11 K-drama gender-benders ranked by realness
As mentioned in the article on bad K-drama love advice, dressing as a boy in real life simply to win over a boy you like probably isn't the path most people would choose. That being said, gender bending is an incredibly popular K-drama trope, with Joseon Gunman becoming the latest drama to feature a girl who dresses as a boy. Some of these dramas are more convincing than others in terms of how believable the act is. Here are our rankings of who sold their boyish features best:
Yoon Eun Hye is the clear winner when it comes to selling her androgyny. She captures both the looks and mannerisms of a boy, and she sells her performance. Her reasons for dressing as a boy are pretty weak (The coffee shop only hires boys? Whaaaaaa-?), but, given that she was mistaken as a boy and then decided to go with it to make some extra cash, we'll let it slide.
Moon Geun Young has an adorable face, but she takes full advantage of the scholarly robes and headdress to hide her feminine features. She also gets fully into character, acting extra-macho to cover up her true identity. I think she might just fool someone in real life.
Sageuks tend to have better excuses for cross-dressing than modern shows. Wanting a part-time job at a coffee shop? No. Wanting to train as a soldier to reclaim your rightful throne? Yes. Lee Yo Wan isn't the most believable boy in the world, but when she puts on a serious face and lowers her voice, you can buy it.
4. Empress Ki
Believability score: 12/20
If you've seen Secret Garden or King 2 Hearts, it's really hard not to see Gil Ra Im or Kim Hang Ah when running around with a ponytail and a sword. Fortunately, it's a historical piece, so none of her comrades have seen Secret Garden.
Under normal circumstances, no one in their right mind would believe the lovely Sulli as a man. No one. But if you put her in a high school where she might still need to go through puberty, surround her with a bunch of pretty-faced flower boys, and give her some hairburns (hair sideburns), she can kinda get away with it. That being said, you should never, ever, ever dress as a boy to follow your favorite idol around, got it?
This score might be lower if Suzy's character were actually trying to pass for a boy. It's much more believable that she's a tomboy, and someone else makes the mistake first. Still, though, it's Suzy. He should have figured it out a lot earlier.
As it turns out, revenge is a great excuse to dress as a boy, but the least she could do to sell it is to hide her figure a little bit better. Or lower her voice a little. Or not wear pink lip gloss. She only gets extra points for being good with a sword.
Park Shin Hye once said that she wasn't trying to act like a boy in this drama; she was trying to act like Go Mi Nyu acting like a boy. That makes sense, because Park Shin Hye only passes for a boy at all because she's in a band where everyone else is wearing makeup and cutesy hair, too.
This drama is great on so many levels, but it's pretty hard to believe that anyone would see Park Min Young and think of her as anything other than a girl for even a second. Fortunately, the drama recognizes this difficulty by having the characters constantly talk about how feminine she looks.
10. Joseon Gunman
Saving the enlightenment is a decent excuse to don men's clothing, but we're not surprised that people see through the facade pretty fast. Everything about her voice, face, and mannerisms screams "girl dressed as boy." The one saving grace is that she stars next to Lee Joon Ki, who has played a man pretty enough to be mistaken as a woman. He proves that a pretty face doesn't exclude manliness.
11. Nail Shop Paris
Park Gyu Ri tries really, really hard to seem like a boy, but the idea that she is masculine is almost as silly as the premise for her cross-dressing (a writer trying to study the characters at a nail shop that only hires men). Having her wear lip gloss and skintight pants isn't helping.
Even if we have to suspend disbelief a bit, they're still fun dramas to watch! How would you rank the believability of these K-drama cross-dressers? Comment below!
Vivi is an unapologetic Korean drama addict and blogger. She blogs with her K-drama best friend Coco at Kdrama Fighting! In her free time, she likes to bring her commentary to the DramaFever crowd.
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