#KajoPicks: Mothers from Korean drama-land we love

Patricia Hului

This Mother’s Day, we are giving tributes to mothers who exist in Korean drama-land. These mothers have the advantage over real mothers by being able to say and do the right thing at the right time, creating some perfect heartwarming moments.

So here are mothers from 10 Korean dramas we love :

1.Jo Kang-ja (Kim Hee-sun) in Angry Mom (2015)

How far would you go to protect your child from bullying? Are you willing to go as far as disguising yourself as a high school student because that was Jo Kang-ja did in Angry Mom (2015).

Kang-ja (Kim Hee-sun) was once the most feared troublemaker at her high school.

However due to her unexpected pregnancy, she had to drop out of school to raise her child.

In the present day, Kang-ja is now a 34-year-old woman with a teenage daughter Oh Ah-ran (Kim Yoo-jung).

They do not have the perfect mother-daughter relationship but Kang-ja really loves her daughter, like any mothers out there.

One day, Ah-ran was admitted to the hospital due to extreme bullying. This leads Kang-ja to do something that most conventional mothers would never do.

She enrolls in the same high school as her daughter under the false identity ‘Jang Bang-wool’.

At first, Kang-ja wanted to teach the bullies a lesson. Instead, she comes across the darker, corrupted side of the school.

This high school drama offers a bit of ‘noona’ romance with one of the boys falling in love with Kang-ja.

Watch the trailer here.

2.Kang Soo-jin (Lee Bo-young) in Mother (2018)

Just because a woman gives birth, it does not mean she deserves to be called a mother, especially if she abuses her own child.

This drama let viewers define what is the meaning of being a ‘mother’.

Kang Soo-jin (Lee Bo-young) works as a temporary teacher at an elementary school.

She realises one of her students is a victim of domestic abuse.

Soo-jin decides to do the craziest thing; she kidnaps her student and raises her as her own.

This award-winning drama is a remake of a popular Japanese drama Mother (2010).

Watch the trailer here.

3.Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Bo-young) in God’s Gift: 14 Days (2014)

Speaking of Lee Bo-young, she plays the another role of a strong-willed mother Kim Soo-hyun in God’s Gift: 14 Days.

In the drama, she works as a successful TV writer for a current affairs program.

One day, her young daughter Han Saet-byul is kidnapped and murdered.

After her daughter’s death, she comes across a miracle; a chance to go back in time exactly two weeks before the event.

No mothers who have lost their children would pass this chance, Soo-hyun goes back in time to save her daughter.

Can she save Saet-byul before she dies all over again?

4.Oh Dong-baek (Gong Hyo-jin) in When the Camellia Blooms (2019)

Over the years, we have seen more and more Korean dramas exploring the idea of a single parent or divorcee finding love all over again.

This type of storyline is more relatable because you see, romance does not happen only between two single people with no past at all.

When the Camellia Blooms follows the story of Oh Dong-baek (Gong Hyo-jin), a single mother who moves to the fictional town of Ongsan.

There, she opens a bar named Camellia while raising her son Kang Pil-gu (Kim Kang-hoon).

Six years later, policeman Hwang Yong-sik (Kang Ha-neul) moves back to his hometown Ongsan.

He meets and falls for Dong-baek. Despite his own mother’s disapproval, Yong-sik continuously pursue Dong-baek and protect her son Pil-gu.

Not long after that, Dong-baek’s peaceful life in Ongsan is interrupted with the presence of a serial killer.

The worst part is the serial killer’s next target is none other than Dong-baek.

In the meantime, her love life gets complicated when her ex-boyfriend and the father of her child Kang Jong-ryul (Kim Ji-seok) shows up wanting her back.

When the Camellia Blooms (2019) was second highest rated drama in 2019 with many critics praised it for its realistic storyline and a nice blend of romantic-comedy and thriller.

Watch the trailer here.

5.Kang Hye-soo (Uee) in Marriage Contract (2016)

Speaking of single mother, here is another Korean drama about the struggle of being a single parent.

Kang Hye-soo is a single mother who is left to raise her daughter while paying off her late husband’s debts.

As if her life is not difficult enough, she is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.

When all things seem to be in despair, Hye-soo is given a rare opportunity.

Marry the son of a chaebol and donate part of her liver to his mother, in exchange for enough money for her daughter until she becomes an adult.

What would a dying mother do? Understandably, she agrees for the contract marriage.

However in a classic tale of Korean drama, Hye-soo and the rich man start to have feeling for each other.

Watch the trailer here.

6.Lee Soo-im (Lee Tae-ran) in Sky Castle (2018)

First of all, all of the mothers except for Lee Soo-im in Sky Castle are crazy or abnormal.

Other mothers in the drama would definitely put real life helicopter mums to shame.

Soo-im on the other hand, is the most humble of all the mothers in the complex called Sky Castle. It is where wealthy doctors and professors live.

Unlike other mothers, she is the only mother who is a stepmother. However, it does not make her less of a mother.

For example when her stepson Hwang Woo-joo wants to take a time off from studying, she understands and supports his decision.

Overall, the drama is actually mocking the competitiveness of South Korean education system and parents who dictate their children’s study.

Watch the trailer here.

7.Cha Yu-ri (Kim Tae-hee) in Hi Bye Mama (2020)

When a surgery goes wrong, Cha Yu-ri (Kim Tae-hee) dies unexpectedly.

That was five years ago, through a reincarnation project, she is offered a chance to become human again if she succeeds in going back to her place within 49 days.

However, her husband Cho Gang-hwa (Lee Kyu-hyung) has now remarried with Oh Min-jung (Go Bo-gyeol).

Nonetheless, Yu-ri’s real reason wanting to be incarnated is for the sake of her daughter Cho Seo-woo who grew up the last five years without her.

Sometimes being a mother is not just about what you want for your child but what is the best for your child.

Watch the trailer here.

8.Ma Jin-joo and Kim Mi-kyung in Go Back Couple (2017)

Let’s say you are given a chance to go back in time to spend time with your dead mother to whom you were unable to say your last goodbye.

The price for the chance is that you need to leave your own child in the present. Would you give up your child for your mother?

Ma Jin-joo (Jang Na-ra) wishes to go back in time before she met her ex-husband Choi Ban-do.

Somehow the wish comes true and both of them are transported back to their college days.

They are both delighted, thinking that they now can change their lives, including not getting married to each other.

Furthermore, Jin-joo now can spend more time with her mother Go Eun-sook (Kim Mi-kyung) before her demise.

The more time they spend in the past, however, the more Jin-joo and Ban-do miss their son.

In the meantime, a mother’s instinct tells Eun-sook that there is something going on with her daughter.

Go Back Couple (2017) is one of those dramas that will make you want to hug your mother a little tighter tonight.

Watch the trailer here.

9.Park Hee-nam and Han Ki-ae in The Heirs (2013)

Set in a high school populated by the privileged and super rich, The Heir (2013) circles around students as they are about to take over their families’ business empires.

There are two mothers in the drama that we love.

First is Park Hee-nam (Kim Mi-kyung) who is the female lead Cha Eun-sang (Park Shin-hye)’s mother.

Putting aside her disability as a mute, she is kind and always wants the best for her daughter.

Then we have Han Ki-ae (Kim Sung-ryung) who is the male lead Kim Tan (Lee Min-ho)’s mother.

Though she seems to be self-absorbed at first, she actually cares for her son and put her son’s happiness first.

The two mothers also have great comedic timing and an adorable relationship with each other in the series.

Watch the trailer here.

10.All the Mothers in Reply 1988 (2015)

Reply 1988 revolves around five friends and their families living in the same neighbourhood in Seoul.

It is the fourth highest rated drama in Korean cable television history to date.

Interestingly, all the mothers in the main cast used their real names in the drama. For example, Lee Ill-hwa plays the role of Lee Il-hwa, a mother who loves to cook a huge amount of food.

Meanwhile, Ra Mi-ran is Ra Mi-ran, a hot-tempered mother who is always anxious over her family.

Then, Kim Sun-young’s character also goes by her real name. She is a widow who tries her best to make up for their father’s absence.

Overall, the drama focuses more on the filial bond in family. It is one of the most recommended series to watch with your family.

Watch the trailer here.