There are so many things that make K-dramas so addicting. Beyond the amazing chemistry between the leads, another factor that draws us in are the villains of the show. Admit it, you've probably had the urge to throw something at your screen at least once because of your *gigil* towards them.
But that's the thing about these characters. They may be evil, but we just can't stop watching them! And no, it's not just because of their unapologetic behavior and schemes. Gone are the days when viewers like us are fed with villains that are bad just for the sake of being, well, bad. Nowadays, the best kontrabidas are those with dimension—they have a side to them that in some ways, we can even sometimes relate to. Below, five of the best K-drama villains that we absolutely love to hate.
1. Hyun Soo Ah from My I.D. is Gangnam Beauty
Definitely topping the list is Soo Ah, a classmate of Mi Rae and Kyung Seok in My I.D. is Gangnam Beauty. She fits the conventional mold of university goddesses in K-dramas: She's sweet, nice, pretty, and popular—the type that all the girls want to be like and all guys want to be with. Which is why it came as a bit of a surprise at first to see her cooking schemes that have brought trouble to the people around her throughout the series. Even with most of the male population of the school vying for her attention, she's done things that pulled couples apart and damaged Mi Rae's reputation.
At first glance, anyone would point jealousy as Soo Ah's motivation, but there is definitely something more than that. She was a victim of society's prejudice towards appearances, which made her have all these skewed up values about attention and love. That's also what makes her such an effective villain, too. No, she did not blow up or shoot anything, but she is the type of character that is so real and relatable, it's not impossible to meet someone like her in real life—which makes her even scarier, TBH.
2. Princess Yeon Hwa/Queen Daemok from Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo
Princess Yeon Hwa may not be the main villain in this epic Korean adaptation of a Chinese novel, but she surely shines when it comes to her schemes. While she did seem like your run-of-the-mill conceited royal who loves flaunting her position around (especially when Hae-Soo is involved) at first, there's something deeper and darker behind her motivations. In a world ruled by dirty politics, she isn't afraid to throw her weight around, even guiltlessly framing people just to get what she wants. But she isn't just doing it for the sake of being evil or climbing the royal ladder. Yeon Hwa believes that by keeping her relevance in the kingdom, she can protect her family from getting the short end of the stick again.
Questionable motivations aside, her character is a good example of how women can fight in a society that used to be centered on male power struggles. She didn't have to raise a sword or go to battles to keep her place. She made do with what she has—her guile and ability to sacrifice things, even if it means forgetting what her heart wants.
3. Coach Kim Yeo Jeong from SKY Castle
SKY Castle is one of Korea's most successful dramas of the year for good reason. It bravely tackles the bad side of being obsessed with status and ambition. While the drama is packed with characters who are willing to sacrifice anything and everything for the sake of keeping face, academic coach Kim Yeo Jeong is definitely one who has stolen the scene more than a number of times with her unapologetic tactics. She's guiltless with her strategies, to the point that she was willing to make decisions that compromised lives around her!
Besides being the villain of the story, however, many viewers agree that Coach Kim's character is one of the most dynamic and complex in the whole cast. She was a woman driven by a dark past and one of the main vehicles that moved the story along. Some even call her a scapegoat—the character that made the main players in the show realize the consequences of their decisions.
4. Choi Yoo-Jin from K2
Wife of presidential candidate Choi Yoo-Jin is exactly the type of villainess you would root for every now and then. She is beautiful, confident, and in control of everything around her. She is also so very unapologetically bad and a master of pulling the strings to make sure things go her way.
It is so easy to hate Yoo-Jin's character in the drama if you only focus on her evil stepmother-esque role, but it's also not impossible to relate to her at some points of the story. She is a classic example of being a bad product of her environment. As a woman who has dealt with betrayal again and again, it's not hard to see the reason why she has turned into the cold-hearted power player she now is. Her chemistry with Je Ha/K2 is also very interesting to watch!
5. Queen Ji So from Hwarang
The beauty with period K-dramas is that you're sure you're going to get complex female villains most of the time. Since these stories are set in a time where power is mostly in the hands of men, these characters are often driven by deeper motivations and are forced to navigate the waters more skillfully than others. Queen Ji So from the Silla period-inspired drama is a perfect example of this. While she is placed as a villain of the story, her motivations are not really driven by the stereotypical greed or revenge. Her number one purpose was to protect her son, the future king, from their enemies, though this is where she gets a little cray cray to the point of sacrificing other people's lives.
What makes it so hard to hate her is that you could see where she is coming from. She was stripped away of all her choices when she was young and forced to take the position as queen consort for the sake of politics. While this doesn't make her actions inexcusable, she made all of them from the perspective of a mother who was left with no other choice but to protect her son.
- Kang Hee-Soo from Boys Over Flowers - Because who can forget the OG of evil moms in K-drama land, right?
- Baek In Ha from Cheese in the Trap - Before Lee Sung Kyung was Bok Joo, she played the role of In Ha, the borderline-crazy but somewhat lovable female antagonist in Cheese in the Trap.
- Lady Hwa-young from Princess Hours - OG K-drama fans would agree that Lady Hwa-Young, the former Crown Princess and Prince Yul's mother in Princess Hours, is one of the most gigil-worthy royal moms in K-dramas.
- Im Se Kyung from Scent of a Woman - Rich heir Se Kyung fits the classic trope of the jealous one-third of a love triangle. Entitled and aloof to those below her status, she tries to compensate for her low self-esteem by always flaunting her position in society to others.
- Hong Se na from Rooftop Prince - Jealousy runs as the main motivation of Se Na who tries her best to put her sister in trouble every chance she gets. She is so set in getting recognition and attention, she is even willing to put her own sister's life on the line. She did try to redeem herself at the end of the story though, so everything still ends well, we guess.
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