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10 Korean Dramas With Strong Female Leads That Taught Us Life Lessons, Including Search WWW

Korean dramas with strong female leads

Gone are the days where K-dramas are full of weak-willed female leads pushed around by wealthy chaebol male leads. Eagle-eyed fans may have observed that Korean dramas with strong female leads are gaining traction both locally and globally, and we’re honoured to witness this monumental shift in trend. What a time to be alive, truly. 

1. Thirty-Nine (2022) 

Korean dramas strong female leads - thirty-nine
Image credit: JTBC

Main Cast:

  • Son Ye Jin as Cha Mi Jo
  • Jeon Mi Do as Jung Chan Young
  • Kim Ji Hyun as Jang Joo Hee

Thirty-Nine was part of the Top 10 list on Netflix globally for 4 weeks, and if you haven’t watched it, now’s the time to do so.

This slice-of-life drama defines what true friendship is through Cha Mi Jo, Jung Chan Young, and Jang Joo Hee.

They first met as high school students, and they’re now on the verge of entering their 40s.

Although they come from different walks of life, they share similar struggles that hit close to home for us. The protagonists are forced to go through excruciating and heart-wrenching moments in life, but the drama also highlights the growth of the main characters – individually and jointly – above all. 

You can watch the teaser here:

Video credit: The Swoon

Korean title: 서른, 아홉
Genre: Slice-of-life, friendship, romance 

2. Little Women (2022) 

Korean dramas strong female leads - little women
Image credit: tvN

Main Cast: 

  • Kim Go Eun as Oh In Joo
  • Nam Ji Hyun as Oh In Kyung
  • Park Ji Hu as Oh In Hye
  • Wi Ha Joon as Choi Do Il

One of the most highly anticipated dramas of 2022, Little Women features a stellar female cast including Kim Go Eun, Nam Ji Hyun, and Park Ji Hu.

Grappling with realistic issues such as poverty and greed, the drama revolves around 3 sisters who struggle to make ends meet.

As the oldest, Oh In Joo puts her mind to providing for her sisters. Their fate is at the crossroads of living in abundance and abject poverty when In Joo’s best friend suddenly leaves her with a huge bag loaded with 70 billion won.

Check out our review on the first episode of Little Women to see if it’s worth a watch.

Also, you can catch the trailer here:

Video credit: Netflix Asia

Korean title: 작은 아씨들
Genre: Mystery, thriller

3. Cleaning Up (2022) 

Korean dramas strong female leads - cleaning up
Image credit: JTBC

Main Cast: 

  • Yeom Jung Ah as Eo Yong Mi
  • Jeon So Min as Ahn In Kyung
  • Kim Jae Hwa as Maeng Soo Ja

Cleaning Up follows 3 janitors at a brokerage company who wake up and go to bed worrying about money.

They barely make ends meet, but everything changes when they overhear a confidential conversation about insider trading. This single piece of information holds the power to transform their future, but it comes at a cost.

Check out the teaser here:

Video credit: JTBC Drama

Korean title: 클리닝 업
Genre: Comedy, crime 

4. Work Later, Drink Now (2021) 

Korean dramas strong female leads - work later drink now
Image credit: TVING 

Main Cast: 

  • Lee Sun Bin as Ahn So Hee
  • Han Sun Hwa as Han Ji Yeon
  • Jung Eun Ji as Kang Ji Gu

Work Later, Drink Now taps on Korean drinking culture by featuring 3 women who look forward to de-stressing at the end of an exhausting day by drinking their night away. 

If you’re in search of a jolly drama that doesn’t require much commitment, this is a must-watch. The sequel to the drama premiered on 9th December 2022 following the roaring success of the 1st season. 

Watch the teaser here: 

Video credit: TVING 

Korean title: 술꾼도시여자들
Genre: Slice of life, comedy, friendship 

5. Mine (2021) 

Korean dramas strong female leads - mine
Image credit: tvN

Main Cast: 

  • Lee Bo Young as Seo Hee Soo
  • Kim Seo Hyung as Jeong Seo Hyun
  • Ok Ja Yeon as Kang Ja Kyung 

Mine underscores the journey of 2 women who rediscover their agency and identity in the midst of chaos and confusion.

In the eyes of society, Seo Hee Soo and Jeong Seohyun have it all. They possess competence, affluence, and social standing. But what lies hidden beneath their facade is a sense of hollowness and disorientation.

Don’t miss out on the teaser:

Video credit: The Swoon

Korean title: 마인
Genre: Thriller, mystery 

6. Search WWW (2019) 

Korean dramas strong female leads - search www
Image credit: tvN

Main Cast: 

  • Im Soo Jung as Bae Ta Mi / Tammy
  • Lee Da Hee as Cha Hyeon / Scarlett
  • Jeon Hye Jin as Song Ga Kyeong

If you had to choose between developing your career and shouldering the responsibilities of a wife or mother, which would you pick?

Search WWW grapples with this dilemma that women living in the contemporary world face on a daily basis.

Bae Ta Mi, Cha Hyeon, and Song Ga Kyeong are workaholics who are in their late 30s. They’ve poured their heart and soul into becoming seasoned professionals at the most reputable web portal company in Korea.

The drama takes you on an emotional yet hilarious ride, and you’ll find solace in the main characters, who accurately represent the predicaments women encounter every day.

You can watch the teaser here:

Video credit: tvN drama 

Korean title: 검색어를 입력하세요 WWW
Genre: Romance, business 

7. Be Melodramatic (2019) 

Korean dramas strong female leads - be melodramatic
Image credit: JTBC

Main Cast: 

  • Chun Woo Hee as Im Jin Joo
  • Jeon Yeo Been as Lee Eun Jung
  • Han Ji Eun as Hwang Han Joo

When you weave romance, friendship, and career, you get Be Melodramatic.

The 3 protagonists, Im Jin Joo, Lee Eun Jung, and Hwang Han Joo, are now in their 30s. As they open a new chapter of their lives, they begin to wade through a set of challenges that are completely unfamiliar. 

Jin Joo earns a living as a playwright, Eun Jung produces second-rate documentaries, and Han Joo juggles her responsibilities as a provider and a nurturer.

Check out the teaser here:

Video credit: JTBC Drama

Korean title: 멜로가 체질
Genre: Comedy, romance, slice of life 

8. Mother (2018) 

Korean dramas strong female leads - mother
Image credit: tvN

Main Cast: 

  • Lee Bo Young as Kang Soo Jin
  • Heo Yool as Kim Hye Na 
  • Lee Hye Young as Kang Yeong Shin

Do you believe that anyone is fit to become a mother? 

Mother is a thought-provoking drama that redefines the role of a parent. It’s not an easy watch as pressing issues, such as child abuse and domestic violence, are unflinchingly depicted.

Kang Soo Jin is a teacher with a keen interest in birds. One day, she notices bruises on one of her student’s bodies, which triggers a nagging suspicion. Alas, her guess was right – her student Hye Na has been constantly abused by her mother and de facto father.

Desperate to save Hye Na, Soo Jin kidnaps her in hopes of nurturing her with warmth and love.

Catch the teaser here:

Video credit: tvN drama

Korean title: 마더
Genre: Mystery, psychological, thriller 

9. Avengers Social Club (2017) 

Korean dramas strong female leads - avengers social club
Image credit: tvN

Main Cast: 

  • Ra Mi Ran as Hong Do Hee
  • Lee Yo Won as Kim Jung Hye
  • Myung Se Bin as Lee Mi Sook

The plot of Avengers Social Club revolves around the revenge master plan of 3 women from different backgrounds.

Hong Do Hee is a widow with 2 children, and she works at a traditional market to earn a living. Following an unfortunate incident involving her son, she sets her mind on joining the “Bok-Ja Club” – a club that implements and executes revenge plans.

On the flipside, Kim Jung Hye lives a comfortable life with no financial worries. But her life crumbles into pieces when she finds out that her husband has betrayed her trust. Eventually, this propels her to join the Bok-Ja club.

Finally, Lee Mi Sook becomes a member of the club because of her abusive husband. While she initially joins with the thought of seeking revenge, she gradually forges a friendship like no other with Do Hee and Jung Hye.

Don’t sleep on the trailer:

Video credit: tvN drama

Korean title: 부암동 복수자들
Genre: Comedy, slice of life 

10. Age Of Youth (2016) 

Korean dramas strong female leads - age of youth
Image credit: JTBC

Main Cast: 

  • Park Eun Bin as Song Ji Won
  • Han Ye Ri as Yoon Jin Myung
  • Han Seung Yeon as Jung Ye Eun
  • Ryu Hwa Young as Kang Yi Na
  • Park Hye Soo as Yoo Eun Jae

Age Of Youth is a youth drama packed with budding love, flourishing dreams, and sprouting individuality.

The drama follows 5 protagonists who live under the same roof. Despite their differences, they come together to share the highs and lows of their 20s.

In addition, there’s a supernatural element that supplements the comedy of the drama.

Watch the teaser here:

Video credit: JTBC Drama

Korean title: 청춘시대
Genre: Romance, slice of life, comedy

Iconic Korean dramas with strong female leads 

Women-led Korean dramas tend to be the exception, rather than the norm. We hope that this article will help readers find Korean dramas with strong female leads and storylines that may reflect their own reality, and find comfort through representation.

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Cover image adapted from: JTBC, tvN, TVING