by Bloom C, October 30, 2020

In real life, there is a plethora of different personalities and characteristics that different women possess. For some reason though,  in dramas, we happen to run into female leads with similar personalities. Luckily as time progresses we now enjoy women portrayed differently from your typical "kind/dutiful" female lead who falls for a man with a cold personality. I personally love a female lead that deviates from the standards that we are used to, and does things out of the norm because we all know that not all women are the same. We are shaped by our families, upbringing, experiences as well as mental and physical health so how can we possibly all have similar personalities? It is because of this reason I fully enjoy it when a drama showcases a female lead with a personality that is very different from the usual.

1. It's Okay to Not Be Okay's Ko Moon Young

Coming in the first place is the beautiful and bat S##t crazy Ko Moon Young. I fell in love with her from the first episode of Its Okay Not To Be Okay, where she fights back against a man, struggling with a mental health episode, that puts  his daughter in danger. Not only does Ko Moon Young intervenes, she also fights back viciously, and to me personally it would have been okay to hurt someone who was just choking you to your near death.  Also, it was refreshing to watch someone reacting to emotions, adrenaline, and anger by retaliating impulsively as most humans would.

She does the same thing in the second episode when she sends a man down a flight of stairs when he tries to disgustingly blackmail her using sexual harassment. While too impulsive for her own good and very toxic in her obsession with the male lead and how she glorifies that obsession, Moon Young was fun to watch as she speaks her mind, is vocal about what she wants, and does what she wants. My girl even gets into a hair grabbing fight with the second female lead who is after the same man she has set her eyes on. Ko Moon Young is transparent with her emotions and her intentions which is luckily the reason there are not a lot of misunderstandings between her and the male lead. It also makes resolving any issues they have with each other quick. Despite having a terrible childhood Min Young still grows up into a good person who helps others and is a very talented and famous writer. All she needs in life is love to fill her with warmth. Regardless she defends the weak,  is understanding to those struggling with their mental health, and can see other people beyond their surface.

2. History of the Salaryman's Baek Yeo Chi

History of a Salaryman' Baek Yeo Chi is an heiress of a pharmaceutical company who is a feisty firecracker to match with her red hair. Not at all embarrassed, Yeo Chi can be heard cursing up a storm in the most vulgar way when she is angry. Aside from her language she is your typical Korean heiress who is spoiled, rude, and means to service staff with no regard for her family's company or thought of working. She too has grown up in a lonely life as an orphan which is a source of her rebellious personality for she holds her grandfather and head of the company responsible. When she is framed for murder and goes on the run, we begin to see her use her talents and strong headedness to help her survive and gain back everything she has lost.

While many people underestimate Yeo Chi, her determination is a powerful weapon which she does a great job wielding to earn her justice from those who took what was hers. She is not only cunning and intelligent she is emotionally and mentally strong enough to stand her ground against those who flex their power over her and is also able to survive without the money she grew up protecting her.

3. Hotel del Luna's Jang Man Wol

Hotel del Luna's Jang Man Wol is another female lead with a strong personality who is a complete badass through and through. She is in charge and almost an owner of the hotel (this statement will make sense when you watch) and has been watching over it for over a thousand years as punishment for the masses of people she killed in a revenge spree.

The premise of the show already makes her a baddie, a woman trained in martial arts, who is skilled enough to kill a lot of people in vengeance. Jang Man Wol loves luxury and therefore is an impulsive shopper who has driven herself to near debt. She is a woman who likes the finer things in life such as luxury cars and clothing and as the CEO of her hotel, she lives in that luxury. Man Wol is comically money hungry and therefore many of her actions are driven by money.

It was refreshing to watch a female lead who was not modest but was flashy and was vocal about her love for money or whose intention behind helping others always involved her making said money. She is a great leader to the people who work in the hotel and while she is hard on the outside she is a complete softy on the inside. Jang Man Wol lived a difficult life for over 1000 years watching the world live and pass her by and living on without the people she loved. 

4.  You Who Came from the Stars's Cheon Song Yi

The Queen herself Cheon Song Yi is a top actress known for lacking in book smarts and thus lands herself in many embarrassing scandals as a result. Cheon Song Yi is a female lead who also can speak up about what is on her mind and goes after something she desires without being shy. Especially when it comes to her professor/neighbor Do Min Joon who could care less for her beauty and stardom. Cheon Song Yi relentlessly chases after Do Min Joon's heart and aside from some ridiculous and stalkerish antics, I cheered on my fellow woman chasing after the man who stole her heart.

I remember when YWCFTS was airing I found her especially refreshing for the fact that she didn't allow other actresses to bully her weather was her "friend" or others. She spoke back with a sharp tongue and that seemed rare at the time of its airing. If there is one thing I cannot stand is someone insulting you and you just take it as "the bigger person" and not say anything.

Beyond the glam Cheon Song Yi lives a lonely life, her mother seems to be caught up in the glitz and does not seem to take into consideration the mental well-being of her daughter, as someone who is constantly living on the microscope of the limelight. Her best friend is envious of her and seems to not be genuine towards her, and her childhood friend is in love with her, although doesn't seem to really know or take into consideration her inner self and her feelings. In addition, as an actress, she serves the industry as a product for marketing and her existence is attached to monetary value which blurs the lines between her agency treating her like a human being or as a product.

5. Graceful Family's Mo Seok Hee

Graceful Family's Mo Seok Hee is the heiress of a large conglomerate in Korea and an outsider of her own dysfunctional family. She is incredibly intelligent and very good at scheming and therefore just right for our list of not your typical female lead. Seok Hee's main goal is to uncover the truth behind her mother's death and must go through many trials to solve the mystery. Although born with a golden spoon in her mouth and is definitely spoiled, Ma Seok Hee is very much in touch with reality, something her family seems to lack.
She fights back when she is bullied and stands up for others even if they may not have stood for her. What makes her refreshing is the fact that she does not conform to societal norms or her family's traditions. She speaks up against her own father who is undeserving and unfit to be a parent to anyone, thus disregarding filial piety customs held in Korea. She even disregards seniority and speaks to her step-mother, brothers, and sister in law any way she wants to.

When everyone else wears black at a funeral for a pet, she wears red and makes a grand entrance and a grand exit. Even in nerve-wracking situations such as when she is sent to jail over a crime she did not commit she holds her own in jail and even makes friendships there. A specific situation that stands out to me is when she schemes with her father’s mistress and moves her into the family’s house to get into her step-mother’s head. You don't see that in your typical K-drama.

6.  My Father is Strange's Byun Hye Young

My Father is Strange's Byun Hye Young is a loving daughter, no-nonsense sister, and an intelligent lawyer. Her personality is every girl's spirit animal and exactly what lands her on this list. Hye Young is very comical in her expressions,  her playful antics, and what makes her refreshing is that she goes hard for her family. Standing up for her little sister, Hye Young puts a bully in her place in the most satisfactory way too. Even as an intelligent lawyer she knows when to be silly with her family, always holding them as a priority while valuing her parents and siblings.  Hae Young is a consistent person in the drama, she starts off strong and level-headed and ends the drama just as she started.

7. Prosecutor Princess's  Ma Hyeri

Prosecutor Princess's female lead Ma Hyeri is a spoiled heiress who also happens to be a prosecutor. Although spoiled and ditsy, when it comes to street smarts, Hyeri has a photographic memory and is good at articulating and defending herself with words. She is able to earn one of the most respected careers in Korea using her own smarts but does not let this change her personality. Honestly, her character can become frustrating at times with how much she has no regard for other people and thinks only of herself at times where she should put herself in other people's shoes. This makes Hyeri the black sheep of her workplace and an outcast which she doesn't notice due to her obliviousness.

I love Ma Hyeri because she knows how to stand her own ground and is willing to do anything to prove herself and her abilities. She is not someone that gives up easily but instead when she starts something she sees it through to the end. She is definitely no damsel as she knows how to defend herself but her lack of street smarts does land her in a great deal of trouble. Hyeri has a big heart but can be clouded by feeding into societal norms and lacking the ability to sympathize with others which I guess can be understandable for someone who grew up with a golden spoon in their mouth. She is not perfect but she is refreshing to watch because it's not every day you have a genius but ditzy female lead who is rich and spoiled but knows how to handle her own.

8. Tomorrow With You's Song Ma Rin

Tomorrow with You's Song Ma Rin is a tragic child star who grew up and lost her fame, but unfortunately is still recognized by the country everywhere she goes. Ma Rin is in the middle of being an alcoholic or riding the Korean binge drinking culture. In my own observations, I would describe her as the former and therefore she belongs on my list as that is not a common characteristic for a female lead.

Because of her traumatic experience, Ma Rin enjoys helping others with her talents and is a great loving daughter, friend, and wife. While life is difficult for her she perseveres  and continues to do her best to improve her circumstances. Unfortunately, we happen to just see her suddenly over drinking as she moves into a relationship with the male lead without an explanation.

9. Whisper's Shin Young Joo

Shin Young Joo is the protagonist of the drama Whisper and also plays the role of an anti-hero for her cruel and manipulative tactics to prove her father's innocence. She comes across as cold and cruel on the outside and can handle criminals and other undesirables alike, but on the inside, she has a big heart and holds a lot of love for those around her. I was a bit taken back by the lengths she was willing to go through to find a source of material to blackmail someone into doing her bidding. Recording yourself sleeping with someone married and staging it as rape is not at all something common you find a female lead in a K-drama doing.

She is sharp-tongued and absolutely courageous in her tackle to bring down and expose corruption in the country, even when that same country fails her by firing her from her job as a cop and putting her father in prison for a crime he did not commit. More than that Young Joo goes the extra mile to ensure the safety of the people she loves, whether using her intelligence or fists.

10. Reply 1997's Sung Shi Won

Reply 1997's Sung Shi Won is someone who seems to have it all, a supportive and loving parental unit, an amazing group of best friends, and the passion for fangirling over H.O.T. Shi Won was so relatable as a female lead, especially if you were really into kpop as a teenager.  She is every one of us who wants to support our Oppas in every way we possibly can. 

Shi Won certainly was not your average female lead for her fangirling ways, especially at the time of the show's airing. She went to great lengths as a H.O.T fangirl, to her father's frustrations. What made her appealing to me was her dedication and fire passion towards her fangirling.

Editors: BrightestStar (1st editor), Aya97 (2nd editor)