I love watching Korean dramas and movies if they have a solid script and good actors/actresses. They are really entertaining, and maybe the best way to improve my Korean language skills, but sometimes I feel as if I am trapped in a bunch of stereotypes. From time to time, they make me think that they are sending messages to our subconscious about the ‘ideal’ woman whom all women should resemble. That’s why, while watching and enjoying the dramas and movies, I also feel pressurized by sharp descriptions of this ‘ideal’ woman.
Being a human being in this though world is hard on its own. But being a woman can make things even harder as women have to deal with some rules and generalisations that society imposes upon them. In Korean dramas and movies, we are facing with some female characters, which reflect the expectations of the Korean society from its women. Most of these characters are portrayed as absolute opposites to the general acceptance of the ‘ideal’ woman. Here is an observation (or maybe a critique) about some stereotypes of women I have noticed in K-dramas and movies, which (in my opinion) reflect the place and role of women in modern Korean society by depicting their ‘ideal’ woman.
Fat, unattractive women
Although I don’t fully understand, I am aware of Koreans’ obsession with being skinny. Some women starve themselves to get into those skin-tight dresses. But you cannot expect the same thing from everyone, as everyone’s privileges are different. For instance, I prefer enjoying this world’s beauties with my precious strawberry cheesecake instead of getting some insincere compliments for my figure. Moreover, it’s unhealthy! Like eating junk food all the time and being overweight, starving yourself to be skinny is also not good both for your physical and mental health. But K-dramas and movies impose being skinny is a must, no matter how. You can undergo surgery, you can starve yourself, you can suffer a lot, but at the end, it will be worth for it because if you are skinny, you are pretty and attractive. And these are the only necessary criteria for being qualified to be accepted and loved by a man. This incredibly superficial view can be supported only by superficial people. So, don’t be one of them! Don’t forget, people are beautiful when they are happy, not when they are size zero.
Women with appetite
For me, there are two types of people in this world: People eating to live and people living to eat. I am definitely and proudly belong to the second group. I love eating. Sooo much. And I love loving eating. So what? Why do Korean dramas and movies show women with appetite as monsters or as something weird? Women are also people, and they need to eat to survive. And more shockingly, they can love eating! They can enjoy every bite of their food. What is so wrong with it? Should women only eat salad and drink green tea instead of a slice of carrot cake and a cup of hot chocolate? (Mmm give me some…) But in K-dramas and movies, even skinny female characters are criticized for having appetite and eating ‘too much’. Dear scriptwriters, please treat women as human beings, not as robots. And if you are insisting on thinness, we can enjoy our food and have a good figure at the same time, don’t worry.
Women who like drinking and partying
Life is hard. You have work hard to achieve your goals and to get somewhere. We are all going through the same journey, the journey from a hard-working student to a hard-working employee. In South Korea, things are more intense as Korean education system and business life are more challenging than most of the places in the world. Korean people are hard workers on weekdays and hard players at weekends. They are heavy drinkers. They cannot even count the numbers of soju bottles they finish to let off steam and enjoy on weekends. But there is also hypocrisy about this issue. If you are a woman, the society expects you to play ‘not that hard’. It means if you get wasted or if you go to a club as a woman just like men do, you can be treated as ‘easy’. And this judgement is made by men who drink as much as women do, and who go to the same club with women. How tragicomic it is…
One of the most handled topics in Korean dramas and movies is definitely tomboys. All generalisations are false, but it is true in a sense that Korean men love cute and pretty women who wear girly clothes, put on a natural make-up, and have a cute attitude. In contrast with this, we often see poorly groomed women with sloppy clothes and masculine attitude on screen. Because of their appearance and behaviour, these tomboys are usually teased and ignored by the leading actors. Although they manage to make those men fall in love with them at the end, there are always more ‘beautiful’ women coming and becoming a threat for their love in following episodes. Well, I guess someone needs to tell them that there is something called inner beauty.