The trend’s not exactly new, but it certainly has been growing in the past few years. The concept of women dressing and acting as guys is spicing up some dramas and even possibly redefining the Korean drama (and other Asian drama) industry.
It’s not that actresses are acting as male characters in dramas. Instead, they are still acting as females. The only twist is that their characters disguise themselves as males for various reasons and because of situations that they are put in.
The popular manga Hana Kimi might have been the start of this gender-switching role. In Hana Kimi, a female student enters an all-male school and lives there with the boys. She goes through the trouble of wrapping a long roll of cloth around her breasts in order to suppress them, changing her voice by making it lower, and acting more like man. This manga was later adapted to the small screen in both Taiwan and Japan version, gaining even more popularity. This year, a Korean version of Hana Kimi is planned to air on television.
This trend of girls becoming guys has been in some blockbuster dramas such as Coffee Prince, where actress Yoon Eunhye acted as a girl that took on the job of a bartender at a coffee shop, making the others believe that she was male. In the more recent You’re Beautiful, starring Park Shinhye, her character pretended to be a guy in order to fill the place of her twin brother in the band that he was supposed to debut in.
Whereas the two dramas mentioned above take place in a modern day setting, historical dramas are also filled with such characters that disguise themselves as males. These characters take on the roles of males, tying their hair up in tight buns, and forsaking the hanboks that all females wear. By appearing and acting as men, they are given more freedom to walk around freely, work, and go to school. Actress like Moon Geunyoung, Park Minyoung, Goo Hyesun, and Seo Woo are just a few names that come in mind when one thinks of historical dramas with females acting like their counterpart.
It has been notable that these roles and characters are loved by all who view these dramas, and that the actresses who have acted as males in dramas are gaining more fame. In fact, the popularity of these actresses is skyrocketing in the industry – look at Yoon Eunhye, Park Shinhye, Park Minyoung, and Goo Hyesun. These actresses started out under the radar but now they are some of the faces that one would frequently see in CFs and advertisements, not to mention other movies and dramas.
I love the whole idea of females behind a male mask, but I do hope that this does not become a huge fad that is overused and overrated. Luckily, there aren’t too many dramas that incorporate this trend, and hopefully that will continue. It will be interesting to see where this trend will bring us in the future.