Most of us openly and energetically talk about how much we like the male or/and the second male lead characters in a K-drama irrespective of whether it is a crime-thriller or a rom-com. But that’s definitely not the case with the female leads. Unless and until they are unique in their own way, it is rare for them to be remembered by the viewers. However, not all female leads want to play a princess and be rescued by a man whenever needed. That’s when we cannot help but fall in love with those characters who are capable of aiding themselves during difficult situations, while still having compassion.
With numerous K-drama series out there, several female leads have become fan-favourites because of their unique charm. However, the real badasses who are feared by everyone, and are not someone to deal with ease are still the most talked-about characters among female leads in K-dramas. Here are the top seven such daring ladies with strong and sassy characters who have effectively broken the stereotype of being a princess waiting for their prince in shining armour.
7. Vagabond (2019): Go Hae-Ri
Played by Bae Suzy, Go Hae-ri’s character became a fan favourite among most of the Netflix users after watching ‘Vagabond’. Her profession as a N.I.S. agent speaks volumes about why she shouldn’t be assumed as a person to be messed with. Not only is she skilled in fighting and firearms, which she proves on multiple occasions in the series, but she is also daring and does not regret anything she does. The scenes where she gives a tough fight defending herself and intensely points a gun at the culprit, and when Hae-ri asks Dal-gun to shoot her who suspects her to be one of the terrorists— are beyond fascinating! She can easily switch from an adorable woman to a powerful character and that’s what has helped her grab a spot on this list.
6. Vincenzo (2021): Hong Cha-Young
A competitive and ambitious lawyer of South Korea’s best law firm, Woosang, Cha-Young is both powerful as well as charismatic. Not only is she confident in her abilities, but also cutthroat about her cases, willing to go to any extent in order to win it, opposing even her own father. At least until the corrupted Babel Group along with the head of her law firm orchestrated the murder of her father, after which she joins hands with the Italian consigliere, Vincenzo, to take revenge. Although Vincenzo worked hard to plan everything, he could not have been able to execute them if it was not for Cha-young since he was not allowed to practice law in South Korea.
The viewers of the show have had a good laugh with Cha-young’s carefree antics, however, when it comes to bringing down Babel Group and the people she cares about, she turns into a totalling different person. What makes us love her even more is how openly and sarcastically she used to bully Ms Choi, especially with her Zumba dance!
5. Crash Landing on You (2020): Yoon Se-ri
A successful businesswoman as well as the heiress of one of the biggest companies in South Korea, Yoon Se-ri from ‘Crash Landing on You’ is a fearless woman with a cut-throat personality. With groundbreaking achievements in the fashion industry, her confidence and sophisticated personality can easily be seen by taking a look at her wardrobe (seems like almost all badass women have amazing fashion sense). Growing up with a family who treated her as an outsider for being an illegitimate daughter, abandoned by her stepmother at a beach, Se-ri had to go through hell in order to stand where she is.
Although in the first couple of episodes, we didn’t get to see that much of her power as she was busy facing life-threatening dangers in North Korea, once she arrives in her place, she wonderfully showcases her fierce and resilience (remember her entry scene when she returns to in South Korea!) Even while being in North Korea, she doesn’t give up and beats all the odds.
4. Itaewon Class (2020): Jo Yi Seo
If you have already watched this webtoon-based K-drama, you can probably understand what we mean when we say Kim Da-mi’s character of Jo Yi Seo is not our usual leading lady. A little sociopathic, Yi Seo is a spunky and fearless woman with style. Her appearance is itself not very conventional for a Korean female lead, with her signature dip-dyed bob cut that became one of the highlights of the show from the moment she made her appearance.
She is indeed chic, both in her style and thinking. Although Park Sae Royi strived the most to open the bar cum restaurant of his dreams, Danbam, it was mostly because of Yi Seo that it grew into a corporation, vast enough to compete with his rival, Jang Dae Hee. She didn’t hesitate in giving up her university and a stable profession and sincerely chose to help Sae Royi and his DanBam grow.
3. The King: Eternal Monarch (2020): Jung Tae-Eul
From the adorable and sweet Goblin’s bride in ‘Goblin: The Lonely and Great God’ to the violent and strong-willed Jeong Tae-Eul in ‘The King: Eternal Monarch,’ Kim Go-Eun proves how she can blend in every character she takes up. Playing the character of an inspector in Violent Crimes Squad and a trained Tae Kwon Do fighter, Tae-Eul knows her responsibilities as a police officer. She remains fearless when faced with difficult situations for her father is a Tae Kwon Do instructor and she has been under his guidance since a young age.
Even when she is being told that a parallel universe exists, she doesn’t believe it blindly just because the male lead says so and sticks to her logic until she experiences it herself. Remember how riveting the scene looked where she escaped from the clutches of the kidnappers, fighting them off bravely and even managing to seek help, injured?
2. It’s Okay to Not be Okay (2020): Ku Moon Young
Arguably the best performance of actress Seo Ye-Ji, Ko Moon‑Young’s character from ‘It’s Okay to Not be Okay’ is undoubtedly one of the best when it comes to being badass. A strong, powerful and savage woman who literally acts crazily and would go to any extent to achieve something without worrying about the consequences, that’s who Ko Moon‑Young is! She is a complicated character suffering from antisocial personality disorder developed due to the emotional abuse that she had to bear as a kid from her mother.
Although she seems to be a cold, controlling and detached person, who doesn’t have a bit of warmth in her eyes, her emotions are far deeper than that. And that’s when Moon Gang Tae appears to teach her the meaning of love and the comfort that she can get from it. She goes through a significant amount of character development as she begins to take a stand for her close ones as well as others who are mistreated, but in her own quirky ways.
1. Hotel Del Luna (2019): Jang Man Wol
“Chan Seong has a girlfriend?
Who is she? Is she pretty?
Never mind. Don’t say it
Why are you telling me that? Did I say I was curious? I’m not interested.
Is she pretty? I asked if she is pretty.”
Tell me if you didn’t just say that loud in Man Wol’s voice! That’s how extra she is! She just gets whatever she wants by hook or by crook. The way she strides confidently in her expensive clothes while others follow her, scares the wits out of people, when angry, she is the perfect epitome of “a nightmare dressed like a daydream”. Although she has been a brave soul from the very beginning, the reason she had to turn into a cold and distant person who doesn’t get attached to anyone, is because of her tragic past. Her existence on earth is only because of the unpleasant deeds that she had committed for which she has to bear punishment from the deity.
Although she’s ill-tempered, most of the time she is the one who saves the day serving the guests (though she asks for a price for doing anything). Let’s not forget her loud screams aimed that Ku Chan Seong! We doubt if anyone else could have shone in that role better than IU.