The Best and Worst of K-Drama Dads

With Father’s Day upon us, it’s a good time to fix our attention on the fathers (good, bad, and really bad!) who populate our favorite dramas! Make sure to let us know who your favorite good and bad drama dads are in the comments!

First up: the good dads…

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Choi Jang Ho (Oh Kwang Rok), “King of High School

Choi Jang Ho isn’t Lee Min Suk’s (Seo In Guk) biological father, but you’d never guess that from the way these two interact. Their relationship is warm, comfortable, and loving—to be sure, there’s some conflict (when a teenager is involved, there always is!), but Jang Ho would do anything to protect Min Suk, and Min Suk knows it.

My Father’s Day gift for Choi Jang Ho: A night off. He deserves at least one day when somebody else makes dinner!

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Kang Duk Goo (Im Hyun Shik), “Jewel in the Palace

Kang Duk Goo isn’t able to help his adoptive daughter, Jang Geum (Lee Young Ae), as much as he would like. As she becomes more and more embroiled in palace politics, Duk Goo can only observe her from the sidelines. But he is always on Jang Geum’s side, always there to remind her that however tough her current situation may be, she has someone who loves her and wants the best for her. That makes Duk Goo a pretty good father, in my book.

My Father’s Day gift for Kang Duk Goo: Stress balls to help him stay calm when Jang Geum is in trouble.

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Choi Gong Pil (Byun Hee Bong)/Choi Dal Pyung (Shin Jung Geun), “Pinocchio

“Pinocchio” was a drama with bad mothers and wonderful fathers—the latter group represented by the father-son duo of Gong Pil and Dal Pyung. Gong Pil and Dal Pyung’s family had its share of quirks, but it was also a warm, nurturing environment for Dal Po (Lee Jong Suk), Gong Pil’s adoptive son, and In Ha (Park Shin Hye), Dal Pyung’s daughter, to grow up in. These fathers truly believed in their children—even if gruff Dal Pyung couldn’t always show it. No matter what happened to Dal Po and In Ha, they could always come home at the end of the day and know that they were loved and supported. What else do you need from a father?

My Father’s Day gift for Choi Gong Pil and Choi Dal Pyung: A pair of “World’s Best Dad” mugs. It’s a classic Father’s Day gift for a reason!

Next up–the bad dads…

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Park Choon Sung (Jung Ho Geun), “Good Doctor

Abusive, cruel, unloving: that’s Park Choon Sung, whose only mode of interaction with his son Shi On (Joo Won) is “tormenting.” He’s a man seemingly without affection or compassion—in other words, he’s about as terrible a father as one can imagine.

My Father’s Day gift for Park Choon Sung: A one-way plane ticket taking him as far away from Shi On as is physically possible.

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Seo Dae Suk (Jung Dong Hwan), “I Can Hear Your Voice

Seo Dae Suk is both a terrible father and a terrible person. Even worse, he raised his daughter Do Yeon (Lee Da Hee) by his twisted morals, teaching her that truth is irrelevant, and a person’s guilt or innocence depends not on the facts, but on the accuser’s ability to twist the facts to his convenience. It’s an odious philosophy to live by, and Dae Suk’s attempt to make his daughter grow up in his image is just about unforgivable.

My Father’s Day present for Seo Dae Suk: A conscience. Goodness knows he needs it.

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Goo Il Joong (Jun Kwang Ryul), “Baker King Kim Tak Goo

In Goo Il Joong’s defense, his problem is less that he’s a bad man/father and more that he’s weak. With a few exceptions, he never goes out of his way to make life difficult for his two sons, Tak Goo (Yoon Shi Yoon) and Ma Jun (Joo Won). But his very inaction is a sin of its own—by failing to protect the illegitimate Tak Goo from his ambitious and vengeful wife, Il Joong does very poorly by his first son, and effectively abandons him twice. As for his legitimate (though not biological!) son, Ma Jun, Il Joong basically sits by and lets him be raised into a spiteful, spoiled brat of a man. It’s not good to be an overbearing parent, but Il Joong goes way too far in the other direction.

My Father’s Day gift for Goo Il Joong: A spine, to help him act on his good intentions.

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Han Jung Ho (Yoo Jun Sang), “Heard It Through the Grapevine

According to Han Jung Ho, the only people worth anything are rich people. As such, his children only matter to him as the future inheritors of his wealth. At no point does love enter into the equation—quite the opposite, in fact, as Jung Ho physically abuses his son, In Sang (Lee Joon), at the slightest provocation, and only takes notice of his daughter, Yi Ji (Park So Young), to tell her to lose weight. As a father (and as a person), Jung Ho truly has no redeeming qualities.

My Father’s Day gift for Han Jung Ho: Money, since it’s the only thing that matters to him.

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Kimura Taro (Chun Ho Jin), “Bridal Mask

When Kimura Taro’s son Shunji (Park Ki Woong) was a boy, he stole a sword from his father and sold it to pay for his nanny’s hospital fees. In retribution, Taro broke his son’s leg. That really says it all—Kimura Taro is, as a father, endlessly strict and demanding, expecting that Shunji and his brother Kenji (Park Joo Hyung) always be perfect and always prioritize the Japanese Empire over their personal desires. When these standards fail to be met (as they inevitably are), his punishment is swift and merciless. Kimura Taro might love his sons, but he refuses to show it, which is almost as bad as not loving them at all.

My Father’s Day gift for Kimura Taro: A punching bag, to help him stop hitting his sons.

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King Jinpyeong (Jo Min Ki), “The Great Queen Seondeok

King Jinpyeong abandons his daughter, Deokman (Lee Yo Won), less than five minutes after she’s born. He has a reason—Deokman is a twin, and if the nefarious Lady Mishil (Ko Hyun Jung) were to learn of her existence, then she could use an ancient prophecy (claiming that the birth of twins in the royal family will stop any male heirs from being born) to take power from Jinpyeong once and for all. To keep his power, Jinpyeong sends Deokman far away. That’s pretty terrible, but even worse is the fact that he never does quite preserve his authority—20 years later, when Deokman is an adult, Mishil is the de facto ruler of Silla. Jinpyeong’s failure as a father is inexcusable in any circumstances, but the fact that he wasn’t even able to succeed as a king is nothing short of pathetic. In the end, he sacrificed his daughter for nothing.

My Father’s Day gift for King Jinpyeong: A trip to a job fair, to help him find an occupation he might actually be good at.

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King Injo (Kim Myung Soo), “The Three Musketeers

Crown Prince Sohyeon (Lee Jin Wook) is King Injo’s son and heir, but, even more importantly, he’s a threat. Savvier and considerably more charming than his father, Sohyeon never tries to directly go against Injo, but his mere existence is enough to send Injo into fits of paranoid terror. Injo consistently lets his fear rule him, which ultimately turns him into a pretty terrible father and king.

My Father’s Day gift for King Injo: A therapist, to help him work on his paranoid delusions.

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King Yeongjo (Han Suk Kyu), “Secret Door

I feel like the moral of this slideshow is: if you’re going to be a drama character, make sure not to be the child of a king. Sadly, Crown Prince Sado (Lee Je Hoon) was born the son of a king, and he suffers for that, in both his life and his death. To make matters worse, even though there’s a historical argument to be made that Sado was dangerously unhinged, in “Secret Door” that’s simply not the case. For killing his son, whose only real crime was letting his foolhardy idealism overrule his political savvy, King Yeongjo claims the title of “Worst Drama Father” with distinction.

My Father’s Day gift for King Yeongjo: A new rice chest. Something tells me he could use one.

Who do you think are the best and worst drama fathers? Let us know in the comments below!

See also:

The Best and The Worst of K-Drama Moms