Dark heroes are characters who are a bit morally grey. These anti-heroes aren’t your typical protagonists and they tend to have a questionable conscience.
However, they have their own code of ethics and you can detect some humanity in them. While we can’t get behind all of their actions, they still have some appealing qualities that make you want to root for them. Check out some complicated male K-drama heroes here.
Vincenzo Cassano — Vincenzo
As a consigliere to an Italian mafia, Vincenzo (Song Joong-ki) is used to killing and punishing enemies. Look at how he easily dangles a foe outside a window! Vincenzo explores the interesting premise of having a dark hero use evil to fight evil.
Vincenzo’s charm is irresistible and the comedic moments make him feel more light-hearted than he initially appears. He’s a bit aloof, but it seems like the people of Geumga Plaza will win him over. One thing is for sure, Vincenzo has an irresistible charm.
Do Hyeon-su — Flower of Evil
Flower of Evil follows Do Hyeon-su (Lee Joon-gi) who hides his dark past from his detective wife. He acts as a perfect husband, but his facade unravels when his wife begins investigating a series of murders that is tied to him.
A lot of suspense builds up as his wife gets closer to the reason why Hyeon-su chose to take on a new identity. Hyeon-su can be bone-chillingly emotionless, but you can also see how he warmly dotes on his daughter. He’ll definitely pull on your heartstrings.
Technically, Bad Guys has four dark heroes. Merciless detective Oh Gu-tak (Kim Sang-jung), who is known for using excessive force, recruits three convicts to hunt down other criminals in the city. Park Woong-cheol (Ma Dong-seok) is a gangster who is still the top dog in prison. Lee Jeong-mun (Park Hae-jin) is a genius serial killer. And Jung Tae-su (Cho Dong-hyuk) is a former hitman who is one of the best at what he does. They’re all quite bad but also somehow sympathetic.
Han Mu-gang – Black
Detective Han Mu-gang (Song Seung-heon) can’t stomach crime scenes very well, but everything changes when he dies and becomes possessed by Grim Reaper 444 in Black. The grim reaper is notorious for his coldhearted and ill-tempered nature.
Although he possesses Mu-gang’s body to catch another grim reaper who ran away, he begins to discover the truth about some cold cases. While the character is unsympathetic and obnoxious at first, there’s a fun fish-out-of-water quality to him that makes the grim reaper likable.
Seo Jeong-hu — Healer
Healer tells the story of Seo Jeong-hu (Ji Chang-wook) who works as a “courier.” His job involves breaking the law and he gets paid hefty sums to fulfill a variety of illegal tasks. Living in a secret hideout, he solely communicates with his hacker partner.
His antisocial nature stems from being misunderstood, but it’s hard not to admire his skills even when he’s involved in unlawful activities. He’s willing to do any task for money in order to buy himself an island, but he draws the line at murder.
Na I-je — Doctor Prisoner
Doctor Prisoner’s flawed hero is Na I-je (Namkoong Min) whose career is sabotaged when he is wrongfully accused of medical malpractice. Driven by vengeance, he gets a job at a prison to avenge his mother and other patients who died because of a wealthy family.
Unable to trust in the law due to the far reaching powers of the conglomerate family, Na I-je throws away his morality. Trapping his formidable opponents proves to be difficult, but Na I-je uses devious tactics to outwit the wicked family members.
Lee Hyeok — The Last Empress
The Last Empress is set in a modern-day Korean monarchy and the anti-hero is Emperor Lee Hyeok (Shin Sung-rok). The emperor is well loved by the public, but he hides some dark secrets.
As the emperor, he feels entitled to do whatever is necessary to maintain his power. He’s guilty of being an adulterer, a murder accomplice, and attempting murder. While he has a dubious conscience, he begins to change when he starts falling in love with the new empress. You even get to see his cute side!
Son O-gong — A Korean Odyssey
Son O-gong (Lee Seung-gi) is a powerful immortal being who gets exiled due to his mischievous and prideful nature in A Korean Odyssey. He uses wily tactics to trick a girl in freeing him, but is contractually bound to protect her.
O-gong is able to evade his duties for 25 years after making the girl forget his name, but they meet again. While being an incredibly self-serving and crafty character, O-gong’s playful side proves to be endearing. You can’t help but find the immortal amusing.
Kim Sung-ryong — Good Manager
Good Manager shows Kim Sung-ryong (Namkoong Min) working as an accountant for a mobster and helping businesses evade taxes while pocketing some money himself. Circumstances lead him to pursue a new job and he becomes a middle manager at TQ Group.
He intends to embezzle money in order to emigrate to Denmark, but he becomes an unintentional hero to his colleagues who are fighting against the greedy chairman. Definitely one of the most comical anti-heroes on this list!
Kim Tae-hyun — Yong Pal
Kim Tae-hyun (Joo Won) is a surgeon who operates as a mercenary doctor to the corrupt and criminal in need of clandestine medical attention in Yong Pal. Tae-hyun joins a group of unscrupulous doctors who take care of an heiress who is in a medically induced coma.
The heiress offers him money to help her escape the hospital, and he agrees. Tae-hyun is not the most ethical doctor you’ll come across, but he makes illegal decisions in order to pay for his sister’s medical bills.
Which of these dark heroes are you most drawn to? Watch all of them in action on Netflix!