‘Love Like A K-Drama’ Contestants: Who Are The 8 Contestants On The Netflix Dating Show?

Is it real? Or is it all just drama? This is a question that applies to most reality TV, but Netflix’s latest Japanese reality show Love Like a K-drama begs the question: can feelings blossom from a kiss on screen? Eight contestants compete to win hearts and places in mini K-drama episodes—an emotional journey with a devastating ending? We’re not so sure yet; however, it’s the contestants that make the show quite intriguing—the heart of reality. In the first four episodes of Love Like a K-drama, we got to meet the eight contestants, four Japanese women and four Korean men, while they tried to get to know each other. While at first it was all sweet like mochi, as the show progressed, things got dramatic quickly. There’s a lot to unpack in the next four episodes, coming out on the 5th of December, so before then, let’s get to know the contestants a little bit.

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Kim Won-Shik 

Won-Shik is a Korean actor who has previously starred in hit Korean dramas like True Beauty, Alchemy of Souls, and What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim. He’s also starred in the Filipino show Pag-ibig Na Kaya? In the beginning, three of the Japanese actresses want to partner with Won-Shik, so he gets to choose his partner, who happens to be Honoka. Won-Shik seems reserved (just like the rest of the men on the show), but it also seems like most of the actresses see him as a friend, Honoka included. While he catches feelings quickly, she ends up liking someone else. The show paints Won-Shik as a sweet guy who falls for his partner really quickly and then gets dumped. He technically becomes the second lead in his own story, and we’re certain he’s going to have an even larger fanbase because of Love Like a K-drama


Kim Dong-Kyu 

Dong-Kyu is the most inexperienced actor in the show. He’s still a rookie who has acted in shows like Dating Class, and Wind Blowing in Jeju. Dong-Kyu is also a model and appears to be the most mysterious of the lot. We rarely get to see him smile, and he’s got many secrets, as Nozomi mentions in episode 4 of Love Like a K-Drama. While Dong-Kyu confesses to Nozomi that he only has eyes for her, he himself has intrigued Rio, one of the other women, thanks to his overall niceness. By the end of four episodes, it seems like Dong-Kyu and Nozomi are already dating, in the eyes of the panel at least, and so it’ll be interesting to see how things change after Rio comes into the picture. On the other hand, Dong-Kyu must also improve his acting skills to be on par with Nozomi. They’re the only pair who haven’t had a chance to be in an episode at this point.

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Yamashita  Rio 

Rio is an established Japanese actress and has worked in many dramas and films. She’s been actively in the business since 2008. Rio is a contestant who likes to take charge and seize the moment. She picks Jihyuk in the beginning because it seems she recognizes him from his previous work. She wins the contest for the first episode because of her determination, which is much more visible to the judges than any of the other artists’. Rio then wants to pair with Dong-Kyu after getting to know him a little bit. Rio is the most outgoing of the girls, and she knows what she’s looking for. While talking to Won-Shik, she mentions that she can’t stop love, even though she doesn’t want to be a “homewrecker”. It just seemed like she was trying to save face on a reality dating show. She’s also the most vocal of the lot.


Song Jihyuk 

Former member of the idol group “Supernova,” Jihyuk is the oldest of the lot, so we can imagine the boys look up to him a little when it comes to the acting bits. He acts like a guardian for all the members. There’s maturity in the way Jihyuk handles himself, and he’s at an advantage because he actually speaks Japanese thanks to his idol career. His acting career began after the end of his idol career of 10 years, which is why he’s less experienced in comparison to Rio, who started much earlier. We haven’t seen much of Jihyuk after the first episode, and it’s possible we’ll get to see a more aggressive side to him next week based on the teasers for episodes 5-8.

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Bandô Nozomi 

A former member of the girl group “Flower & E-Girls,” Nozomi is a dancer, actor, and model. She’s the most high-spirited of the girls and, at the same time, cries the most. She’s still in the early stages of her acting career but has been in the entertainment industry since the tender age of 3. Among the women, Nozomi seems the most childlike. She’s got a twinkle in her eye despite having gone through a lot of trouble as a young person, as she mentions in the show. She’s not confident about her skills, but she’s certain her hard work will pay off. Nozomi is clear about exactly what she’s on the show for, and she stands out a lot because of it, but it seems it’s Dong-Kyu who is holding her back by the end of the fourth episode.


Kudô Ayano 

We don’t get to see much of Ayano in the first four episodes of Love Like a K-Drama. It’s possibly because Tae-Gyun decides to choose Rio instead, but she’s sidelined quite a bit, and only in the last episode did she manage to get the lead role and some focus on herself. Ayano is drawn to Tae-Gyun because of his jovial demeanor. She won a national beauty award at age 12 and has had quite a long-running acting career since then. Maybe in the next episode, since it’ll be her short K-drama, we will get to see some more of and learn more about Ayano.

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Kitahara Honoka 

Honoka is the youngest of the lot. She’s got a bubbly personality with a smile at all times. Her age isn’t really felt in the show, and she seems quite mature, especially when she’s talking with Rio. Won-Shik has feelings for Honoka rather quickly, but she begins to like Tae-Gyun. She has the chance to work with two actors in her K-drama episode, so she chooses Tae-Gyun without hesitation and later also wants to pair up with him, but unfortunately, she teams up with Jihyuk because she’s too late for the challenge. It will be interesting to see where things go in the next episodes since Tae-Gyun seems to be into Ayano.


Lee Tae-Gyun 

Tae-Gyun is the shyest of the lot at the start of the show, but as it progresses, we can see his true self come through. He’s got a jovial personality, but he’s also very confused throughout the series. Tae-Gyun is the least experienced on Love Like a K-Drama in acting. He’s been a model and made a place for himself in the modeling world, gracing covers of Vogue Korea and such. Tae-Gyun gives off the popular cool guy vibe of the lot, and it’ll be interesting to see who he ends up choosing, although the panelists seem to think he’s leaning towards Ayano.


Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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