10 K-Drama Dads Who Encapsulated All Sides Of Fatherhood

“Dads don’t automatically become dads the moment you’re born either. It’s my first time being a dad too. So… I’d like it if you could go easy on me” – this quote from “Reply 1988” rings true. Fathers try their best but sometimes can get the rough end of the stick at times for not being too expressive, emotional, or affectionate enough.

But let’s not forget that dads are human – they make mistakes and are perfect in their imperfections.  So with Father’s Day coming up, here’s a look at 10 K-drama dads who encapsulated all shades of fatherhood.

“Hospital Playlist” (seasons 1 & 2)

Lee Ik Jun (Jo Jung Suk) is one of the most sought-after surgeons. He’s a specialist when it comes to liver transplants at Yulje Hospital. Apart from being a brilliant doctor, he is also one of the most popular doctors amongst the staff for his easygoing nature. Adding to his many talents is being a lead vocalist and guitarist in the band that he and his four best friends, Yoo Yeon Seok, Jung Kyung Ho, Kim Dae Myung, and Jeon Mi Do, are part of. But if there is a department he scores a perfect 10 on, it is being an awesome dad to his son Woo Joo (Kim Jun).

A single dad who is hard pressed for time, Ik Jun has never once compromised on his daddy duties. Though the dad’s guilt does set in at times, what’s remarkable is Woo Joo’s maturity in handling the situations, as he is well aware his father has an important job of saving people. “I don’t need a mom, as long as I have you,” says Woo Joo to his dad. As they bond over burgers, discuss Woo Joo’s kinder crushes, and have man-to-man catch ups over camping trips, this father-son duo stole the show, especially child artist Kim Jun, who is such a show-stopper.


“Reply 1988”

The dads of “Reply 1988” often got ignored as the focus was more on their children, the famous five of Ssangmundong, and their mothers. However, they played a pivotal role in standing by their children against all odds, in ways they knew best. Though there were times when they were confronted with tough decisions, their love for their children won the day. Sung Dong Il (Sung Dong Il), father to Bo Ra (Ryoo Hye Young), Duk Sun (Hyeri), and No Eul (Choi Sung Won), is a hardworking man who is trying to do his best for his family. Like any middle class family, they are weighed down by financial burdens, and he does whatever he can within his means. Sometimes gruff, snappy, and unable to express his affections, he gets upset with Bo Ra’s affiliation with the student movement and is a silent spectator when his wife objects to their daughter’s decision to marry Sun Woo (Go Kyung Pyo). But in the end, you know he will come around for his child. It’s an emotional moment when the father and daughter share a meal before the wedding, and he insists on wearing the shoes Bo Ra got him even with they are a size too big. Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and he is a typical dad who expresses what he feels in his own way.

Then there is Choi Moo Sung (Choi Moo Sung), a widower who has single-handedly raised genius baduk player Taek (Park Bo Gum). Moo Sun may be physically a big man, but he is a softie at heart. He is so reticent that he is unable to articulate his love for his son in words, but Taek is pleasantly surprised and teary when he hears his father say he loves him in a video interview. And when Choi Moo Sung finds a soulmate in Sun Woo’s widowed mother Kim Sun Young (Kim Sun Young), Taek and Sun Woo lend their wholehearted support.

There’s also the disciplinarian dad Yoo Jae  Myung (Yoo Jae Myung), the school dean. He is well aware that his son Dong Ryong (Lee Dong Hwi) is interested in everything except his studies. And though he instills an ice cold fear in his son and the students, you realize it’s coming from his fatherly concerns.

And last but not least, Kim Sung Kyun (Kim Sung Kyun) is the jovial, prankster dad, who loves sharing corny jokes with his children’s friends and letting his hair down. Though his family is perpetually rolling their eyes, his thoughtful nature often goes unnoticed. There’s a scene where he gets ice cream for the family, but they chose to ignore it, making him wallow for days. It’s his son Jung Hwan (Ryu Jun Yeol) who gets his father back on track and cheers him up. He is the happy-go-lucky dad who does not take things too seriously.

With all these characters, “Reply 1988” presents the many shades of fatherhood. Dads can be fun, strict, grouchy, and shy, but what matters is that they are the shoulders to lean on when things get rough.

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18 Again

Hong Dae Young’s (Yoon Sang Hyun) life is about missed chances, and now at 37 years of age, he is frustrated and angry. To make matter worse, his wife Jung Da Jung (Kim Ha Neul) has filed for divorce, his boss has sacked him, and he is pitiful in the eyes of his two children. Back in the day, Dae Young was a star basketball player who was scouted by universities. But when he finds himself as the 18-year-old Dae Young (Lee Do Hyun) in the present day, he realizes he has a second shot to live his life all over again. But if there is one thing he wants to stay the same, it is being a dad to his twins.

He goes to the same school as his children and becomes their knight in shining armor. He makes an effort to bond with them, takes on the bullies, motivates them to dream high, and becomes the friend he should have been all along. And as he chastises himself for being unavailable when they needed him most, he turns things over and becomes their best buddy. Lee Do Hyun gives an impressive and emotive performance as the young Dae Young. The actor is a chameleon, and his acting prowess is unmatchable.

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Seo Chung Myung (Kim Joo Hun) dreams big! He is enterprising and innovative, but sadly luck is never on his side. A father to two young daughters, he is persuasive in his passion to establish a successful start-up. As his marriage crumbles and his older daughter In Jae (Kang Han Na) chooses to leave with her mother, his younger daughter Dal Mi (Suzy) stays back with him. Though he tries hard even at the cost of being mocked and humiliated, he never gives up. And despite being unable to see his dream to fruition, he has laid the seeds in his daughter Dal Mi, who wants to become a successful entrepreneur and fulfill the dream her father had dreamt. Years later after his demise, it’s his estranged daughters who carry forth his legacy forward in their own way as arch rivals.

“In a scary world, you fall and get hurt all the time. I wish you could at least fall on sand instead of concrete,” says Chung Myung as he creates a sandbox for his daughter. This later becomes the inspiration for “Sandbox,” the start-up hub his daughters compete to get into. Chung Myung in his own way made his girls dare to dream. For many he may have been just a dreamer or an impractical man aiming for the unattainable, but for his daughters he was a visionary for the unknown future.

“Extraordinary Attorney Woo”

Talented, genius rookie lawyer Woo Young Woo (Park Eun Bin), who has high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD), finds herself working at one of the biggest law firms in Korea. Young Woo can be socially awkward, but she is a force to reckon with in court. Her brilliance matched with her photographic memory, wit, and the creativity with which she handles cases make her popular amongst the firm. But behind this successful daughter is a father who has stood by and supported her.

Woo Gwang Ho (Jeon Bae Soo) is a single dad, who sacrificed his own dreams of becoming a lawyer and devoted himself to the needs of his daughter Young Woo. He is her primary caregiver. And in addition to making delicious gimbap just the way she likes them, he is there to comfort her when she is down and instills in her a confidence to take the world on full throttle. He stands as a rock when he feels she is emotionally vulnerable and is also careful to let go so as not to suffocate her with his overprotective nature. Gwang Ho sure did come up top as dad of the year, as he made sure Young Woo never felt the lack of anything and grew up into a self-assured young woman.


Like father, like daughter! Lawyer Hong Yoo Chan (Yoo Jae Myung) and his daughter Cha Young (Jeon Yeo Been), who is also a lawyer, are perpetually at loggerheads. The reason is their conflicting ideologies. He is a self-righteous lawyer who runs the run-down Jipuragi Law Firm at Geumga Plaza. He is constantly berating Cha Young for selling herself and working for a firm which supports the corrupt Babel Group. Yoo Chan is well aware how menacing the Babel group is and how they can endanger anyone who stands up to oppose them. He fears for Cha Young, but keeps her in the dark when he starts investigating them. “No matter how much I scold her, she’s still my precious little girl,”  he says to Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong Ki), who becomes instrumental in taking Yoo Chan’s work to completion and in plotting the downfall of Babel alongside Cha Young.

As Cha Young laments over lost time and having fought with her father, Vincenzo makes her realize that the person she bas become would make her father proud, and that through her, her father’s legacy lives on. Parents in their own way show their concerns and apprehensions, but at the end of the day they hope the child would sooner or later find their way back around. And the realistic way that the father and daughter bicker might remind you of the times when you were defiant against taking advice from your parent to prove a point, only to know they were right all along.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

Bok Joo (Lee Sung Kyung) is a champion weightlifter. Her biggest cheerleader is her dad Kim Chang Gul (Ahn Gil Kang), who runs a small chicken restaurant. He expresses his love and support towards his daughter through food. He thinks there is nothing a good serving of fried chicken cannot cure, and I have to agree with him on that. He is happy to comply with his daughter’s wishes, and as he delivers fried chicken and treats Bok Joo’s teammates, friends, or anyone who can help and support his daughter, it’s his way of showing gratitude. He is a simple man, but his daughter’s dreams and aspirations are paramount to him.

This father-daughter duo has some hilarious screen time together, and you cannot help but cheer them both. All in all, “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo” is a wholesome watch and entertaining in every aspect.

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Chae Young Shin (Park Min Young) is a feisty aspiring journalist while Seo Jung Ho (Ji Chang Wook) is a night courier who has been assigned to shadow her and get her DNA sample for his client, the news anchor Kim Moon Ho (Yoo Ji Tae). Things take a dramatic turn when the three come together to investigate matters related to their shared past.

However, it’s Young Shin’s relationship with her adoptive father Chae Chi Soo (Park Sang Myun) that is the most endearing. A lawyer specializing in defending clients accused of burglary, he also runs a coffee shop where he has employed many of his former clients. He is supportive and takes pride in his daughter, if not cheering her with impromptu dances, and he is her rock to lean on when she faces difficult situations. Chi Soo proves that being a dad has nothing to do with biology – it is all about being a nurturer and friend to your child.

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SKY Castle

The hyper competitive corridors of SKY Castle are dominated by the equally fierce tiger moms as they push their young kids towards excellence. The fathers are more or less in absentia, except for one dad who nurtures his relationship with his son. Hwang Chi Young (Choi Won Young) is a doctor by profession and does not impose or pressure his child Hwang Woo Joo (SF9’S Chani) to follow in his footsteps. Rather, he helps his son navigate the confusing yet difficult journey from school to university. He, along with his wife, provide a security blanket around their son, making him realize that it’s your happiness that counts more than grades at the end of the day. And as the rest push their children beyond their limits, it is Chi Young who takes a healthy and wholesome approach towards parenting.

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Once Again

Song Yon Dal (Chun Ho Jin) and his wife Jang Ok Boon (Cha Hwa Yeon) run a fried chicken restaurant and have worked hard to raise their children. Now that the brood has flown the nest, one would think they can retire in peace. But no such luck, because when you sign up for being a parent, it is for a lifetime. The couple find their four grown adult children, Joon Sun (Oh Dae Hwan), Ga Hee (Oh  Yoon Ah), Na Hee (Lee Min Jung), and Da Hee (Lee Cho Hee), back home. And each one of them has been grappling with their personal issues as well as their professions.

As their family becomes subject to gossip, Yon Dal, the family patriarch, rises to the occasion, acting as a shield for his grown up kids against the rest of the world. As the siblings connect with each other as well as with their parents, they heal and help the other. This show is a feel-good drama, as it deals with the emotional upheavals every family goes through. And what makes it work is the strong chemistry between each of the cast members.

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Hey Soompiers, which one of these characters is your favorite drama dad? Let us know in the comments below!

Puja Talwar is a Soompi writer with a strong Yoo Tae Oh and Lee Junho bias. A long time K-drama fan, she loves devising alternate scenarios to the narratives. She has interviewed Lee Min HoGong YooCha Eun Woo, and Ji Chang Wook to name a few. You can follow her on @puja_talwar7 on Instagram.

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