Leading female actors in South Korean dramas are nothing new, nor is the occasional appearance of a warrior woman archetypal character. But the current drama season is unusual in that two major dramas feature leading ladies in such warriors roles, though neither of them are well known for it. These are Park Shin-hye of "Sisyphus: The Myth" on jTBC and Kim So-hyun of "River Where the Moon Rises" on KBS.
AdvertisementPark Shin-hye has long been known as a sweetheart style of actress in South Korean media. The thirty-one year old star only just recently had her very first foray into action with the zombie film "#ALIVE" last year which necessitated she train at the Seoul Action School. That experience appears to have whet her appetite for "Sisyphus: The Myth" where she plays a mysterious woman from parts unknown with a weak grasp life in modern day Korea but a strong grasp on hand to hand combat.
In the more distant past, Kim So-hyun plays Princess Pyeongkang in "River Where the Moon Rises" which is loosely based on the old folk tale of the story of Princess Pyeongkang and the Fool Ondal. In the original story Pyeongkang is a proper supportive wife, but in the recent adaptation she's a far more proactive heroine, in full clad battle armor. This may prove a bit of a shock to her more usual fans, who know Kim So-hyun from romances such as "The Tale of Nokdu" where she played a more girlish role.
The dueling examples of the dramas, with "Sisyphus: The Myth" having strong international numbers on Netflix and "River Where the Moon Rises" leading its timeslot, show a new dynamic when it comes to casting. Even in stories where romance is a crucial story element, women are often taking the lead with men playing the support roles. Though a simple twist in the overall dynamic, the change is nonetheless appealing to many viewers even with actresses that have counter-intuitive reputations for such parts.
Written by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.
"[HanCinema's News] Warrior Women Dominate South Korean Dramas"
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