Even though I have a clear top two for favourite male character, I’m going to add a couple more just to have a little bit of variety, haha. For a very long while, my favourite male character was pretty much Suga Eiichiro from Love Revolution, because of how Fujiki Naohito portrayed him to perfection. Hotshot journalist with a hidden righteous streak, great kisser, charming and easygoing but not sleazy, and an all-round nice guy in the end… it is arguably Fujiki’s best role (yes, it even outranks Buchou!)
Suga is still one of the sexiest male characters of any drama, but recently he’s had to take a backseat to Nodame Cantabile‘s Chiaki Shinichi, who’s now No 1. Tamaki Hiroshi’s Chiaki is simply irresistible – that incredible talent! the looks! he cooks and cleans! them white shirts! – how can one not love this guy? I just love it whenever Chiaki is immersed in his music and even though he has very high standards for music and himself, he’s not afraid to admit he’s wrong about things – he does appreciate and respect people who care about music, once he gets round to realising it. He’s a bit slow regarding things not concerning music, but half the fun’s seeing him lose his sanity trying to figure out other (nutty) humans, haha. Even though Chiaki is supremely grudging with showing affection, when he does show it, he pretty much knocks it out of the park.
Chiaki might seem very different from Suga but at heart, they’re really passionate about what they do and are just two guys who don’t recognise love until it threatens to slip away from them. I tend to be a sucker for tropes like this, and both Tamaki and Fujiki were pretty much kanpeki in their respective roles.
Other male characters I really like are Kuryu Kohei of Hero, and Akiyama Shinichi from Liar Game. Before Kimura Takuya’s drama choices went south in the latter 2000s, he had a string of hits and Kuryu is arguably his most memorable (well, enough to spawn a 2014 sequel). I think the role fitted Kimura to a T and he got to display the character’s quirky, misfit charm to the max. He also had wonderful chemistry with Matsu Takako in Hero, which made their pairing particularly memorable. As for Akiyama, I’d never quite liked Matsuda Shota in anything else – he was okay in Love Shuffle, but I think the Akiyama role suited him so well I couldn’t imagine any other actor doing it. Matsuda brought out Akiyama’s know-it-all smirks, trademark laid-back pose, arrogance and confidence perfectly, and made me root for him to outwit his opponents no matter the odds.
Oddly enough, I don’t have a favourite female character – that’s not to say I don’t like any, but none of them stands out as strongly as the males. But I’d probably go for Quin from Detective Investigation Files IV and Oh Dalja from Dalja’s Spring. I was a huge fan of this Hong Kong drama and Quin was portrayed by Jessica Hsuan, one of my favourite Hong Kong actresses. I thought Quin was pretty kickass in how she dealt with being in a difficult relationship – she loved Tsui Fei, but constantly had to battle with his memories of his ex-girlfriend, who’d gone missing. She was pretty much the logical and sane one in the volatile relationship, and I really rooted for her. It’s probably my favourite Jessica role, and also because she had such chemistry with Louis Koo, who played Tsui Fei.
Dalja is one of very few k-drama heroines I like. She deals with things in a logical, if amusing (and sometimes feisty) manner and I like how she decided to make the best of a failed crush on her colleague by becoming pals with the guy. While fairly inexperienced in love, she’s not one for bemoaning her fate too much and just gets on with it after a while. I love her relationship with Kang Tae-bong, and it helped tons that Chae Rim and Lee Min-ki had oodles of chemistry to successfully sell the older woman-younger man romance. This is one rare k-drama that I’d totally recommend.