On April 11th, Baeksang Arts Awards officially released its nominees for this year’s ceremony. In the Best TV Actress category, no doubt that many K-drama actresses delivered their best but only five nominees had to be chosen.
Park Eun-bin for The King’s Affection (2021)
What if the king were a woman? Park Eun-bin bravely performed the role of a Crown Prince in The King’s Affection (2021). The story begins with an intense drama and tension in the royal court—the crown princess gives birth to forbidden twins and the baby girl is ordered to be annihilated. The desperate mother finds a solution to keep the girl alive away from the palace.
However, fate brought the girl back to the palace as a court maid. Her twin brother dies and she is forced to disguise as the prince. The story now revolves around this fake identity and keeping a huge secret to protect herself, the kingdom, and its people. She will keep her promise while she sits on the throne and wear the King’s gown and crown.
Rejected by birth and depraved of love, life becomes more burdensome as she is ordered to swap roles while being surrounded with antagonists and threats due to her disguised gender. Filled with anger, she vows revenge in her heart and grows into a brave young woman—untouchable, cold, hard to please, and feared by people in the palace. Park Eun-bin amazingly achieved this tough assignment.
In her acceptance speech during the 2021 KBS Drama Awards where she won the Top Excellence Award, she shared that the role made her feel responsible to convince a small person like her to become a King, “I worked hard to convince everyone.”
Han So-hee for My Name (2021)
My Name (2021) is a spunky female journey admirably played by Han So-hee. She portrayed a vengeful daughter who joins the police force as a mole to discover the truth and seek justice for her father’s death. She leaves her name behind as Yoon Ji-woo, cuts her hair short, takes combat skills, and lives life anew as Oh Hye-jin.
Driven by rage and determined to search for the culprit of her father’s murder, Han So-hee’s character joins a notorious crime organization led by actor Park Hee-son who portrayed the role of a mafia boss as Choi Mu-jin. She then followed the advice of the drug lord in joining the police force as a spy where her life gets entangled with a senior detective, played by actor Ahn Bo-hyun. Stuck amid the brawl, she navigates on her own to avenge her father.
Han So-hee bravely took this badass fighter in My Name (2021) which involved intense physical stunts, boxing, bloody fight scenes using a gun and knife. It was reported that she trained hard for this role by taking action classes and she was able to deliver it on-screen with excellence.
Lee Se-young for The Red Sleeve (2021-2022)
Lee Se-young played a lovable character as a court maid in the romantic-sageuk drama, The Red Sleeve (2021-2022). She’s not the type of damsel in distress that needs saving but an empowered female character—a court maid who stands for justice, speaks her mind, helps others survive, and is not afraid to face any challenges that come her way.
Despite her painful childhood story, she managed to survive life by working as a maid trainee at a young age—fearless, intelligent, strong-willed. When the right time came, she was assigned to serve the Crown Prince and did everything in her might and wisdom to protect her master amid the threats and dangers surrounding the palace. In the process, the Crown Prince fell in love with her for her strong conviction in life and sense of warmth.
Lee Se-young perfectly portrayed the role of Seong Deok-im, a warm yet brave court maid and it’s impossible not to be captivated by her performance overall.
Kim Tae-ri for Twenty-Five Twenty-One (2022)
Kim Tae-ri stole everyone’s hearts by her outstanding performance as a bubbly and highly optimistic character in Twenty-Five Twenty-One (2022).
She played as Na Hee-do, a driven fencing prodigy whose dream is to compete with her fencing idol, Ko Yurim, and win a gold medal. She does everything in her mental strength to get trained by Coach Yang, reach Ko Yurim’s level, and make it to the national team. Her coach describes her as an athlete who doesn’t know how to back down, “She does everything I teach her and absorbs them like a sponge. No one can stop her.”
Despite being in her 30s, Kim Tae-ri was able to portray an adorable young student—innocent, funny, but confident and strong-willed. She amazingly performed this brave girl character that has experienced significant loss and rejection in life yet chooses to face another day with a renewed focus of achieving her dreams. In the end, she has proven everyone that the impossible is possible with her tenacity and determination. Kim Tae-ri exceptionally and definitely slayed this role.
Kim Hye-soo for Juvenile Justice (2022)
Juvenile Justice (2022) is a teenage-crime series that follows a female judge played by Kim Hye-soo who sets high standards on the law of justice and her strong passion for juvenile cases. She displays a strong conviction that regardless of age, an offender needs to see how harsh the law can be and must pay the consequences of their sinful acts. She also put emphasis on guardian education—that parents must feel the weight of their kids’ crimes as well and take responsibility.
While the judge despises young offenders, she strongly believes that “the purpose of Juvenile Law is to provide a structure where troubled kids can reform themselves and mature into better citizens” as she has discovered herself the psycho-social background on why teenagers commit crimes.
Kim Hye-soo‘s talent incredibly stands out in this series. She did not only display a perfect portrayal of a tough and sharp judge, but she also showed great emotions of a devastated mother when her young son died. She has proven once again that she is indeed a top-tier Korean actress.
The 58th edition of Baeksang Arts Awards is set to be held on May 6, 2022.
Whether they bring home the title or not, each one is already a winner. Congratulations to these five amazing Korean actresses!