We admire Korean dramas that illustrate women empowerment through inspiring female roles. It’s the type of show that defies gender norms and breaks the perception that women are generally inferior to leadership, waiting to be saved by a prince charming.
Among the list of 2021 drama characters, four female leads stood out in representing the brave women of today. Each one played significant roles in the society regardless of career and status.
1. Dr. Yoon Hye-jin
Dr. Yoon Hye-jin is a dentist from the hit series “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha”, played by Shin Mina. Her character reflects an independent and strong woman who happens to meet a countryside hero smitten by her uniqueness and warmth. A damsel in distress? Not at all.
Despite coming from a broken family, she managed to grow into a responsible, self-sufficient, and intelligent daughter—who made it on her own to achieve a college scholarship, become a competent dentist, stand for her right amid workplace maltreatment, fight for her worth against emotional abuse from an ex-lover, speak up for her bestfriend against sexual harassment, defend Chief Hong from her father’s prejudicial remark, and start over again from a failing career.
She is a determined person who knows what she wants, achieves her dreams, sets boundaries, speaks up her mind, and conscientiously leads her life.
Moreover, she leads a good example in loving an imperfect person perfectly. When Hong Dusik finally confessed and exposed his darkest to her, she listened well, comforted him, and loved him even more.
“You can cry if you want. It must’ve been hard so hard for you. You must’ve hidden the pain deep down. You’ve been holding onto such a burden. You can be sad when you’re with me. You can show me your pain. You can cry,” Yoon Hyejin embraces Dusik’s brokenness.
In December 2021, Shin Mina ranked 2nd place in Gallup Korea’s survey for the most loved drama actors of the year.
2. Dr. Chae Song-hwa
One of the powerful and adorable doctors of the crowd-favorite medical series, “Hospital Playlist” is Professor Chae Song-hwa of Neurosurgeon Department, portrayed by Jeon Mido.
She is the only female among the five bestfriends whose name pops up on search engines and is considered perfect by her colleagues for her competence, good personality, and people skills.
Accurate knowledge is important for her and many viewers are inspired by her intelligence and strong will. “Performing surgery is hard. We should never get too comfortable doing this,” she tells the resident doctors and interns.
While she performs hundreds of successful brain surgeries, checks residents’ papers thoroughly, and attends symposiums, she still manages to come to work on time.
And yet, she knows how to have fun despite being nerd and workaholic. She goes camping on weekends, plays the guitar, eats like a king, and has a strong desire to be the vocalist of the band even if she is tone-deaf and has no sense of rhythm.
She is crazy around her bestfriends, laughs so hard with Dr. Lee Ik-jun’s jokes, and acts as the “emotional pillar” of the group.
The fearless character of Dr. Chae Song-hwa in “Hospital Playlist” stands out so well that Jeon Mido received several nominations and awards such as the “Seoul City Council President’s Award” at the 2021 Newsis Hallyu Expo.
3. Lawyer Hong Cha-young
Hong Cha-young is an ace lawyer in “Vincenzo” played by Jeon Yeo-been. Her character represents a strong, confident, and competitive female leader who will do anything to win a case.
As she witnessed her father wrestled in behalf of the less fortunate, she focused on practicality and landed a job in Korea’s best and biggest law firm, Woosang.
She inspires women empowerment with the way she handles herself and how she manages to face the challenges that come her way. She is a brave woman who is not afraid to speak her mind and prides herself in her cunning abilities to win various difficult cases.
In fact, she is the best “partner-in-crime” for the unbeatable mafia leader, Vincenzo. Despite the hindrances, distance, and uncertainties in their romantic relationship, she manages to remain calm, secure, and confident in what they have as lovers.
She is an independent, confident, and strong-willed woman who is unbothered with anything impossible. She is the type who doesn’t back down but moves forward without a hint of hesitation. She also has a good sense of humor.
Jeon Yeo-been won the “Best Artist Award” at the 2021 Asia Artist Award for her role in “Vincenzo”.
4. Corporal Yoon Sae-bom
Corporal Yoon Sae-Bom is a member of a special police squad in “Happiness”, played by Han Hyo-Joo. Placed in a tough apocalyptic situation, her character reflects a female risk-taker wo will do anything for everyone’s safety and protection.
She is a dynamic woman who exudes confidence and control in challenging situations. “I was born to fight terrorism,” she says. She is good under pressure, decisive, and quick to find solutions.
When others can’t make up their minds, she decides instantly. She is always aiming at solving problems and achieving quick results.
Despite being dominant and strong-willed, she is a people person who knows how to deal with anyone. She is empathetic, warm at heart, and sees people through their circumstances. She is a modern warrior who is always ready to save anyone who needs help.
She is also not afraid to speak her mind and go against people who act devilishly. “I’m getting more disappointed in humanity everyday,” states Corporal Sae Bom as she encounters difficult and cruel people.
In the drama, her character serves as an instrument in finding cure to stop the spread of a deadly disease.
These drama characters may be fictional, but they represent the brave women of today who stand in the front lines of movements, fighting injustice, sickness, violence, and so on. And we take pride for the heroine that they are in their respective roles and fields.
May our homes and society continue to raise up empowered women like Dr. Yoon Hye-jin, Dr. Chae Song-hwa, Lawyer Hong Cha-young, and Corporal Yoon Sae-Bom.