Hello again, Drama Fans! Over the last few posts we’ve covered three of the most important Characters of Korean Drama: The Village Idiot, The Jealous Lover, and The Evil Minion. Now, we’re going to move on and talk about the one we all love to hate and hate to love: The Evil Mastermind! No doubt one of the most exciting characters in K-dramas, The Evil Mastermind is also one of the more important persons needed in this group of personalities. Think about it… without them, there really wouldn’t be much of a story, now would there!? So needed are they to Korean Drama that often their demise creates a newsworthy dip in ratings and fan-ship, thus causing script writers and producers to figure out ways to prolong their existences until the very last moment possible. How bad-ass is that? With this in mind, let’s cut the small talk, and take a look at our frienemy and what makes them so awesome! THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
The Evil Mastermind
Description: Cunning and ruthless, The Evil Mastermind will do whatever it takes to annihilate anyone who stands in the way of their plans for ultimate domination. Regardless if it’s ruling an ancient kingdom, becoming a number one popstar, or owning the top business in Seoul, The Evil Mastermind has no pity or patience for any poor soul who happens to cross their path.
Often, The Evil Mastermind has a past marred with traumatic events which led to their being Evil, and is occasionally a very close confidant to the family of The Prince(ess) Charming or Damsel In Distress, if not directly. However, do not confuse The Evil Mastermind with other, less malevolent characters such as The Jealous Lover or even The Evil Minion, for they often never regard The Prince(ess) Charming or Damsel In Distress with anything other than disdain.
Social Networks: Our frienemy is usually a socialite of high standards and class. This being the situation, you will usually see The Evil Mastermind cavorting with society’s cream of the crop: royalty, popstars, models, and CEOs. While they may seem well adjusted and sociable in public; behind closed doors, The Evil Mastermind is a lonely, brooding and psychotic soul who masterfully conceals this antisocial behavior by what we usually call being “two-faced”. On occasion, The Evil Mastermind will cross social classes and mingle with the ruffians, but this is done only to enforce their authority on the sly, as well as to recruit more Minions.
Purpose: As mentioned before, The Evil Mastermind is essential to almost any story, with Korean Drama in particular. With out their concentrated plots of destruction and domination, Korean Drama just wouldn’t be the same. However, there is more to The Evil Mastermind than meets the eye: they are also there to teach a valuable lesson about revenge, greed, and forgiveness. The Evil Mastermind is almost always consumed with vengeance and greed, which is in turn almost always directed at the wrong people. Their burning desire to hurt others almost always backfires and causes their own demise. At the same time, they give an opportunity for those they have harmed to show the power of forgiveness which is usually offered to them (if they so choose to accept it) .
In the last post, I mentioned that I wanted to discuss Mishil of Queen Seon Duk. As the most recent drama I’ve completed, her evil is still very fresh in my mind. She was, without a doubt, one of the most well acted, evil, and surprisingly elegant Masterminds I have watched in a long time. Early on in the drama, it became very clear that she was ruthless in her conquest to become Queen, so much so that she was willing to kill the man she loved in order to get there (yet not in the sense of Female King as Seon Duk eventually ascended to… more on that later). With her eyes on the prize and hand on her sword, she lied, cheated, killed, and seduced her way to becoming the most powerful woman in ancient Silla until meeting her match in Seon Duk.
Her evil was so ingrained that she didn’t even think twice about abandoning her own child, or even trying to kill the newborn Seon Duk (she failed at that, of course). With her far-sighted plots to take over the kingdom as well as to avenge/spite her life’s loves, her charming demeanor allowed her to utilize her brain (and body) into having all who would listen, eating out of her hand. Exuding elegance and grace, she also became one of my favorite characters because in a (very) twisted way, she is a strong advocate for girl power. Especially when in context with the times of her life, she could very well be looked to as a role model (albeit an evil one). And she was: even our hero, Queen Seon Duk, fell in love with her contender’s charm and grace–shedding a tear when Mishil took her own life in the most dignified way she could: by swallowing poison as she calmly sat on the very throw she so coveted.
But back to her evilness. It’s very clear that, while Mishil was intelligent and resourceful, she was still cut from the same cloth as other K-Drama Masterminds: her quest for domination only went so far as she could see, and didn’t fully develop into an all out “take over the world” until Seon Duk put the idea in her head of becoming a true Queen..as in Female King. See, this is where the consuming greed comes in. Mishil would have been content with being the-King’s-wife Queen, yet upon learning of Seon Duk’s aspirations, she immediately felt she must be the-female-King Queen. And in doing all that she could to get there, she pretty much caused the demise of herself, her supporters, and the delicate yet volatile friendship she had begun to form with our heroine.
Now I could go on for days about the remarkable Mishil and her amazingness (who btw was an actual person), but I want to switch gears right now, and briefly talk about an Evil Mastermind of a more modern setting. 2009′s East Of Eden introduced the world to Shin Tae Hwan, a man who, as an Evil Mastermind, didn’t actually have a particular person in mind in regards to vengeance, but he did possess an inhumanly amount of ruthless greed. His plotting was all about taking all that he could from whomever, without regret or regard of whom he hurt. His gluttonous desire to amass wealth (which was triggered by his days as a poor and abused orphan) shows that not all Masterminds set out with intent to harm or kill…just that they don’t care if they have to, as long as they get what they want.
I’m going to end this post here, and ask you to list or discuss who you feel are the best Evil Masterminds of Korean Drama. What makes them so irresistible to love, even when we know they’re dead wrong? Do you think it’s possible for an Evil Mastermind to “see the light” and put their talents to good use? And lastly, which Evil Mastermind (in K-drama or otherwise) would you base a drama on (as the main character) if you could?