[PICK] Korean Drama: Top 5 Strong Female Characters

Edited by Jeon Gyeong Ju
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

The year 2020 seems most likely to remain as an exceptionally challenging and sad year considering it is the “start of a new decade.” Amid the continued COVID-19 pandemic, Chadwick Bosman suddenly passed away, and three weeks later, the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who devoted her life as a guardian and spokesman for women and minorities, died at the age of 87. And in this world, there are still many “Ginsburgs” who endure all kinds of hardships in their own places, whether they win or lose. With this article, we look back on the women on TV who gladly walked through the thorny path to protect something precious.


Stranger – Han Yeo Jin (Bae Doo Na)

Han Yeo Jin, the Police Lieutenant at the Yongsan Police Station’s violent crime squad, has returned as a Senior Inspector at the Korean National Police headquarters. This time, she faces the tug-of-war between the prosecution and the police over the adjustment of investigative rights. Though her reunion with Hwang Shi Mok catches the eyes, her “bickering chemistry” with her chief Choi Bit shines as bright as the strange relationship of “Lee Chang Jun & Hwang Shi Mok” in season 1. However, just like what Shi Mok had to go through with Lee Chang Jun, Yeo Jin might have to put her chief and the justice on the same scale. The struggle over who holds the power of investigations has always caused a conflict even in real life. How will Yeo Jin escape this swamp?


Money Game – Lee Hye Joon (Shim Eun Kyung)

Lee Hye Joon experienced the steepest ups and downs in life one can possibly imagine. Her father committed suicide after falling into the abyss in the midst of the IMF financial crisis, and growing up under her aunt’s roof, Hye Joo worked her ass off so she wouldn’t get tied to the same inequality her father faced. After all, she became a newly-appointed official at the Financial Services Commission and the Ministry of Economy and Finance, but soon, she realizes the harsh reality she witnessed in her childhood as she was subjected to never-changing three discriminations (academic clique, family, and gender). Nevertheless, Hye Joon begins the war against Wall Street without kneeling in front of the absurdity or making compromises. In a way, it’s one of the common heroes’ narratives, but the reason viewers cheered her is thanks to Shim Eun Kyung’s solid performance fortified through her long acting career.


Hot Stove League – Lee Se Young (Park Eun Bin)

Lee Se Young, the youngest and the only woman manager in the professional baseball league, is highly recognized for her perseverance and can never tolerate what is deemed wrong. Her biggest strength, however, is her willingness to trust and protect her people. This is proven in how she became newly appointed general manager Baek Seung Soo’s strongest ally after acknowledging his abilities, though the two might have started off on the wrong foot. Se Young’s faith and responsibility toward her team shines even more in the process of hiring Young Soo, Seung Soo’s younger brother, as a performance analyst. To Seung Soo, who pointed out his brother’s disability, Se Young hits home by saying, “Dreams will not discriminate with differences.”


When the Camellia Blooms – Oh Dong Baek (Gong Hyo Jin)

An orphan abandoned by her mother, a single mother, a bar owner, the sole survivor of a serial murder… Although she has lived her entire life covered with all kinds of labels, Dong Baek (camellia in Korean) is just like a camellia flower that produces a vivid red flower after enduring the winter cold. Dong Baek’s heart of “wanting to be kind to people” even when she is timidly bearing all kinds of unfavorable gaze toward her, is beyond respect. Because she is such a kind and strong person, the persistent wooing of Hwang Young Sik, who lives and dies with justice, comes so naturally.


The Light in Your Eyes – Kim Hye Ja (Kim Hye Ja, Han Ji Min)

The Light in Your Eyes started out as a time-travel comedy and ended as an emotional drama that drew tears from everyone. It is a very meaningful work in Korean dramas’ history in that it draws such warm pictures with a dementia patient at the heart of the story. Though she may be a bit different from the characters mentioned above, the main character Hye Ja, who has lived a turbulent life, is the epitome of a female warrior. Having abandoned her dream after losing her husband and raised her disabled son alone, she was like a giant tree that was never uprooted even in the harsh wind. In that sense, Kim Hye Sa’s narration, inserted in the last moment of the drama, is the declaration only a true winner can make.

Editor Jeon Gyeong Ju: A natural-born media geek who is physically Korean and mentally multinational. All dramatic stories are my favorite sweets for life. TVs and streaming platforms are not only the playgrounds but also the weapons.

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