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Lee Min Ho vs Song Joong Ki: A Battle Between Today’s Hottest Korean Heartthrobs

First Posted: Oct 19, 2016 05:11 PM EDT
A screenshot from a news clip taken from Youtube.

A screenshot from a news clip taken from Youtube. Credit:Top Korean News via Youtube

If the U.S. has Hollywood, South Korea is proudly represented by "Hallyu-wood." Today, it's safe to say that it's hard to find someone who has never heard about anything related to Hallyu (Korean wave). Whether it is about K-pop songs, idol groups or K-dramas (Korean dramas), the Korean pop culture has penetrated the consciousness of various nationalities in Asia and even in the West.

While K-pop is creating its huge fan base with popular idol groups such as EXO, BTS, GOT7, iKon and BIGBANG, K-dramas in turn are attracting millions of girls around the world with the charming faces of their lead actors. Now the spot for the top male Korean actor in today's Korean entertainment scene is a tight competition between two heartthrobs -- Lee Min Ho and Song Joong Ki. Who hasn't heard of them yet?

The Popularity Of K-dramas

Korean dramas have become ubiquitous. Many girls from all around the world seem to have established an inseparable bond with them over the past decade. And this is because K-dramas specialize in showcasing extraordinary love stories that female audiences can fantasize about. Sure, we have popular Hollywood heartthrobs like Ryan Gosling ("The Notebook"), Zach Efron ("High School Musical") and Jamie Dornan ("Fifty Shades of Grey") who equally gave us heart attacks with their romance movies' roles. Yet for our Korean superstars, I don't know...they seem to have this timeless appeal that won't easily fade away in the next decade or so. And besides, Hollywood seems to be focusing more on hero movies; I'm even imagining now a DC hero versus Marvel hero movie coming out in the next years.

K-dramas have a unique way of delivering a fairytale love story that often leads to a happy ending, and maybe this is why girls are so hooked with them. Plus the Korean stars are undeniably adorable; they seem to have this innocent face without any flaw (not even an oversized pore) that makes them look so angelic. These gorgeous oppas...they're so irresistible I could even binge-watch a whole series in three days. I could sit for long hours watching them just so the thrills and chills brought by a blossoming romance between the leads won't go away even just for a second.

And if you haven't tried watching...what, seriously? You should start with one of Lee Min Ho or Song Joong Ki's drama series, and for sure, you will thank me for introducing them to you. You might even end up like one of those fan girls who tend to forget the reality and daydream about their favorite Korean star.

K-dramas are definitely grabbing much attention these days. Gathering a large group of deeply engaged and loyal viewers, K-dramas have dominated not only in Asia but also various parts of Latin America, United States and Europe. English-subtitled K-Dramas are now widespread, with these unique love stories quickly being made available on YouTube and numerous streaming sites such as DramaFever, MNet America, Viki, and Crunchy Roll (KDrama). There are even select contents available on iTunes, Hulu, Amazon and Netflix.

Today's Brightest Korean Male Stars

While South Korea is obviously blessed with countless gentlemen who are nabbing women's interest with their charm and acting skills, there are two notable names that every K-drama lover will surely recognize: Lee Min Ho and Song Joong Ki. If the two would engage in a "who is the fairest of them all" battle, it would be a very close fight.

In a Taiwanese poll conducted earlier this year, Song Joong Ki grabbed the No. 1 spot in the list of 10 Hottest Korean Stars of Early 2016. The results were based on votes cast by Taiwanese residents on the Daily View website. Lee Min Ho came only second. 

With Song Joong-Ki taking the lead role in 2016's most popular Korean series, "Descendants of the Sun," the actor's popularity reached new heights and he attracted an incredibly large fanbase both locally and overseas. 

However, fans of Lee Min Ho just won't give up on their bet. A Movie News Guide research followed the said poll, and the results showed that Lee Min Ho still remains ahead of Song Joong Ki in terms of popularity. Also, Lee Min Ho managed to regain his popularity when he took a role in the action flick "Bounty Hunters." Another proof affirming Lee Min Ho's standing as the most popular actor of South Korea is his role as representative of Korean dramas and films at the 2016 KCON held in California.

But then again, talks about the sequel to Song Joong Ki's mega-hit "Descendants of the Sun" series have continued generating buzz, and this indicates just how famous Song Hye Kyo's co-star has become.

We can't decide on that but maybe a little help from facts might be eye-opening.

AsianWiki -- a site dedicated for Asian films, TV shows, music, and more -- has been taking notes on the two actors, collecting their past achievements and recording their projects. It even has a user rating, where the page visitors can leave a vote to indicate that they liked the actor's profile.

Lee Min Ho got a total of 36,528 votes from the site, while Song Joong-Ki got 22,424 votes. The site noted a total of 14 acting awards won by Lee Min Ho from 2011 to present, while Song Joong Ki was said to earn a total of nine acting awards in the same time period.

Lee Min Ho's awards include:

  •  2015 Popularity Award
  •  2015 Best New Actor for "Gangnam Blues"
  •  2015 Most Popular Actor for "Gangnam Blues"
  •  2013 Best Actor for "The Heirs"
  •  2013 Ten Star Award for "The Heirs"
  •  2013 Best Netizen Award for "The Heirs"
  •  2013 Best Dressed Award for "The Heirs"
  •  2013 Best Couple Award for "The Heirs"
  •  2013 Best Popular Asian Actor Award
  •  2012 Best Actor for "Faith"
  •  2012 Ten Star Award for "Faith"
  •  2011 Best Actor for "City Hunter"
  •  2011 Best Netizen Award for "City Hunter"
  •  2011 Ten Star Award for "City Hunter"

On the other hand, Song Joong Ki's awards include:

  •  2016 Grand Prize for "Descendants of the Sun"
  •  2016 Best Couple Award for "Descendants of the Sun"
  •  2016 Asia-Pacific Star Award
  •  2016 Most Popular Actror for "Descendants of the Sun"
  •  2016 iQiyi Global Star for "Descendants of the Sun"
  •  2012 Best Actor for "The Innocent Man"
  •  2012 Netizen Award for "The Innocent Man"
  •  2012 Best Couple Award for "The Innocent Man"
  •  2011 Producer's Choice Award for "Tree With Deep Roots"

Obviously, with these lists, Lee Min Ho overtakes Song Joong Ki, but let's take into consideration their length of stay in the business, where the former started building his career in 2006 and the latter in 2008.


A photo posted by Lee Min Ho 이민호 (@leeminho__87) on Aug 22, 2016 at 3:25am PDT

Lee Min Ho

Dubbed as "The Ryan Gosling of Korea," Lee Min Ho embraced the opportunity for an acting career in 2006 but gained his popularity in the much loved 2008 drama series "Boys Over Flowers." The series was said to be his breakout role. Since then he has established a huge fan base across the world, making his popularity felt in different countries including the U.S., Japan, and China. And now, he is more than just a TV drama star as he is now the face of numerous local and international businesses like Korean Air, Dunkin' Donuts, Etude House, Romanson Watches, Ferrero Rocher, among others.

Song Joong Ki

Song Joong Ki is actually the most talked about Korean actor, at least for now, thanks to “Descendants of the Sun.” While he seems very timid and private most especially when it comes to his love life, the paparazzi seem to obsess over him, which is an obvious sign that his popularity has grown massively.

The 31-year-old actor rose to fame when he took a major role in period drama "Sungkyunkwan Scandal" in 2010. After that, he starred as a cold-hearted male lead in melodrama "Nice Guy," and cemented his fame with the 2012 movie "A Werewolf Boy." And of course, his most recent drama project, “Descendants of the Sun,” earned him accolades, stronger fan base, and numerous endorsement deals. The TV series was incredibly popular that it was already announced to be renewed for a second season. This project has established Song Joong Ki as Hallyu’s number one star. 

So what will be the verdict now?

Both actors can be considered successful, given that they have made a lasting mark in the Korean entertainment industry and have achieved things every celebrity dreams of having. The two Hallyu stars have done very well in their own acting projects that they have equally won the favor of viewers and critics alike. Lee Min Ho had his time and so did Song Joong Ki. Yet now, the tables are again turning to Lee Min Ho with his highly anticipated series "The Legend of the Blue Sea," opposite another Hallyu star, Jun Ji Hyun.

But then again, Song Joong Ki is expected to take the spotlight again next year with new TV projects, which might include "Descendants of the Sun 2." Both are enjoying their reign and I can say that the Korean entertainment is doing a good job in giving the two their own time, alternately.

As for who is more popular? It's still pretty hard to tell. Maybe, if they get two different projects at the same time (most especially now that they are already equal in popularity) then we can judge who is the better, more successful and more popular actor.

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