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The Best Reason To Like The Noona Romance

BY Joan MacDonald | Mar 05, 2014 10:16 AM EST

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There are as many reasons to like k-drama's noona romances as there are attractive k-drama actors to play the roles. But there is one reason that stands out.

In the noona romance, the nice guy has a much better chance of getting the girl.

In many k-drama romances, the man that the girl eventually chooses starts off needing a personality transplant. He's arrogant or cold or somehow emotionally damaged and it's up to the girl to give him a personality makeover. Usually she prefers to go to all this effort rather than choose the second lead, a man who is usually a nice guy and genuinely devoted to her.

Some good examples are Gu Hye Sun choosing Lee Min Ho over Kim Hyun Joong in "Boys Over Flowers" or Park Shin Hye choosing Jang Geun Suk over Jung Yong Hwa in "You're Beautiful." Or how about "Protect The Boss," where Choi Kang Hee chooses the spoiled chaebol played by Ji Sung over his sensitive cousin played by Kim Jaejoong?

The male lead is a prize when the female lead wins him but at what cost. And will he revert to his former ways?

It's his personality that creates the conflict and the impediment to their love.

But in the noona romance, the impediment to love is not usually the leading male's bad personality. It can be the younger man's age, as it was in "The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry," his immaturity as it was in "I Do I Do," or the woman's reluctance to see him as a grown man, as it was in "I Hear Your Voice" or "I Need Romance 3."

But all those stories end with the younger, more sensitive and caring suitor winning the woman he loves.

Although it is never clear exactly how old Joo Jin Mo, Ha Ji Won and Ji Chang Wook's characters are in "Empress Ki," is seems as if Ha Ji Won is somewhere between them age-wise. The division between first and second lead in "Empress Ki" is subtler as Joo Jin Mo is not a bad guy. But he did choose his kingdom over Ha Ji Won whereas Ji Chang Wook, who is younger and in many ways less mature, would give up everything for her. And the power of such a strong love wins in the end.

In these stories, the odds against the romance are overcome and the devoted younger man gets the woman he deserves.

The finale of "I Need Romance 3" this week showed that, spoiler alert, nice guys don't always finish last. At least not in the noona romance.

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