K-drama Spotlight: Lee Min-ho’s Most Memorable Roles Yet

It just seems that no matter what role Lee Min-ho takes, each character just has the looks and the charisma that make them stand out so much, we remember them forever!

The actor has been gracing our small screens, the movie theaters, and the entertainment industry for years (He made his debut with a minor role for a drama in 2003!). And since his breakthrough lead role in Boys Over Flowers, he has gained widespread fame and has become one of the most sought-after actors of this time.

After his discharge from his military service in 2019, it looks like we are set to witness the next chapter of his acting career. (More dramas, please!) And because we know we are all quite not over his most recent show The King: Eternal Monarch, this could be the perfect time to binge-watch his past dramas. Here are oppa‘s most memorable roles in K-dramas to date.

*Oppa is a Korean term used by a woman to call their older male sibling. It is also a term used by a female to call an older man she is close to or an affectionate term for a boyfriend or lover. In the case of fans, it can be used to refer to their favorite actor!

A chaebol heir – Boys Over Flowers (2009)


For many K-drama fans, this series has most probably put Lee Min-ho in their list of favorite actors. Lee Min-ho starred as Gu Jun-pyo, the leader of F4, the most popular group of Shinhwa High School and of course, the heir of one of South Korea’s largest conglomerates, Shinhwa Group. Despite his hot temper and crass personality, he has a heart of gold and eventually falls in love with a dry cleaner’s daughter (Gu Hye-sun). Boys Over Flowers was such a huge success in Korea and other countries, it made the actors household names and triggered another Hallyu (Korean wave) in Asia.

An architect – Personal Taste (2010)


In Personal Taste, Lee Min-ho suited up as Jeon Jin-ho, a self-centered and organized architect who is trying to keep his small firm afloat. He is highly interested in a modernized hanok built by a famous yet reclusive architect, but it’s not open to the public. After a bout of misunderstandings and wrong assumptions that he’s gay, he continues to pretend to qualify as a roommate of the architect’s daughter, a slobby furniture designer (Son Ye-jin) who lives in the hanok. Just as sparks fly between them, Jin-ho finds himself falling deeper and deeper into his lie, making it harder to confess his feelings.

An IT expert with a dark past – City Hunter (2011)


City Hunter made Lee Min-ho shed his flower boy image as he portrays a man who lives a double life to avenge his father’s death. An MIT graduate, Lee Yoon-sung/Poochai returns to Korea to act on his adoptive father’s revenge plot and lands himself a job at the Blue House. There, he meets the presidential bodyguard (Park Min-young) who gets entangled in their plans. On his quest, he plays with life and death as he tries to protect the woman he loves while eliminating the officials responsible for his father’s death.  

The King’s bodyguard – Faith (2012)


Before The King: Eternal Monarch’s Jo Yeong (Woo Do-hwan), there was first General Choi Young of Faith who made our hearts flutter. In this sageuk (historical) fusion drama, Lee Min-ho played the role of a bodyguard to the King and brave captain and strategist to the warriors during the Goryeo period. When their Queen gets attacked and becomes fatally injured, Choi Young receives an order to enter a mysterious portal in search of “heaven’s doctor.” He crosses and finds himself in Seoul, in the year 2012. With his mission in mind, he drags a modern-day plastic surgeon (Kim Hee-sun) into his timeline, with a promise that she can return once she saves the queen. Problems arise when the kingdom’s cunning advisor convinces the King to force the doctor to stay, and Choi Young finds himself protecting (and falling in love with) her as she attracts the attention of those scheming for power.

An illegitimate heir – The Heirs (2013)


In the high school-set drama The Heirs, Lee Min-ho came full circle with his role in Boys Over Flowers but with a much meatier character. He was cast as Kim Tan, the future heir to the Jeguk Group. But this time, in a completely K-drama birth-secret style, Kim Tan is actually the son of a mistress. To become eligible as an heir, he is registered as the son of the chairman’s second wife, earning the ire and distaste of the rest of the family. As he tries to juggle the unreasonably demanding life of a chaebol heir and a high school student, he finds himself falling hard for a woman with a poor background (Park Shin-hye) and does his best to protect her.

A con man – The Legend of the Blue Sea (2016–2017)


And because we can’t possibly have a fairy tale-like drama without Lee Min-ho, the actor blessed our small screens as he transformed into a clever and warm-hearted con artist who fell for a mermaid in The Legend of the Blue Sea. When a town head and a mermaid (Jun Ji-hyun) from the Joseon era fall in love but meet a tragic end, their reincarnations carry on their past selves’ destinies into the modern period. Lee Min-ho starred in the series as both the magistrate’s son Kim Dam-ryung and the witty and skilled modern-day con man Heo Joon-jae. When Joon-jae crosses paths and falls in love with a beautiful mermaid he aptly names Shim Cheong (or stupid as he deemed her ignorant about basic things), they fight fate to be together as they find their present lives tied to their past, with their ill fortune following close behind.

“The king” – The King: Eternal Monarch (2020)


We’ve always known that Lee Min-ho is just simply fit for a royal role, and he has proved himself worthy of every praise and fan scream when he became Lee Gon in The King: Eternal Monarch, the king who proved that love can transcend time and overpower magical flutes. In this fantasy drama, the king of a monarchical Korea (Kingdom of Corea) crosses a mystical portal and ends up in a parallel world where Korea is a democratic country. To stop his uncle in his schemes to hold great power by messing with the balance of both worlds, he teams up with the strong-willed detective from Korea (Kim Go-eun), convinced that she’s the one who saved his life during the night of the treason in the kingdom years back.


Kang Center is an assistant editor for Kdramapal and a girl with many pseudonyms. You'd often find her typing away on her phone, most likely writing a short story or finding a new K-drama to binge-watch. She's addicted to police procedurals and rom-coms, citing Voice, Phantom, and Master's Sun as a few favorites.

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