4 Controversial K-Drama Couples Who Received Backlash For Their Age Gaps

What do you think of these couples?

K-Dramas often depict heart-fluttering romances that captivate viewers. But while there are many relationships that viewers can’t get enough of…

Some pairings have raised concerns with fans, whether through their toxic relationships or age gaps that feel too significant for some viewers to ignore.

Here are four controversial K-Drama pairings that received mixed reactions for their age gaps.

1. Eve

Poster for “Eve” | IMDb

Lee Ra El (Seo Ye Ji) was a girl who idolized her loving parents – a highly intelligent father and a strikingly beautiful mother. But when cruel forces beyond their control cause her father’s death, her family crumbles. Embittered by this terrible experience, she vows revenge on the super-rich people who orchestrated this terrible tragedy. Her prime target is Kang Yoon Kyum (Park Byung Eun), the CEO of the lucrative LY Group business empire, and one of the ringleaders of the plot that ultimately destroyed her family.

— Rakuten Viki’s synopsis of Eve

At one point in EveSeo Ye Ji‘s character, who is 28, seduces Park Byung Eun‘s character, who is 41.

Seo Ye Ji | tvN
Park Byung Eun | tvN

Many netizens shared their shock at the 13-year age gap.

What’s more shocking than the bed scene is the age gap..

— Netizen

The age gap really… I don’t like the fact a 40-year-old likes a girl in her twenties.

— Netizen

While others pointed out that the drama’s premise revolves around revenge and tells a “toxic love” story, which made “The age gap [seem] appropriate.”

The age gap really… I don’t like the fact a 40-year-old likes a girl in her twenties.

— Netizen

The age gap seems appropriate since it’s about a successful man who falls for beauty.

— Netizen

2. Twenty Five Twenty One

“Twenty Five Twenty One” poster| IMDb

Twenty Five Twenty One tells a love story between Na Hee Do (Kim Tae Ri) and Baek Yi Jin (Nam Joo Hyuk).

Na Hee Do is a member of her high school fencing team. Due to the South Korean financial crisis, the high school fencing team gets disbanded. Getting through all the difficulties, she becomes a member of the sabre fencing national team.

The South Korean financial crisis also causes Baek Yi Jin’s father’s business to go bankrupt. This leads to a life change for Baek Yi Jin, from living the life of a wealthy person to a poor person. While studying, he works part-time jobs like delivering newspapers. Later, he becomes a sports reporter for a broadcasting network.

— Asianwiki’s synopsis of Twenty Five Twenty One

Although many viewers were swooned by the romance between Kim Tae Ri and Nam Joo Hyuk‘s character, other viewers were disturbed by their age gap as Na Hee Do was 18 and Baek Yi Jin was 22 when they first met.

Many viewers instead preferred if the two kept up a platonic relationship while Kim Tae Ri’s character was underage, as was depicted in the first few episodes of the drama.

However, many viewers voiced their frustration as the drama did have Baek Yi Jin confess his feelings to Na Hee Do when she was underage. Actress Kim Tae Ri even addressed the backlash the drama faced.

3. Crash Course in Romance

“Crash Course in Romance” poster | IMDb

Nam Haeng Seon (Jeon Do Yeon) used to be a national athlete. She now runs a side dish store. She has a super positive personality and unlimited like stamina. She takes another turn and enters the private education field, which is for students preparing for their university entrance exam. Unexpectedly, Nam Haeng Seon gets involved with Choi Chi Yeol (Jung Kyoung Ho).

Choi Chi Yeol is a popular instructor in the private education field and is known as Ilta Instructor (most popular instructor). He works hard at his job. As an instructor to his students, he speaks without reserve and implements showmanship in his lessons. He has accumulated wealth and fame as a popular instructor, but, with increasing success, he has become more sensitive, prickly, and indifferent to people. He then meets Nam Haeng Seon with her super positive personality and never ending stamina. The relationship between Nam Haeng Seon and Choi Chi Yeol develops romantically.

— Asianwiki’s synopsis of Crash Course in Romance

Unlike the previous dramas in this list, viewers’ concerns with the age gap between the characters were actually mainly focused on what many believed was a lack of chemistry between the characters. Actors Jung Kyung Ho and Jeon Do Yeon have an age difference of ten years, which some felt impacted the drama.

| 82cook
  • “In the scene where Jung Kyung Ho and Jeon Do Yeon are walking after eating, Jeon Do Yeon’s tacky one-piece and hairstyle + vest reminded me of an aunt walking with her nephew or an owner of a boarding house and her young tenant.”
  • “Why does it piss me off when I see the two? Why? Sigh. I’m not Jung Kyung Ho’s fan, and I like both actors, so why?”
  • The Glory was a miscasting due to the age gap, and Crash Course In Romance was also a miscasting due to the age gap.”
  • “I didn’t bother to watch the drama because the two lacked physical chemistry.”

But many netizens also defended the couple, arguing that their chemistry was fine and that they “couldn’t feel their age difference.”

  • “I think their chemistry is just fine. Jeon Do Yeon is over fifty, but she acts well, so I like her.”
  • “The two match each other well to me… Their attraction isn’t one of appearance or age but a subconscious one. A man who has everything may become attracted to woman’s quirks.”
  • “I thought it was really fun. Jung Kyung Ho is such a good actor. The last line in the trailer is really corny, but he pulls it off well.”
  • “I didn’t think (their chemistry) is weird.”
  • “I watched the drama without knowing, and I thought it was fun.”
  • “I couldn’t feel their age difference. They look good together.”

4. The Glory

“The Glory” poster

A high school student dreamed of one day working as an architect. She became a victim of high school violence perpetrated by her fellow students. She dropped out of high school because of the bullying. She then planned revenge on her tormentors and also the bystanders who did nothing.

That student is now an adult. She has waited for the leader of her tormentors to get married and have a child. That child is now an elementary school student. The woman who was once a victim of school violence, is now the homeroom teacher of her tormentor’s child. Her cruel revenge plot begins in earnest.

— Asianwiki’s synopsis of The Glory

The Glory focuses on a revenge plot, but even amidst the dark subject matter, the drama establishes a romantic relationship between Song Hye Kyo and Lee Do Hyun‘s characters.

However, like in Crash Course in Romance, viewers had mixed reactions to the age gap between the two actors, who have a difference of 14 years. One post on a Korean forum gained attention for showing shots of Song Hye Kyo in the drama Soonpoong Clinic with actress Kim Sung Eun, who is five years older than Lee Do Hyun.

Song Hye Kyo and Kim Sung Eun | Nate Pann

But many netizens were quick to point out the misogyny in the post, as this criticism never is mentioned when a male actor stars alongside younger female actors. Viewers also argued that the only “weirdness” the couple might have is in their contrasting visual styles.

| Nate Pann
  • “Isn’t there a lot of examples in which the men are older?”
  • “They only make stuff like this about Song Hye Kyo, LOL. While they praise  male actors who cheat on their wives for filming romance dramas with actresses 20, 17 years younger.”
  • “Then what, is Lee Sun Kyun and IU a perfect match? Although the drama isn’t a romance, wasn’t there a complex emotional tie between them? Although The Glory kind of forces romance in the end, in part 1, they too had a complex emotional relationship. Whenever it’s the female that is older, people are uncomfortable with it.”
  • “Although there is the age thing, I think it was weirder because they have different images. Song Hye Kyo is a classic beauty with strong features, while Lee Do Hyun has softer features and is the boy-next-door type that is popular these days.”
  • “Do a male version too.”

You can read more here.

“The Glory” Song Hye Kyo’s Age Difference With Younger Co-Star Lee Do Hyun Comes Under Fire — Korean Netizens Hit Back At The Misogyny

Crash Course In Romance

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