Repeat second lead Peter Lee Jae Yoon hopes to snag lead role one day

Canadian-Korean actor Peter Lee Jae Yoon often plays supporting roles in K-dramas which are not always sympathetic.
Canadian-Korean actor Peter Lee Jae Yoon often plays supporting roles in K-dramas which are not always sympathetic.PHOTO: PUMA
Canadian-Korean actor Peter Lee Jae Yoon often plays supporting roles in K-dramas which are not always sympathetic.
Yook Sung Jae
Canadian-Korean actor Peter Lee Jae Yoon often plays supporting roles in K-dramas which are not always sympathetic.
Ryu Jun Yeol
Canadian-Korean actor Peter Lee Jae Yoon often plays supporting roles in K-dramas which are not always sympathetic.
Jin Goo
Canadian-Korean actor Peter Lee Jae Yoon often plays supporting roles in K-dramas which are not always sympathetic.
Ji Soo

Actor Peter Lee Jae Yoon does not mind playing the second lead as long as he is having fun

Canadian-Korean actor Peter Lee Jae Yoon, who will be running in the Puma Night Run Singapore next Saturday as a celebrity guest, is often seen in supporting roles in K-dramas and the parts are not always sympathetic.

In last year's popular K- drama Another Oh Hae Young (2016), he plays a businessman who dumps his fiancee just before their wedding.

In the romantic comedy Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2016), he is the kind doctor oblivious to the affections of the female lead, a lanky weightlifter, who ends up with another guy.

In case Korean drama fans are wondering, yes, he would like to play lead roles because they get "more of the action and more screen time".

But Lee, 32, tells The Straits Times in a phone interview: "I don't mind playing the second lead as long as it supports the storyline and the other actors. Small roles, big roles, it doesn't matter as long as I am having fun. Of course, it's great when fans love the second lead as much as the lead."

It could be that because and not in spite of his beta status, he has legions of fans rooting for him. There is this thing called the "second lead syndrome", where viewers root for a supporting character in a drama instead of the male lead.

"Second lead" lovers in Singapore may observe or race him along the 6km route at Seletar Aerospace Park.

This might be a good time for his fans to put their best foot forward, since one of the qualities he is looking for in a woman is sportiness, the bachelor says.

"It's fun to be active together and sharing the same passion is a great thing for a couple," he says.

Lee is into all sorts of sports - jiu jitsu, judo, muay thai, swimming, diving and running - and gets active when he has free time.

He says: "If you find a hobby that you really like, you will stay with it and get fit."

The fitness buff is often cast in variety shows for his sporting abilities. On his stint on sports variety show Cool Kiz On The Block (2015-2016), he swam, did judo and played volleyball.

On survival reality show Law Of The Jungle, he weathered the elements on the Solomon Islands (2014) and in New Zealand (2017).

Lee, who grew up in Toronto, moved to Seoul in 2003 to pursue an acting degree and graduated with a bachelor of theatre arts degree from Dongguk University in 2010.

He debuted with sitcom Yap (2005) and starred in a string of dramas such as Queen Of Ambition (2013) and Heart To Heart (2015).

Overseas fans will best remember the actor for his recent outing in the cult hit Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo.

The drama was also notable in the gossip columns as the two leads, Lee Sung Kyung and Nam Joo Hyuk, started dating. The relationship came to light earlier this year after South Korean paparazzi released photos of the couple on dates.

Lee says that he was as surprised at the news as anyone else, saying, "I had no idea that they were a couple".

Then he quickly revises his opinion. "Actually, I'm not surprised, they were doing such a good job together in the drama. They also starred in another drama. When people are together all the time, they tend to fall in love."

Lee and Nam have been friends since their modelling days and also co-starred in K-drama Cheese In The Trap (2016).

Does Lee ever hope to find love on set? He says: "Work is work. I am not there to find love. But if it happens, it happens."

• Tune in to entertainment platform Viu for K-drama Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo and variety shows Cool Kiz On The Block and Law Of The Jungle.


Popular K-drama supporting men

Actor Yook Sung Jae, 22, as the bratty rich kid Yoo Deok Hwa in fantasy romance Goblin (2016)

Yoo inherits the family's wealth and responsibility to serve the centuries-old Goblin.

He is a brat at times, but is loads of fun to be with, often adding to the hilarious banter between the Goblin and the Grim Reaper.

Yoo, who is a member of Korean boyband BTOB, will perform in Ion Orchard's 8th Anniversary Fashion Concert on Sept 29.

Actor Ryu Jun Yeol, 30, as the soft-hearted grouch Kim Jung Hwan in retro drama Reply 1988 (2015)

Fans of the show were divided into two camps: One was firmly behind the male lead Park Bo Gum's character Choi Taek, while the other rooted for Kim Jung Hwan, as both of them wooed their childhood friend Sung Duk Seon (played by Lee Hye Ri).

On screen, Park won Lee's affections.

In real life, Ryu is dating Lee.

Actor Jin Goo, 37, as Sergeant Major Seo Dae Young in military romance Descendants Of The Sun (2016)

This hit drama series has greatly boosted leading man Song Joong Ki's career, as well as given him a wife in his co-star Song Hye Kyo, but let's not forget his suave on-screen sidekick Seo. Seo is the conflicted soul forced to choose between a job and the woman he loves, the daughter of his superior. Love comes first for him and he scores brownie points among female viewers. Post Descendants, Jin Goo joins the ranks of his fellow charismatic second leads whom women fawn over online.

Actor Ji Soo, 24, as zealous cop In Guk Doo in fantasy romance Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (2017)

Unlike many supporting characters in Korean dramas, the cop In Guk Doo did not go to great lengths for the woman he loves, only to lose her to the male lead. He can blame only himself for losing the female lead, his ex-schoolmate Do Bong Soon (Park Bo Young). He was oblivious of her affections and unaware of his own feelings for her. It was too late when he found out.

The leading man , tech entrepreneur Ahn Min Hyuk (Park Hyung Sik), swooped in and stole her heart.

In the 2016 K-drama Doctors, Ji Soo's bad boy character did not get the girl either. No wonder he has been called South Korea's national second lead.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2017, with the headline 'Okay to come in second'. Print Edition | Subscribe