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Women Presidents in TV Dramas

Posted October. 19, 2010 11:29,   


Can a TV drama reflect the people’s desire? Quite a few dramas on a woman president have been made in the U.S., which has yet to have a female chief executive. One of the best known, ABC’s “Commander in Chief,” was recently aired on Korean TV. Actress Geena Davis played the vice president who becomes the first U.S. woman president after the sudden death of her superior. Rumor had it that that the series was based on then New York Senator Hillary Clinton when the first episode was aired in 2005.

A woman president appears in “24”, a U.S. TV series that shows 24 hours in a federal agent’s life in 24 episodes. People said the series predicted the election of Barack Obama as the first U.S. black president by having one in the first season in 2001. In season seven last year, Cherry Jones appeared as a woman president agonizing over the threat of terrorist attacks on the U.S. A woman president in season two of “Prison Break,” a series which made lead actor Michael Scofield a star in Korea, was depicted as a coldhearted person who does anything for the sake of power.

The popularity of “Daemul,” a Korean drama about Korea’s first woman president, is eliciting a subtle response from the political circle. Jun Byung-hun, policy committee chairman of the main opposition Democratic Party, told an Oct. 7 meeting that he regrets the series’ use of the term “Minu Party,” the name of the party which impeaches the woman president. He is apparently unhappy over the name sounding like a combination of the Democratic Party (Min) and the now-defunct Uri Party (u). Coincidentally, the approval rating of former ruling Grand National Party Chairwoman Park Geun-hye is rising and some say this is thanks to the TV series. A ruling party faction loyal to President Lee Myung-bak, however, does not seem to welcome this. Others say the drama will remove the Korean people’s reluctance to elect a woman president, a development which will benefit Park.

Sixteen women are the heads of their respective governments in the world, the largest number in history. As more women participate in politics, the figure is expected to grow. Dilma Rousseff could join the list if she wins the presidential election in Brazil. Though the impact of “Daemul” on Korean politics is undeniable, there is also no need to be too sensitive. When the time is right, a woman will become president in Korea. She could be Park or someone else. A TV drama is only a TV drama, however.

Editorial Writer Chung Sung-hee (shchung@donga.com)