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A guide to Lee Minho’s most iconic roles in K-drama land—from F4’s Gu Junpyo to Emperor Lee Gon

By Hannah Mallorca Published Jun 22, 2021 8:25 pm Updated Jun 22, 2021 8:22 pm

Love him or hate him—Lee Minho will always be considered one of the kings of Hallyu

The six-foot-tall actor and heartthrob has been part of our K-drama viewing experience for as long as we can remember. Minho has played a lot of well-known characters that it’s hard to resist the excitement every time he has a new project lined up. 

As we celebrate Minho’s 34th birthday, let us waltz down memory lane to relive his most iconic roles in K-drama land. 

Gu Junpyo (Boys Over Flowers)

(From left) Kim Hyunjoong as Yoon Jihoo, Lee Minho as Gu Junpyo, Kim Bum as Seo Yijung, and Kim Joon as Song Woobin. Photo from KBS

Boys Over Flowers might have been a lackluster adaptation of the Hana Yori Dango manga (don’t murder us, K-drama fans), but Minho’s role as Gu Junpyo was one of our favorites. He’s one of the main reasons why this K-drama is such a guilty pleasure. 

Minho had such a commanding presence as Junpyo that it’s hard to imagine other actors for the role. He portrayed the stuck-up, yet lonely heir so well that we can’t help but root for him throughout the K-drama. Who can forget the heartwarming moments of Junpyo bonding with Jandi’s father and brother? 

Kim Tan (The Heirs)

Photo from SBS

Honestly, The Heirs was such a cringe-worthy K-drama (don’t come at us, K-drama fans). Once its theme song Love is the Moment blares from the speakers, it’s hard to not cover your ears. 

Even so, Minho did justice to his role as Kim Tan. He was charming and funny, plus it was hard to resist his smiles and teasing smirks. This K-drama showed his ability as an actor since he can make the most out of a corny character

Lee Yoonsung/Poochai (City Hunter)

Photo from SBS

City Hunter showed off Minho’s range as an actor. Gone are those days when he donned a high school uniform since his role as Lee Yoonsung was the start of his more mature roles.

Yoonsung is a Korean-American who wants to avenge the death of his adoptive father. His plans for revenge are interrupted when he falls in love with Presidential Security Service bodyguard Kim Nana. Watching this character is such a delight because of Minho’s acting chops and his strong chemistry with actress Park Minyoung.

Kim Damryeong/Heo Joonjae (Legend of the Blue Sea)

Lee Minho as Kim Damryeong (left) and Heo Joonjae (right). Photos from SBS

Playing the male lead opposite a veteran like Jeon Jihyun is a daunting task, but Lee Minho definitely held his own in Legend of the Blue Sea.

The actor plays two separate roles set in different timelines: Heo Joonjae who works as a con artist living in modern-day Seoul, and town head Kim Damryeong living in the Joseon era. Even if this K-drama has a happy ending, it’s hard to move on from its tear-jerking scenes. Minho’s eyes speak volumes, especially in scenes that involve a lot of emotions.

Emperor Lee Gon (The King: Eternal Monarch)

Photo from Netflix

Lee Minho’s most recent role to date is Emperor Lee Gon in The King: Eternal Monarch, which was released in 2020. This K-drama marked his return to the small screen after his discharge from the military in 2019.

This was Minho’s second fantasy K-drama where he played the role of Lee Gon, the third king of the Kingdom of Corea. He discovers an alternate reality after crossing a mythical door, where he meets Jeong Taeeul.

The actor described himself as a “more mature actor” which indeed reflected on the screen. He seems more sure of his abilities and his onscreen chemistry with Kim Goeun is through the roof.

What's your favorite K-drama that features Lee Minho as the lead?