Badass Female Leads in K- Dramas You Should Never Mess With
K-dramas have previously followed a tried and tested, foolproof plotline where the female is portrayed as a damsel in distress with two stunning hot guys competing for her attention. The whole storyline of the female lead was to navigate the romance advances and get to choose one of the handsome men to be her mate. A dilemma most of us can’t relate to but desperately wish it happened to us. Oh! What would you give to be Geum Jan-di in Boys Over Flowers?
The female leads were used as tools for the character development of the male lead, but that is not the case anymore. The cliché of a woman who needs saving is no more, and now screenwriters are developing female leads with purpose and identity that transcends beyond their love interests. Here are some top female leads whose characters spell out empowerment and bring a girl boss attitude to life.
Yoon Jiwoo in ‘My Name’ (2021)
Played by Han So Hee, the character of Yoon Ji woo has a tragic background, having witnessed her father murdered on her seventeenth birthday. Driven by revenge, she joins Dondcheon, a criminal gang, and goes undercover as a police officer to seek vengeance for her father. She portrays strength and a fighting attitude during her journey and constantly shows that she does not need anyone to save her. She is brutal as a police officer and deadly as a crime member.
Tokyo in ‘Money Heist: Korea’ (2022)
The Korean remake of the famous Money Heist gives the viewers various badass characters, such as Tokyo, played by Jeon Jong-seo. Having trained in the North Korean Military, Tokyo has outstanding ammunition skills and the power to take control in chaotic situations. She has a no-bullshit policy that makes her round up the other gang members during the heist and starts a coup against Berlin. Although strict against nonsense and appearing cold-blooded, she is kind as she takes care of injured hostages and helps Rio overcome his fear of blood.
Tae Al-ha in ‘Arthdal Chronicles’ (2019)
The character of Tae Al-ha, played by Kim Ok-bin, is a force to be reckoned with. Having trained to be a spy since her teenage years at her father’s orders, Tae Al-ha depicts a blood-lusting power-seeking badass female character in a world that only recognizes male dominance. She possesses impressive fighting skills and is not afraid to ruthlessly eliminate her opponents and fight stereotypes.
Go Ae-shin in ‘Mr Sunshine’ (2018)
Played by Kim Tae-ri, Go Ae-shin is an aristocrat’s daughter, a noblewoman in the 1990s who is a sniper at night. She joins the Righteous Army following the footsteps of her parents, who were freedom fighters killed in japan after being betrayed by their colleague. Her grandfather trains her as a sniper, and she has impressive skills with a gun. Despite society’s expectations of noblewomen, Go Ae-shin becomes the Righteous army’s sniper with a desire to protect her family and the people.
Yoon Se-ri in ‘Crash Landing on You’ (2020)
Shunned by her mother and her brothers, Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-Jin) breaks from her family business to start her own company. Se-ri’s choice leads to a successful beauty and fashion company due to her strong business capabilities and leadership skills. Se-ri represents a woman fighting for what she believes in and deserves despite the unending obstacles on the way.
Her love interest Ri Jung-hyuk (Hyun Bin), falls in love with her decisive, steadfast proactive, and independent personality. She does not sit around and wait to inherit her father’s wealth but makes a name for herself and becomes independently wealthy.
Go Hae-ri in ‘Vagabond’ (2019)
In her typical day-to-day scenes, Go Hae-ri, played by Bae Suzy, is a cool character addicted to her drunken antics. However, the rookie agent’s demeanour should not fool you because she turns into a beauty with brains, takes the reins during her missions, and helps reveal a big conspiracy.
Kim Myung-hee in ‘Youth of May’ (2021)
Badass female characters do not always mean throwing punches and kicks but also overcoming life’s hardships. A good example is Kim Myung-hee (Go Min-si) in Youth of May. Myung-hee can be described as a fighter, a nurse determined to stand up for the patients despite the possible consequences on her career. She is her family’s provider and makes sacrifices for her loved ones.
Jang Man-wol in ‘Hotel Del Luna’ (2021)
Jang Man-wol has been around for thousands of years and runs a ghost hotel. Running a hotel for wandering spirits is not easy, but Jang Man-wol, played by IU, makes it all seem too easy. She is the hotel owner condemned due to her past misdemeanour, where she committed a massacre. She is rude and cold but knows exactly what she wants, and nothing can stand in her way. Regardless, she does everything to look after the wandering spirits and humans’ needs.
Oh Soo-jae in ‘Why Her’ (2022)
Oh Soo-jae, played by Seo Hyun-jin, is the definition of never giving up and staying determined to achieve one’s ambitions. With a humble background, she works hard to become one of the best lawyers at TK law firm. She battles inequality, sexual harassment, and sexism but never lets the struggles take her down. She is righteous and does everything to win her cases.
Her life experiences at work and home are hard, but she puts her comfort at risk to ensure justice is delivered. What can be more badass than a fearless, wealthy, bad-tempered, powerful immortal who has
Do Ha-na and Chu Mae-ok in ‘The Uncanny Counter’ (2020)
Do Ha-na (Kim Se-jeong) has a sweet, vulnerable appearance that may make one underestimate her. She, however, has fantastic fighting skills that she uses to beat demons and possessed humans while reading their minds at the same.
Similarly, Maek-ok (Yeon Hye-ran) has powerful supernatural strength to break her opponents’ bones and mend them afterwards with her healing powers. Maek-ok is the group’s anchor, and Ha-na can sense spirits from miles away. Together they make a formidable duo. They are tough but fair and bring much-needed humanity to the thriller.
Ko Moon Young in ‘It’s Okay To Not Be Okay’ (2020)
Ko Moon Young played the drop-dead gorgeous Seo Yea Ji is a character you don’t want to mess with. She is a popular children’s book author with antisocial personality disorder who falls in love with Moon Kang-Tae. She is the literal definition of if looks could kill, cross her and you will understand how heels can be weapons.
She is still inspiring our fashion choices to this day and we adore her wholesome love confession. She was dominant and unapologetic in her pursuit of love and she won Kang-Tae’s heart in the end. She saw it, she liked it and she got it!
Kang Sae-Byok in ‘Squid Game’ (2020)
Sae-Byok, played by the talented model HoYeon Jung, is player 067 in Squid Game. Though she is young, she manages to become a finalist in the squid game. She is introverted but has a determined nature and is driven to survive by the love she has for her younger brother. She entered the game to save and reunite her family members. Even when she was dying, she fought to survive with everything she had.
Hong Cha-young in ‘Vincenzo’ (2021)
The list would not be complete without one of our personal favourites, played by Jeon Yeo-been. Cha-young is a ruthless lawyer, both a fame and money-obsessed lawyer serving the rich and fighting for justice for the less privileged. She is not afraid to play dirty and outplay the tricks of her criminal opponents. This frustrates her main lawyer opponent Choi Myung-hee (Kim Yeo-Jin) and former boss Han Seung-hyuk (Jo Han-chul). She fights the conglomerate that led to her father’s death and is not afraid to go to any lengths regardless of putting herself in danger.
And there we have it, our picks for the most badass ladies in K-drama land.
What do you think of our list? Have we missed any must-watch titles? We love to hear from you so do feel free to let us know in the comments below.