Cover Han So-hee as Jiwoo in 'My Name'. (Photo: Netflix)

These fearless female stars are redefining women empowerment and dominating the scenes in some of the best K-dramas, bringing a whole new meaning to #girlcrush

More often than not, women in K-dramaland are depicted as beautiful, feminine, soft, fragile, and adorable (cue the aegyo)–the kind you would want to bubble wrap to protect her from harm. As K-dramas (or the entertainment industry, in general) play a pivotal role in shaping society, this portrayal of women has become one of the leading reasons for gender stereotypes and preconceived notions. Fortunately, female roles in Korean productions have evolved in recent years and K-dramas are changing the way they portray female characters.

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The days of women waiting around for an oppa in shining armour to come and save them are long gone and we’re here for it. No longer damsels in distress, K-drama female leads are stronger than ever, defying the odds against them, and taking matters into their own hands (quite literally).

Fall in love with these fearless forces to be reckoned with that have come, armed with confidence and wit, to unapologetically serve action, attitude, and a whole lot of ass-kicking.

1. My Name: Han So-hee as Jiwoo

Han So-hee stars in the action noir series My Name as Jiwoo, a revenge-driven woman looking to avenge her father after he was killed outside of their home. She sacrifices everything to find her father’s killer–including her name. Jiwoo joins the largest crime syndicate in Korea and goes undercover as a police officer in order to find her father’s killer.

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To perform the intense action scenes in the series, So-hee dedicated herself to attending action school daily, honing her techniques in not just bare fist fighting, but also combat involving knives, guns, and batons used by the police.

Stream it on Netflix here.

2. Sweet Home: Lee Si-young as Seo Yi-kyung

Lee Si-young stars as former firefighter Seo Yi-kyung in the apocalyptic drama Sweet Home. Yi-kyung becomes a pivotal character in the series as she sacrifices herself to protect the residents of the apartment complex from savage monsters despite her personal circumstances.

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One of Yi-kyung’s most impressive moments is when she’s fighting the spider monster in the vents. Si-young attended action school for six months before filming began and even kept to a strict diet to cut down her body fat to eight per cent for the role (now we know what it takes to get abs!).

Stream it on Netflix here.

3. Kingdom: Ashin of the North: Gianna Jun as Ashin

Gianna Jun is Ashin in Kingdom: Ashin of the North, a girl who discovers the powers of the resurrection plant that caused such a calamity throughout Joseon. We get to know more about her childhood and life prior to the undead plague that ravaged the kingdom and finds out that Ashin is also a victim when her family and everyone she knew is massacred by the Pajeowi tribe.

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Director Kim Seong-hun praised Jun for masterfully performing not only the action scenes but also the unspoken inner pain and rage the character harbours. Archery was an important part of the character so Jun prepared for the role by taking up the sport.

Stream it on Netflix here.

4. The Uncanny Encounter: Kim Se-jeong as Do Ha-na

Kim Se-jeong stars in the fantasy K-drama The Uncanny Counter as Do Ha-na, a tough Counter who can sense evil spirits and has insane super strength. The series features a group of demon hunters who go through leaps and bounds to save innocent people from evil spirits.

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Se-jeong prepared for the fight scenes by going to action school and she even memorised all the choreography to deliver the impressive jam-packed action on screen.

Stream it on Netflix here.

5. Sisyphus: Park Shin-hye as Gang Seo-hae

Park Shin-hye plays Gang Seo-hae in Sisyphus as an elite warrior living in a war-torn future. The sci-fi drama tells the story of a genius engineer who tries to uncover the secrets behind his older brother’s death and a mysterious woman who travels back in time to help him save the world from imminent danger.

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Seo-hae exhibits close combat fighting and a variety of shooting skills. Shin-hye prepared for the physically demanding role by enrolling in action school for a month and a half prior to filming where she learned everything from how to hold a gun, to every aspect of staging an action scene.

Stream it on Netflix here.


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