12 Strong Female Characters That Stole The Show In K-Dramas

K-dramas are known for their ability to wrench powerful emotions from new and old fans alike, playing with known plot lines and tropes, famous well-loved actors, and hunky heroes that make us swoon left and right. But there is a certain brand of K-drama that holds a place near and dear to my heart: K-drama with a strong heroine at the helm; a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to be feminine and strong, or one who at least learns to be that way. These women speak to me as an independent 21st century woman because they take journeys that I can relate to and admire.

If you’re new to K-dramas, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish the frailer flowers from the BA chicks. But fear not! We are here to deliver a list of dramas that feature strong women who will have you fist-pumping each time they exert their decisive natures, and cheering when they triumph over people who think that these women can’t succeed.


Without further ado. Here are 12 mighty examples of women in K-drama. Here them roar!

Doctors

Yoo Hye Jung (Park Shin Hye) is a literal tough girl, relying on her fist and mental grit to get through life that  has been less than kind to her. Eschewing her feminine side in favor of more traditionally masculine traits, Hye Jung walks a long, hard road to adulthood, learning to veer away for anger and violence and embracing her natural intelligence and inner warmth that remained hidden under her steely exterior. A woman who can be both physically tough but allow herself to open up is a strong one indeed. It takes strength to care for others, and along the way Hye Jung, finds hers and sheds warm caring upon her patients. She also finds a little bit of romance and friendship along the way while also kicking a little butt here and there.

Catch the first episode below:

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Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

As a literally strong woman who can lift men, take on hoards of gangsters, and fling buses like paper airplanes, Do Bong Soon (Park Bo Young) is endowed with supernatural powers passed down through the women of her family. Unlike Hye Jung, Bong Soon prefers to hide her toughness for reasons of keeping her secret, but also because she thinks her crush likes “frail” women. Eventually, Bong Soon learns to accept her strength and use it for the better good. She also realizes that she is still every bit a woman despite the fact that she is freakishly strong. Her journey towards understanding herself and her strength is only made more enjoyable by the absolutely adorable romance that blooms between her and her boss (Park Hyung Sik).

Catch the first episode below:

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Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

Another strong woman who is somewhat ashamed of her strength is Kim Bok Joo (Lee Sung Kyung), a gifted weightlifter who becomes self-conscious of her weight and impressive musculature in her efforts to gain the love of a man. South Korea is known for loving a slim body type, but to weight lift, a thicker body type is healthy and sometimes necessary. Bok Joo eventually learns to love herself, her strength, and the fact that she can be feminine and girly and in love, but not after some serious soul-searching, mental anguish, and plenty of romantic hijinks.

This drama may have created one of the sweetest couples in dramaland that is based upon Bok Joo’s strength as a woman and an athlete, and her boyfriend (Nam Joo Hyuk)’s respect for those very qualities.

Catch the first episode below:

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Fight My Way

Choi Ae Ra (Kim Ji Won) is a woman with a dream to become and announcer, and she isn’t afraid to chase it or any opportunity that might get her there. Her strength comes from her ability to doggedly pursue what she wants. Unafraid to defend herself, her lifestyle, her choices, and her friends, Ae Ra is sassy, fun, full of spirit, and a lovable heroine simply because she is who she is. No apologies made. A character like Ae Ra is a good model for all young women looking for validation. It’s okay to be yourself whether that’s cool and confident like in the gif above, or a little geeky and weird while wearing sweatpants and hanging out with your closest buddies.

Throw in a hunk like Park Seo Joon as her childhood best friend and current amour, and we have a sizzling tale of childhood friendship and young adults ready to step into the world and do their their way.

Catch the first episode below:

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Mother

The fight that a mother has within her to protect her child is rivaled by none, and that is the power that we see in Kang Soo Jin (Lee Bo Young). Soo Jin is a woman who becomes a mother by sheer force of will and unwavering love for a little girl that she forcibly adopts in order to protect her from a horrible home life. Strength of will is what pushes her to go beyond the confines of societal and federal law and kidnap the (willing) child to effectively rescue her from abuse. By risking everything for this child, Soo Jin proves her mettle and strength as a woman, mother, and member of society who isn’t willing to stand for child abuse.

“Mother” is such a powerful and well-made drama that it has earned a place on the international circuit, recognized and screened at the Cannes International Series Festival 2018. Grab something to hug and some popcorn because this is one gripping drama with a worthy heroine.

Catch the first episode below:

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While You Were Sleeping

Being blessed (or cursed) with predictive dreams is not an easy thing to handle, but heroine Nam Hong Joo (Suzy), is made of strong stuff and doesn’t let fear, uncertainly, and confusion dictate the course of her life. Her strength wells from her ability to combine her natural intelligence with what she’s learned of her gift to make a difference in the world regardless of her safety. When she is joined by more like her, she is able to work with them and guide them because of her good attitude and hard-earned ability to see things through. She may not have Bong Soon’s strength of body, but she certainly has an equal strength of heart, which wins over the man she loves (Lee Jong Suk) as well as the poor second lead (Jung Hae In).

Catch the first episode below:

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The Legend of the Blue Sea

As one of the few magically powered strong women on the list, Shim Chung (Jun Ji Hyun) is a mermaid who follows her heart into a different world: the world outside the sea. Her strength lies in the fact that she could lose her life if her love rejects her, but she chooses to leave the ocean and go to him anyway. She is very much herself, which is quite quirky and peculiar to land folk, who seem to tolerate her only because of her ethereal beauty. But she cares not for the opinions of others, which contrasts with how concerned modern people tend to be with other people’s opinions.

Along the way, we are all treated to the comedic gifts of Jun Ji Hyun, whose beauty belies the humor that she is able to produce. Pair her with heartthrob Lee Min Ho, a beautiful pair of golden fins, and a love story that transcends time, and we have drama lead by a heroic, strong woman, er, mermaid.

Catch the first episode below:

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I Am Not a Robot

Self directed Jo Ji Ah (Chae Soo Bin) has quite the temper on her, but it’s part of the shield she uses to keep herself tough in the face of some pretty heavy adversity including money woes, family problems, boyfriend issues, and a long case of being down on her luck. Her luck starts to change, however, when she takes on a part time job pretending to be an android. Of course, she falls in love with her dashingly handsome “owner.” But it is exactly that love and the relationship she forms with him that bring out Ji Ah’s true strength: her ability to love, to admit she was wrong, and to care more for another than she does for herself. Her strength comes from her ability to change, to mold, and to adapt. It is that ability she has that brings out the same emotions and ability in the one she loves (Yoo Seung Ho).

If you’re looking for a cute romance, this is definitely down your alley. The romantic pickles Ji Ah finds herself in are adorable and equally as humorous.

Catch the first episode below:

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Descendants of the Sun

Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) is one of the most well-known K-drama heroines in the world after “Descendants of the Sun” took the world by storm in 2016. Part of her charm and more of what makes her character a strong, likable female lead is that she constantly evolves and grows. She has intelligence and beauty, but that isn’t what makes her such a winning character. It is the fact that she learns not only from falling in love with a handsome and brave soldier, but from her experiences working in a disaster and war area. She chooses to let her stubbornness go time and time again for the betterment of many situations. I love a character who can admit she’s wrong even if it takes her a while to do so. Plus, the lady is just charming!

Her place in the epic military romance that takes place in disaster zones and the peace of Seoul is part of what made the drama so successful domestically and internationally.

Catch the first episode below:

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“The King 2 Hearts

Kim Hang Ah (Ha Ji Won) is a North Korean soldier in a man’s world. Not only does she have to battle intense North/South relations, but she is faced with misogyny and physical duress as she becomes a leading player in uniting the two countries and their peoples. It takes a lot of inner strength to suffer these hardships day in and day out, but she does it with grace, a sassy attitude, and a strength that can’t be contested, even by the machoest of men. She was loved when this drama first came out for her sharp wit and ability to counter Lee Jae Ha (Lee Seung Gi)’s terrible habit of harassing and looking down on her. As time went on, it took equal strength for her to let her guard down as she fell in love, not only with Jae Ha, but with the South Korean soldiers with whom she worked. A woman willing to change and grow is a strong woman indeed.

On top of the awesome heroine, the drama also puts together quite an action-packed mystery, a couple of wonderfully heart-warming romances, and many more friendships.

Catch the first episode below:

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Secret Garden

Gil Ra Im is another one of Ha Ji Won’s best known roles. (Ha Ji Won is an actress known for her strength and ability to play powerful women. No wonder two of her characters made it onto this list!) Ra Im is the original definition of a BA woman – she is a stuntwoman. A little blood is nothing to her and she will get the job done no matter what. It is her physical strength and dexterity that defines her, but it is the way she grows emotionally and mentally that truly makes her strong. At first she lets Kim Joo Won (Hyun Bin) push her around, which is so bizarre because she’s literally trained as a fighting machine, but it stems from her insecurities as a woman that eventually she learns to conquer. Femininity does not come at the expense of strength. Both can be present in one person, and Ra Im proves that.

With all the talk of strong Ra Im, I neglected to talk about the basic premise of the show, which is body swapping! The main characters body swap and learn to love each other through empathy and shared hardships. It’s one of the hottest dramas of 2010 that shouldn’t be missed, especially with the development of Ha Ji Won’s heroine.

Catch the first episode below:

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Healer

One of my favorite K-drama heroines is Chae Young Shin (Park Min Young) from “Healer,” a woman who is strong simply because she knows herself well. Her weaknesses are as a part of her as her strengths are, and she doesn’t hide from them or make excuses for the things she cannot do. Her courage is born of facing her fears that literally cripple her, depriving her of oxygen due to hyperventilation. When she’s nervous, she sings or acts silly, like in the gif above. She knows what she needs and when she needs it, which makes her someone that allows Ji Chang Wook‘s character Ji Hoo to learn and grow to be as confident as she is.

Aside from the amazing character that is Young Shin, “Healer” is comprised of an excellent cast, writing, action, plot, and execution. It is hands down one of my favorite dramas of all times.

Catch the first episode below:

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Who is your favorite K-drama heroine that oozes strength? Let us know in the comments!

Raine0211 is a lover of all things Korean, especially K-pop, K-drama, and Korean food. When she’s not writing for Soompi, she’s playing the cello and singing. She happily indulges in all kinds of K-pop, but her biases are SHINee, INFINITE, and VIXX. She is currently traipsing around Northern California.

Currently watching: “The Undateables,” “Mistress,” and “Prison Playbook.”
Looking forward to: “Sketch” and “Dear Husband of 100 Days”
All-time favorite dramas: “Healer,” “Reply 1988,” and “The King 2 Hearts.”

CRe: https://www.soompi.com/2018/05/31/12-strong-female-characters-stole-show-k-dramas/