Korean Drama Theory: Girls dressed as Boys

Youre Beautiful

Have you noticed a trend in Dramas, Manga and Films from all the globe, that enjoy producing the tale of  a Girl who disguises herself as a Boy to gain something she couldn’t as a girl or to help her twin brother out?

I started noticing that pattern when I decided to catch up on  Korean Dramas. Only to find out I was watching back to back stories about cross-dressing gals who cause hilarious shenanigans with their masculine decision. It’s not a complaint you see, I am a big fan of these stories. I watched Yentl and Just One of the Guys in the 80′s. I wont  get into Tootsie or Mrs. Doubtfire film, since I think the female-as-a-male stories have a different sentimental experience.

The Break Down of this Story Pattern is:

Characters: Girl with great aspirations and a cause, who for reasons of society, class or economy has come to a brick wall, in reaching her dreams and goals.

Goals: The Girl is in desparate need of something; education, money for herself and/or family to survive, protecting her loved ones, respect for her extraordinary talents or connect to someone emotionally.

Plot: Girl decides to dress up as a Guy. hopefully fooling all who accept that “he” is a bit soft and its ok to have NO Adams apple. She manages to succeed in people believing her story. She gets really close to her goals when the unplanned happens, SHE FALLS IN LOVE with the one guy who is the bff or in some cases the frenemy who is so drawn to, yet so oblivious to her female enchantments. She now has to decide between continuing to reach her goal that she worked so hard to get to, or to reveal herself as a fraud  and confess her true heart to the man she fell deeply in love with, risking rejection, social humiliation, jail or execution(in earlier societies).

It makes for some great Drama don’t you think? I have compiled some of my favorite She-He Stories by country of origin. If you know of any other fascinating ones I have missed, please let me know!

Korea

Coffee Prince

Cute story about misunderstanding identity and going with the flow to do what you love and  finding someone to love along the way.

Since I couldn’t find  a decent trailer I decide to post Big Bang’s parody of this drama… So G-Dragon is pretending to be a girl pretending to be a man, ROFL!!!


Download Video | YouTube Converter
Download Video | YouTube Converter

You’re Beautiful

Trying to help her twin brother become a pop-rock star with the Band A.N.Jell, in a goal to find their long lost mother. Go Mi Nyu agrees to dress up like her brother, Go Mi Nam, not really understanding what she got herself into.

Sunkyunkwan Scandal

Desperately wanting to study in a male dominated society, Kim Yoon Hee takes her brother’s identity and gets into the prestigious Sunkyunkwan University.  Making kindred friendships and causing much funny-yet-sad confusion for the man she fell in love with, Lee Sun Joon.


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Japan

Hana Kimi

Traveling across an ocean from the US to Japan to attend an all boy’s school to get to know the all star High-Jumper Izumi Sano. Mizuki Ashiya disguises herself as male student. Not knowing whats harder; keeping her secret identity or missing the chance to be by Sano’s side.  (One of my favorite Mangas)

Ai Ore

The English Translated version of this Manga released this year on its 4th Volume. It’s a very unique story where Mizuki is the prince of her all-girl school and Akira is the Princess of his all-boys school ( yes they are both cross dressers in their own right), they are bonded by a forgotten first love and try to work out their relationship with all that comes with the gender bending image they both have.  Mizuki just falls into the role of a male idol for her band and for her school, but everyone knows she is a girl except the outside public.(I am admittedly slightly disturbed by the story line and ironically has nothing to do with their cross dressing. I do hope the story ends nicely)

Akira is a teen aged chibi boy mistaken for a girl, Mizuki is a tall teen aged girl mistaken for a male idol

USA

Just one of the Guys

Terry has a dream to be a journalist, she tried out for the internship opportunity and was passed, she believs it’s because she is a girl. She decides to transfer to another high school as male student and gets the lesson of her life.


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Mulan

Based on folkloric accounts of the legendary Hua Mulan, Disney depicts Mulan’s decision to protect her aged father from joining the military. She takes his place.  It woudln’t be a Disney film without a funny sidekick and little romance.

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She’s the Man

Viola’s loves soccer, when her school team gets cut and her TWIN brother decides to cut school to travel she takes his place at the all-boys boarding school and ends up falling for…you guessed it her roomie bff!  (I don’t know if they have anatomy class in these boarding schools to know she’s NOT he man?)


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In Cinema, I often wonder if art imitates life. Since in reality there has been great women in History who accomplished tremendous things in male drag; Joan of Arc, Catalina de Erauso and Helen Snell to name a few. Unfortunately, some of these ladies had tragic endings. True History or Fiction, Girls dressed as Boys will continue to  be part of Humanity’s storytelling. what message do you think it is trying to convey?

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