New breed of female characters takes center stage in Korean dramas

The classic plot of a rich man falling in love with a poor girl was a popular theme in Korean dramas a decade ago, but it is now considered as the same old story. Strong, inspiring female characters have shown growing presence in Korean dramas across genres in recent years, and the trend is likely to continue this year.

Top actresses have dazzled their fans with a wide range of roles in new TV dramas and series by streaming services, and more A-listed names are set to return to the small screen later this year.

Song Hye-kyo, well known as "Melodrama Queen," has recently received acclaim for her dark role in the Netflix series "The Glory," a grim revenge drama about school bullying.

The 41-year-old plays a woman who suffered school violence and elaborately takes revenge on her former bullies by taking advantage of people around her.

The first part, streamed on Dec. 30, was a global success, topping the Netflix weekly chart in eight nations, including South Korea, and made it to the streamer's top 10 TV shows in 34 countries.

While past workplace dramas mostly revolved around male protagonists, local cable channel JTBC's ongoing weekend drama "Agency" follows office politics from the perspective of a female executive, played by Lee Bo-young.

Lee plays an advertising agency's first female executive, who has achieved fast promotions with stellar performances despite her underprivileged background. The cool-hearted workaholic character doesn't hesitate to take revenge on her male rivals in the workplace but grapples with constant anxiety at home alone.

Cannes-winning actress Jeon Do-yeon returned to the small screen with tvN's weekend drama "Crash Course in Romance," which began airing Jan. 14.

Jeon, who has a knack for playing emotionally distraught women in films like "Secret Sunshine" (2007), plays a former national handball player who now operates a side dish shop and takes care of her sick brother and a cousin in high school.

The 50-year-old actress with a teenage daughter said she could sympathize with the character who sacrifices herself for her family.

"When I was offered to play my first bright character in a long time, I had many thoughts about whether I could do this well," she said during an online press conference earlier this month. "I thought it would be the kind of drama that would allow viewers to discover unknown parts of me."

Source: Yonhap News Agency