I must admit that what makes a Korean TV drama a “go” or “no” for me is the storyline. If it resonates with something in my life experience, then it’s a go. If it’s too alien from my standpoint, then it will most likely be a no.
Another factor that keeps me hooked on K-dramas is the characters, especially the heroines. With all the K-dramas I’ve watched through the years (and they’re NOT that many yet—Too many great K-dramas, so little time!) I’ve realized that I’ve favored certain types of female characters over others. Let me share with you some of my favorites:
Eun Jo from “Cinderella’s Sister”
She’s a feisty one. Hardened by a tough childhood experiences, I initially thought she was a bad character. It turns out she has a soft side once you push the right buttons. I also liked that she grabbed the chance to go to school and went on to get stellar grades. After which, she went on to concoct the perfect formula for Korean liquor with a taste that drives people deliriously happy. I think scientists (females, especially) of any sort rock!
Jin Yi from “Hwang Jin Yi”
Her dedication to her art and craft is just awe-inspiring. Watching her story unfold is a constant reminder for me that creating something beautiful takes as much dedication and discipline as sheer genius. I also love the way she approaches art with both heart and mind. She thinks strategically, like when she chose to learn geomungo, an instrument usually thought of as “masculine” compared to the gayageum. It certainly piqued people’s interest and was the perfect way to get them hooked! Beauty and brains, indeed.
Yeon U from “The Moon That Embraces the Sun”
She’s a fictional character from the Joseon Dynasty and I’m not sure how close her depiction is to real women during Joseon times. But I like that a woman of her caliber is conceived and imagined in a K-drama. She is not a decorative beauty but is instead someone who can think deeply and act compassionately. She seems to be the ideal woman, actually, if only she weren’t so insanely perfect.
Sa Ran from “New Tales of Gisaeng”
She’s smart, graceful and cunning. Her character has hints of Hwang Jin Yi, especially with the way she regards the art of dancing. She is dedicated to it, and will work on it until she perfects it. What I ultimately like about her character, though, is how she can subtly get her way with people without using force. Her innocent guile, masked in charm, gets things done. Watch how she gets Da Mo’s dad to accept her into the family and you’ll know what I mean. 😉
So Ra from “Color of Woman”
Granted, that the way she wavered between Jun Su and Chan Jin was annoying enough to make me tear my hair out in frustration (can’t she make up her mind once and for all?), I drool over this character’s PhD and her superhuman ability to clean her house, help Chan Jin write his marketing presentations, date Jun Su, be kind and understanding to Jin Joo, and do her own delicious cooking. For some time, I wondered if such a woman exists in real life, and I decided that yes, it’s possible. She did all those things perfectly, but something had to give—her outward “packaging”.
Joon Yeong from “Feast of the Gods”
For her, food is her art. So like Hwang Jin Yi and Dan Sa Ran, her dedication and discipline is apparent in the way she is willing to practice and perfect her cooking. What’s nice about her is that she has skill, she has talent, and she has the “tongue” to intuitively cook up a feast! This is an ongoing drama that just started though, so I’m still waiting to see how her character develops. But I like her already! …Aside from the mouthwatering cooking scenes in the drama, of course!
Ji from “Warrior Baek Dong Soo”
Okay, she’s not exactly a heroine. But hear me out! She’s great with the sword. Her skill can kill in one swift motion. And she keeps her grace while she’s at it. But that’s not the surprising thing about Ji. When she’s at home, she wields not the sword but (ta-daaah!) the gayageum. A perfect illustration that things are not what they seem. This is, incidentally, what I also like about Korean TV dramas. They make you think!
So there it is—a list of my favorite Korean TV drama heroines thus far. How about you? Do share in the comments section below. =)