I think that we can all agree that there’s this thing Korean screenwriters do where they create female leads who exist on the most end of whatever side of the spectrum they fall on.
So, the end product is that we’ll end up having extremely gullible, naive, spineless female leads who are hopelessly content with letting the male leads drag them around; or, we would have extremely maniac female leads who are ruthless in all the ways that count.
So now, I’ve rounded up my own personal list of Kdramas where the female leads feel human, in that they are selfish, make mistakes, and aren’t above being cruel.
1. Queen Seondeok
Queen Seondeok is a historical-romance drama based on the life of Queen Seondeok, the first female ruler of Silla.
It follows her journey from hidden royalty to queen and explores a love triangle with Kim Yoo-shin and Bidam.
We don’t get a lot of biopics now, but in the beginning years of the Hallyu wave, they were all the rage and Queen Seondeok is easily one of the most memorable pieces.
This inspirational female Kdrama lead made me cry, scream, and holler in happiness, so I know anyone would love it.
2. Lies Hidden In My Garden
This Korean drama intertwines the lives of two women with different backgrounds connected by a mysterious garden.
Before watching this Kdrama, make sure you check out the trigger warnings, because there’s an uncomfortable amount of domestic abuse, severe gaslighting, and deep emotional manipulation.
Our two female leads in this drama were simply everything and I love the way they banded up to sort of change their lives.
3. Extraordinary Attorney Woo
Woo Young-woo is a rookie attorney with autism, who is trying to stay afloat in a major, cutthroat law firm.
You guys, this was the most beautiful Kdrama I watched last year and I’m so happy about it – Young Woo was so smart, adorable, and awesome and I was rooting for her from the beginning.
4. Be Melodramatic
This slice of life, comedy-drama follows the lives of three women in their 30s who are working in the entertainment industry.
The show humorously tackles personal and professional struggles, friendship, and romance with a realistic portrayal of women’s issues from three very related female leads.
5. Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
In this drama, Bong Soon comes from a family where the women have superstrength, so while she’s super short, she can lift a bus with her pinky.
I rewatch bits and pieces of Strong Woman Do Bong Soon every year, and I still strongly think Bong Soon is the most iconic female lead in history.
6. Hotel Del Luna
If you’ve watched Hotel Del Luna, then you probably already know why Man Wol is the most ethereal, most gracious female lead ever and it was easy to fall for her.
And if you haven’t, know that she’s essentially tied to the hotel because of her past grudge, but she doesn’t let that stop her from wearing the finest clothes, riding the prettiest cars, and having so much fun with herself.
7. My Name
In this crime-action-thriller drama, we meet Ji Woo who had to witness her dad being killed, and so she decides to take revenge – her first step is to infiltrate the police and she does, but she also falls for Pil Do.
This drama is intense as anything, and Ji Woo was always like this really scared, timid rabbit that I wanted to hold close forever.
Mine is a mystery-drama centered around two women in a wealthy family who must deal with challenges, secrets, and their identities.
Both of them were strong and so devious, and I know you’ll like this one if you’d like to see two strong Kdrama female leads in action.
9. River Where The Moon Rises
Princess Pyeonggang of Goguryeo’s quest for the throne is the primary thrust of this drama and if you want a beautiful and tragic historical-romance love story, this is it!
The most fantastic thing about this historical Kdrama is that for the first time in a long while, we were able to get a series primarily focused around a female monarch and it was awesome.
Starring Lee Bo-young as Soo-jin, this Kdrama follows a teacher who kidnaps her abused student, Hye-na, and the bond that forms between them while on the run.
I watched this drama about four years ago and it had me shedding buckets of tears – it’s that good!
Soo Jin might not wield a sword or gun and she might not have saved thousands of people, but she literally upended her life for Hye Na and that was the sweetest thing ever.
Who’s your favorite Kdrama female character? Which of these women-centric Kdramas will you give a chance? Let me know in the comments below.
And the related posts have even recommendations that’ll keep you hooked all through.