Moody K-dramas and their Moody Leads

Dramatic music. Shadowy settings. Mysterious villains. This can only mean one thing: a moody K-drama! I love my romantic comedies, sageuks and melodramas, but I have a special place in my heart for the police story, especially the “special task force,” the detectives-not-detectives, the “we don’t exist” teams found in K-dramas. More importantly, I love their dramatic, moody male leads.

Unlike straightforward police procedurals, these K-dramas share several things in common. Many scenes happen at night.  Apparently, these cops are drawing loads of overtime. There is almost always some shadowy baddie engaged in crimes that the normal police just can’t handle. Only our intrepid moody male lead can catch the villain. Because he uses all of his mental energy trying to figure out how to catch the baddie, he is apparently incapable of smiling throughout most of K-drama.

But it’s not all doom and gloom.  Despite his initially cold demeanor, the team leader cares about his team, which is usually made up of a rag-tag group of individuals that no one else would take in, including some kind of goofy character who provides much needed comic relief.

HIdden Identity
Hidden Identity

Hidden Identity is the prime example of a moody K-drama with a moody male lead. (I know I’ve talked about Hidden Identity before, and yes, I’m going to talk about it again.). Our special team here is headed by Team Leader Jang Moo Won (Park Sung Woong). Team Leader Jang rarely smiles. But that’s ok, it just makes him that much more awesome! On one hand, he is bound and determined to catch the mysterious villain Ghost, who has wreaked havoc all over the world.  It’s his only mission in life. Every case his team works ends up being connected to the Ghost, getting them one step closer to him.  Team Leader Jang is smart and shrewd, and doesn’t mind taking the rap for his team when they mess up. He cares about his team, and each member has a different reason for trusting him.  Sometimes, though, you give Team Leader Jang the side-eye because it seems he’s going out on a limb, but it always pays to trust him in the end.

On the other hand, the team is fiercely loyal to Team Leader Jang, and trust him implicitly.  Our lone female member is also quite effective in defending herself in missions. No tripping while running! We have an older figure who is our comic relief. You can tell that he loves going undercover. Then there is our tech expert, who stays in the office most of the time. Even that punky rookie eventually gets on board with the loyalty.


Ten is another moody K-drama with a moody lead. This time, it’s Yeo Ji Hoon (Joo Sang Wook) leading a special crime unit that goes after the ten percent of cases that the regular police cannot handle.  As a moody lead, he is prohibited from smiling too much. I didn’t even know Joo could smile until I saw him in another K-drama. Yeo is a reluctant leader. Initially, he does not believe he needs a team, but guess what, he gets one anyway. Like Team Leader Jang, he is smart and shrewd, but unlike Team Leader Jang, Yeo has a personal motive in pursuing the recurrent baddie in Ten. This criminal murdered Yeo’s girl. Not cool. So while they pursue other weird and impossible cases, Yeo is always looking for way to find “the one who got away.”

His team has the same array of different personalities, each of whom bring their special talents to the team. These team members more quirky. The female character has a special ability to piece visuals together. Our young rookie at first seems like dead weight, but eventually proves his worth. Our older, grizzled detective is the only one person who can challenge Yeo and is just as shrewd. They have to work together to make sure Yeo doesn’t eventually go off the deep end.

I love the moody K-drama and their moody leads!
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Moody K-dramas and their Moody Leads by CeeFu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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