Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated by Cho EK
In KBS’ The King’s Affection, Park Eun Bin’s new cross-dressing character, Hwi, is gaining immense popularity. She was born as twins but soon gets abandoned because of her gender. However, after her brother’s death, she disguises herself as a man and becomes a crown prince. Park is leading the drama as the prince with a shocking secret who can’t stop hiding her true self from others.
The King’s Affection is not the first drama featuring a female-to-male crossdresser in its story. Several female actors have convinced viewers with their cross-dressing characters who have no choice but to disguise themselves as men. If you are fascinated by Hwi in The King’s Affection, here are some of the works featuring other cross-dressing characters in K-DRAMA.
Love In the Moonlight (2016) – Hong Ra On (Kim Yoo Jung)
Kim Yoo Jung played Hong Ra On, the girl who disguises herself as a man and ends up working as a prince’s political eunuch in KBS’ Love in the Moonlight. She was discovered by the crown prince Lee Young (Park Bo Gum) while living as a man named Hong Sam Nom. Although it was an accident that she stepped into the palace, she soon feels attracted to the kind-hearted prince because she had lived her whole life in loneliness. She also wins the heart of Kim Yun Seong (Jinyoung), a boy from a prestigious family. The scene of a royal banquet where Ra On performs her dance and conceals her identity as a eunuch is one of the most famous scenes in the drama. Ra On performs a soft and graceful dance with her face covered, and her beautiful moves remind prince Young of a memory he once cherished. After her stage, the prince tries to go after the dancer, but Yun Seong helps Ra On flee the scene.
Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010) – Kim Yun Hee (Park Min Young)
KBS Sungkyunkwan Scandal is a historical fiction drama that tells the story of four young people in Sungkyunkwan, a men’s school in the Joseon Dynasty. Kim Yun Hee, played by Park Min Young, is a daughter of a poor scholar. She has a bright mind and incredible intelligence, yet she earns money from doing exams for others. However, one day, she volunteers to become a student at Sungkyunkwan on behalf of her sick brother and sets out her own journey. When she faces a crisis falsely accused of a thief, Lee Seon Jun (Park Yoo Chun), Moon Jae Shin (Yoo Ah In), and Koo Yong Ha (Song Joong Ki) help her to clear her name. From then on, the four become great friends with one another. When the show was on the air, viewers praised Park Min Young for her natural portrayal of the character who cross-dresses herself into a man.
He Is Beautiful (2009) – Ko Mi Nyeo (Park Shin Hye)
Park Shin Hye played the twin in SBS’ He is Beautiful. The series revolves around Go Mi Nyeo, who dreamed of becoming a nun. However, she ends up joining an idol group named A.N.JELL instead of her twin brother, who couldn’t work at the moment. Despite the lame setting of the show, it enjoyed immense popularity both in Korea and in Asia, thanks to the witty and lively narrative of sister writers Hong Jeong Eun and Hong Mi Ran. Moreover, Jang Geun Suk, Jung Yong Hwa, and Lee Hong Ki joined Park Shin Hye to create a star-studded cast line-up that captivated the audience. He is Beautiful was recreated in Japan and Taiwan, and Park Shin Hye made a cameo appearance in the Taiwanese remake. With this series, Park became the first Korean actress to host an Asian tour in many different countries.
Painter of the Wind (2008) – Shin Yun Bok (Moon Geun Young)
SBS’ Painter of the Wind is a historical drama depicting the lives of Kim Hong Do and Shin Yun Bok, the famous painters in the late Joseon Dynasty. Moon Geun Young played Shin Yun Bok, a female painter who chooses to live as a man to pursue her dreams. She was taught by genius painter Kim Hong Do (Park Shin Yang) and loved by a gisaeng named Jeong Hyang (Moon Chae Won). Moon portrayed the life of an artist who followed her dreams with an exceptional emotional understanding of her character and broke free from her cute image. Her efforts of practicing masculine behaviors and voice even in her breaks during filming paid off and got her the SBS Acting Award that year. With this work, she became the second-youngest actress to win the Grand Prize. Moon also briefly appeared on MBC’s 2013 drama Goddess of Fire as a female-to-male cross-dressing character.
Coffee Prince (2007) – Go Eun Chan (Yoon Eun Hye)
Based on the romance novel of the same name, MBC’s Coffee Prince is a perfect piece that brought the warm summer breeze and youthful moment to our small screens. It revolves around a 24-year-old girl named Go Eun Chan, a young breadwinner of a family, as she gets to know a wealthy man named Choi Han Gyeol (Gong Yoo). The story gets exciting when Choi mistakes her for a man and gives her a job at his coffee shop. Yoon Eun Hye, who played Go Eun Chan, enjoyed sensational popularity with her lively and youthful character in the series. In this drama, she created such a vibrant character that would exist somewhere in the world and shed the criticism she received while starring her previous work, Princess Hours (2006). The moment the whole staff her true gender, the actress looked like she had become the character itself.
Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.
Translator Cho EK: I’m a big fan of Korean dramas and movies.