So I submitted this to Dramabeans’ call for submissions on the prompt Changing Tastes but it did not make the cut. So I’m posting it here! At first I was a bit sad that it wasn’t posted but after looking through my submission once again, I realized how inferior it was and how scattered. There is even no point and I didn’t answer the prompt in actuality. Hahaha! So now I’m glad that this wasn’t posted because that would have been embarrassing. But I can be embarrassing here on my own blog so I’m still posting it. This is for all the underdog lovers. Hope you enjoy!
[Changing Tastes] I can’t kick you, Second Lead Syndrome
It was 2003. I was ten. I fell for Won Bin’s character in Autumn Fairytale, the first K-drama I’ve ever seen. In retrospect, I don’t understand why because he was hot-tempered and aggressive, but I wanted him to get the girl. Let’s be real though, I think just fell for Won Bin himself. This is my first memory of preferring the second lead.
It was 2005. I was twelve. I didn’t care for Kwon Sang-woo and Choi Ji-woo getting together in Stairway to Heaven. I didn’t find Shin Hyun-joon particularly handsome, in contrast with my experience with Autumn Fairytale, but his one-sided love since their teenage years touched my heart and I wanted him to be happy. I knew right from the start that he wouldn’t be the end game but still, I put myself through the wringer by shipping the wrong guy.
It was 2006. I was thirteen. I spent my first year as a teen defending Prince Yul of Goong to my friends. I thought Prince Yul was so kind and nice and that he just needed love. My friends couldn’t understand me and I ended up being outnumbered by the majority on countless debates on who should Chae-kyung end up with. This is when I noticed that I’m suffering from Chronic Second Lead Syndrome. It’s as if I just blindly like the losing leg of a love triangle right away and then find ways to justify my choice. (And consequently break my heart.)
It was 2010. I was seventeen. Good lord, Bae Soo-bin in Brilliant Legacy broke me. How can he be so perfect? He was the stalwart Daddy Long Legs to our heroine, helping and loving her no matter what. Admittedly, I didn’t really ship him with Han Hyo-joo because I was also into the romance between our hero and heroine. But I just wanted him to be happy. He deserved to be happy! And I wanted him for myself. Ha!
Things were different though with Sungkyunkwan Scandal. I desperately wanted Geol-oh to end up with our cross-dressing heroine. How cute was his hiccups? How can he sacrifice so much and protect her without taking any credit? He was just always there, helping her. How can he not get the girl? Why can’t he? I was mad. My fury only subsided because of all the bromance but my heart still breaks every time I think of Moon Jae-shin.
It was 2011. I was eighteen. I got into a disagreement with my mom over Joo Won’s character Ma-joon in Baker King Kim Tak-gu. My mom was angry at him while I kept on defending him. He just wants to be loved, Mom! Can’t you see it? He ended up bad because he doesn’t know what love is! Which ended with my mom lecturing me. In Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, for the life of me, I don’t understand why the heroine wouldn’t pick someone who saw how amazing she is right from the start. I guess the heart wants what it wants but what my heart wants is happy second leads, darn it! By this time, I’ve learned my lesson. I avoided dramas where I know, from a mile away, that I’ll be suffering Second Lead Syndrome from it. Why knowingly put myself through so much pain, right?
It was 2014. I was twenty-one. Maybe it’s me having a crush on Park Hae-jin since 2009 but I was Team Hee-kyung at first in You from Another Star. I did eventually jump ships to save my heart but his unrequited love for Song-yi still got me. My plan of skipping dramas that will lead to Second Lead Syndrome failed but at least it wasn’t a grave case this time around. I continued being picky with dramas. I passed on dramas (Answer Me series, She Was Pretty, Sassy Go Go, and My Secret Hotel among others) just because I was afraid of going through the whole tumultuous experience of the Second Lead Syndrome again. For me, my illness does not only include being disappointed and sad for the second leads. It brings me physical pain. Sometimes I even end up stopping a drama marathon indefinitely just so I won’t watch the second leads get hurt. I couldn’t stand it.
It’s 2017. I’m turning twenty-four. When I saw the premiere of Reunited Worlds, I just knew I’m going to suffer from an intense episode of Second Lead Syndrome with Ahn Jae-hyun’s Min-joon. I admit to loving Ahn Jae-hyun because of New Journey to the West but then I also adore Yeo Jin-gu, so I didn’t expect this episode of Second Lead Syndrome to come barreling at me. But his character is just setting me up for a severe round of Second Lead Syndrome and I’m honestly worried for my feelings.
Maybe something is wrong with my brain wiring that I’m so overly sympathetic. I almost always side with the underdog right away even though I know I’ll just be in a lot of pain. Even without knowing him even! Is he the underdog? Then I’m on his side! Am I a masochist? Subconsciously, do I enjoy feeling pain? Why do I set myself up for this? Over the years, I went from diagnosing this affliction of mine to preventing it from ever vexing me again. But it seems like I am fated to suffer, especially with this current relapse. Nothing will make me not watch Reunited Worlds though and so I am welcoming the ache. Throwing all caution to the wind because of this drama made me realize how stupid was it to avoid great dramas just to not bear the torture of a secondhand broken heart. It could be due to growing up and realizing that I love stories too much to pass out on great ones just because I’ll get sad. Now I find it weird the extent of avoidance I practiced all those years ago. So against all of my defense mechanisms, I am ending this ban. Let’s bring on the pain.