Achievements of 10 woman-led Korean dramas in 2021

Some K-dramas led by A-list actresses did not meet the expectations in terms of ratings. 

2021 saw the release of many female-led series on Korean TV. Notably, most of them star top actresses of Korea’s entertainment industry. That’s why the competition is even more intense. Let’s find out which are the most successful woman-led K-dramas that came out this year!

9th place: Inspector Koo

With the highest rating of only 2.747%, Inspector Koo regretfully ranks at the bottom of this list. Having the female lead role taken on by A-lister Lee Young Ae was apparently not enough to help Inspector Koo get better results. Not only failing to attract much attention domestically, the international reaction to JTBC’s action comedy is also not too strong either. Lee Young Ae is unarguably a talented actress, but perhaps her charm on the small screen is no longer the same level as in the 2000s.

Inspector Koo

8th place: Reflection of You

With a peak nationwide rating of 3.636%, higher than Inspector Koo, but Reflection of You only comes in 8th place in this ranking. Go Hyun Jung‘s acting performance is flawless as usual. Her portrayal of the character’s psychological struggles gives viewers goosebumps. Unfortunately, the drama’s dark and moody theme does not suit the taste of the majority of the mass audience.

Reflection of You

7th place: Now We Are Breaking Up 

Although there are still 6 episodes left until the finale, the rating situation of Now We Are Breaking Up is predictable. Except for episode 2 with a rise in rating to 8%, the ratings in the remaining episodes were only around 6%. 8% is significantly higher than Inspector Koo and Reflection of You, but given the fact that Now We Are Breaking Up airs on the prime weekend time slot on national network SBS, this result is underwhelming. Now We Are Breaking Up might not be a flop, but it’s nowhere near a hit, especially when compared to Song Hye Kyo’s previous successful dramas. 

Now We Are Breaking Up

6th place: River Where the Moon Rises

Kim So Hyun had a memorable small screen comeback this year in historical drama River Where the Moon Rises. With her captivating performance, the 22-year-old actress received her first-ever nomination for Best Actress in TV at the 2021 Baeksang Arts Awards. The highest rating of 10% is a worthy result for the admirable efforts Kim So Hyun and the cast and crew of River Where the Moon Rises put in over a long period of time. 

River Where the Moon Rises

5th place: Mine

Thanks to the final episode’s rating of 10.512%, Mine enters the Top 5 most successful female-led K-dramas in 2021. Although there are still flaws in the plot, Mine is still a quality work that is well worth the watch. It well portrays the value of women in today’s society. And needless to say, what makes Mine the most appealing to the audience is the charm of the female lead duo Kim Seo HyungLee Bo Young


4th place: Mount Jiri

Despite receiving negative comments from the Korean public for not being able to live up to the hype, Jun Ji Hyun’s Mount Jiri is still able to make it into the Top 4 of this ranking. This is thanks to the drama’s good start when it achieved a rating of 10.663% in episode 2. Unfortunately, Mount Jiri’s rating only went downhill from there and no other episode could exceed 10%. 

10 woman-led Korean dramas in 2021

3rd place: Mr. Queen

The Top 3 is another level compared to the rest of this ranking. Starting with Mr. Queen at No. 3 with the highest rating of 17,371%. It only took the historical comedy drama 3 episodes before it achieved double-digit ratings and steadily increased until the end. The success of Mr. Queen is thanks to its unique, fun storyline, interesting characters, and of course the female lead Shin Hye Sun’s charming performance. Like Kim So Hyun, thanks to her role in this female-led drama, Shin Hye Sun was nominated for Leading Actress in TV at the 2021 Baeksang Arts Award.

10 woman-led Korean dramas in 2021

2nd place: One the Woman 

Without much promotion, One the Woman achieved success beyond imagination. The drama’s highest rating reached 17.8%, making it the runner-up in this list. What helps One the Woman attract viewers is definitely the natural acting of the female lead Honey Lee. As a former beauty pageant queen, Honey Lee exceeded the expectations with her acting and made a great contribution to the success of One the Woman. 

10 woman-led Korean dramas in 2021

1st place: Penthouse 2 & 3

Season 3 of The Penthouse: War In Life, despite the controversy over its downgraded plot, hit a peak rating of 19.5%. Season 2 was even more successful when its highest rating was close to 30%. Penthouse might not be an excellent series content-wise, but its popularity both domestically and internationally is undeniable. It’s no exaggeration to say that Penthouse is one the most prominent K-dramas within the past 2 years. 

10 woman-led Korean dramas in 2021

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