Strong Asian women characters were the reason I was drawn to Korean films. I remember seeing My Sassy Girl (and later Windstruck) in a friend’s small apartment. I was just a freshman in college, going out for the first time on my own; I was trying to figure out what I believed in and what I wanted to fight for. And up to this point, liberation from everything that I had internalized as a Hmong woman meant that I was a head-on-pro-female-power-feminist. And up to this point I had never seen a film where Asians were the all star cast that wasn’t a kung-fu movie, and where the protagonist was a strong woman. Even though I am not Korean, the people in the film had dark hair and light skin like me. They look like me (arbitrarily…) and that was refreshing.
I haven’t been disappointed yet. Below are a five recent dramas with strong female characters. Check them out.
Empress Ki (2013) – Ha Ji-won plays, Seung Nyang becomes the future Empress of Yuan. But before that survives a violent encounter with the Yuan as a child and learns to wield a bow and arrow. She also has tactical smarts, wit and loyalty, and, of course, beauty.
I Hear Your Voice (2013) – An independent lawyer who although is materialistic has grit and pride. In the drama she grows in her position to win difficult cases and never loses sight of who she is.
Emergency Couple (2014) – Song Ji Hyo’s character also has a coming of age plot, but the story takes place well after the transition. She is now an intern at a hospital where she is propelled by her passion rather than confidence. She’s smart, knows what she wants, is practical, and has overcome trials from a previous relationship that left her self-esteem broken.
Good Doctor (2013) – Another medical drama with Moon Chae-won as leading lady. She is confident, outspoken, doesn’t let shit fly, and compassionate.
The Suspicious Housekeeper (2013) – An unusual revenge drama that is comedic but dark. Choi Ji-woo plays a strict robot-like housekeeper, with a past, who has everything in her bag (like Marry Poppins), can do anything that is asked of her, and does do everything that is asked of her (from suicide to beating up a bully). She can juggle, she can name every character on Pororo, do magic tricks, fold origami, find lost rocks, catch a falling child, spray paint the neighbor’s house, fight, and aces at video games.