Capable Leading Ladies

There are so many Asian Dramas out there in which the female lead isn’t strong.  Either she is utterly dependent on the hero, or she is utterly without confidence and self-esteem, or she is lost and doesn’t understand her place in the world.  To name a few.  There isn’t anything wrong with those styles of character types, however, when I’m watching a drama and the main actress is a strong woman I get a little thrill.  I’m completely addicted to dramas, but I must admit when the lead heroine isn’t the usual weak woman I do enjoy the drama a little more.

Since my adventures in dramaland are still of the greenhorn or trainee variety I don’t have a huge list of shows that I’ve seen.  So I am absolutely certain there are more and better examples out there.  For now, I wanted to discuss the leading ladies that represented different facets of a strong woman from the list of dramas that I’ve completed.  Of course I’d totally welcome some suggestions of dramas with strong women!  Even better if the drama has a happy ending, I’m a sucker for happily ever after.

Drama Noona’s Top 5 Capable Ladies


At the top of the list I’ll begin with the obvious sort of choice.  A tough girl who can handle herself in a fight with a strong and confident personality to boot.  For me this role is filled by Kim Na Na from City Hunter played by Park Min Young.  Na Na was a lethally trained security officer.  She could take out a man twice her size with her martial ability and was a crack shot.  Beyond the physical toughness of the character she was sure of whom she was, what she wanted, and confident that she could accomplish her goals all on her own.  There was the occasional incident that incapacitated her, but for the most part she was able to handle everything on her own.  She never relied on Lee Yoon Sung to do things for her.  She was most definitely a strong woman.


My next choice is Cha Bong Sun played by Le Ji Ah in Me Too, Flower.  There are a lot of similarities between Bong Sun and Na Na.  They are both strong women who are confident in their abilities.  Bong Sun is a police officer who is good at what she does.  However, where Na Na is confident both in her job and in herself, Bong Sun is still trying to find out who she is.  Throughout the series she struggles with severe depression.  For me her true strength has nothing to do with her physical qualities.  Her real fierceness is in the fact that she faces the issues causing her depression and works to heal herself.  It is an internal struggle, one that doesn’t require Seo Jae Hee’s help.  That takes a strength that truly deserves to be admired.


Third on the list is Lawyer Jang Hye Sung as represented by Lee Bo Young in I Can Hear Your Voice.  Hye Sung is the total package as far as strong women go.  She is whip smart, good at her job, confident in who she is, satisfied with her life and what she has accomplished.  Her weaknesses come in the form of personality quirks, being slightly narcissistic and egotistical.  However, there is nothing that she requires a man to do.  She can overcome any obstacle and accomplish great things all on her own.  The men in her life are partners.  I absolutely adored her for this and thoroughly enjoyed the show in part because of her strength.

The last two spots on my list are filled by roles that exhibit strength in an unusual way.


Next is Sun Woo In Young played by Jo Yeo Jung in I Need Romance.  In Young does portray some of the same qualities as the previous candidates.  She is a successful woman, excellent in her job, and she knows what she wants from life.  However, for me her strength is revealed when she makes a choice that goes against the grain.  (SPOLIER ALERT) The man she has loved and spent her life with for ten years cheats twice.  So she begins a new relationship and does actually feel the sparks of love.  But when this new man pours his heart out to her and proposes she turns him down because for the first time in her life she wants to love only herself.  That to me is a choice that displays a huge amount of conviction and strength.


Last, but certainly not least, is my most unconventional form of strength.  Go Eun Chan as depicted by Yoon Eun Hye in Coffee Prince.  Eun Chan isn’t exceptionally confident, nor does she know what she wants from life.  However, she has been the bread winner for her family since she was 16.  It doesn’t matter what needs to be done, she does it because her family is depending on her for their survival.  To me that is such a precious display of strength.  Out of all my examples, it is perhaps the most poignant.  Even though she doesn’t demonstrate the usual concepts of strength she is very strong and is the pillar of support for her family.

Honorable Mention

A Gentleman’s Dignity – The three main ladies are all strong women

What’s Up Fox – Go Byung Hee is a confident and successful in her job

Vampire Prosecutor – Yoo Jung In is a tough girl who is very good at what she does

Last Cinderella – Sakura Toyama  is one of the best hair stylists around and she’s confident

The Greatest Love – Gu Ae Jung is willing to sacrifice herself in order to protect the people she loves

I Need Romance 3 – The three main ladies are all super successful in their jobs and of strong personalities

Suggestions From Friends

Sungkyunkwan Scandal – Kim Yoon Hee is spunky, witty, stubborn, and supports her family no matter what.  (Thanks Kfangurl!)

Protect the Boss – (thanks Sarah!)

My Lovely Sam Soon – (thanks Sarah!)


3 thoughts on “Capable Leading Ladies

  1. I just finished my rewatch of Sungkyunkwan Scandal, and our female lead Yoon Hee comes to mind (also played by Park Min Young, coincidentally!) – she’s brainy and stubborn. And fends for her family. Now I’m REALLY convinced that you’ll enjoy SKKS! ;D


    1. I’m only 3 episodes into SKKS but I already love her spunky attitude and stubborn personality. Also it took me until the end of episode 1 to realize that it was Park Min Young, which immediately made me love it more. I have the next two days off I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll get a real and proper marathon in and finish SKKS or at least get really close to the end.


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