With Around 90% of Female Screenwriters Writing Korean TV Dramas, Does It Pass The Bechdel Test?

Jun 11, 2019 20:14


In Korea the number of female TV screenwriters is close to 90%. In contrast, only 27% of all U.S. network directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and photography directors are women.
H/t @BiatchPack https://t.co/GU375cTFmt
- Nancy Wang Yuen (@nancywyuen) May 28, 2019

-"Prime time TV programming in Korea, much like prime time in the US, has broadened efforts to appeal to young female viewers by featuring more complex, communicative female characters. However, in the U.S. most of those characters are created by men."

-In the U.S only 27% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors and photography directors are women. Whereas in Korea, the number of female screenwriters is closer to 90 percent. Going forward, having more female directors & producers behind the scene is equally as important in pushing the needle even further.

-Due to this, a female perspective would offer more insight into the daily workings of their lives whether it be about commerce, war, parents, or relationships.

-Korean dramas tend to be popular due to partly how they explore in a 16-20 episode time frame, the inner lives of someone that isn't the obligatory amnesia plot but also includes female friendships, work culture, and family relations.

-"Over the last few years, as South Korean women have increasingly engaged in the #MeToo movement and mobilized to protest legal and social inequality, many k-dramas have moved away from problematic gender tropes such as the “Cinderella” or “damsel in distress” plot lines that were previously plentiful."

-Korean entertainment continues to acquire an international audience. According to Hong, Korean pop culture aims to be extremely export oriented and any commercial decision is based on foreign/audience perceptions.


-“This change has occurred in part because of a diversification of genres, with increasing numbers of workplace dramas airing to balance out the romance-centric and family dramas; though many Korean viewers complain that even workplace dramas tend to fall back on romance, this diversification is a positive development. The proliferation of cable networks tvN, JTBC and OCN has contributed to this trend, as cable networks take greater risk with programming.”

-K-dramas that air weekdays (16-24 episodes) target an audience of 20s-30s, thus female viewers voices matter more than Weekend dramas (The U.S version of a soap) that target middle aged housewives.
-Recent examples this year includes Her Private Life, My Fellow Citizens & The Fiery Priest feature strong female characters who have evolving careers, and not afraid to stand up to injustice at work or in society.

-The #Metoo movement in South Korea in the last few years showcased women battling against the patriarchal system. However shows that target both men and women (Variety shows) will least likely fail the Bechdel test.

-In the end, representing complex and interesting female characters is necessary and it is also a profitable choice.

Watching Miss Hammurabai (KDrama) and a character just mentioned how U.S. juries don't always work, because they let cops who kill Black people, go free. I'll never get tired of the shade that gets thrown in these shows. pic.twitter.com/XxELQWMRQU
- Carolyn *Pocket Sized Stallion* Hinds. (@CarrieCnh12) February 18, 2019

  • Lee Woo-jung
Most Notable Works: Answer Me 1997, Answer Me 1994, Answer Me 1988, Grandpas Over Flowers, 1 Night 2 Days

Tends to work in: Friendship and/or parent relationships (Empathy, Heartbreak, and the Human Condition)
  • Song Jae-jung
Most Notable Works: Nine, W-Two Worlds, Queen In-hyun’s Man, Three Musketeers, Coffee House, High Kick Through the Roof

Tends to work in: Takes conventional genres and injects her own unique sensibility into them with twists and etc.
  • Noh Hee-kyung
Most Notable Works: Dear My Friends, It’s Okay, It’s Love, That Winter, The Wind Blows, The World They Live In, Padam Padam: The Sound of His and Her Heartbeats

Tends to work in: Humanistic and emotionally resonant work, not afraid to showcase the plight of the human emotion.
  • Park Yeon-seon
Most Notable Works: Age of Youth, Wild Romance, White Christmas, Mixed-up Investigative Agency, Alone in Love

Tends to work in: Ensemble shows (giving each character their own unique personality) and relationships.
  • Kim Eun-hee
Most Notable Works: Signal, Three Days, Ghost, Sign, Harvest Villa, and Kingdom

Tends to work in: Genre mixing of procedural elements with thrills and heart
  • Jung Yoon-jung
Most Notable Works: Misaeng, Monstar, Arang and the Magistrate, Chosun Police, Chosun Police 2

Tends to work in: Taking stories and giving the characters the will to survive and triumph.
  • Song Ji-nah
Most Notable Works: Healer, Faith, Sandglass, Legend, Story of a Man, What’s Up, Eyes of Dawn, KAIST

Tends to work in: Produces a lot of other shows and her writing tends to jump in between different genres that entertain.
  • Park Hye-ryun
Most Notable Works: I Hear Your Voice, Pinocchio, Page Turner, Dream High, Get Karl Oh Soo-jung, Nonstop 5, Nonstop 3

Tends to work in: Balances a lot of tones such as drama, comedy, romance, & suspense and her female characters are resilient and flawed.
  • Kim Eun-sook
Most Notable Works: The Lonely Shining Goblin, Descended From the Sun, Secret Garden, A Gentleman’s Dignity, Heirs, City Hall, On Air, A Millionaire’s First Love, Lovers, Lovers in Prague, Lovers in Paris

Tends to work in: The Queen of K-drama land. Romantic courtships/relationships that often conjure pop culture hysteria either through a witty line and is highly stylized in her writing.
  • *Kim Soo-hyun (writer) Is a Weekend Writer but falls under this category
Tends to work in: Legendary writer who has dabbled in taboo subjects and topics (homosexuality & marriage infidelity, single mother, Alzheimer's disease). Known for her fiery and outspoken personality.

Most Notable Works: Because I Love You, Precious Family, My Husband's Woman, Mom's Dead Upset, Life is Beautiful, A Thousand Days' Promise, Childless Comfort, and Thrice Married Woman.

-Openly gay actor Hong Seok-cheon stated that after he came out in 2000, he was fired from all his acting and hosting jobs, until Kim hired him in a supporting role in the 2003 drama Perfect Love.

Let's discuss ONTD, what K-dramas are you currently watching or have watched recently?

Sources: 1 I 2 I

#metoo, asian celebrities, television - international, television

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