A Female Perspective: Machoism in Korean Dramas
Machoism in the South Korean drama industry is subjected towards male actors, while the feminine roles are assumed by female actors. In these dramas, one of the favourite cliches is “the damsel in distress,” due to which the hero quickly comes to the damsel’s rescue. Although female leads are characterized as feminine and elegant in many dramas, the female protagonist in the K-drama, “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo,” shows the audience a very strong, independent and determined character. Kim Bok Joo, played by the actress Lee Sung Kyung, is depicted as a promising collegiate weightlifter who has a very courageous and flamboyant personality. Actress Lee Sung Kyung portrays Kim Bok Joo with a very realistic approach throughout the series.
Kim Bok Joo is determined to be an athlete in one of the national weightlifting teams and diligently practices day in and day out. Although this drama series’ prevalent genre is sports, how could there be a series without any love and drama involved? She faces boy drama and must balance this with her practice schedule, only making her more realistic to the audience. She doesn’t act like one of the cliched damsels in distress; rather, she is willing to allow her friends and boyfriend to lean on her when they need her.
Kim Bok Joo soon develops a crush on one of the male characters and realistically enough, she begins to desire a more feminine appearance than they tomboyish and rugged one she has. This decision is called “one of the most relatable moments in one’s life” by dramabeans. Naturally, she begins to compare herself with other women around her—mostly the gymnasts who are very elegant and feminine—and takes shame in her profession that is very physically demanding and requires back-breaking labour. She begins to stray from her goal; however eventually she realizes that weightlifting was something she wanted to do since the time she was a child and once again begins to weight lift with renewed dedication. Her strong sense of justice and her passion help her achieve her dreams as she realizes that she needs to focus on her own self first rather than conform to anyone else’s ideals and standards.
Machoism, in this scenario, cannot only be subjected to the male leads in this K-drama, but also Kim Bok Joo. What makes her character worthy of the macho title? Even after encountering various obstacles in her life, she still practices and ultimately, works her way up into the weightlifting nationals, and becomes a gold medalist. Throughout the K-drama series, she is portrayed as a very strong, sensible and independent character who does not put materialistic and feminine things above her ultimate goal and passion of weightlifting.
Actress Lee Sung Kyung plays this character very realistically and shows the audience that there will be times when you will want to conform to society’s stereotypical ideals. At the end of the day, however, you are the only person responsible for your success. You must decide whether you will follow your dreams and passions or if you will allow obstacles like stereotypes and materialistic temptations to stand in your way.