Aside from kilig-inducing storylines, K-dramas also bring us plenty of admirable female leads whose life stories on the show inspire viewers in real life. Below, we take a look at a few inspiring female characters from some of the most popular K-dramas then and now.
Do Bong-soon from Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon
Born with extraordinary powers, this female lead shows us that her strength isn’t what makes her extraordinary—but her determination to stand up for what is right. Bong-soon also smashes the damsel in distress stereotype, but her strength isn’t just physical—there’s strength also in ourselves to get up when we face unfamiliar challenges and setbacks. As the saying goes: fall down seven times, get up eight.
Lim Jugyeong from True Beauty
Value the things important to you—but do not let them define you. For Jugyeong, she valued her physical appearance because of her trauma from bullying, but she realized her physical beauty is not all there is—even if society makes it so. Jugyeong found her true beauty in her loving heart and her love for the things she's passionate about.
Seo Dal-mi from Start-Up
A diploma isn’t required to dream big. All you need is the courage to follow them—regardless of the risks or the mistakes made along the way. Dal-mi also reminds us to stay grounded, make decisions that are best for the team, and to do our best so we don’t regret the choices we make.
Kim Book-joo from Weighlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo
Traditionally seen as a sport for men, weightlifting is Bok-joo’s talent and passion—and she’s naturally gifted at it, too. However, Bok-joo comes to struggle with her “lack of femininity”, but she learns to overcome this and love herself as she is, while also experimenting and trying new things. She tells us to be grateful for our friends, too.
Sung Deok-sun from Reply 1988
1/5th of the gang from the Seoul neighborhood in the 1980s, Deok-sun shows us that there’s extraordinary in the ordinary, and that we can grow and mature—but still be as wide-eyed and cheerful when we were younger. Deok-sun also tells us to be unapologetically ourselves.
Choi Ae-ra from Fight for My Way
With a strong personality, Ae-ra does not know the meaning of backing down. Even the endless pain of her high heels does not stop her from doing whatever it takes to reach her dreams. She’s not afraid to be herself—from breaking side mirrors to showing aegyo, and she tells us not to be, too.
Hong Chae-young from Vincenzo
Chae-young takes pride in her brilliance and work as a lawyer, and she will not let anyone, including her father and bosses, undermine her for it. Chae-young demonstrates what it's like to be cunning, persuasive, and classy—and she tells us not to apologize for standing up to ourselves.
Eun Dan-oh from Extraordinary You
This comic book character takes her fate into her own hands. Bubbly, kind, and loyal to her friends, Dan-oh is determined to fight for her own freedom. She tells us to shape our fates the way we want to—it should be up to us, and not by someone else.