Korean dramas tend to focus on one main couple, most often male and female, that face hardships along the way to realizing their ultimate happiness with one another. One major plot device is the rival love interest, creating a love triangle or even a rectangle. It’s made even more tense when these “rivals” are long-time friends, cousins or even siblings.
In some dramas, the way these frenemies interact is even more hilarious and moving than the lead couple, and there have been several epic bromances in recent dramas where the chemistry between the male rivals is fun, engaging and pulls on the heart strings!
1. Kim Shin and Wang Yeo, Goblin
This rivalry is hilariously bipolar; one minute, the Goblin (Gong Yoo) and the Grim Reaper (Lee Dong Wook) are trying to out-power the other, the next they’re consoling and offering sage advice – but they never seem to be on the same page.
This epic hate-fuelled bromance spanned generations and their interactions were just as fun to watch as the Goblin’s bride Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) and the great and lonely God dancing around each other.
2. Kim Tan and Choi Young Do, Heirs
These two used to be best friends and turned bitter enemies due to a past misunderstanding. When Kim Tan (Lee Min Ho) returns to Korea after being exiled to the US, Choi Young Do (Kim Woo Bin) begins picking on the girl Kim Tan loves, Cha Eun Sang (Park Shin Hye), just to irritate Kim Tan. Tension ensues when Young Do also falls in love with Eun Sang, and the two begin competing for her in the most adorable ways.
3. Nam Shin and Young Hoon, Are You Human Too?
This bromance is made all the more interesting because it’s between two different Nam Shin’s (Seo Kang Joon) and their secretary Ji Young Hoon (Lee Joon Hyuk) – one robot, one human, and their relationships couldn’t be different. The real Nam Shin is prickly and treats Young Hoon with distain, but cares deeply for him, protecting him from his grandfather. For robot Nam Shin, Young Hoon is his first male friend, and he learns a lot about being human from Young Hoon, who himself distances himself from the robot when he feels himself coming to care for him – perhaps even more than the real Nam Shin.
4. Si Jin and Dae Young, Descendants of the Sun
The adorable sergeant and captain relationship was one of the many reasons to watch this addicting drama; the loyalty and trust the soldiers showed in each other really is friendship goals.
5. Ji Heon and Moo Won, Protect the Boss
These cousins were forced into rivalry by competing for leadership of the same family company. Add competition for the same girl into the mix, and it’s no wonder they’re in enemy territory. These guys have their share of physical fights, but they tend to be hilarious rather than scary.
6. Joo Won and Oska, Secret Garden
These two are cousins with a long history of trying to outdo one another. Complete opposites in terms of personality, they constantly butt heads over every little thing. The show begins with their rivalry, but it’s only a matter of time before their outward animosity gives way to all kinds of warm fuzzies.
7. Chi Ang and Shi Woo, Moorim School
In a typical drama trope, Yoon Shi Woo (Lee Hyun Woo) and Wang Chi Ang (Lee Hong Bin) hate each other to start with, but grow to become as close as brothers. Throw in a girl they’re both in love with, and the rivalry really heats up – but through it all, their friendship is so strong that even after everything they stay by each other’s side until the end.
8. Nam Soon and Heung Soo, School 2013
Nam Soon (Lee Jong Suk) is the class president, and Heung Soo (Kim Woo Bin) is the new transfer student with a chip on his shoulder. What their classmates don’t know is that these two have a long, angsty history together that binds them together as much as it drives them apart, and their friendship is wrought with tension, pain (leading to physical fights), and a lot of love.
9. Hwa Shin and Jung Won, Jealousy Incarnate
Best friends Lee Hwa Shin (Jo Jung Suk) and Go Jung Won (Go Kyung Pyo) become entangled in a love triangle with Pyo Na Ri (Gong Hyo Jin), who is caught in the middle between her lingering three-year, one-sided love with Hwa Shin and a new crush on Jung Won, who falls for her at first sight.
But even when the fight over their mutual love becomes physical, these bros know they will always be friends. “Are we still friends?” Jung Won shouts in the middle of the fight. “Of course we are!” replies Hwa Shin.
10. Kang Chul and Do Yoon, W-Two Worlds
In this fantasy comic-based drama, protagonist Kang Chul’s (Lee Jong Suk) best friend, body guard and right hand, Seo Do Yoon (Lee Tae Hwan), is loyal until the end. He never questions Kang Chul’s credibility, even when the world says otherwise, framing him for his family’s murder. He keeps protecting his best friend, even if it means putting his life on the line for Kang Chul and his friend’s love. True friendship goals.
11. Kim Sung Ryong and Seo Yool, Chief Kim
It’s hard to define the relationship between Chief Kim (Nam Goong Min) and prosecutor-turned-finance-director Seo Yool (2PM‘s Lee Junho). It’s basically a bromance between enemies; they are eternally against each other and attempting to foil each other’s plans, but there’s always a perfect balance between laughs and tension when they’re in the same room.
12. An Min Hyuk and In Kook Do, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
Thanks to Do Bong Soon’s wild imagination, the bromance scenes between these two rivals are hilarious and full of affection…sometimes in real life (when alcohol is involved). Even though they’re never what you would consider close friends, the two accept they’ll both be a part of Bong Soon’s life and rely on each other to always do the best by her.
13. Young Ho and Joon Sung, Oh My Venus
Kim Young Ho (So Ji Sub) grew up with Jang Joon Sung (Sung Hoon), and the two are brothers in all but blood. They always support each other, protect each other (together with Henry‘s Kim Ji Wong) and would even die for each other – which Young Ho almost does when uses his car to protect Joon Sung, risking his own life.
14. Cha Do Hyun and Oh Ri Ohn, Kill Me, Heal Me
Cha Do Hyun (Ji Sung) is a third-generation business heir who developed dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder) in the aftermath of several life-threatening traumatic events. He tries to regain control over his life with the help of Oh Ri Jin (Hwang Jung Eum), a first-year psychiatric resident who helps him secretly – and the two begin to fall for each other. But Cha Do Hyun’s relationship with Ri Jin’s twin brother, Oh Ri On (Park Seo Joon), steals the show – with a hilarious love line between Cha Do Hyun’s teenage girl personality Ahn Yo Na and Ri On. This pair takes bromance to the next level!
15. Sun Woo and Ji Dwi, Hwarang
Hwarang is made of bromances, with special relationships and rivalries between all the members of the knight guard. Sun Woo (Park Seo Joon) and Ji Dwi (Park Hyung Sik) have a passionate dislike and rivalry with each other, that turns into respect and friendship as they train and fight together. Even when they get into physical fights, biting and kicking each other, they end up coming together to defeat their mutual enemies.