“A mother can replace anything in this world. But nothing can replace a mother.” This quote from “The Good Bad Mother” probably encapsulates what a mother truly is. Loving, nurturing, and protective, few things in the world can match the unconditional love and loyalty of a mother. Often the first teacher, friend, and guide, she wants the best for her children. Moms are the wonder women in our lives, perfect even in their imperfections.
From being gentle and overprotective to sometimes being unapproachable and fierce, every mom tries her best. Here’s a look at some of the mothers in K-dramas who made many laugh, cry, nervous, and even fearful.
“When the Camellia Blooms”
Oh Dong Baek (Gong Hyo Jin) is a resilient and strong woman. A single mother who arrives in a new town along with her young son to start afresh, she independently opens a restaurant and bar called The Camellia. Dong Baek is the town’s prime object of curiosity, gossip mongering, and bullying. Things get complicated when the local police officer Hwang Yong Sik (Kang Ha Neul) falls in love with Dong Baek. Yong Sik stands up for her and her son, even defying his disapproving mother. And the arrival of Dong Baek’s former boyfriend, a famous baseball player named Kang Jung Ryeol (Kim Ji Suk), as well as a serial killer called “the Joker,” aggravates matters.
“When the Camellia Blooms” is a heartwarming story of a woman’s journey as she surmounts social taboos, obstacles, and learns to live life unapologetically. Dong Baek remains focused on bringing up her son even though the town people keep chitchatting about her. She defies judgments and empowers herself! This show blends romance, comedy, and suspense, and its quirky characters and realistic storytelling make it a good watch.
“Hi Bye, Mama”
A pregnant woman named Cha Yu Ri (Kim Tae Hee) gets into a tragic accident, and the doctors are able to save her baby but not her. It has been five years, and Yu Ri has been a lingering ghost, craving the motherhood she was unfairly denied. She gets the chance to become human again as part of the reincarnation project. But there is a catch: she needs to succeed in regaining her place as her husband Gang Hwa’s (Lee Kyu Hyung‘s) wife and her daughter’s mother. However, her husband Gang Hwa is now remarried, and Yu Ri has to decide on her course of action.
“Hi Bye, Mama” is an emotional rollercoaster that will tug at your heartstrings. A poignant drama which makes one reflect on life and those who make it, this drama brings a solid performance by Kim Tae Hee, who brings out the love and the pathos of a mother yearning for her child and family. Child actor Seo Woo Jin as Jo Seo Woo is also an utter delight.
“Crash Course in Romance”
A former national handball player named Nam Haeng Seon (Jeon Do Yeon) sacrifices her career and ambitions as an athlete to raise her niece Hae Yi (Noh Yoon Seo). Haeng Seon, who now runs a side dish store, has put her own personal desires on the back burner, devoting herself for securing Hae Yi a future. When Hae Yi’s aptitude and admission into a prestigious private academy and the interest of star tutor Choi Chi Yeol (Jung Kyung Ho) in Haeng Seon irk a group of jealous and insecure mothers, Haeng Seon rises to the occasion. Conducting herself with the utmost dignity, Haeng Seon’s resilience and fortitude strengthen everyone around her.
Being a mother has nothing to do with giving birth, and Haeng Seon proves it. She is a friend, a protector, and a provider to Hae Yi, encouraging and embracing her through the highs and lows. Set against the backdrop of the pressure cooker world of South Korea’s competitive education system where scandals are waiting to explode, “Crash Course in Romance” emerges as a winner for its heartwarming storyline. A refreshing take on a romance between an older and mature couple, the drama addresses several sociocultural issues plaguing Korean society including toxic parenting.
“Green Mothers’ Club”
Their children are just in elementary school, but these moms are not concerned with playdates or hobby classes. They are competing amongst themselves, pushing their tots toward academic excellence. Lee Yo Won, Chu Ja Hyun, Kim Kyu Ri, Jang Hye Jin, and Joo Min Kyung lead this drama as the aspirational moms, each from diverse backgrounds. Their young charges are in the same class in an elite elementary school, known for its strong track record. These super competitive moms already have their sights set on the top universities, and what follows are strategy, manipulations, and several secrets waiting to unravel as these women engage in a battle of survival of the smartest.
“Green Mothers’ Club” once again brings the lens on Korea’s educational system. The mothers, being products of the same hyper social society, don’t think twice before rubbing their own ambitions onto their children.
How far would you go to push your child academically and make sure they get into the best university? The sky is the limit literally for the moms in SKY Castle. These moms are so relentless in their pursuit to make their children succeed that they are willing to use any means to achieve their end. “SKY Castle” is the elite residential block for the uber influential and aristocratic families. These mums are set to outdo the other in getting their children access to the best tutors and institutions. What ensues within the gilded corridors of SKY Castle is nothing less than a psychological warfare. Han Seo Jin (Yum Jung Ah), the overzealous wife of a doctor, has a goal to get her elder daughter into Seoul Medical School. Her best friend, the aspirational Jin Jin Hee (Oh Na Ra), also dreams of her son getting into Seoul Medical School. Soo Im (Lee Tae Ran) is an author whose family is constantly looked down upon since they come from a humble background. There is also Seung Hye (Yoon Se Ah), the stoic wife of a law professor, who tries to protect her children from her husband’s high-handed teaching style. And Joo Young (Kim Seo Hyung), a teacher and university coordinator, has a successful track record with students but is hiding a dark past.
These women come together and give us layer upon layer of a slow-burning drama that holds you on tenterhooks. “SKY Castle” puts the spotlight on class divides, elitism, and the hyper competitive educational system. And the stellar ensemble cast is on point, giving viewers a brilliant narrative and a pitch perfect performance.
Start watching “SKY Castle”:
Don’t fight, get even—that’s the adage that Jo Kang Ja (Kim Hee Sun) lives by. Having been a badass in her high school days, she is spunky with a quick temper and is not someone to mess with. However, after giving birth to her daughter Ah Ran (Kim Yoo Jung), Kang Ja turns her life around, becoming a mellower version of her once sprightly personality. But when she learns her daughter is being victimized by bullies in school, hell hath no fury known than a mother’s rage. Kang Ja disguises herself as student and takes matters into her own hands, bringing a positive outcome to a negative situation.
“Angry Mom” is an upbeat drama. It highlights the worrisome issues in Korea’s educational system. It’s a well-written and underrated drama that’s peppered with several plot twists and an endearing mother-daughter bonding. And Kim Hee Sun does a spectacular job as the titular character.
Start watching “Angry Mom”:
Single mother Hye Soo (Uee) is surmounted under a huge debt after the death of her husband. Harassed by loan sharks, her prime priority is her daughter Eun Sung (Shin Rih Ah). To earn money, Hye Soo starts working at a restaurant owned by Ji Hun (Lee Seo Jin), a wealthy and conscientious man. When Hye Soo discovers Ji Hun is looking for a liver donor for his mother and seeks a marriage contract, she agrees to the arrangement. However, it is Hye Soo who is ailing, and with just a few months to live, she is also trying to secure her daughter’s future.
Bring out the tissues because “Marriage Contract” has plenty of heart even within its predictability. The joy one gets from selflessly living for others comes through with this show. This unlikely couple will make their way into your heart with their warmth and honesty. The easy-going chemistry between Uee and Lee Seo Jin is endearing, and their mere glances speak louder than words.
Start watching “Marriage Contract”:
Kang Soo Jin (Lee Bo Young), a substitute teacher, becomes concerned about Kim Hye Na (Heo Yool), a young child in her homeroom class. Hye Na is shabbily dressed, looks malnourished, and often comes to school with bruises on her body. Hye Na is often targeted by the remaining students who feel she is different in more ways than one. Soo Jin finds herself thinking about Hye Na and keeps raising her concerns on the child’s appearance and mental health. She tries to befriend the young child and investigate into her background. Hye Na constantly makes excuses about her mother Young Shin (Go Sung Hee), who works long hours in a retail store selling makeup. Eventually, as Hye Na’s case is investigated, it comes to light that the child is regularly abused by her mother and her boyfriend, the psychotic truck driver Seol Ak (Son Suk Ku). Seol Ak has had a track record of abusing children. Soo Jin decides to become a surrogate mother to Hye Na to protect her from her own biological parent.
“Mother” is a remake of the 2010 Japanese drama of the same name and is a moving and an emotionally triggering show. Highlighting the poor laws pertaining to domestic violence and child abuse, the drama is unsettling, A heart-wrenching story which brings to light a serious issue, this one is not for the faint-hearted. “Mother” eloquently presents how being maternal and a mother are two very different things.
“Under the Queen’s Umbrella”
Queen Im Hwa Ryeong (Kim Hye Soo) is not one to live in the shadows of the king like her predecessors. The mother of boys is well aware about the court and its internal strife and intrigue. When her son, the Crown Prince (Bae In Hyuk), falls gravely ill, opening up a battle over succession, she needs to secure the future of her other sons, who are wayward and spoilt in their ways. Well aware that the position of her sons could be threatened by the concubines and their charges, she decides to take matters into her hands. Queen Im Hwa Ryeong realizes the importance of education, and the need to empower her boys, not just the prince-in-waiting. As her relentless efforts and dedication help transition the boys into men of merit and integrity, her efforts are met with strife. But she stands as a wall of strength, resolve, and courage as she transforms her boys into noble citizens.
“Under the Queen’s Umbrella” is a winner all the way. Kim Hye Soo is undoubtedly the queen of versatility, and she gives a well-nuanced performance as the Queen. She is graceful and poised but can be fierce when pushed into a corner. A progressive period drama, it showcases how the conviction of a mother as she turns her sons into men of integrity and not fall prey to the easy and debauched life of royalty. As a mother, she is fastidious and determined, especially given the time period when women were relegated to being mute spectators of palace life. It’s a brilliant drama that is beautifully shot and comes with top notch performances.
Hey Soompiers, which one of these moms is your favorite? 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 Ho, Gong Yoo, Cha Eun Woo, and Ji Chang Wook to name a few. You can follow her on @puja_talwar7 on Instagram.
Currently watching: “The Good Bad Mother”