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.’
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!