26 December 2012

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My Top 5 ... Female Characters

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on December 26, 2012
It's been a while since my last Top 5 post. Yes, I was busy with other stuff! With Lee Jun-ki, for example. But now, it's become quiet in KDramaland - and I will have to wait for new episodes of my two current shows. Time to do some deep thinking about ... things. After trees, permed hair, and snow, I want to tackle something serious for a change: Female Characters.

Me, myself, and I are totally in agreement with this selection. Yes, it was super easy and very harmonious: We knew within 10 seconds who would go on this list. It's quite obvious what all of these characters have in common: they are atypical, independent, strong, sometimes rebellious women that go against the grain of society. If you want to use the term 'feminist' in relation to KDrama, these characters are as feminist as they come. Though they do not openly fight for a bigger feminist cause, they fight their own micro-battles against men, against women, against conventions that want to shackle them, and against the stereotypes they are confronted with.   

Seo Eun-ki (Moon Chae-won in Nice Guy)

Unlike other pretty plutocrat daughters who live sheltered lives, Seo Eun-ki is a character forged by a heartless and cold father to be the perfect heir(ess) to his business empire. Expecting everybody in the world to be her enemy, she is an emotionally scarred woman with abandonment issues. She is sent on a painful journey, which changes her from cold, harsh, and lonely to super vulnerable and naive within a few episodes, brought to an extreme during her amnesia days. When she regains her memory, she tries to go back to her old, heartless ways and to get back at everybody that hurt her - but she cannot. Not only has she been changed forever by love, she also changed the one she loves, by bringing him back to life and to his old self. Unfortunately, Nice Guys' disappointing ending also affected how this character was written (I prefer the Seo Eun-ki from the beginning to the Seo Eun-ki at the end!) - nonetheless, Moon Chae-won's skillful portrayal of a crazy and destructive love for an equally scarred guy and their journey together made this a drama to remember.

Arang (Shin Min-ah in Arang and the Magistrate)

Arang and the Magistrate was such a pleasant surprise. A lot of the drama's appeal boils down to the sassy, witty ghost with no memory, who is (or feels) all alone in a rough world ruled by men ghosts and petty Gods. She simply shines ... No wonder she makes the Magistrate Eun-oh fall in love with her at first sight. If I were a man, I would have fallen for her too! (Shin Min-ah ... you are a Goddess!) Okay, but if I were her, I would have fallen for him a lot sooner. Jeeeez. I did get annoyed with her for losing her assertiveness and wit, becoming all broody as her memories return and her feelings for Eun-oh deepen. I hate, hate, hate noble idiocy, though at least Arang and the Magistrate dealt with its in a interesting way, and I could have kicked her for her will to self-sacrifice. So glad Eun-oh and all the others didn't let her.

Hwang Ji-an (Kim Sun-ah in I Do I Do)

I adore Kim Sun-ah. She has a kind of charisma that I miss in many other actresses. She has played other memorable characters, like Kim Sam-soon (in My Lovely Sam Soon) or Shin Mi-rae (in City Hall). I Do, I Do wasn't a particularly good drama. It also wasn't particularly bad. It was one of the shows this year that I watched without much emotional involvement, but enough enjoyment to not drop it mid-way. Nonetheless, there is something about the drama that does stick: First, there's Lee Jang-woo's incredibly cuteness. Second, there's Kim Sun-ah's performance as a hardened business woman, ready to sacrifice her personal life for her career. It is hard to like her, and the character was probably not even written to be liked. However, by making her pregnant due to a one-night-stand with a totally unsuitable man, and by therefore turning her into a brave woman who, despite all the odds (society, company, parents) wants to go this alone and be a single-mom, this show added something to the standard mix in KDramas that I found fascinating.

Lee Se-ryung (Moon Chae-won in Princess' Man)

Moon Chae-won, here you are again! And you were not even part of my Top 5 female actresses post!. The Princess' Man is my favorite drama of 2011 (not least because it had Park Shi-hoo in it). Lee Se-ryung is part of the package and part of why this drama is such a special treat. How she constantly defies her powerful father for her love, even if the prize is her life, and how she turns the dark, bitter avenger back into a human being make her one of the most intriguing characters ever seen in KDrama, particularly the saeguk kind, which tends to go for kitschy or angsty, or über-pure and passive (I'm thinking females in Chuno or Warrior Baek Song Doo). What a long sentence! Princess' Man, you're such an awesome drama, you make me make long, long, loooooooong sentences.

Yoo Jung-in (Lee Young-ah in Vampire Prosecutor)

Yoo Jung-in is not a very complicated character. And she isn't even all that special: We have seen similar female cops, kinda rough, not very feminine (that comes with the job), but often with a soft spot for the lone wolf cop next to them. Nonetheless, Vampire Prosecutor does a good job in making Jung-in more and more interesting as the show progresses. For example, we find out that she is the daughter of a mobbster. And then, there's the rather obvious crush on Mr. Vampire, which is so full of promise and anguish. There wasn't exactly a lot of development in the romance department this season - and the show has once again been a total tease about it! - and now she might even be dead. Or a vampire. This character is memorable because this woman is strong, and takes this for granted. And because she kicks ass - and knows how to shoot.

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