The Love Square


Today I’ll be talking about the everlasting Love Square or rectangle or quadrilateral of dramaland, whatever name you give it.

Love Square is the prerequisite of almost every drama out there in dramaland. Try to look at last ten years’ posters and you’ll know what I mean. Two guys and two girls. All playing this game of love that can include so many romantic and emotional shenanigans and hence give a nice foundation and basis for our drama people to form a story.

So we know in advance about who is going to be the main couple. The hero is arrogant and cold while the heroine is hardworking and cheerful with a good heart. The second male lead is always portrayed as the most caring and understanding person in the world. The second female lead is usually our hero’s first love and is bitchy and completely antagonistic.


Things are like this that the girls always prefer the bad guy and the second lead is there just to console and sigh with one-sided love. Whereas, the second female lead has nothing better to do except plotting against our love birds, and being utterly selfish and obsessive about the love she left years ago.

There is also a thing called ‘second lead syndrome’ attached to the dramas. People keep shipping for guy 2, all the while knowing that he will not get the girl but they can’t help it. Thankfully, I always root for the main pair, dunno why. There is only one instance in my two years of drama watching when I shared this syndrome and it was in Flower Boy Next Door, where my heart only went for Kim Ji Hoon.


There are certain exceptions to this love square scenario:

  • There are certain dramas where it’s really hard to decide who will get who. You know, the characters play musical chair of relations and it is hard to conclude till the last episode about the possible pairing.. Example: Que Sera Sera, What Happened In Bali, Fashion King.
  • Of course, there are some rare examples and I see that in recent years where we get a nice second female lead (yay for that). Example: Protect The Boss, Best Love, Playful Kiss.
  • The caring second lead turns into an antagonist. Example: Delightful Girl Choon Hyang.
  • Also there is a possibility that you have the story more like a love triangle, where three people stand out more prominently. And the OTP is not clear. You will be in the happy place if your pair end up together, but if you rooted for the wrong team, well, you’ll feel terrible at the end of the drama (which happened with me in Coffee House :()

With recent trend for more innovative ideas, it’s refreshing to see that now the dramas do take four leads but not necessarily romantically involved. And I’m glad that some even have two set of OTPs, and so everyone is happy in the end.

All in all, the love square is a very over used and clichΓ©d plot thing but gives a lot of room for dramatic arc and can be/ has been used in all set-ups: spies, hospitals, schools, workplace, neighbourhood, film industry, anywhere and everywhere!!

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13 thoughts on “The Love Square

  1. DDee

    On man did i suffer from major second lead syndrome for Kim Ji Hoon in FBND. KJH can make unshaven & unwashed look totally sexy. You didn’t root for Yoon Kye Sang in Best Love?! He totally deserved her instead of Dok Go Jin, as much as i love him as well.

    1. snow_white Post author

      Kim Ji Hoon β™₯

      I found Yoon Kye Sung realllllyyyyyy cute in Best Love….but still I rooted for Dok Go Jin and Gu Ae Jung…..I have this tendency to root for the OTP πŸ™‚ So I’m always happy except in FBND….haha

      1. DDee

        I suffer frm second lead syndrome alot of the time. Occasionally i jump ship, like now with I Hear Your Voice :). Oh and Coffee Prince had a love square initially, and then totally went haywire and subverted all the usual scenarios!

      2. mary

        Heey~ πŸ˜€ I just commented on your SLS-immunity at DB.

        Looks like you already answered me here. (re: not rooting for Yoon Pil Joo in Best Love)

        Wow. That should be some talent. At least you’ve managed to avoid lots of heartbreak!

        If you can bottle SLS immunity, I’m sure all us broken-hearted, ship-wrecked second lead fans will appreciate a cure.

        1. snow_white Post author

          LOL πŸ˜€

          I know….it can be heart breaking for all of you who love the second leads….don’t worry….I’ll teach you the talent to root for only the main lead πŸ˜›

  2. missienelly

    We are on the same boat! I also have this tendency to focus only the OTP and refuse to look anywhere else. As much as I love KJH in FBND, I remained loyal to the OTP. I’ve heard there is one drama in which Park Shi-Hoon was the second lead and he ended with the female lead in the end! I could be wrong, it could not be him but… This should be your next discussion! I like this post!

    I agreed with What Happened in Bali… It was rough to watch!

    1. snow_white Post author

      yeah…..that drama is queen of reversals or something like that….it’s like a record breaking thing where the second lead finally got the girl…

      yay that at least there is someone like me who focuses on the OTP….. πŸ™‚

      Haven’t seen WHIB but I know that it is surely a mess πŸ˜€

      1. My2Girls

        Actually Park Shi-hoon has won the girl as second lead twice. The first time was in the drama “How To Meet a Perfect Neighbor” and I am still bitter about that and it was 6 years ago! In the drama Bae Doo Na falls for Park (her cold boss – naturally) but the one she should end up with is lead Kim Seung Woo and the final scene in the drama between her and Kim Seung Woo brings tears to my eyes even just thinking about it. It is a hot mess of a drama with a lot of heart and a little too much angst but I still love it. The second time was in Queen of Reversals with Kim Nam Joo (who funnily enough is married to Kim Seung Woo in real life!). I have to say I felt bad for Jung Joon Ho losing out to Park. I loved Jung in “Last Scandal” in 2008 and was sad when he was bumped to second lead in “Iris” and “Coffee House” so I was so happy to see him as lead again and then Park swooped in and stole the girl from him. Park’s rape scandal was frustrating on many levels but most of all because he had such great potential. Clearly audiences responded to him well or he would never have been able to steal the girl from the lead so often but now he is tainted (and rightfully so) and he will never get that momentum back. But I digress, I wanted to say thank you for the post – I love reading about drama tropes and having spirited discussions on why we all love them so much even though they have some maddening tendencies.

        1. snow_white Post author

          Oh I liked JJH a lot in Last Scandal….I think I’m gonna feel bad for him in QOR 😦
          It is really funny and interesting that PSH played the second lead who got the girl not once but twice…..definitely everyone loved him so much….I don’t know if that is the case now….

          I’m glad you liked this post πŸ™‚ Even when dramas have so many cliched things, still they have their own charm πŸ™‚

  3. Eq8

    I usually like the leads as well. The one series where I liked the second lead is in Hana Yori Dango. There’s just something about Hanazawa Rui that makes me ache for him and wish that his love for Makino could be returned. He loved her so much more purely than Domyouji did, and I thought she deserved that.

    PS: Please don’t annoy me with the kdrama names. The mere thought of that disgusting hack of a lead actress makes me want to vomit.


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