Why is the female lead Cha Hae in Solo Leveling but not Joohee?

Joohee and Cha Hae in Solo Leveling

In the captivating world of Solo Leveling, where Sung Jin-Woo rises from a weak hunter to a powerful Shadow Monarch, the question of love arises. Fans naturally wonder who holds the key to his heart, with two compelling characters vying for attention: the nurturing Lee Joohee and the formidable Cha Hae in Solo Leveling. While Joohee shines in the early chapters, Cha Hae-In ultimately takes the mantle of the female lead.

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The Heart of Solo Leveling: Why is Cha Hae in Solo Leveling the Female Lead?

While Lee Joohee shines in the early chapters, Cha Hae-In ultimately takes center stage as the female lead. But why? Let’s delve into the intricate tapestry of their connections and uncover the reasons behind this captivating choice.

Lee Joohee: A Beacon of Compassion in Dark Times

Joohee healing Jinwoo in Solo Leveling
Solo Leveling | Image via TMDB

Introduced during the Double Dungeon Arc, Joohee stands out as a source of genuine concern for Jin-Woo. Witnessing his repeated injuries, she expresses fear and anger, highlighting her care for his well-being. Their blossoming connection, evident in the blush Jin-Woo experiences and the promise of dinner, hints at a potential romance.

However, this path diverges tragically. Witnessing the horrors of the double dungeon leaves Joohee traumatized, forcing her to retire from hunting. With this, their connection fades, leaving behind a bittersweet memory of what could have been.

Cha Hae-In: Strength Meets Social Awkwardness

Cha Hae in Solo Leveling in her fighting stance
Cha Hae in Solo Leveling | Image via Webtoon

Enter Cha Hae-In, one of the nine strongest S-class hunters in Korea. Introduced during an A-class Dungeon Raid, she embodies power and prestige, serving as the Vice-Guild Master of the Hunters Guild. Her dedication to training and lack of bias towards lower-ranked hunters showcase her admirable qualities.

Despite her achievements and beauty, Cha Hae-In struggles with social interaction. Her awkwardness, evident in her quick exit from the crime scene and flustered responses to inquiries, makes her an intriguing contrast to the typical confident female lead. While this might seem like a hindrance, it adds a relatable layer to her character, making her vulnerability endearing.

Note: While the Anime has yet to explore the character of Cha Hae-In, the source Manhwa has dived decently into the character. Although one may argue that with an over brooding appearance of Sung Jin-Woo, no other side character ever received much clout from the author in the story of Solo Leveling, to begin with.

The Power of Scent and a Persistent Heart

Cha Hae in Solo Leveling in her hunter's costume
Cha Hae in Solo Leveling Anime| Image via TMDB

The following are spoilers from the manhwa, do tread carefully.

  • Cha Hae-In possesses a unique ability: a heightened sense of smell.
  • Ironically, she cannot detect any scent from Jin-Woo, fueling her curiosity and interest.
  • This intrigue blossoms into love after witnessing his incredible power in the dungeon raid.

Her affection, however, remains one-sided initially, as Jin-Woo, consumed by responsibilities and threats, remains oblivious.

Despite his cold exterior and laser focus on growth, Jin-Woo isn’t devoid of emotions. He prioritizes protecting his family and friends, even leaving shadows for their safety. He also shows concern for Cha Hae-In, assisting her during the Jeju Island Arc. However, his intense focus and constant battles leave little room for romantic pursuits.

From One-Sided Affection to True Love

Manga panels of Solo Leveling showing Cha Hae being relieved that she didn't dream it all
Cha Hae in Solo Leveling Manhwa | Image via Webtoon


The original timeline of Solo Leveling doesn’t feature a romantic endgame for Jin-Woo. However, using the Cup of Reincarnation, he resets the timeline. This time, armed with knowledge and experience, he actively pursues Cha Hae-In, eventually proposing and marrying her. Their son, Sung Suho, becomes a symbol of their love. Notably, Jin-Woo restores Cha Hae-In’s memories of the first timeline, allowing her to fully understand their journey and the profound connection they share.

Why Johee was not the main character but Cha Hae

There is no direct answer to why Cha Hae-In won the biggest waifu wars of Solo Leveling, but heed caution that the world-building of Solo Leveling seems to prioritize strength in its own character hierarchy. That’s the entire premise of the weakest main character becoming the strongest.

  •  Johee would have made a more artistically better romance choice, given that she has been there since Sung Jin-Woo’s weakest, and perhaps even liked him since then.
  • One can easily argue that Johee saw Jin-woo in his rawest form, and not the nation-hunter-level menace that he became later.
  • Yet the way author Chugong had envisioned the story, it was not a romance story.
  • If anything, it’s a shonen’s fantasy come true story – and for someone who may not have experience in the nuances of romance writing, it seems the author had chosen Johee as if how he would choose Jin-woo’s strongest military commander – the strongest character there was. And in this case, Cha Hae was definitely stronger.


Joohee walking behind Jinwoo in Solo Leveling
Solo Leveling | Image via TMDB

While Lee Joohee represents initial kindness and emotional understanding, Cha Hae-In’s journey mirrors Jin-Woo’s own growth. Both face their internal struggles: Cha Hae-In overcomes social awkwardness, and Jin-Woo embraces vulnerability.

Their shared experiences, mutual respect, and unwavering support create a strong foundation for their love. Ultimately, Cha Hae-In becomes the female lead not just because of her strength, but because she complements Jin-Woo’s growth and offers a love that transcends power and position, solidifying their bond as equals on a shared path of destiny.

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