Kim Shin-hyuk: The Cause of Ultimate Second Lead Syndrome

Krishna Kishen, New Delhi

Gather around my fellow K-Drama lovers because today we will be talking about one of the most important terminologies in our drama world. The infamous Second Lead Syndrome. I’m sure most of you have had this disastrous syndrome in your drama-watching lives. But let’s start with the basics first. What’s a second lead syndrome you ask? It is when a viewer of a K-Drama starts loving and rooting for the second lead more than the main lead, to the point that we want the main lead to end up with them instead of the old traditional way that dramas are written. We know that the writer is going to break our hearts but we still choose to suffer through it because we just love them that much. Today though we will be talking about the King of Kings of the Second Lead Syndrome. Want to know who it is? Well, it’s none other than the handsome and talented Choi Siwon (from Super Junior) as Kim Shin-hyuk or Reporter Kim from our beloved show She Was Pretty!

“She Was Pretty” is a South Korean drama released in 2015 starring Park Seo-joon as Ji Seong-joon, Hwang Jung-eum as Kim Hye-jin, Choi Siwon as Kim Shin-hyuk and Go Joon-hee as Min Ha-ri. The story revolves around two childhood best friends that meet after going through a reversal of fortunes and appearances. The beautiful and rich Kim Hye-jin now has freckles and curly hair like a bush (which is still beautiful?!) and is also struggling financially whereas the healthy and bullied Ji Seong-joon has become fit (nothing like a trauma glow-up! wink) and has a successful name in the fashion industry. Kim Hye-jin feeling ashamed of herself makes her best friend Min Ha-ri pretend to be her and meet with Seong-joon resulting in Ha-ri falling in love with him eventually. Their fate intervenes when the newly hired Hye-jin’s boss turns out to be Seong-joon. We are also introduced to our beloved Kim Shin-hyuk who is also a reporter in the same department and magazine as Hye-jin.

We meet Kim Shin-hyuk as the childish prankster of the department whom everyone loves but is also annoyed with sometimes. Initially, Hye-jin and Shin-hyuk’s story as well starts from a humorous perspective in the drama but as the story evolves we get to know that Shin-hyuk is the most soft-hearted and kind of all. He has his own way of taking care of the people that he cares about even though he does not let anyone see it. Through the twists and turns of the story, Shin-hyuk is always beside Hye-jin to protect her and take care of her even though he knows that Hye-jin will not choose him in the end (I mean does this fact not tell you enough about Shin-hyuk’s allure?).

I am the kind of person that just does not get the second-lead syndrome. The second leads either turn out to be evil or I simply ship the main leads and don’t want the second lead to interrupt their story. But my point of view completely changed when I saw “She Was Pretty”. Finishing the show and watching Shin-hyuk getting the most unhappy ending of all just wrenched and tore my heart into pieces (I will let you reminisce about that feeling now). Throughout the show, we can clearly see that Kim Shin-hyuk deserved the best. I love Park Seo-joon (he’s one of my favourites) but Choi Siwon and his character totally stole the entire spotlight in this show.

Seong-joon is shown as a rude boss that doesn’t care if he hurts anyone with his harsh words. It is also shown that he is only sweet and kind towards whom he thinks Hye-jin to be and even goes as far as yelling at the real Hye-jin for having that name because according to him she didn’t deserve it. It is only when he starts doubting who the real Hye-jin is that he becomes a bit politer towards the real Hye-jin. Kim Shin-hyuk on the other hand is shown to be kind to everyone especially towards Hye-jin (be it love or friendship).

I believe the name of the show “She Was Pretty” was kept only because of Shin-hyuk as he always found Hye-jin pretty no matter what anyone said about her. He even scolded her sometimes for thinking that she was ugly and later when Hye-jin got a makeover; Shin-hyuk was the first one to tell her that she looked pretty even without the makeup and that he will miss her freckles the most. Kim Shin-hyuk is the ultimate man that anyone would fall in love with because he was not only an amazing best friend but also loved her unconditionally. Usually, second leads turn evil by the second half of the show when they don’t get the girl but Shin-hyuk is shown as totally opposite. He not only solves the love triangle and the mess between Hye-jin, Seong-joon and Min Ha-ri but he also sacrifices his love because he wants to see Hye-jin happy even going as far as sacrificing something important to him in the end (watch the show to find out what!).

He is and will always be one of the best characters made on television. From making her smile to protecting, respecting and loving her more than himself; Shin-hyuk definitely stole all of our hearts. Kim Shin-hyuk will forever remain our favourite ‘peeping girl.’

Video Credits: KOKOWA TV

Watch the video below to once again remember and cry about Kim Shin-hyuk while listening to the OST that he has sung for the show along with some of the most heartwarming moments of Hye-jin and Shin-hyuk together. Have you watched this show? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comment section below!

Video Credits: 1theK

9 Comments Add yours

  1. I need to resume this drama😭 Loved his character ❤️ And this drama has so many lovely actors 😍

  2. In the 10th episode, when Shin-Hyuk doesn’t express his love for Hye-Jin in so many words, his actions speak volumes. When Shin-Hyuk drops everything and races out into a torrential thunderstorm on his motorcycle to protect Hye-Jin, we see how deeply he cares about her. But truly he is the King of Kings of the Second Lead Syndrome.

  3. ThatMoleGirl says:

    I loved his character in “She Was Pretty”. From playing a happy-go-lucky guy to soo caring and loving person his character is well executed by Kim Shin-hyuk. ❤️❤️😍 #shewaspretty #kimsinhyuk

  4. Moumita Mondal says:

    I watched short clip’s of this drama but never watched it. But its already in my list . Thanks for the recommendation. So nice review that I wanna watch it now but I’ll definitely watch it soon♥️

  5. Mamoni says:

    I haven’t watched it yet but will definitely❤and second lead syndrome is not a new thing to a k-drama addict like me🤭 Always fall harder for the second lead than the first lead😍 Thanks for the recommendation❤

  6. This article made me reminisce the memories of Shin hyuk aka Siwon.. This is one of the best characters portrayed by Siwon though it tore our heart into pieces coz of the Second lead Syndrome. The way he said ‘Jackson’ is echoing inside my head rn

  7. Anonymous says:

    While reading this article I recall the I started watching this k drama she was pretty .. I was or you can I fell in love with this second lead character he was so funny and at the same time he was so Romantic. He never forced his love to her and respected her choice. I really had a disappointment on makers of kdrama that they always maker second lead suffer and unhappy and unjustified though he is a green flag to every girl but character of second lead character were leaved undernourished

  8. Tirna says:

    I need to watch the drama “She was Pretty”, seems amazing. Also yes sometimes I love the second leads more than the main leads since they add more spice to the plot or balance it. Lee Rang from The Tale of the Nine Tailed and Ji Eun from Suspicious Partner are my favorites.

  9. anishanath says:

    The second lead of this Drama Choi Siwon was just amazing throughout the drama. The way he always adored Hye-jin even without her makeup was something that every men should do. I just loved this drama and this article was really interesting to read.

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