Korean dramas are known for their captivating storylines, memorable characters, and exceptional performances. In recent years, there has been a significant rise in the portrayal of strong female characters in K-dramas. These characters break the traditional mould of damsels in distress and love interests for the male lead to captivate audiences with their wisdom, intelligence, and resolve.
Here are some of our favourite kick-ass female characters in K-dramas:
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo (2016)
Kim Bok-Joo, played by Lee Sung-Kyung, is a weightlifter who challenges gender norms and breaks the barriers of a male-dominated sport. Her dedication to her passion, infectious enthusiasm, and her ability to stay true to herself makes her a relatable character.
Lawless Lawyer (2018)
In Lawless Lawyer, Ha Jae-Yi (played by Seo Ye-Ji) is a passionate and determined attorney who teams up with Bong Sang-Pil to seek justice in a corrupt city. Her dedication to upholding the law makes her a memorable female lead in the drama. Seo Ye-Ji’s portrayal of Ha Jae-Yi received praise for adding depth to the compelling K-drama storyline.
Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food (2018)
Son Ye-Jin’s portrayal of Yoon Jin-A showcases the complexities of a modern working woman navigating her career and personal life. Jin-A’s strength lies in her ability to assert her independence, challenge societal expectations, and pursue her own happiness.
Romance is a Bonus Book (2019)
Lee Na-Young brings Kang Dan-I to life, a determined and talented woman who overcomes adversity to restart her career. As a divorced single mother in her thirties, Dan-I defies societal expectations and proves that age and circumstances should not limit one’s pursuit of dreams and happiness.
Bae Doona portrays Seo-Bi, a skilled physician in the series Kingdom. Despite facing prejudice as a female physician, she becomes a crucial ally to the Crown Prince in their fight against a mysterious plague turning people into zombies. Seo-Bi’s calm demeanour and dedication to the cause make her a standout character in the intense zombie-filled world of Kingdom. She is one of our favourite strong female characters in K-dramas.
Bae Doona as always puts in a winning performance throughout.
Jeon Yeo-Bin plays Hong Cha-Young, a feisty lawyer who fights for justice. Cha-Young’s quick wit and street smarts make her a formidable opponent in the courtroom. Her dedication to her principles and her ability to outsmart her adversaries make her a delightful character to watch.
My Name (2021)
In My Name, Yoon Ji-Woo (Han So-Hee) seeks vengeance for her father’s sudden death. Working for the crime group Dongcheonpa, she joins the police as a mole to uncover the truth behind her father’s demise. Ji-Woo eventually joins the drug investigation unit where she is partnered with Detective Jeon Pil-Do (Ahn Bo-Hyun). In this drama, Han So-Hee delivers a striking portrayal of a strong, determined, and revenge-driven character, who breaks away from conventional roles.
Yoon Ji-Woo’s fearlessness and refusal to be a damsel in distress are central themes in the show. If you’re looking for a K-drama with kick-ass female characters, this is it.
Twenty-Five Twenty-One (2022)
Na Hee-Do, portrayed by Kim Ji-Yeon, is a high school student and member of the fencing team. Through Hee-Do’s character, we see her passion for fencing and her determination to pursue her dreams in life. Despite facing challenges and obstacles, she remains resilient and is an inspiring role model for viewers seeking to overcome their own adversities.
Dr Cha (2023)
Uhm Jung-Hwa portrays Cha Jeong-Suk, a homemaker who gave up her medical career for the past 20 years. Married to a chief surgeon, she embarks on a transformative journey to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. Jeong-Suk’s character in this K-drama exemplifies the strength of a woman who refuses to be confined by societal expectations.
The Glory (2023)
Moon Dong-Eun, played by Song Hye-kyo, is a young woman who dreams of becoming an architect but becomes a victim of severe bullying by her fellow students. Despite the hardships she faces, Dong-Eun chooses not to succumb to despair. Instead, she takes control of her life, dropping out of school and planning her revenge. Her character is a shining example of what it means to be resilient, empowered, and strong enough to face one’s past.
Dong-Eun’s actions inspire viewers to stand up against injustice and reclaim their power.
The inclusion of strong female characters in K-dramas has had a significant impact on the genre, breaking stereotypes and inspiring viewers around the world.
As K-dramas continue to evolve, we can expect to witness even more wonderfully written female characters who inspire and empower.
In the meantime, check out this article about 7 female K-entertainment idols over 30 who are still at the top of their game.