In the Land of the Morning Calm, chaebol is what they call a conglomerate or a group of companies owned and run by one family. Think the Zobel de Ayalas, Tans, and Gokongweis of the Philippines.
The typical sitch in chaebol Korean dramas? There's usually a young (and dashing) heir on track to lead the chaebol. Then, there are some relatives or high-ranking corporate officials who want to take over. A lover gets thrown into the equation, of course.
Over the years, there have been several chaebol dramas. Some have been quite gripping and a few others haven't been so original in terms of storyline. But almost all of them have been excellent in character-building. They're especially great at portraying handsome chaebol sons, swoon-worthy heirs, and CEOs guaranteed to sweep you off your feet with their unique charm, looks, and wit…and, okay, their buying power, too. Here are some of the most memorable ones:
The F4 from Boys Over Flowers (2009)
You can't make a fictional chaebol list without including the F4. The group consisted of Gu Jun Pyo, Yoon Ji Hoo, So Yi Jung, and Song Woo Bin, and were played by Lee Min Ho, Kim Hyun Joong, Kim Bum, and Kim Joon.
This internationally famous quartet has been portrayed multiple times over. Like their Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese counterparts, the Korean F4 were an attractive and ridiculously rich group of boys who were also totally intimidating.
Kim Tan (Lee Min Ho) and Choi Young Do (Kim Woo Bin) from The Heirs (2013)
These two best friends-turned-enemies from affluent families were both short-tempered and immature. Apart from these similarities, they even end up falling for the same girl.
Though they're not the most ideal men, they had another thing in common that made them so sexy: their determination to do anything for the woman they love.
Ahn Min Hyuk (Park Hyung Sik) from Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (2017)
Min Hyuk was a highly capable—albeit flashy—CEO of a video game company. It was natural for his father to plan to leave their chaebol in his hands and not to any of his older half-brothers who weren't worthy. This move sparked rumors, blackmailing, and even death threats from someone who didn't want him to be at the helm of their conglomerate.
When Min Hyuk hires a super cute girl with superhuman strength as his bodyguard, he eventually falls head over heels for her and transforms into a kilig-stricken boyfriend anyone would be lucky to be adored by.
Kim Min Kyu (Yoo Seung Ho) from I Am Not A Robot (2017 to 2018)
He started out as a guy who just loved money-making. He also had to isolate himself socially as he gets severe allergies upon human contact. But then, he found himself falling in love with an advanced robot (or, in reality, a person posing as such). He discovered how great it is to share moments with others, and he gradually overcame his illness.
Min Kyu also showered his heroine and the people around them with kindness and sweet gestures. Once all the trust issues were settled after the truth gets revealed, boy, did he make up for all the physical contact he deprived himself off! You won't ever look at rice balls the same way again after witnessing the drama's epic kitchen kiss scene!
Lee Young Joon (Park Seo Joon) from What's Wrong With Secretary Kim? (2018)
Vice Chairman Lee was a narcissistic man who had and could offer everything in the world. So he couldn't believe it when his competent secretary of nine years tells him her plans to resign. But as the story progressed, he falls in love with her while trying to keep her employed and reveals that there's so much more beyond his dazzling ~*aura*~.
He goes all-out with showing his affection. He's determined and loyal to one woman (and to himself, LOL!). He's so malambing, too! Not to mention, he has a TDF physique, and he's such a great kisser, OMG! We dare you to not ~*feel things*~ while watching his WWWSK kiss scenes!
Do Min Ik (Kim Young Kwang) from The Secret Life Of My Secretary (2019)
Like Vice Chairman Lee, Director Do found himself developing an attraction to his secretary. But unlike Seo Joon's character, he fell ill to this rare condition called prosopagnosia. Because of this, he couldn't recognize faces—even that of his secretary posing as a female chaebol heir he's supposed to date.
Min Ik gets caught in a weird love triangle and shows his vulnerable side that you wouldn't be able to help but adore! Aside from his innocent-looking puppy dog face, he has this sexy, confident side. He was so seductive that he was able to make mundane tasks like proper handwashing a breathtakingly sensual moment.
Yoo Deok Hwa (Yook Sung Jae) from Goblin (2016 to 2017)
Technically, the Yoo family's wealth is owned by a lonely and great god (played by real-life godlike man Gong Yoo, nonetheless!). In that sense, Deok Hwa wasn't a full-fledged chaebol son, plus, he was destined to serve the said lonely and great god.
Nonetheless, he was still a charming and handsome young man who was poised to take over a big company. He was also filled with aegyo that you just couldn't easily forget him!
Veronica Park (Kim Jae Kyung) from The Secret Life Of My Secretary (2019)
She first seemed like a spoiled rich girl who stepped on the toes of everyone she deemed lower in status. Later on, though, she showed she's just an average woman who's tired of jerks that use her. She keeps her heart guarded unless she meets someone who proves to be genuine.
Aside from being secretly sweet and caring, the girl is a go-getter! You'll love how she's never coy, and when she wants something (or someone), she never leaves it to fate and takes matters into her own hands. (Oh, and she looks ~*awesome*~ in every single outfit—even in a neck brace and hospital patient scrubs.)
Cha Soo Hyun (Song Hye Kyo) from Encounter (2018 to 2019)
Like Veronica Park, she deserves to be recognized in this list as a swoon-worthy president at a chaebol. Soo Hyun was part of Taegyong Group as the wife of the chaebol son. After their divorce, she asked for an almost-bankrupt business as her alimony and made it a successful chain of hotels like a true #boss.
On top of being an impressive leader, she had a down-to-earth side. She loved teasing her friends, didn't mind driving her own car when her driver wasn't available, and was happy with little things like eating ramen at a rest stop. Plus, when she encountered someone whom she cherishes, she fought for it with him. Now that's a woman anyone would admire!
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