“Cinderella troupe” now outdated in K-dramas?

Instead of the classic “Cinderella tale” in old K-dramas, the audience is now fond of independent female leads. 

K-drama fans all once enjoyed the “Cinderella troupe”, where a rich male lead falls for a poor female lead, making for a fairy-tale-like story. However, the once-classic storyline is now considered outdated and repetitive, making way for independent and inspiring main characters. It is also expected that independent female leads will become the trend for 2023. 

The Glory

It is no exaggeration to say that 2022 is a year for female-centric K-dramas, with notable works including “Juvenile Justice” and “Under the Queen’s Umbrella” (led by Kim Hye Soo), “Twenty Five, Twenty One” (led by Kim Tae Ri), Extraordinary Attorney Woo (led by Park Eun Bin), “Little Women” (led by Kim Go Eun) and most recently, “The Glory” (led by Song Hye Kyo). 

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Kim Hye Soo made a deep impression with her appearance in “Under the Queen’s Umbrella”

Regarding this trend, culture critic Hwang Jin Mi told The Korea Herald, “TV series are mostly enjoyed by female viewers. And they have seen enough Cinderella stories, in which a woman from a poor background falls in love with a prince-like male lead. I think content creators realized the viewers’ desire for diversity in female characters. With the actresses’ performances and abilities in presenting powerful stories now proven, I think the viewers can expect to see more of such dramas.”

Now, in 2023, the trend of independent female leads is continuing, with many A-list actresses assuming such roles in TV or OTT dramas. 

“The Glory”, which will air its second season in March, features Song Hye Kyo, who is often known for her melodrama roles. However, the actress went through a drastic transformation, with the main focus of “The Glory” being revenge, trauma, and school violence. 

In particular, Song Hye Kyo’s character in “The Glory” experienced horrifying physical and mental pains due to school violence. As she grows up, she meticulously plan out revenge against each and every person who hurt her. 

“Melodrama queen” Song Hye Kyo had a drastic transformation in “The Glory”
“Melodrama queen” Song Hye Kyo had a drastic transformation in “The Glory”

With such a strong female lead, the first season of “The Glory” has incurred global impact, topping the weekly TV ranking in 8 nations including Korea. The series also made it to the Top 10 TV series of 34 different countries. 

In addition, while old office K-dramas tend to focus on a male lead, JTBC is switching the focus onto a female lead in its weekend series “The Agency”. 

“The Agency” revolves around the CEO of an advertising company, whose working abilities earned her fast promotion despite a poor background. Played by Lee Bo Young, this character is a workaholic with a steel heart, who never backs down and fights against her male competitors. 

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Lee Bo Young is the central character in an office K-drama 

On the other hand, Jeon Do Yeon, who won Best Actress at the 60th Cannes Film Festival, returned to the small screen with a leading role in tvN’s “Crash Course in Romance”, which started airing back on January 14th. 

The actress used to be known for her tragic character, with a notable role being her character in the 2007 movie “Secret Sunshine”. Meanwhile, for “Crash Course in Romance”, she transformed into a former national athlete who now runs a side dish shop, and is willing to sacrifices herself for her family. 

About her character in “Crash Course in Romance”, Jeon Do Yeon commented to media outlet Yonhap News, “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. I thought it would be the kind of drama that would allow viewers to discover unknown parts of me.”

Source: The Korea Herald, Yonhap

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