A person like Oh Kyung Sook wouldn’t last more than two days in the brutal world of politics because naivete is never a virtue. She is the queen who is the focus of the Queenmaker’s efforts. She also failed to live up to expectations. Oh Kyung Sook was depicted in the literature as a woman of remarkable courage and tenacity who was unstoppable in her pursuit of justice. These are admirable traits that we wish more politicians had in the world. But what bothered us most about her was that she lacked any discernible guile. The truth is that once you get to know a politician personally, they are not likeable.
Even the most upright politician struggles constantly with the pressure of the expectations put on him. People who struggle to always present their most endearing selves are those who have power that occasionally gets to be too much for them, imposter syndrome that constantly consumes them, as well as the additional problem of never being able to be their true selves, even in front of their closest loved ones. They typically save it for speaking engagements. This pressure concoction doesn’t differentiate between genders. Because of this, it would have been so lovely to have Oh Kyung Sook rise to the occasion. The typical woman is accustomed to wearing a variety of headwear every day. When the candidates responded differently to similar circumstances, we could have observed differences between them.Oh Kyung Sook would have come up with a much more elegant solution with the aid of Hwang Do Hee while Baek Jae Minm could have resorted to finger-pointing. This may have shown to the audience which contender was the best. But it was a missed chance.
The problem is that women always pay more for their ambition than men do in a world where gender roles are very clearly established. The world prefers domesticated women and ambitious men. Although Oh Kyung Sook’s husband and kid enthusiastically supported her goals, it is difficult to believe that everyone else did the same. While we aspire to a future in which political candidates are not assessed based on their gender, in the present, the author should have kept in mind that depicting sexism does not necessarily equate to portraying women in a misogynistic manner.
That is not, however, Oh Kyung Sook’s main flaw. It is the fact that she was depicted as a king’s wife rather than a powerful queen who could rule a whole city. Please allow us a moment to explain what we meant by that, as offensive as it seems. The love interest in sageuk dramas (Korean historical dramas) or even contemporary Cinderella stories, when the male protagonist is a chaebol heir or a wealthy CEO, is portrayed exactly as Oh Kyung was: as different from other ladies. She is strong and dislikes making an attempt to look attractive, and it is this aspect of her personality that charms others. Oh Kyung Sook proclaimed that she was not an average lady when she tore off the corset during the live debate. And this is the worst flaw in the entire series: the hatred for regular women and the belief that they are foolish and feeble. Although it isn’t said clearly, Kyung Sook’s behavior, which is meant to be that of a strong woman, makes it plain enough. The truth is that a woman’s capacity to bring compassion to a leadership role is what makes her unique. Where was Oh Kyung Sook’s USP? Because sympathy does not imply a lack of common sense, her treatment of the woman in the embezzlement case is not a justification. We are constantly disappointed when women fail to write properly about themselves because they still crave male praise.
Since Queenmaker is an entirely made-up tale, the authors and creators were free to use any number of liberties or allusions in creating the characters. Oh Kyung Sook could have been modeled after Sheryl Sandberg, Jacinda Ardern, or perhaps Hillary Clinton. There are plenty of references, and it would have been lovely to have them adapted for an Asian setting. Even more frustrating is the fact that she did not utter a single memorable quote. She is a determined lawyer who has fought for women’s and labor rights for 15 years, yet she was unable to engage in even one meaningful conversation that would have solidified her position as the perceptive leader we all need.
Consider this: in Queenmaker, the entire mayoral contest was about deciding who had the best reputation. It was a competition to see who could portray the other as a worse villain in order to gain the public’s favor. Let’s pretend Seo Min Jung wasn’t as dishonest. In that case, how could Oh Kyung Sook have won her over? Let’s go on to Baek Jae Min and assume he wasn’t a sexual offender. What advantage does Oh Kyung Sook possess over him to win the election?
Oh Kyung Sook never once demonstrated why she was an excellent leader in addition to being better than a sex offender and an embezzler. What character faults did Baek Jae Min and Seo Min Jung have that Oh Kyung Sook could compensate for if they weren’t so corrupt? It is totally unacceptable that this topic was never covered in the Queenmaker television series. Kyung Sook’s credibility would have greatly benefited had the series’ creators chosen to forego at least one of the many accusing subplots in order to illustrate this point. But as of right now, we have absolutely nothing.