It seems like most female characters in historical series nowadays share this one thing in common
In the Joseon Dynasty before transitioning to the modern era, Park Yeon-woo (Lee Se-young), the main character of MBC’s Fri-Sat drama “The Story of Park’s Marriage Contract” is the only daughter of royal inspector Park but she secretly works as a skilled artisan who does crafting and selling clothes and embroidery.
Park Yeon-woo is a perfect woman with extraordinary beauty, intelligence, and versatile craftsmanship. Despite reaching the age to get married, she has been refusing marriage to lead an independent life and work on making clothes she loves. Facing the pressure from her mother, Park Yeon-woo expresses her strong desire for independence, saying “What’s good about getting married into a noble family? There’s nothing I can do there. I never wished for anything big. I just want to live with my own name and do what I like”.
The female lead Jung Soon-deok (Cho Yi-hyun) of KBS 2TV’s Mon-Tue drama “The Matchmakers”, which started broadcasting on October 30th, is also a character that enjoys a double life.
Jung Soon-deok married the eldest son of a rich family but she became a widow after six months of marriage and has been living like that for 5 years. With her exceptional observational skills, bright personality, and good taste in romance novels, she leads a double life as a the best matchmaker in Joseon. Transforming herself with heavy makeup, red lips and a cute mole under her eyes, Jung Soon-deok works together with scholar Shim Jung-woo (Rowoon) on a project to help three young maidens get married.
Jo Yeo-hwa (Honey Lee), the female lead of MBC’s new Fri-Sat drama “Knight Flower”, scheduled to air in January, 2024 as the follow-up series to “The Story of Park’s Marriage Contract”, will go back and forth between a widow and a masked warrior.
After becoming a widow, Jo Yeo-hwa has been doing things at the shrine in the morning, but when the sun goes down, she climbs the wall and helps people in need. While leading a double life, Jo Yeo-hwa accidentally gets entangled with military officer Park Soo-ho (Lee Jong-won) and has a special cooperation. The reason Jo Yeo-hwa decides to live two lives is because she cannot tolerate injustice. In particular, her appearance when wearing a robe and sitting on the roof with a mask on clearly shows both sides of this character.
In recent years, female narratives and stories centering on female characters have become more popular in K-dramas and this trend seems to have also appeared in works of the historical genre. In historical dramas, the Joseon Dynasty is often portrayed as a Confucian society with numerous restrictions on the role of women.
Regarding this, director Jung Ji-in, who directed the past historical series “The Red Sleeve”, said in an interview, “The independence of women in historical dramas is limited. I felt like it is constantly testing how far we can go through those limits”, emphasizing that creating diverse female characters in the historical drama is not easy.
To overcome such limitations on female characters, historical dramas are now pursuing the concept of women living double lives as this idea allows female characters to go beyond restrictions in society and drama writers to think of new narratives. As such, it is expected that more unique female characters created with imaginative elements will appear in historical dramas.