WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD
In life, everyone loves a hero. Firefighters, soldiers, policemen, even civilians doing great deeds have captivated the public interest for millenia. It's easy to see why a good hero in a kdrama can get our blood racing and hearts pounding. The capacity for greatness is something we can all appreciate, and even adulate at times. But what happens when that capacity for greatness goes to the dark side? A villain is born. Villains are much less revered in life, even if they are more remembered, because of the atrocities they commit. And they come in all shapes and sizes, from Caligula to Darth Vader to Kim Bong Goo. Both the real and the imaginary world are full of people that are easy for us to detest. Here is a look at the types of villains and the examples that litter our drama worlds and their most heinous offenses that make us love to hate them.
The "Other Woman"This type of villain, probably the one who is the most likely to make us want to tear our hair out and, maybe more to point, want to tear HER hair out! Vicious and single-minded in her attempt to win over the guy of our heroine's dreams. I would be willing to bet you have wished death on the Other Woman at least once in your drama travels. This type of character has many incarnations though, with many different motivations for their villainy.
Yoo He Yi from You're Beautiful
Yoo He Yi is one that is especially loathsome. She uses every single situation to her advantage; always calculating ways to show Tae Kyung that Go Mi Nam is not worth his time. Not to mention how much pain she caused our poor second male lead by thinking that if she just kept shoving Shin Woo's feelings in Go Mi Nam's face that she would fall madly in love with him. Her downfall was in her complete underestimation of the naiveté of former nuns! She is a somewhat redeemable character though, in that you can tell she really had started to develop feelings for Tae Kyung.
Most heinous offense: Using Shin Woo’s feelings for Go Mi Nam as a weapon to drive a wedge between Tae Kyung and Go Mi Nam--specifically the shoe scene.
Oh Yoon Joo from My Princess
Oh Yoon Joo is such a hard character to understand. She starts the story expecting a proposal from our lead male, Mr. P, but then you find out she is also stringing along another guy, The Professor. Through a remarkably coincidental sequence of events, everyone's lives become intertwined and it becomes clear that Oh Yoon Joo is no longer our Mr. P's love interest. She then does everything in her considerable power to make Lee Seol’s life miserable, even after she has given up on Mr. P. What is confusing about that is that it never really feels like she is trying to exact revenge on Lee Seol or Hae Young. It’s almost like she started on a path, and then refused to waiver even when she didn’t really have a stake in their relationship anymore.
Most heinous offense: Wishing death on the Chairman was pretty bad, but I think her meanest offense would have to be when she drags Lee Seol's sister in to pretend to be the real Princess.
Jung Jae Young from Stars Falling From the Sky
Of the three, Jung Jae Young is easily the one I hated the most. If Yoon Joo’s motivation seemed confusing, then Jae Young’s is beyond comprehension. At least where He Yi and Yoon Joo were concerned, there were legitimate feelings involved at some point. In Stars Falling, you never once are left with the feeling that she actually loved Kang Ha. She is reminiscent of the female lead from the first episode, where Pal Kang didn’t actually love Kang Ha, just the idea of him. Jae Young seemed to love the idea of Kang Ha more than anything, and then hung on stalwartly even though she knew he didn’t have feelings for her and likely never would.
Most heinous offense: Learning Kang Ha’s one weakness, and then blackmailing him into utter misery with it.
The "Revengists"I am pretty sure that is a totally made up word, but just go with it. This villain is completely single-minded in their need for revenge. Motivations run the gamut, from revenging murders to uncovering corruption. For the most part, their motivations tend to be things we can sympathize with, and sometimes it might be hard to even classify them as villains.
Lee Jin Pyo from City Hunter
What happened to Jin Pyo was an absolute atrocity. If there were ever a person with a good reason to avenge something, it’s him. His desire to kill the men who gave the order to kill his brothers at arms is forgivable, and you can even root for him at times. What is harder to forgive is how manipulative and unfeeling he is. No one is safe from him, not the woman Yoon Sung loves, not even his mother. Heck, half the time you felt like he was seconds away from doing Yoon Sung in himself!
Most heinous offense: Stealing Yoon Sung away from his mother.
Kim Bong Goo from King2Hearts
If someone understands why Bong Goo hated Jae Ha so intensely, you will have to explain it to me! Other than the fact that Jae Ha was a prince and Bong Goo wasn’t, it's hard to figure out why he wants revenge on the royal family so much. But revenge he seeks and he will do anything in his power to bring Lee Jae Ha down. He is a character suffering from severe daddy issues, and he truly doesn’t understand why no one will love him or be loyal to him. But the second you start to feel an inkling of sympathy, he does something that makes you wish you could kill fictional characters yourself.
Most heinous offense: The magic tricks! Just kidding, but seriously, they are so ridiculously annoying and over the top, it’s almost the truth. I don't want to get too exceedingly spoilery here, so I will say that his worst offense would be killing someone Jae Ha loved very much.
Cha Yeon Jin from Killer Girl K
Here is where the villain waters get a little murky. Can an anti-hero be considered a villain? It's the dilemma Kim Young Joo wrestles with about the City Hunter, whether or not a person who does illegal things can be considered a good guy, someone worth protecting. I suppose your tastes can come into play here. Personally, I loved the City Hunter. To me, he was not a villain. He was righting wrongs, robbing from the rich to feed the poor and all that jazz. Yeon Jin's motivations were similar. She lost a parent due to someone else’s corruption and she wanted revenge. But where Yoon Sung was doing illegal things, he was not a murderer. Is that why his criminal actions can be overlooked? Maybe, but I do know; I have a harder time forgiving Cha Yeon Jin. Her actions are worthy of villainy, even if she is the "hero" of the story. The other villains in Killer Girl K are no doubt a worse class of criminal, but I have a hard time accepting that murder is the answer to murder.
Most heinous offense: A lot of people do a lot of really awful things in this short 3 episode show. However, Cha Yeon Jin killing a man holding his granddaughter even after being told to abort the mission is pretty dang cold blooded.
The "Opportunists"This category of villain is probably the most subtle of them all. With fictional characters, it can be hard to tell what's in a person's heart and mind. Heck, even with real people that can be difficult. But one of the most fascinating aspects of human nature is how we adapt to certain situations. What catalyst would a seemingly good person need to do something bad? Does the way that person react in that situation make him or her an evil person? Or can a good person do bad things and still be a good person?
Yong Tae Mu and Hong Se Na from Rooftop Prince
Hong Se Na and Yong Tae Mu are both opportunistic villains in this show, but each of them different from the other. Did Yong Tae Mu start the show as a villain? Is what happened with his cousin on the boat indicative of his character, or was it a moment of anger followed by a moment of gross stupidity? Because obviously, he made a really, really bad decision in taking off, and maybe that does prove that he is evil. Or maybe he was just scared and panicked? I feel like the entire show was him taking more and more steps to cover his first bad mistake. Of course he is greedy, evident in his actions against Park Ha, but it's hard to paint him with an evil brush. In terms of villains, Se Na is a whole lot more aggravating than Tae Mu. Her relationship with Park Ha and even her own mother will have you wanting to physically harm her several times an episode. Her manipulation of Tae Yong was also a major sticking point for her character. She was going to survive no matter what she had to do, and no matter who she had to step on to do it. She used every single opportunity in front of her to advance further and further to the dark side. It's interesting that while it's easier to hate Se Na because of the way she treats Park Ha, Se Na is the character who receives redemption in the end, not Tae Mu.
Most heinous offense: As with most of these villains, it is hard to choose their most heinous offense, but I would say for both of them, it would have to be trying to lure Tae Yong to his death and mistakenly injuring Park Ha instead.
Lee Min Kyung from Stars Falling From the Sky
Jung Jae Young’s mother Lee Min Kyung has definitely not had an easy time of it. A bar girl who was not wanted as a daughter-in-law, and is always looked down on because of her past, Min Kyung has a reason to be angry with the world. Her father basically sold her to the bar to pay off his own debt, and anyone would develop a chip on their shoulder after something like that. Her husband’s father treated them as if they didn’t exist after their marriage, so it makes complete sense that when her husband’s inheritance is threatened, she would resort to drastic action. She uses his grandfather’s coma as an opportunity to rid herself of the unwanted problem of Pal Kang’s parents. She continues to make one bad choice after another all throughout the show, but is it evilness that guides her actions? With Min Kyung's background, her relationship with money is key to understanding her motives. Money rules all in her world, and when you threaten to take that money away from her daughter, the daughter she will do anything to ensure doesn't end up like her, she is bound to take drastic, and even deadly measures. Forgivable? No. Understandable? Maybe.
Most heinous offense: Arranging for Pal Kang’s parents to be killed.
Prince Deokheung from Faith
Faith – I was really torn over which category to put this guy in. Not only is he a vile opportunist, he definitely fits in the evil relative category as well, since he is related to the King. And depending on how you look at it, he could be considered a Revengist for all of the years that he had to endure in hiding so as not to be killed. This is one character that is really hard to see even a single redeemable quality. Plotting to overthrow the King of Goryeo, poisoning Heaven’s doctor on more than one occasion, not to mention the whole kidnapping the Princess bit and toying with every person he comes across, Prince Deokheung is easily the most detestable of the three that made this list. And then add in the fact that he never gets a proper demise like 95% of bad guys in dramaland, and you have the recipe for one jerk of a villain.
Most heinous offense: Way, way too many to decide from here! I would definitely say that the whole arranging to have the Princess kidnapped and subsequent loss of her child is a downright awful thing to have done.
The "Evil Relative"This is one of the most common types of villains in romances, next to the dreaded Other Woman. For whatever reason, this villain has decided that the person their child is in love with is not good enough to be in their family. And they are willing to do absolutely anything to break the couple apart.
Kang Hee Soo from Boys Over Flowers
Is there a person who has seen Boys Over Flowers who didn’t absolutely hate Jun Pyo’s mother? She was an elitist snob, who didn’t care about her children past how they could make her look good. She destroyed any piece of happiness that Jun Pyo’s sister could have had, and throughout the show she does her very best to destroy Jun Pyo’s. Her character is far from unique in the drama world, but definitely sticks out in my mind as one of the most hated villains of this type. It's probably why the scene where Jan Di's mom pours a bowl of salt over her head is so immensely satisfying.
Most heinous offense: Definitely lying to her children about whether or not their father is alive so that she can manipulate Jun Pyo into manning up and taking control of the company is a pretty crappy thing to do!
Hwa Yeong from Goong
This show has several different types of parents portrayed. You have Shin Chaegyung’s who are the stalwart, kind parents who love their daughter but want to see her grow into a woman, even though it’s difficult for them. There are Lee Shin’s parents, a mother who will do anything to protect her son and his birthright, and the father who doesn’t seem very interested in him at all. Then you have Lee Yul’s mom. She’s a bit like Shin’s mom, in that she wants to take back what was rightfully his. But whereas Shin’s mom is trying to protect her son and shape him into being a good prince and a better man, Yul’s mom is just petty. And selfish. She married the heir to throne, and when he died and they were cast out, she became jealous. She is definitely entitled to be angry at the laws that required her to pack up and leave immediately following the death of her husband, but she takes that anger and hurts her son with it and a lot of other people along the way.
Most heinous offense: Framing Lee Shin for burning down the palace and nearly killing her.
Kang Tae Won from Romance Town
Kang Gun Woo’s father and stepmother were absolutely infuriating characters. Money hungry and elitist, they were the epitome of bad parents. Cheating, lying, stealing, and making Gun Woo’s life as miserable as possible are just some of their pastimes. Also, kicking out sick elderly ladies to fend for themselves and treating maids like the scum of the earth. Of the two, Tae Won is much worse than the trophy wife. He cut off his son and made it into a competition to see if he could fend for himself.
Most heinous offense: Forcing Gun Woo to claim his brother as his own son so that his wife wouldn’t be mad at his infidelity.