The Korea Herald

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Women-centered series go mainstream in Korean content industry

Building on successes with charismatic, independent female leads, more women's stories set to entertain the viewers

By Lee Si-jin

Published : May 17, 2023 - 14:50

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Lim Ji-yeon plays Sang-eun, a pregnant woman who is a victim of domestic violence in "Lies Hidden in My Garden." (KT Studio Genie)

Portraying relationships between female leads -- be it friendship or rivalry -- is becoming the dominant trend for successful projects in South Korea.

While 2022 TV dramas received both local and global popularity with strong, independent woman -- “Juvenile Justice,” “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” “Under the Queen’s Umbrella” and more -- this year’s projects explore more female-centered stories with multiple female leads.

Lim Ji-yeon and Song Hye-kyo, who presented a fierce confrontation between a school bullying offender and victim in Netflix’s smash-hit “The Glory,” are each set to return in new series with different partners.

Lim, who played iconic villain Yeon-jin in “The Glory,” portrays a pregnant woman who is a victim of domestic violence in the Genie TV original “Lies Hidden in My Garden.”

The thriller series is expected to be one of the most anticipated of the year, as top actor Kim Tae-hee makes a return to the small screen three years after 2020's “Hi Bye, Mama!”

“Lies Hidden in My Garden” revolves around ordinary housewife Joo-ran (Kim), whose life goes in an unexpected direction after noticing a strange smell in her backyard and meeting domestic violence victim Sang-eun (Lim).

The series is set to premiere on June 19 and will be available via local streamer ENA.

"Lies Hidden in My Garden" (KT Studio Genie)

Meanwhile, Song is set to star in another blood-soaking revenge story in “Cost of Confession.”

Though the release date of the series is yet to be announced, the upcoming show presents the story of ordinary art teacher Eun-soo (Song), whose life drastically changes with an unexpected murder case.

Many passionate TV drama fans shared that they were thrilled to watch the series as "The World of Married" and "My Name" star Han So-hee joins as a mysterious woman feared by everyone.

“Smugglers,” an upcoming heist movie, hopes to become one of very few notable female-led films in this year, starring Kim Hye-soo and Yum Jung-ah as haenyeo, woman divers who dive without oxygen to farm the ocean to support their families.

The film hits local theaters in July.

"Smugglers" (NEW)

Though many local broadcasters and video streamers have released melodramas and once-popular rom-coms like KBS’ “Oasis,” Disney+’s “Call It Love,” SBS’ “The Secret Romantic Guesthouse” and more, those series received less-than-expected attention from the audience, earning a single-digit percent viewership ratings.

“As TV dramas are mostly enjoyed by female viewers, I think the ‘womance’ series are certainly quenching the female-dominated audience’s thirst for interesting stories other than a woman from a poor background falls in love with a prince-like male lead,” culture critic Hwang Jin-mi told The Korea Herald.

Womance is a combination of the words "woman" and romance," referring to nonsexual, tight bonds between female characters going above and beyond ordinary friendship.

Hwang believes the trend is likely to continue with more exciting stories in the near future as well.