After watching Forest of Secrets, I couldn’t bring myself to watch another drama. I ended up dropping every drama thereafter, even ones I had waited weeks for, after one or two episodes.
Now I realize why.
Television shows which portray smart, complex female leads are hard to come by, not only in kdramas but in shows around the world. Forest of Secrets for me set the expectations for a female lead so high, that I’m not sure that any other show will be able to reach the same level. I’ve noticed that in most kdramas, women are often shown as hard-working, but never usually shown as intelligent or able to reach conclusions on their own without help from the often smarter, more successful male lead. It always bothered me, but I never realized how much it mattered to me until I saw Yeo-Jin on screen.
She wasn’t just another auxiliary heroine, but a vital part of the investigation to fight corruption. A badass police officer with an unwavering sense of justice, Han Yeo-Jin used intuition and her investigative skills to reach her own conclusions and help others even in the face of formidable opponents who were at a higher position than she was. She was level-headed, resilient, and fearless. She believed in the good in others, but wasn’t naive enough to disregard the truth. The perfect heroine, in my mind.
It’s not always the female protagonist that is depicted this way in kdramas, but also the second female leads, who are often shown as jealous and unreasonable. In Forest of Secrets, I saw not one but three complex female main characters, all with motivations that deviated from the standard “I wanted him to notice me”. In so many ways, I felt empowered watching their stories unfold.
This show was everything I ever wanted, and to think I would’ve never picked it up, thinking it would be another boring procedural show. I encourage everyone to try this show, because it exceeded all my expectations with crackling chemistry, an intricate plotline, and fantastic acting. So much love for this show, easily the best I have watched this year.