by documents and eulogies written by King Jeongjo for his favorite and chief concubine, Royal Noble Consort Seong Ui Bin, “The Red Sleeve” is a bittersweet story of true love and heartbreak.

Lee Junho plays Crown Prince Yi San with perfection, not only capturing the physical and emotional aspects of his character, but leaving a lasting impact with his performance. Although the series focuses on the events leading up to his rise to the title of emperor, we get to see the many sides of King Jeongjo, who is revered as a reformer and benevolent administrator. The fact remains that the chemistry between Lee Junho and Lee Se Young is endearing, which is sure to make you shed tears for this unhappy couple.

  • Eugene Choi & Gu Dong Mae in “Mr. Sunshine”

6 Characters Who Made These Period K-dramas Worth Watching K-Selection

Born a slave during the Joseon era, Eugene Choi (Lee Byung Hun) was scarred by the trauma suffered by his family and fled to the United States of America before returning to Korea years later, but this time as a US Marine Corps officer. Captain Eugene Choi has a love-hate relationship with his home country. Indeed, he is both hurt and has deep misgivings towards his homeland, which has not supported him, and he is also driven to protect it from the imperial domination of Japan. It is then that he meets Go Ae Shin (Kim Tae Ri), a young woman from the nobility, also a revolutionary, and sparks fly between the two, attracted to each other despite their differences of origin and ideology. A beautiful love story develops between them, the thrilling intensity of which we feel despite the absence of physical intimacy between the two characters.

For his part, the ruthless samurai Gu Dong Mae (Yoo Yeon Seok) is a mercenary who swore allegiance to the Japanese Empire after the inhumane treatment inflicted on his family and their massacre. Attached to Ae Shin, Dong Mae can be cruel, but when it comes to protecting those he respects, his strength becomes formidable. Although born into humble backgrounds, Eugene Choi and Gu Dong Mae have become men of determination and even though one defends the law and the other opposes it, both show resilience in their efforts to protect the powerless and the oppressed. They believe that the means define the end, and they seek equality and justice. Determined, both men stand up for their beliefs and, ultimately, both sacrifice themselves for their beliefs and their love.

“Mr. Sunshine” is a classic whose strengths are well-drawn characters and powerful performances from the entire cast. We must not forget that Lee Byung Hun and Yoo Yeon Seok are masters when it comes to acting.

  • Crown Prince Lee Hwon in “The Moon That Embraces the Sun”

6 Characters Who Made These Period K-dramas Worth Watching K-Selection

Crown Prince Lee Hwon’s (Kim Soo Hyun) marriage to Yeon Woo (Han Ga In) sows discord and discontent in the palace, as the new bride is seen as an unwanted obstacle in the plans of the calculating queen and her subjects accomplices who seek to take control. When Yeon Woo becomes crown princess, the young couple’s lives are turned upside down by the latter’s death following a mysterious illness. Grieving and heartbroken, Lee Hwon is forced to welcome a new wife, with whom he refuses to consummate his marriage. It is then that he meets the shaman Wol, whose resemblance to his late wife is uncanny. Uncovering the secrets and intrigues brewing in the royal halls, Lee Hwon realizes that his future as king is at stake.

Going from crown prince to king, Kim Soo Hyun delivers a moving performance. Despite the arrogance and petulance of his youth, he becomes an empathetic and understanding young man who, despite his love and heartache, never renounces his royal duties. It’s well known that Kim Soo Hyun’s melodious voice tugs at the heartstrings, and he does so once again with the mesmerizing “The One and Only You.” “The Moon That Embraces the Sun” remains an all-time favorite among period dramas.

  • Jang Wook in “Alchemy of Souls”

6 Characters Who Made These Period K-dramas Worth Watching K-Selection

Jang Wook’s (Lee Jae Wook) fate was sealed at birth because, as a child, his father abandoned him and put obstacles in his way so that he could perform magic by blocking his energy. His father announced that no one was allowed to unseal Jang Wook’s energy. Seeing everyone around him mastering alchemy, the young boy can’t help but feel sad and have serious problems with his father.

Meanwhile, Naksu (Go Youn Jung), a feared assassin from Daeho, is not only a skilled alchemist, but she has also mastered the art of soul swapping. Since the latter is not bound by Jang Wook’s father’s decree and is on a mission, she has taken refuge in the body of a blind commoner named Mu Deok (Jung So Min). As she enters the Songrim school of magic, she finds herself working with Jang Wook, a descendant of one of the prestigious Songrim families. This is how they begin to work together, as Jang Wook seeks to learn from Naksu, regardless of his intentions or motivations. While falling in love, the two young people are far from realizing that a cruel destiny binds them to each other.

For Lee Jae Wook, this is a striking role, which easily brings out the loneliness and anguish of his character. In addition to being a practical and observant man, who has gone through several trials, but which have not made him cynical, Jang Wook is also a loyal friend and a devoted lover, who although struck by tragedy, he proof of a persevering spirit, which gives him hope.

  • The actors of “Hwarang”

6 Characters Who Made These Period K-dramas Worth Watching K-Selection

Imagine traveling back in time and meeting the six fantastic flower knights of “Hwarang”. Starrers include Park Hyung Sik as Crown Prince Sam Maek Jong, who is burdened by the burden of royalty and meets Moo Myung (Park Seo Joon), Kim Soo Ho (SHINee’s Minho) , Seok Han Sung (V of BTS), Park Ban Ryu (Do Ji Han) and Kim Yoo Weol (Jo Yoon Woo). These six young soldiers then unite to form a new Silla kingdom.

Moving from boy to man, “Hwarang” is the coming-of-age story of these flower knights who set out to discover themselves. Throughout their journey, they form friendships, discover love and learn to overcome the many challenges that life throws at them. The brotherhood of these flower knights has also been romanticized in popular culture.

“Hwarang” remains a favorite series for many fans, and we can’t guess why, but what we do know is that the bond between the boys is the real star of the series.

  • Wang So in “Scarlet Heart: Goryeo”

6 Characters Who Made These Period K-dramas Worth Watching K-Selection

By accidentally drowning in the ocean while trying to save a young girl, Go Ha Jin (IU) is taken back to the past, centuries removed from the world she belongs to today. This is how she wakes up in the body of Hae Soo, in the Goryeo dynasty, and meets the many princes of King Taejo’s house, including two in particular, one attracted to her, and the other who seems to intrigue him. Wang Wook (Kang Ha Neul), the tender-hearted eighth prince, is a real charmer, while the fourth prince, Wang So (Lee Joon Gi) is a ruthless man who is best not approached unless Hae Soo is attracted by his devilish charm. By finding herself embroiled in palace intrigues, this young girl becomes an unwitting pawn in the fight for the throne.

“Scarlet Heart: Goryeo” remains one of the timeless classics that audiences are loyal to. Wang So can be obsessive, controlling and even cruel, even hateful just by seeing his maniacal side. Although his actions can be approved, one cannot help but wonder if he is not a victim of circumstances, a man who has been betrayed and abandoned by his people because he has no one and he cannot only take care of himself. As the tragic hero, Lee Joon Gi plays Wang So to perfection, and his chemistry with IU is simply epic.

So, who is your favorite male lead? Let us know in the comments below!