With 2015 now over, drama awards are plentiful. From the channel organized ones, such as the SBS, MBC and KBS drama awards to the fan-made ones, now is the time to acknowledge the efforts and excellence of those who make Korean drama a reality for its viewers. The wonderful ladies of Korean drama, from PDs to actresses to musicians, are a big part of their success and also one many of its viewers can most relate to.
This is where blog "Underground K-Drama" comes in. Since 2013, its members have been running the "Women of K-Drama Awards", where fans can not only vote on their favorite women of Korean drama, but also participate in creating the nominations. The awards are already created for 2015, so if you would like to vote as well, click on the link at the bottom of this post. Before that, you can read HanCinema's interview with the UKD members, SplashofInspiration, Jjiyong, and Babyjollof, where they speak about the award categories, Korean drama and more.
Q. Why do you run these awards?
SplashofInspiration: For me, this poll is an important way of celebrating names we don't get to hear very often in a positive context. Women who play prickly characters or more hardline personas don't get the benefit of the doubt a lot of male characters with similar traits do. Having a huge variety of categories is a great way for us to show that breadth in female characterization is just as important as having a large quantity of female-identifying characters.
Babyjollof: Personally, it's really interesting to see who had the most impact I suppose and I've kind of set up my online environment in a way that stuff like awards for female actresses or female focused content is expected/more than likely the norm. On a UKD level, it's a nice way to interact with followers and also get them to recognize a lot of roles that often are taken for granted or ignored, for example Best Mum. There are a lot of solid mum performances, but they are not often considered award worthy.
Q. How do you organize the awards and create the nominations?
SplashofInspiration: Almost the entire process is driven by our community on Tumblr and other social media sites. We felt that it was important to have the names that people choose on the nominees list, so we have a nomination period that runs for a month or so. Anyone is free to enter eligible names into the spreadsheet that we have. As for the polls themselves, we just take the names on the nominations list and put them onto a poll. We try to have as little bias over the process as we can.
Q. Can you explain the categories and what they mean?
Jjiyong: We made most of the categories, but we also offered the option of creating new categories to our voters. "Female Overlord of the Year" is somewhat up to the interpretation of the voter. In my opinion, a female overlord (or lady, rather) would be the female character who is strong and confident (although maybe not all the time) and fights for what she believes. "She (Character) Deserves Better" is for those poor female characters who are not written fully enough and who deserve not only better scripts, but also better dramas. "F!Yeah She's Awesome" is for the female character who not necessarily outshines the rest, but who is written the best, lives to her fullest, and/or achieves the most.
The last category was added at the last minute for male characters who do not follow the typical characteristics of men. These were for Kil Tae-mi of "Six Flying Dragons", played by Park Hyuk-kwon, and Ahn Yona, one of the personalities of Ji Sung's character in "Kill Me, Heal Me". This category was added mostly for fun, but also because these characters break the tradition of male characters by appearing feminine in a more positive light, which is an aspect of feminism in a way, because it can expand our views on gender roles and the societal expectations of those roles.
Q. What do you think Korean drama does well and not so well when it comes to women?
Babyjollof: I don't think the issues in kdramas when it comes to women are just a kdrama thing, they definitely exist outside of Korea. The fact that female writers in kdramas have such a presence is something that I really enjoy. I suppose if I had to criticize something I'd say it's the laziness that exists when it comes to female antagonists. Kdramas are often lazy when it comes to antagonists in general, but it seems like it happens way more often with the female ones and redemption does not come as easily.
Q. Any suggestions on how the Korean drama fan base could better promote and acknowledge women's contribution?
Babyjollof: I think the kdrama fandom could start with giving some women a break. I think from actresses to female characters there's a lot of one-sided criticism, picking and choosing and bandwagon hating. I am including myself here, I've definitely been too hard on a female character. I'm not saying that it's in any way exclusive to women but they definitely get more of it. I'd also like to know more about female PDs and see a focus on women behind the scenes.
Written by: Orion from 'Orion's Ramblings'
Vasia, also known as Orion or Ori online, is currently doing opinion pieces and database upkeep. She has a love for good TV and a penchant for rambling in written form. Vasia can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Report] Underground K-Drama's Women of K-Drama Awards"
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