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Five drama recommendations… that’ll give you a girl crush

Dramaland is full of heroines to love. Whether we admire their can-do attitude, their emotional intelligence, or their insight, fight, or fashion, it’s hard to leave a drama without learning something from the heroine’s story. Or, you know, leaving with a girl crush that you might never recover from. Here are some of our favorites.



You From Another Star (2013)

 
Cheon Song-yi (Jeon Ji-hyun) may be as dim as a battery-powered tea light, but I admire her spunk and her ability to plow through awkward situations with her — often unfounded — confidence. She’s the very definition of “fake it until you make it,” and she’s definitely made a name for herself as an actress, even if it isn’t always a positive one. But what the public doesn’t see is the side of her that makes her one of my girl crushes.

Behind closed doors, she’s lonely and deeply affected by the netizens’ harsh words, but even her method of self-therapy — singing loudly and obnoxiously to keep from breaking down in tears — reveals an inner strength that I respect. Rather than cave to her manager’s suggestions that she stop posting on social media in order to cultivate an air of mystery — and stop revealing that her book smarts is limited to the introductory chapter of a textbook — she remains unapologetically true to herself. Far too many people cave to society’s pressures, and while I can’t say that Song-yi is completely immune to them, she hasn’t let her success — or failures — turn her into someone that is unlovable or unapproachable. She’s adorably flawed, and it’s no wonder she wormed her way into Min-joon (Kim Soo-hyun)’s heart. –@daebakgrits

 


Mr. Sunshine (2018)

 
There’s a lot to love about Mr. Sunshine’s Go Ae-shin (Kim Tae-ri). She’s brave, passionate, smart, and if she sets her mind to something, you can rest assured she’ll see it through to the end of her abilities. Rather than take the safe life roadmap planned out for her, she insists on fighting for freedom and the lives of her people, and she manages to pull off a double life with grace, confidence, and wit. Her strength and courage earn her the love and respect of most who meet her, and certainly one of the most moving moments is watching her small community rally to shield her from harm at a time when she’s the one who’s vulnerable.

But personally, what I love most about her is her curiosity. Ae-shin wants to learn everything, and to be able to apply that knowledge to her greatest advantage. The exact moment I fell in love with her was actually a tiny exchange when she tried to bluff past not understanding an English word to avoid appearing ignorant, painfully (to us) unaware of just how obvious it was. Something about that moment touched me in a deeply relatable way and made me want to see her to succeed in conquering all the mysteries the world has to offer. –@mistyisles

 


Crash Landing on You (2019)

 
A successful self-made business woman, Yoon Se-ri has it all, but you can’t hate her for her lavish lifestyle because she earned every bit of it, having branched out from her wealthy family and built her own empire from the ground up. She’s smart, resourceful, and a go-getter, so when she finds herself crash landing in North Korea, it’s no wonder that she’s able to roll with the punches and survive the harsh world she’s dropped into. Yes, she had a lot of help from the handsome Jung-hyuk (Hyun Bin), but charming a North Korean soldier into aiding her is no small feat either!

She has an exceptionally high emotional IQ and is able to read people, but rather than use that to her advantage and manipulate them, she chooses to win them over to her side and gain their loyalty, which makes them want to help her. But she doesn’t just charm the handsome soldier who is totally “her type.” No, she successfully woos a whole town and Jung-hyuk’s sour-faced father. And back home, even though she has a reputation for being a workaholic and making her employees work long hours, she has loyal subordinates who care enough about her to go the extra mile and try to locate her after she goes missing. Se-ri’s the kind of woman you crush on because she’s so stinkin’ likable and because you aspire to be her. –@daebakgrits

 


Nobody Knows (2020)

 
At first glance, Cha Young-jin (Kim Seo-hyung) of Nobody Knows might seem unapproachable, closed-off, and cold. But, as an introvert who grew up really frustrated watching introverted characters magically shed their introverted traits as “character development,” Cha Young-jin is the female lead I have subconsciously wanted to be almost my entire life.

She’s strong without being callous or unemotional. She’s independent, but cares deeply for the people around her and relies on them when she needs to. Despite the trauma she carries, she’s secure enough in herself that she can also be a support and shelter for others – to the point that she unintentionally “collects” a whole crew of friends and allies, because she’s able to connect with people who aren’t necessarily willing to open up to anyone else. (And I’d be remiss not to mention her touching, familial-type relationship with the downstairs neighbor boy, Eun-ho (Ahn Ji-ho), which is as compelling as any actual familial relationship!) –@mistyisles

 


My Name (2021)

 
I’m a sucker for a heroine that has some fight in her, and Netflix’s action-revenge drama My Name takes that to the nines. Yoon Ji-woo (Han So-hee) is a young girl whose life is turned upside down when her gangster father is murdered. She sets out on revenge, and it changes the course of her life — but this isn’t the petty revenge of a glass of water in the face. Instead, it’s the kind that sees Ji-woo working for a mob boss, infiltrating the police, and meeting all kinds of emotional, mental, and physical conflict.

The drama is as dark and rough as expected, but there was something about the character of Yoon Ji-woo and her fearless and almost brutal determination that really resonated with me. Early on in the drama, we see Ji-woo living and training in a gangster’s den. She’s surrounded by the roughest and toughest and strongest fighters around, and somehow this scrawny orphaned teen is able to best them all. Believable or not, the scene where she slowly beats each fighter to a pulp and wins as the top fighter was just too satisfying for words, because it was less about her physical strength, and more about her incredible mental strength. Ji-woo’s discipline, determination, and endurance are definitely crush-worthy traits, and ones that inspired me as I watched. –@missvictrix

 
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I could add Lee Da Hee's "Scarlett" (Search: WWW),Park Min Young's Chae Yeong Shin(Healer),Ha Ji Won's Kim Hang Ah( King2Hearts) & Ki Empress,Dal Li(Dal Li & Gamjatang),Choi Soo Young's Seo Dan Ah(Run On)that come now at the top of my mind

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Also the ladies from Melo is my nature.

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Scarlett definitely and my wife- who is currently watching HEALER- agrees with you about Park Min-young's character as well.

I am going to add another Park Min-young character to that list: Secretary Kim. People miss the fact that this lady has a steel spine. She has spent ten years pulling her family out of poverty, putting her older sister through graduate school and paying off debt and now she decides to change her life- and does so, but not by changing herself, because she is not the one who needs to change- rather she makes someone else (her boss) change. This is actually a very powerful lady who wields her power in a very feminine way. The title of the drama WHATS WRONG WITH SECRETARY KIM? is ironic because the answer is actually "absolutely nothing": The problem is her life, not herself. The story is how she sets out to change her life and how she succeeds.

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Quite true about Secretary Kim...Must admit that i'm quite fond of all her characters,at least the ones i remember yet again i adore Park Min-young so i guess i'm also a tiny bit bias...

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I too adore Park Min-young.

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Here for all the PMY praise!

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I'm going to add yet another PMY character too! Her Kim Yoon-shik in Sungkyungkwan Scandal (which is hard to rewatch now because of ughh...Yoochun). She was brainy and was either #1 or #2 in the class.

I don't like her current character in FLAW as much as her other ones, but she does have some girl-crush reactions and smackdowns especially when interacting with her ex and her ex's wife.

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Scarlett was one of the first ones that came to my mind too. Even Bae Tami. I left that show with mega girl crushes.

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All the ladies there ruled the girl crush theme!

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150% for Nobody Knows, such a gem of a drama. Kim Seo Hyung was such a badass. Also Cheon Song Yi will always be top ten favorite female protagonists, I still say sorry the way she does.

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Oh, totally. I’ve had to explain to non-kdrama watcher friends why I say it that way ☺️ Which really is a totally Cheon Song-Yi kind of thing to do, isn’t it, saying something weird and embarrassing myself?

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Lol, I just say it that way and they look at me weird, however my kdrama friends just repeat it back to me and we cackle accordingly.😅

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My favourite FLs always tend to be those who are competent at their job (SO tired of the damsels being rescued at work all the time) and can kick some serious ass. So Cha Young-jin from Nobody Knows is definitely up there on the list.

I'd probably add Han Yeo-jin from Stranger as well as Scarlet and her drama-loving heart from Search:WWW.

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Hye-sung from I Can Hear your Voice. The drama is een oldie but the girl crush never fades. The haughty public defender who's secretly a life saviour to our puppy LJS. She can make you laugh out loud and cover your eyes from cringing so hard. With one of my favourite performances by LBY.

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The girls of search www were pretty cool as well. My favourite was Cha Hyeon ( Played by Lee Da hee) . She was a total badass.

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ro-seo from moonshine. she was one of my favorite bad ass FL. she didnt need the useless men in her life to get stuff done.

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Mr. Sunshine’s Go Ae-shin AND Kudo Hina (Kim Min-jung) kicked ass and could take care of themselves.

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I have a soft spot for FLs who are hot messes, drama queens, and/or extremely competent and ruthless. So that's the FLs for Kim Samsoon, Vincenzo, Hyena, and Stranger. Give me salt, pepper, and vinegar instead of sugar!

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Girl crush, that's my kind of list! ^^ Thanks to the kind soul who suggested this

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Go Eunbyul will always be my original girl crush. Kim Sohyun slayed that iconic classroom scene. I'll also add Goo Haeryeong for girl crush.

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I still haven't finished watching it, but my pick would be jang nara from sell your haunted house. She's brave, intelligent, intuitive and a kickass fighter. On top of that she's so stylish. A total badass.
Probably this will be a reminder for me to finish the show 😅

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Yes! I didn’t understand why that show did badly in the bean count. It was my favorite from 2020.

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You mean 2021 right😅? And yeah, I really wanted to add one more bean by finishing it but I couldn't. But I'm planning to get back to it.

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This should also be my reminder to finish it xD

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Cha Young Jin is an ideal girl crush for me. She is brave and independent, yet selfless and compassionate toward others. The way she is being a sister also mother figure for Eun Ho is so inspiring and admireable.

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Kim Seo-young's Cha Young-jin in Nobody Knows, Ha Ji-won's Empress Ki, Park Min-young in Queen for Seven days( She held her head high even when everything came crashing down), Go Hyun Jung's Mishil in Queen Seondeok(Her wits is to die for) and Kang Hanna's Won In-jae in Start-Up( She's good at her game).

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I loved Kang Hanna's character in STARTUP.

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She was great in Start Up but i loved her in Gumiho.. she made the ditzy character so charming

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I actually thought about adding her role in MY ROOMATE IS A GUMIHO. I am looking forward to seeing her in the future.

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Ha Moon Soo Just Between Lovers

Han Yeo Jin Forest of Secrets

Cha Young Jin Nobody Knows

Sung Deok Im The Red Sleeve Cuff

Kim Mi So What's Wrong with Secretary Kim?

I made this big long list of female leads I loved... and then I actually found it very easy to pick out the ones I totally crush on and wish I could be just like them. Below there's also a list of other female leads I loved (some of whom held perfomances that were truly outstanding), but for one reason or another I just didn't want to *be* them or feel I could totally look up to and crush on them like I did the ones on the final list.

My Love From Another Star - Female Lead
Hometown - Female Lead and younger sister lead
When the Camellia Blooms (and any female lead by Gong Hyo Jin)

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Gong Hyo-jin is always good- and one of my favorite actresses

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Cha Young-jin from Nobody Knows, whether she is played by Kim Seo-hyung or Kim Sae-ron. The adult Young-jin is one of my favourite fictional characters of all time, but the way teen Young-jin reacted to sudden terrible adversity is absolutely breath-taking too. That phone conversation with the killer in the first episode shows exactly what she is made of.

Ma Yi-deum from Witch's Court is not as conventionally likeable, but I adore her free-wheeling amorality, the way her mind constantly bubbles over with dodgy schemes, and her utterly single-minded search for her mother. IMO viewers might have found her behaviour and actions more tolerable, even endearing, had she been a male character. So kudos to writer Jung Do-yoon for having the audacity to plop someone like Ma Yi-deum in the midst of all the "good women" in K-drama.

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I'd pick Seo Yea ji( ko mun young) from its okay to not be okay. She really showcased a different aspect of kdrama that I haven't seen before. She was unapologetically her and did not need to appear *humble* to be who she is. Her character may rub some people off, but she really is my number one girl crush anyday

Honorable mention is Kim hye Yoon in extraordinary you (eun Dan oh) I loved the fact that she decided to be the main character in her own story and dictate how she would live

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Definitely Seo Yea-ji! I love that character.

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I have my own top 5 kdrama heroines:
The confident and dreamer Choi Aera from Fight My Way.
The fierce leader of cold case squad Cha Soohyun from Signal.
The smart and charismatic Jamie from Liar Game.
The sweetheart Yoon Nayoung from Life on Mars.
The ahjumma i (secretly) aspire to be, Jo Minja from Healer

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Han Yeojin from Forest of Secrets is also one of my favorite kdrama heroine aside from this list

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Love Choi Aera. I was thinking about mentioning her too.

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My girl crushes :

- Eun Dan-Oh in Extraordinary You : She rejected the tropes that her writer decided for her as her one sided love and terminal illness and chose her own love and lived.

- Hong Ji-A in Sell Your Haunted House : She was a badass heroine! She could fight, ate a lot, had style, was good at her job, owned her house.

- Lee Hwi in The King's Affection : She was a King! But overall, she had to survive with the decisions people took for her and step by step reclaimed her own life.

Na-Ri in Jealousy Incarnate : What other character has ever dared to live with the 2 male leads to know which one she was in love with.

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Hong JiA was cool. Owning her house 👏🏽😁

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Two from Age of Youth - Song Ji-won (Park Eun-bin) & Yoon Jin-myung (Han Ye-ri)
Into the Ring - Goo Se-ra (Nana)
25-21 - Na Hee-do (Kim Tae-ri), except the adult version

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What great picks from everyone! My addition would be Se Jeong fr Uncanny Counter and Kim Min Jung in My Fellow Citizens - she was a fantastic villain.

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I think I have a girl crush with a drama whonpresent complex character and the actor bring the character to life perfectly.

Park Se Wan in Just dance as Kim Si Eun. her character is so real though outside but vulnerable inside. her strugglebis very relatable for me.

IU in My Ajusshi as Ji An. Potraying a girl going through so much hardship facing the cruel world, but get a warm feeling from her Ajusshi is my second fav.

The newest is Le Se Young as Seol Deok Im in the Red sleeved, I love the way she potray her character, so spot on potraying the fear of loneliness in The palace and feeling as a court lady.

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Ko Mun Yeong(IONTBO) will always be iconic for me, her crazy fashion sense, her vulnerabilty behing her cold and somewhat rude behavior , her not being affraid of anything while being affraid to her core made her special to me. Can't wait to see Seo Ye Ji back on screen....Jang Man Wol (Hotel del Luna): strong, bold, fierce ,can kick ass yet vulnerable, crazy ass outfits and as real as it gets. Scarlett(Search WWW), i am still obsessed with her to this day. Cha Young (Vincenzo): quirky, resourceful, crazy AF : chef's kiss.
Honourable Mention: Sobong(Bong Hwan in So Yong's body) (Mr QUEEN), The ultimate they/them such an iconic character, it's a shame the ending destroyed my will to ever watch it again. I think it's become quite clear , i love my FL competent, smart, bold , crazy and badass while staying true to themselves and vulnerable if needs be. The dumb/clumsy FL who needs a man to save her trope just doesn't cut it for me.

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Han YeoJin (Bae Donna) from Secret Forest
Yoon NaYoung (Go Ah-Sung) from Life on Mars
Han Saewoo (Chae SooBin) from A Piece of Your Mind

My favorites 💖

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Yoon NaYoung was a great character :)

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For me it’s Park So-dam in almost any role she plays. Cinderella and the Four Knights is not a good show but I’ve watched it more than once because I love how PSD plays the lead. Also, in Because It’s the First Time I felt the same way about her character: she's so cool! (I mean the choice between Choi Minho and Kim Min-jae is enviable too). ...Actually, now that I think about it, maybe I’m crushing on her in these two shows because her main conflict in both is choosing between multiple good-looking men! 🤯

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Kim Seo-hyung was fantastic in Nobody Knows. I highly recommend this drama.

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Where did you leave Lee Ji eun's Ji an in My Ajusshi????????
Come on! She is awesome. Freeking AWESOME.

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So many endearing, girl-crushworthy characters out there.

Scarlett is definitely at the top of the list. Tough on the outside (and not just demeanor- she can totally put you in the hospital!), but warm on the inside

I also loved Jang Man-wol. She could fight and avenge when needed. And I loved her attitude and clothes. I think this was the first time I saw a heroine who loves to own sports cars and owns multiple. Usually, it's the filthy rich CEO guy. And her hotel was lovely and felt family-friendly. I hated the hotel's next incarnation. Eff that.

Rookie Historian Gu Hae-ryoung. The quiet, but steely heroine, Gu Hae-ryoung who sticks to her principles and the principles of being a historian.

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I'm super late, but I'm watching Fight for my Way so I was thinking of mentioning Ae Ra, but I just realized no one mentioned uri Sae Beom (Happiness).
She was one of my favorite FLs of 2021.

I would also like to mention:

Ji Won (Flower of Evil)
Yeon Joo (One the Woman)
Moon Young (IOTNBO)
All the girls from The Fiery Priest
And all the girls from Be Melodramatic.
Also Yumi (and her cells).

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Oh, Yumi is a good one.

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The first thing I said before even opening this was "If Cheong Song Yi is not here, then what is the point?" And she was the first name I saw. Yaaaay

Cheong Song Yi was amazing and 8 years after watching her, I am still in love with her. She did not need to be a different person or conventionally smart to make me fall head over heels.

She was ignorant, she was clumsy, she was proud but she was also loving to her loved ones and so beautiful, I had to fall.

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