Recent Korean dramas like Search: WWW and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo have been presenting progressive female characters with meaningful careers and opinions of their own – at last
The "candy girl" used to be a stock character for many a famous K-drama. Referring to the unfortunate, but oddly optimistic, hardworking poor girl that is swept off her feet and into a limo by a rich Prince Charming, the "candy" is a common set-up. A perfect example would be in K-drama staple, Boys Over Flowers, where the poor Cinderella character Geum Jan-di attracts the attention of resident spoilt brat, Gu Jun-pyo, who falls for her after she throws ice-cream in his face while standing up for her friend.
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However, in recent years, the tables have indeed turned. In 2019 alone, we saw refreshing characters including The Beauty Inside's Han Se-gye and Kang Sa-ra, both equally popular for their biting remarks and career success.
I just finished watching search www and like wow. It's definitely not like regular romance kdramas it's so powerful I totally encourage you to watch it especially if you're into women empowerment:)
" Jamie (@yoonkiink) March 5, 2020
Search: WWW was another iconic drama of last year, featuring the story of three high-flying career women in top positions at their respective companies. The drama was praised for its insight into the modern era, placing the three heroines in positions of power that would normally have gone to men. Meanwhile, the script saw their male counterparts written as the ones on the receiving end, as these great women came into their lives.
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Cheesy romcom Her Private Life starring Park Min-young and Kim Jae-wook almost veered into "candy" territory, but luckily even that female lead had a great career going as the head curator of an art museum before meeting her destined prince.
Debuting in late 2016, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo was a much-loved drama detailing the struggles of a weightlifting varsity student torn between her love for the sport and the societal pressure to become more feminine. Kim Sung-kyung, the main lead, even gained a few kilograms to fit more realistically in the role. After struggling to come to terms with herself, Bok-joo finally realises that instead of conforming to find love, she should find someone that loves and respects her for who she is.
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So the big question: what brought about this change of scenery in a land that has long been undercut with misogyny? As eras move forward, the current generation is all about #girlcrush and female empowerment. The mantra "Girls Can Do Anything", from the iconic Zadig & Voltaire campaign, captured the imagination in 2018 and 2019, encouraging women to step up and out. K-dramas, too, have moved to set an example and promote stronger female characters, rather than pushing the agenda that females should use their charm and innocence to snag a better guy and a better life.
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