JTBC’s Woman of Dignity first premiered in 2017. It’s a drama that dangles the premise from the outset – an unsolved murder amongst a mysterious cast of shadowy characters.
Yet, there’s so much more to this than just a mystery. It’s got all the components of a thriller, but it also throws in a cultivated portrayal of family, honour, and betrayal.
Woman of Dignity touches on all of these issues in a range of relationships from romantic to friendship to business.
It’s a drama with few idols turned actors (although you might recognise former Baby V.O.X. member Lee Heejin). But it’s perfect for fans trying to explore different genres within k-drama.
This strays away from the common trope we’re so familiar with in more popular, youth-orientated dramas. So there are fewer back-hugs, rainy love confessions, and arguably awkward kiss scenes.
Instead, this drama asks questions that shed more light on Korean society: what does it mean to be a good parent? How far should you take your ambition? What does it mean to be a woman of a dignified class?
As the title suggests, it’s a show all about women. And it’s led by an array of fantastic female actors. The characters they portray are flawed, dynamic, and incredibly human.
Kim Heesun plays the main character: Woo Ahjin. She’s elegant, gentle and mild-mannered. She’s incredibly likeable and, at the same time, you’re left wondering exactly what her motivations are.
Not in a malicious way. Not necessarily, but there are more layers to her than first meets the eye. Uncovering those layers is what Woman of Dignity so incredibly addictive.
Ahjin makes a great contrast to Park Bokja (Kim Sunah), the anti-hero. She’s conniving, ambitious, manipulative and undoubtedly one of the best-conceived villains from a k-drama.
Unveiling the depths of her character would be a disservice to finding it out piece by piece through watching. But there’s a strong emotional reaction to Bokja, the things she does and the things she causes.
Woman of Dignity is a drama about women in Korea, led by stellar female actors. Ironically, what lets it down is the characterisation of the male characters.
Jung Sanghoon’s Ahn Jaesuk (Ahjin’s husband) is a comedic character to a point of fault. His scenes are highly contrived, like a laughing track behind a joke that has fallen flat.
Critic Jung Dukhyun called Woman of Dignity a ‘social drama’ and it really is that. It’s a clearer glimpse (though still dramaticised and romanticised) into the lives of women in Korea’s upper classes. Toss in a murder mystery, some great fashion, and incredibly actors and you can see exactly why this was so popular it received a rare and coveted re-run.