D&D Alignment: Kdrama Heroines Edition

This post is thanks to an anon on tumblr who asked me to classify my favorite kdrama heroines in a D&D alignment chart. Some of these probably aren’t strictly considered heroines (though please give me more shady ladies, dramaland, and don’t think I didn’t notice that there aren’t many young characters falling into the lower part of the alignment chart), but they’re all major players in their respective dramas.

Normal disclaimers apply re: the subjectivity of the alignment chart, and you’ll notice that not all of these characters started or ended the drama in their assigned slots. I’ve slotted these ladies where they are based on my strongest/favorite impression of them—this is the archetypal version of them that I always remember first when I think of them.


We might disagree on the best methods, but we can mostly agree on what good actually is.

Lawful Good: Go Seo-yeon, Solomon’s Perjury

Honestly, what else do you expect from a teenager girl who risks expulsion in order to put her classmates and school on trial for the death of a boy she had barely interacted with?

Neutral Good: Chae Young-shin, Healer

She wants to do good in the world, isn’t particularly fussy about using extrajudicial means to expose corrupt people and systems, and also believes that the system can be fixed with a bit of vigilante help.

Chaotic Good: Arang, Arang and the Magistrate

Look at her, willing to pick fights with the supreme being of her universe and also put a stop to an evil when evil starts interfering with her goals and her boyfriend.

There’s a lot of room to breathe in the gray areas of the world, and we enjoy taking up space.

Lawful Neutral: Kang Suk-soon, You’re All Surrounded

She’s seen the system break firsthand, and now she’s committing every bit of her life to take control so it won’t ever happen again, even if she has to make deals with the devil for it.

True Neutral: Oh Hye-won, Secret Love Affair

She sold her soul long ago for money and prestige, and now her life’s a balancing act of keeping all of her bosses happy and trying to stay out of jail while she slowly dies inside.

Chaotic Neutral: Lee Jin-sook, Heartless City

She got dealt a shit hand in life, but she carved out an illicit kingdom for herself and is willing to do just about anything to protect the people who matter to her.

I will make the world submit to my desires.

Lawful Evil: Kang Eun-shil, Save Me

She is absolutely certain that New Heaven’s Sovereign can save your soul, and she’ll ensure you cooperate in your salvation.

Neutral Evil: Choi Yoo-jin, The K2

Intelligent, ruthless, and endlessly frustrated by all the times she has to play by the rules in order to keep up her perfect wife act, though she is excellent at weaponizing it whenever she has the opportunity.

Chaotic Evil: Jamie, Liar Game

Rules only exist so she can find clever loopholes and walk away with everything she wanted—who cares about everyone else in this sadistic game?


What do you think of my assignments? Where would your favorite heroines go?

Closing – 4 Hopes for The K2

A week before The K2 started, I wrote a little post about the four things I wanted from the show.  In an ideal world, I would do a follow-up post after finishing the show; that didn’t work out so great this time. Nevertheless, I thought it would be interesting to go back and see which of my hopes were actually fulfilled and which weren’t (as of partway into episode seven).

A nod to the actual K2. I did not get this, and that still makes me so sad. I’ll admit that part of the reason why I hoped we would get grandiose mountaineering references was that the last modern-day political drama I watched (Punch) was just overflowing with ridiculous metaphors about just about everything. And come on, you seriously can’t name the hero and the heroine K2 and Anna and then just not deliver. Except this show did.

Je-ha develops a soft and squishy center. Kind of? I mean, he was really happy to watch Anna be delighted by ramen twice and he bought her ice cream. But he also was still her jailer and helped hunt her down and stuff, so.

Yoo-jin gets to terrify the shit out of people. WE HAVE A WINNER. Yoo-jin was the absolute best part of those first six episodes, and she pretty much embodied all of my favorite things about a female villain. (I’m going to have to do a post dedicated to my favorite female villains, someone remind me.) She was terrifying and ruthless and also astonishingly vulnerable and if only she could have picked her minions better.

An-na gets to be angry and seek revenge without being punished for it. Anna was stuck off camera and silent for so long that I have to rule this a no despite some great scenes with Yoo-jin. Here’s hoping that she will get everything she wants in the second half.

Pettiness

Last week I talked about how I’d learned to drop dramas over my kdrama-watching career, which was nicely timed, considering I dropped The K2 last night.

I won’t rehash the straws that broke this camel’s back (go here and then here), but it shouldn’t come a surprise to anyone who has been reading my commentary that my frustrations about the show were not-so-slowly mounting. Some of the things that bugged me, I think, were objective flaws with the show; others were more along the lines of pet peeves.

Of all of the things I could have dropped The K2 for, it was relatively minor sin of JSS being incompetent. I could have dropped it for sidelining its heroine both character- and plot-wise, gratuitous fight scenes and overuse of spinny cameras, etc. But no, it was JSS, which ultimately doesn’t have much impact other than to provide NPCs for Jae-ha to fight or keep Anna confined or be Yoo-jin’s muscle.

And perhaps, at the heart, that’s why I dropped it. Yoo-jin was pretty much my favorite part of the show and the reason I kept coming back, but her inexplicable reliance on JSS undermined my faith in her. Couldn’t she see what a nightmare of uselessness they were? Why was she still employing them? Was she not a good enough villain to realize how awful JSS is? And that was the death knell for me–if you’re going to ruin the best female villain I’ve seen in ages, I can’t stick with the show.

This isn’t the first time a bunch of small details have stacked up to ruin a show for me. And they’re usually such petty, small things that I can’t let go of. So tell me, dear readers, what petty things have made you drop a show?

The K2, Episode 6

TL;DR: Apparently this drama is a Snow White retelling? Does this mean that Anna will be getting seven actual people to depend on and interact with soon?

k2_06_nun

I was beyond happy for Anna in this episode. While escaping that estate isn’t all that difficult considering the average quality of employee that staffs it, Anna came up with and executed a near-flawless plan. I loved that she even took a moment to drug Mi-ran; it was nice payback for getting drugged out of Spain and into Korea. Watching her show up at the church to see her father and piss of Yoo-jin with an “Amazing Grace”­–flavored fuck you was perfect. Yes, Anna. Shame the hell out of your father (if it’s possible) and remind Yoo-jin that you’re coming for her throat. Continue reading “The K2, Episode 6”

The K2, Episode 5

TL;DR: This show somehow thinks that possessing similar traits is more important for building a relationship than actual time spent interacting, and I’m not buying it.

k2_05_rooftop

At this point we are roughly a third of the way through the drama, and this show wants me to believe that Anna and Jae-ha have some kind of special bond since they’re both kind to starving kittens. Look, I don’t even like animals all that much, but I’d still be hard-pressed not to feed that tiny thing if I could. That doesn’t make me a good romantic option for either of these characters. It isn’t enough that Jae-ha laughs to himself about how clever Anna is with the electric blanket or to be agonized on her behalf when she doesn’t know about the gas valve and can’t have her ramen. That’s nowhere near a positive relationship, much a less a relationship that deserves the OTP music treatment.

Continue reading “The K2, Episode 5”

The K2, Episode 4

TL;DR: When The K2 wants to be amazing it is; the rest of the time, it’s surprisingly mediocre. This episode, unfortunately, was comedy hour, and a lot of it fell flat.

k2_04_tired

While I’m glad that we more-or-less plausibly got Jae-ha on board with working for Yoo-jin—just don’t forget that you two aren’t actually allies, you’re just helping one another take down someone you hate worse than each other—I was really underwhelmed by basically everything else about Jae-ha’s storyline.

(I just don’t get how his PTSD is supposed to work. Somehow you’re okay beating the shit out of people but your PTSD…preemptively activates to keep you from intentionally killing someone? You do know you could cause head/internal injuries that kill someone later on, after the fight, right? Like, breaking someone’s rib and puncturing their lung so they suffocate or something while you’re busy naked shower fighting the rest of their comrades. Or that dude you shoved face first into the bath? What if you’d knocked him out and he drowned while you were otherwise occupied? Continue reading “The K2, Episode 4”

The K2, Episode 3

TL;DR: Surprise, surprise—when there are fewer fight scenes, there’s more room for character development.

k2_03_rescue

Jae-ha got the most development this episode, which is a good thing, considering up to this point he was mostly just an amalgamation of (anti-)hero character tropes. Now including the fridging of a love interest, because you can’t have a complete starter pack without that one. *sighs* With any luck, his past (bad) history with Chief Joo will turn into something more interesting than just a way for someone to pressure him into taking a job he doesn’t want and to reveal that Jae-ha can’t kill someone because of his PTSD. (….okay….)

I’m glad Jae-ha got to prove his smarts against Yoo-jin with his video recording, though, because otherwise it made him charging into her house a remarkably foolhardy move. Yoo-jin was right—his footsteps were silent, which means he had been in the house long enough to set up that video recording for the confrontation. Yoo-jin’s and Chief Kim’s oh shit faces were delightful. Continue reading “The K2, Episode 3”

The K2, Episode 2

TL;DR: Bad dreams/memories for everyone this time around, but it gives us some much-needed backstory. Also, I suddenly acquired another crack ship, which isn’t what I expected going into this episode, but hey, things happen.

k2_02_fury

While I’m a little sad that Anna was drugged into unconsciousness for a good portion of this episode, I really liked what we got of her, from her panic attack/the reemergence of her traumatic childhood memories to her confrontation with Yoo-jin. Anna shouting and snarling at Yoo-jin while too weak to get out of the wheelchair was a wonderful scene, especially since Yoo-jin all but confirmed that Anna is right about her mother being murdered.

It was chilling since we’d already gotten a glimpse of Yoo-jin’s power, influence, and ruthlessness—and we saw at the beginning of the episode that Anna is one of the few people who can get an actual rise out of Yoo-jin. I want Anna to triumph after that scene. I want her to claw her way to power and, after a magnificent battle of wits and nerve, to emerge triumphant. Continue reading “The K2, Episode 2”

The K2, Episode 1

TL;DR: Hero? What hero? Look at all of these fascinating ladies!

k2_01_interview

Oh my god, where do I even start with Yoo-jin? Maybe I should just make a list:

  1. Hides behind the Perfect Wife mask. Master manipulator to get others to praise her.
  2. Is prepared with her interviewer’s weakness beforehand just in case she needs to make the interviewer stop asking uncomfortable questions.
  3. Has security quaking in their boots at the mere mention that she might be displeased.
  4. Takes her husband’s cheating in stride and is fully capable of orchestrating cleanup.
  5. Is in an antagonistic but beneficial relationship with said husband. What is he giving her that someone else couldn’t? Now there’s a question.
  6. Is impeccably dressed. She has crafted herself an image and she wears the hell out of it.

Continue reading “The K2, Episode 1”

4 Hopes for The K2

The K2 begins next week, and I am trying to temper my enthusiasm for the show since I haven’t even watched all of the trailers for it yet. (This is the Yong-pal writer, after all. I’m crossing my fingers that this show won’t run its story, cast, and crew into the ground under the live-shoot system.) But not getting my hopes up hasn’t worked out too well so far, so I figured I’d share them with you.

  1. A nod to the actual K2. For those of you who didn’t have a brief but intense read-all-the-mountaineering-disaster-books phase it was weird winter, okay?, K2 is the second-highest mountain in the world. It is also deadlier than the more famous Everest (K2 kills one person for every four who reach the top) and requires a lot more technical skill to climb. I want lots of cheesy metaphors about “the Savage Mountain” and being left behind to die (check out the 1986, 1995, and 2008 disasters) and political power and vengeance. I mean, why else would you pick this title if you weren’t going to go all in on this?
  2. Je-ha develops a soft and squishy center. Particularly when it comes to An-na. (Is her name a reference to Annapurna, the deadliest mountain in the world? I hope it is.) I want him to look at her with adoration when/if he falls for her. I want two damaged and betrayed people to fall in love, and I would be absolutely thrilled if he fell for her first. Please give this to me, please.
  3. Yoo-jin gets to terrify the shit out of people. I want her ambition to be cut-throat and ruthless. I want her to tolerate, or even have a grand villainous(?) partnership with, her presidential candidate husband. I want her smile to be enough that people piss their pants in fear. Powerful ladies are my catnip, friends. The last political kdrama I watched has some great ladies but focused mostly on the men—give me lots and lots and lots of Yoo-jin, please.
  4. An-na gets to be angry and seek revenge without being punished for it. I need more ladies in my entertainment who get to have “ugly”/ un-feminine emotions like hatred or vengeance without being punished for it in some way or deciding to give up on it halfway through so they can be the “right” kind of woman (AKA, a woman who is worthy of a man’s love). I want An-na to burn down the world if that’s what it takes for her to be satisfied—and I want her to be loved while she strikes the match.

Who else plans on trying The K2? What are your hopes for the show? Let me know in the comments!