I know I haven’t watched many dramas, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have opinions! I’ve got plenty. Too many maybe. For this list I considered all female characters that I feel were treated as either a first or a second lead in their drama in the sixteen dramas I’ve watched. Two dramas managed to get two characters on here, which means that this list features a total of eight dramas, and ten leading ladies. The characters on here don’t necessarily reflect how much I enjoyed the drama in question, but it does of course have an influence on it. Also, the ranking is simply based on the age of the actress when she played the part, with oldest as number one, so don’t put weight on that. Also, there’s no massive spoilers in this post, but there could be small ones, so proceed with some level of caution.
1. Han Song Jung (Glorious Day)
I’m sure most of you might not think of this character as a lead, but if anyone is to be regarded as the second-most important female character in this drama, it has to be her. She’s actually the mother of the more classic female lead of the drama, but that’s for sure not all she is. She’s a writer and a single mother of three after having kicked out her garbage husband when she was pregnant with the youngest one. She had to struggle to get by, but her extremely hard-working spirit and being way too proud to ever ask for help got her through it.
I loved that a parent got this much character and character development (maybe that’s what you get when you watch a longer and more family-oriented drama) and she might have been my absolute favorite character. Which is saying a lot, because I fell for all those characters pretty hard.
2. Jaime (Liar Game)
The female lead of Liar Game was quite a plain Jane, but the same can certainly not be said for the second lead, Jaime. She had all the brains, the sneakiness, the cattiness, the back-stabbingness and the lipstick skills that Nam Da Jung sorely lacked. She made it far in the game, and it was mostly her own doing. Even when she accepted help from the brilliant men of the game, she was still her own independent agent, jumping ships if-ever and whenever it suited her.
3. Lee Shin Young (The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry)
Shin Young is the main female lead of this drama, and therefore I suppose also the title character. She’s a workaholic working in broadcasting who’s nearing her mid-thirties and still hasn’t found a decent spouse. She wants love and marriage, but work has always come first for her and she doesn’t want to settle. What I love about Shin Young is that there’s absolutely nothing apologetic about her; she is who she is and that’s that. And yet it all works out for her in the end. So, my workaholic ladies, keep being you and maybe you’ll end up with a lovely noona romance of your own.
4. Lee Seol (My Princess)
The princess herself. Lee Seol is so beautiful and charming and sweet and lovely that I really can’t fathom how anyone would ever not vote for her to be their princess. If she’d been absurdly dumb, then maybe, but she’s not, plus she has her gorgeous man-servant to help her. Lee Seol is the girliest of girls but with loads of strength. And no matter how many times the world knocks her down, she will get up and she will smile radiantly. Like princesses do.
5. Han Yoo Joo (Coffee Prince)
Han Yoo Joo is the second female lead of this very classic and excellent drama, and I think she might be the drama character that I’ve identified with the absolute most. She’s terrible at commitment, always jumping ship when she feels like she can’t handle the responsibility. She leads people on and puts herself first. I know these qualities made a lot of people dislike her, especially at the start of the drama, but I saw my flaws in her flaws in a very striking way that made me adore her. Seeing her straighten herself out, just a little, made me feel like I could too. And maybe I’ve done it? If any of my real life friends are reading this, please text me right now and tell me if I have.
6. Ma Hye Ri (Prosecutor Princess)
I feel like Ma Hye Ri exemplifies some of those stereotypically “bad female traits”. She’s a shopaholic who spends massive amounts of time on looking at clothes, chasing down ”special” clothes, buying clothes etc. She comes to work in a too short skirt, super bright colors, high heels and giant earrings. But she’s also super smart, and once she puts her mind to it, she makes a brilliant prosecutor. Being interested in something that is seen as vain and superficial (such as clothes or makeup) doesn’t at all infer that you’re dumb, and that statement is exactly what Ma Hye Ri shows. I will not say that I understood every one of her outfits, but I will bow respectfully before her shoe game any day.
7. Park Ha (Rooftop Prince)
Park Ha seems in many ways like the stereotypical candy girl. She is poor, grew up as an orphan, is super hard-working, has a family member that puts her down for no reason and is in general very sweet and likable. And she isn’t the book smarts type, she’s more the “let’s get digging” type. But Park Ha isn’t nearly as much of a pushover as the next candy girl. She’s strong, and she will speak her mind if she feels like she’s being treated unfairly. She’s an independent woman who’s had to make it on her own, and she won’t let someone mess with that. But the reason why Park Ha is so dear to me is because she feels so unbelievably real. I can’t put my finger on what about her it is; if it’s the actress, the writing or just magic. But it is something.
8. Jung Da Jung (Glorious Day)
Here we have another entree from the drama Glorious Day, and the on-screen daughter of our first entree. Jung Da Jung is the main female lead, and it’s her relationship and marriage that most of the plot revolves around. She is a quick learner, eager to please, sweet, smart, athletic and generally helpful and kind. When you just describe her or if you only watch her for a few episodes you might not see what it is about her that is so special, but trust me; if you spend all of the 44 hours with her; you will fall in love.
9. Go Eun Chan (Coffee Prince)
This is the only sort of believable girl-pretending-to-be-a-boy character I’ve ever encountered. Eun Chan has a certain relaxed and easy-going but also kind of competitive vibe about her that is seen as more masculine than feminine. That combined with her hair, her manner of speaking and moving and her general way of being means she often gets mistaken for a guy. And what does a young breadwinner do? Use this, of course, to get a job, make some dough, and take care of her mother and her obnoxious younger sister. She’s a cool character, and I feel like she’s quite unanimously beloved among the viewers of this drama. If I’m wrong about that I’d be very surprised.
10. Dam Yeo Wool (Gu Family Book)
This is a period piece, which means that it’s quite outrageous for a nice lady such as Yeo Wool to be playing with swords. So even though she has quite the prowess; she must have a bodyguard with her at all times. And sure, she can come with the men when they go on secret missions, but she has to talk them into it first (or simply just come along, no matter what they say) and they will try to convince her to ”keep a lookout” or something of the sort, to keep her out of harm’s way. It’s really quite insulting, and Yeo Wool will have none of it. She’s a badass chick who will speak her mind and do the correct thing, even if it’s dangerous and some guy told her not to.
What do you think of my list? What are your favorite female leading characters?