The Best and The Worst of K-Drama Moms
Mother’s Day is right around the corner, so it’s the perfect time to take a minute to celebrate the great mothers of K-Dramas… and to call out some of the more questionable ones! Make sure to let us know who your most and least favorite K-Drama moms are in the comments below!
For many people, high school is a time in their lives they wouldn’t repeat for anything. Jo Kang Ja is made of sterner stuff. When Kang Ja realizes that neither the school administration or law enforcement are taking the bullying of her daughter Ah Ran (Kim Yoo Jung) seriously, she puts on a uniform and goes back to school to protect her daughter. As far as acts of maternal devotion go, this one’s basically unbeatable.
Uh Choon Shim expects a lot from her daughter Hye Sung (Lee Bo Young), and isn’t shy to upbraid her in public places when Hye Sung lets her down. But the flip side of that coin is Choon Shim’s endless pride in her daughter. She plasters the neighborhood around her shop with posters of Hye Sung’s face after she becomes a public defender, and encourages her daughter in everything she does (after Hye Sung turns on a monitor, Choon Shim wonders at the Bill Gates-like talents of her child). Choon Shim can be a strict mother, but at the end of the day, she’s also as loving and supportive as they come.
Kim Boon Ja (Seo Jung Yun), “Valid Love”
Kim Boon Ja has a complicated relationship with her daughter Il Ri (Lee Shi Young). After all, Boon Ja is so furious when she finds out that Il Ri was unfaithful to her husband Hee Tae (Uhm Tae Woong) that she goes so far as to hit her daughter, demanding that she save her marriage no matter what. Boon Ja loves her son-in-law, and doesn’t want to lose him.
But when Boon Ja discovers that Hee Tae’s mother has dementia, she reverses course, and begs Hee Tae to let Il Ri go. Boon Ja may love her son-in-law, but she loves her daughter more, and she can’t stand the thought of Il Ri sacrificing her life to take care of Hee Tae’s family. Ultimately, what Boon Ja cares about the most is her daughter’s happiness.
Technically, So Hwa is the foster mother of Princess Deokman (later Queen Seondeok). But she utterly dedicates her life to Deokman (Lee Yo Won), enduring fire and injury and worse to keep her daughter safe. There’s no blood connecting So Hwa and Deokman, but their love and devotion to each other is second to none.
It’s common for mothers to insist that they would take bullets for their children, but Han Sii puts her money where her mouth is, giving up her life to protect her son Kang San (Shin Hyun Joon) and his secret identity as the masked freedom fighter Bridal Mask.
Next up: the less admirable mothers…
Kang Hee Soo does a lot of morally questionable things over the course of “Boys Over Flowers,” most of them in an effort to keep her son Jun Pyo (Lee Min Ho) away from the unacceptably poor Geum Jan Di (Ku Hye Sun). She does some terrible things in the name of protecting her company and her son. But each time she succeeds in driving a wedge between Jun Pyo and Jan Di, the only real result is that Hee Soo’s son suffers. She might very well be protecting the company, but she only brings misery to her son, which makes her a pretty bad mother, in my book.
Song Cha Ok is a fascinating character, an intriguing blend of positive and negative characteristics, her biting wit and fierce intelligence matched only by her towering ego. As “Pinocchio” progresses, so does Cha Ok’s morality, as she gradually commits to redeeming herself for her past sins. But it’s tough to deny the fact that she was a terrible mother to In Ha (Park Shin Hye). Their relationship might become somewhat mended by the conclusion of “Pinocchio,” but there’s no fixing the many times that Cha Ok, in the face of In Ha’s desperate need for her mother’s love and approval, made it clear that her daughter’s well-being meant little to her. There’s no erasing the time she told In Ha that, in the 15 years since they’d last seen each other, she hadn’t had time to miss her only child.
Seo In Sook may be a soap opera villainess of the highest order, but a good mother she is not. She has three children, two daughters and a son. The fact that her daughters, whom she ignores, grow up to be rational and decent people, while her son Ma Jun (Joo Won), on whom she dotes obsessively, grows up self-obsessed and cruel, sort of says it all.
Moon Boon Hong (Park Joon Geum), “Secret Garden”
It’s practically a kdrama law that if you have a rich hero and a poor heroine, then the hero’s mother will do everything in her power to keep the lovers apart. So Moon Boon Hong’s actions in “Secret Garden” aren’t anything particularly new. She thinks that Ra Im (Ha Ji Won) is unworthy of her son (Hyun Bin), and she expresses that thought. What makes Boon Hong special is the pure malice she bears towards Ra Im. She goes out of her way to humiliate and insult Ra Im every chance she gets, as though Ra Im’s mere existence makes her angry. Boon Hong isn’t just a bad mother; she’s an incredibly rude person.
Five years before “Secret Garden,” Hyun Bin was dealing with a different, equally aggressive mother in “My Lovely Sam Soon.” Na Hyun Sook cares about one thing—her son, Jin Heon. But she refuses to let him be happy on his own terms, doing her level best to drive away both his old and new loves (Jung Ryeo Won and Kim Sun Ah). Hyun Sook may want the best for her son, but when only she is allowed to determine what “the best” is, it’s hard not to call her parenting into question.
Have I left out any notable wonderful or terrible mothers? Let us know in the comments below! Happy Mother’s Day!