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K-Dramas are widely popular around the globe and have finally opened up their gates for more representation through pride characters. With the first Korean BL web-drama “Where Your Eyes Linger”, Korea is slowly, but surely, breaking numerous stereotypes.
KS Press presents to you 8 LGBTQ+ characters in K-Dramas in celebration of Pride Month. These characters, no matter how small or large, have helped the progress for more representation in the industry and, hopefully, many more pride characters to come.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Kang Joon Hee – “Reply 1997“
In regards to LGBTQ+, the drama “Reply 1997” should not be missed. Not only does it have a prominent gay character with Kang Joon Hee, it also features a popular idol acting this role (Infinite’s former member Hoya).
Joon Hee is typically portrayed as a shy and kind person. He is also the best friend and right hand man of the main character Yoon Yoon Jae (Seo In Guk). His storyline mainly revolves around his attraction towards his best friend Yoon Jae and how he deals with the crush through confiding in female lead, Sung Shiwon (Jung Eun Ji).
This drama offers you one of the most prominent LGBTQ+ plots. It features a character which is not one dimensional and brings in a fresh insight in a conservative country such as Korea. For many reasons, this drama is a must watch. —Jen
Heo Yoon Sub and Kong Joo Yong – “Cheese In The Trap“
The adaptation of the popular webtoon “Cheese In The Trap” is another drama with a beautiful LBTQ+ story.
This comedy, in a university setting, deals with many topics but one very striking story is the pure relationship between a gay couple who have been in a long-term-relationship. The relationship of TA Heo Yoon Sub and Kong Joo Yong not only shows the happy sides, but also the troubles a lot of LGBTQ+ people have to deal with.
For example, Joo Yong leaves his family and gives up life as he knew it in order to be with the one he loves. This is a reality for many and it is honorable that “Cheese In The Trap” shows this side of life and how true happiness can prosper in any situation life throws at you. —Jen
Joon Won Suk and Choi Ho Dol – “Love With Flaws“
“Love with Flaws” follows the confident and charismatic Joon Won Suk (Cha In Ha) who grows attached to the introverted Choi Ho Dol (Jang Yoo Sang). Although there are quite a few pride characters that pop up in various dramas, there is rarely a LGBTQ+ couple or storyline. “Love with Flaws” is an exception to this and contains a sweet and tender love between the pair, even if it is only a side story. —Tato
As a Netflix Original, “Love Alarm” is a very accessible K-Drama for everyone to watch. The premise of the show is a dating app which gives you an alarm when someone who has feelings towards you is within a 10 meter-radius.
One scene shows a positive reaction to a guy liking another guy. This scene happens when a male student of the same school makes Lee Hye Young’s (Jung Ga Ram) Love Alarm ring. Hye Young’s reaction is positive which shows how normal these types of feelings are and no one should be offended by that. —Jen
Jung Oh Je – “Moment at 18“
Played by ASTRO’s Moonbin, Jung Oh Je has a one-sided crush on fellow classmate, Ma Hwi Young, while ironically being close with Ma Hwi Young’s rival and main lead, Choi Joon Woo (Ong Seong Woo). Quite like Joon Hee from Reply 1997, he is timid but good hearted so he does not have the heart to refuse a confession from his female friend, Kwon Da Heen. The drama focuses on his attempts to be a good friend to Da Heen while struggling with his sexuality.
Although his character is somewhat underdeveloped, his fears and worries are relatable. He doesn’t make the best of decisions, but deserves a place on the list nonetheless. Jung Oh Je is a character with a lot of potential. —Tato
Han Tae Sun – “Secret Garden“
Another must-watch is the classic K-Drama “Secret Garden”. Not only is the whole premise of the show entertaining and endearing, but they also feature one of the most notable gay characters. Lee Jong Suk as Han Tae Sun was surely a head turner even before his popularity in recent times.
In this drama, he is shown as a young genius musician who is discovered by Oska (Yoon Sang Hyun). At first he coldly declines Oska’s attempts to recruit him. Taesun openly comes out as gay in the end and Oska ends up becoming his muse.
This role is full of courage and shows a beautifully crafted story that should not be ignored. —Jen
Ma Hyeon Yi – “Itaewon Class“
The widely popular “Itaewon Class” cannot be left out on this list with its transgender female character Ma Hyeon Yi (Lee Joo Young) who is the chief cook of DanBam, the restaurant which the series revolves around.
The drama broke stereotypes across the country with pride characters as well as other minority groups, highlighting their struggles. It also shows how various characters overcome their previous judgements of Ma Hyeon Yi due to her identity, expressing how she is no different to anyone else.
“Itaewon Class” views minority group characters in a new light, allowing people to see how we should not distinguish someone by their sexuality, identity or skin colour. —Tato
Choi Do Bin – “Personal Taste“
“Personal Taste” is also a classic that deals with various topics. One of the main stories involves Jun Jin Ho (Lee Min Ho) who pretends to be gay in order to room with a woman. Due to this, awkward and hilarious moments occur.
Another plotline revolves around Choi Do Bin (Ryu Seung Ryong) who has starts developing feelings for Jin Ho, thinking he is gay. The plot is unique, hysterical and truly something special for the time that it aired. —Jen