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Tough Women Win Audiences' Hearts

2005/08/31 Source

By Park Chung-a
Staff Reporter

In the war of viewer ratings between tough female characters and dainty princess-like characters, the tough ladies are winning the hearts of television audiences.

"The most noticeable thing in this year's drama scene is that viewers have shown great support for dramas that feature female characters who are strong-minded and independent enough to overcome hardships themselves", said Kang Myong-sok, a TV critic. "One of the prominent examples is this year's major hit drama series 'My Name is Kim Sam-soon' - `My Lovely Samsoon'. Although the heroine Sam-soon is single, 30 years old, overweight and only a high-school graduate, she is optimistic and active both in love and her career. The drama must have influenced future drama-makers in designing female characters".

Following 'My Name is Kim Sam-soon' - "My Lovely Samsoon", an MBC daily drama "Be Strong, Geum-Soon!" which features a young widow in her early 20s striving hard as a hairdresser, is highly popular with viewers. Last week, the drama recorded a 31.7 percent viewer rating, the highest among programs in the same timeslot, according to TNS Media Korea.

Also, KBS's "Changmibit Insaeng", which translates as "Life in the Pink", reveals the life of a married woman, Maeng-soon. Although she sacrifices herself to her family and husband, her husband asks for a divorce after he has an extra-marital affair. To make things worse, she is diagnosed with cancer. In its first episode last week, it beat SBS's "Princess LuLu", with a viewer rating of 18.5 percent, the highest of programs in the same timeslot.

On Monday, another strong-headed female character appeared in the MBC drama "The Secret Lovers". Seo Young-ji, a high-school graduate is a strong-headed character who has to play the role of breadwinner for her family. In her hectic life, she works as a merchant in a flower market in the morning, a guide in a parking lot in the afternoon and a substitute driver at night.

However, despite her desperate situation, she drives herself on with the positive thought that the good days will come and keeps alive her dream of becoming a world-famous writer of children's novels. The drama's viewer rating has leaped to 12.7 percent, a 4.7 percent increase from its first episode.

As you can assume from the title, "Princess LuLu" is a drama about a young spoiled woman. Actress Kim Jung-eun, a heroine from the last year's summer drama hit "Lovers in Paris", plays the role of Hee-su, a third generation woman of a chaebol family who doesn't know much about the world.

However, the drama's viewer rating hit its lowest yet at 16 percent, a sharp decrease from the early weeks when the drama was averaging over 20 percent. The show has also been criticized for excessive product placement and its unrealistic qualities.

In KBS' "Wedding", the heroine is Sena, a house manager with an excessively carefree character. As she has been treated like a princess from a rich family, Sena is quite insensitive to other people's difficulties. The drama recorded a viewer rating of 11.9 percent this week and is losing out to "The Secret Lovers".

"The reason that viewers show great support for strong-minded characters is that they reflect current social trends. Because of long-term economic hardships, more people have come to identify themselves with characters who make their way and survive rather than princess-like characters who live in luxury, lacking a sense of reality", said Bae Kuk-nam , a TV expert. "Also, the major characteristic of strong-minded female characters is that they are independent, active and outgoing. While princess-like characters are passive in love, work and relationships, tough female characters show an active unyielding attitude.

"Such characters fit the social trend, striking a chord with viewers and gaining great attention".

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