Stilettos & Sass: 7 Unforgettable Girl Bosses In K-Dramas
Bold and beautiful, feisty and fabulous, intelligent and intriguing, sensitive and spunky, K-dramas have introduced us to some empowering and awesome women who inspire and lead the way in every possible way.
From a CEO to a military prosecutor, a bestselling author to a hotelier, these ladies hustled, owned the boardroom, and struck the curve balls which came their way with confidence and sass. Here are seven unforgettable girl bosses in K-dramas who are the poster girls of grit, wit, determination, and spunk.
“The company may see me as a shield that takes the blows, but I value myself,” says Bae Ta Mi (Im Soo Jung), a director at a leading internet portal company. She takes the fall for her principles and clashes with her one time best friend-turned-boss, Song Ga Kyung (Jun Hye Jin). Bae Ta Mi joins the rival and competitive company and aligns with the dynamic Cha Hyun (Lee Da Hee), and her sole aim is to supersede her former organization and get back at Ga Kyung in every possible way.
Does a woman need to be apologetic for being ambitious and career driven? Is marriage the final destination for a woman to lead a fulfilling life? The drama drives home an inspiring message as it showcases the lives of three strong-willed ladies well past their 30’s who, despite being on top of their game professionally, tread cautiously as they open their heart to love and romance yet never lose their sense of self.
These are very relatable women, and it’s hard not to find a part of yourself in each one of them. The independent Bae Ta Mi, whose work is an extension of her life, shows apprehension in committing to a relationship with the younger Park Mo Geon (Jang Ki Yong) since love was never on her radar. On the other hand, there is a stifled Ga Kyung, trapped in a crowded and stressful marriage to Oh Jin Woo (Ji Seung Hyun). And Cha Hyun is a drama fan girl, does that not resonate with so many of us? So when she meets the object of her affections, Seol Ji Hwan (Lee Jae Wook), you cheer them on. “Search: WWW” is a well written drama, and it’s a refreshing watch as three skillfully savvy women call the shots and give a shout out to their girl tribe that it’s cool to be you.
Start watching “Search:WWW”:
“It’s Okay to Not Be Okay”
Go Moon Young (Seo Ye Ji) is beautifully haughty, emotionally detached, and temperamental. She is everything that one would not associate as being a children’s book author. But Go Moon Young is an impulsive fairytale writer who does not like to sugarcoat reality and has no qualms in admitting that fairytales usually come hiding some dark and sad secrets. The super rich and famous Moon Young is burdened by her own traumas, and as she is anti-social and highly volatile, she struggles to create positive relationships. But it’s a telling moment when she yells at the audience at her own fan meeting for humiliating a disabled fan or when in her own way makes an effort in building a close bond with the orphaned Moon brothers, Sang Tae (Oh Jung Se) and Gang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun). We see that Moon Young is a forthright and honest person despite her brittle and unpopular personality. Seo Ye Ji gives a raw and real performance in portraying the complexities of Go Moon Young, the lonely lost girl who just wants to be loved and cared for.
“Crash Landing On You”
Super rich heiress Yoon Se Ri (Son Ye Jin) is a successful CEO of her self-made fashion and lifestyle company, “Se-Ri’s Choice.” Se Ri shares a complicated and estranged relationship with her wealthy family for whom she is just an accessory, seen as a viable business asset to be married to another. However, Se Ri does not only have sharp business acumen but has also proven time and time again that she way more worthy than her brothers who are seen as the true inheritors. When a freak accident lands her in North Korea and into the arms of a handsome army officer named Captain Ri (Hyun Bin), Se Ri is no damsel in distress but adapts herself despite being in so called hostile terrain. One iconic moment is when she is deemed dead by her family in Seoul, she returns back and casually yet firmly takes back her position on the day of her memorial.
Yoon Se Ri is also fearless and sensitive. She takes a bullet for love, and though she pines for the man she loves, Se Ri is not one to wallow in self pity. She is passionate towards her work and balances her long distance relationship. The scene when Se Ri wraps her work commitments and dreamily tells her team that she will be unavailable for a few weeks translates to spending quality time with her “Officer and A Gentleman” in the Swiss Alps. Last but not least, Son Ye Jin ups the fashion and style quotient and gives you a look book on how to flawlessly slay at every occasion.
Spunky, plucky, and sharp, Jo Yi Seo (Kim Da Mi) of “Itaewon Class” is a wunderkind who can be brattish and impulsive but exudes self-confidence that is unmatchable. A high school topper, she can take on boys twice her size and is also a social media whiz, an influencer who has a razor sharp grasp of trends. However, she prefers not to attend college and makes it a mission to help Park Sae Roy (Park Seo Joon) succeed instead. Yi Seo is one of the key components that catapults Sae Roy’s business from a in the hole bar in Itaewon to a thriving restaurant in the food and beverage industry. Jo Si Yeo is far from perfect. Her sociopathic behavior makes her unpopular, she can be insensitive, obnoxious, and domineering, but over the course of the show she develops into a compassionate team worker. Kim Da Mi as Jo Yi Seo was a trendsetter too, from her blunt dyed bob to her leather biker chic casual wear, to formal plaid and flannel jackets in vibrant trendy colors, Yi Seo style statements can be best summarized as sporty, feminine, and comfy.
Lonely, rich girl Cha Soo Hyun (Song Hye Kyo) is the CEO of Dong Hwa Hotel, which she has got as part of her alimony. The daughter of a prominent politician, Soo Hyun has for the most part of her life been a pawn, caught between her ambitious mother and manipulative mother-in-law. Cha Hyun takes the bold step of walking out on her marriage of convenience and devotes herself to building her business. However, her every move is scrutinized and being under the constant spotlight, Soo Hyun has hardly ever lived for herself. But a trip to Havana changes the course of her life, and a chance encounter with a young man named Kim Jin Hyuk (Park Bo Gum) finally gives her the wings she needs to fly. Soo Hyun throws caution to the wind as she follows her heart and allows herself a second chance at love and happiness. Song Hye Kyo and Park Bo Gum’s on screen chemistry made this “encounter” swoon worthy.
Start watching “Encounter”:
“Hotel Del Luna”
Stylish with a temper to match, the intimidating Jang Man Wol (IU), resident CEO of the cursed Hotel Del Luna, is not someone you want to mess with. She loves the fine things in life and is unapologetic about her love for money. But Man Wol is stuck paying the price for her erroneous ways in the past. An orphan who was raised by thieves, Man Wol never had it easy and now has the burden of living for a 1,000 years, managing a hotel for ghosts. She is weary in showing her weakness and camouflages it with a proud and icy exterior. IU’s performance makes you sympathize with this cynical character, who is resentful, but as you peel off the layers you see a woman who is hurting and wants to be liberated of her past. Man Wol is a scene stealer, and her fashion game on point. From vintage to retro to millennial trends, she carries them with flair. Channeling her otherworldly charm from high collared, puffed straight gowns to flowing dresses and simple silhouettes accessorized with baubles and hats, IU is glamorously graceful as Man Wol.
Start watching “Hotel Del Luna”:
“Hospital Playlist” charts the story of five 40 something doctors who have been best friends since medical school, and the drama is an ode to friendship. Chae Song Hwa (Jeon Mi Do), who is the only girl amongst the band of boys, is the glue which binds them together. Her four buddies, played by (Yoo Yeon Seok, Jo Jung Suk, Jung Kyung Ho, and Kim Dae Myung), dote on her. Despite their busy schedule at the hospital, they gather in her room to share a meal, cannot argue with her when she insists on singing, even though she cannot carry a note, and she is the person they turn to for advice.
But Song Hwa is also an accomplished and reliable doctor, a professor whose expertise is sought after by her subordinates and friends alike. Also the small aspects of Song Hwa’s personality, such as her favorite hobby being camping, taking off to spend time alone in the woods, indulging herself with small luxuries like ordering a coffee maker for her office, or her silent adoration for one of her friends, make her one of the most real and relatable characters in K-dramas.
Hey Soompiers, which one of these characters is your favorite girl boss? Let us know in the comments below!
Puja Talwar is a Soompi writer with a strong Song Joong Ki and Lee Junho bias. A long time K-drama fan, she loves devising alternate scenarios to the narratives. She has interviewed Lee Min Ho, Gong Yoo, and Ji Chang Wook to name a few. You can follow her on @puja_talwar7 on Instagram.
All-time favorite dramas: “Descendants of the Sun,” “Queen of the Game,” and “Reply 1988.”
Currently watching: “Reborn Rich”