Mother – Korean Drama Review (So Emotional)

This show killed me emotionally and one of the best dramas I have watched.

The Plot

It is about a woman named Kang Soo Jin (Lee Bo Young) who works as a bird researcher and took a temp job as an elementary school teacher. She meets a child, Kim Hye Na (Heo Yool) who is always disheveled looking and her classmates made fun of her because she was always dirty. Hye Na caught her attention because she was so unkept always seemed to be lying. Soo Jin was focused on her work as a researcher and never had any desire to have children and we later find out she has a strained relationship with her adoptive mother.

One day Soo Jin drove by Hye Na’s house and saw a garbage bag moving. When she opened the bag, she realized Hye Na was inside. Her mother and boyfriend had left her in the garbage bag outside to freeze to death so they could go watch a movie. Previously, Soo Jin had filed reports and the police did home visits but didn’t find any reasons to remove Hye Na. Soo Jin took matters into her own hands and start the journey of raising Hye Na herself. Starting with changing Hye Na’s name to Yoon Bok. In the eyes of the law, Soo Jin appears to be a kidnapper.

Review

The subject of child abuse is not really touched in kdramas it’s unpleasant and not sexy enough to sell. It’s something no one wants to think about or talk about but is a serious issue plaguing the world in people’s private homes. This could also be the reason why the ratings for this show were not that great considering how amazing this show is. It’s either unpleasant to watch because you don’t want to think about innocent children being abused or you were abused and this show might be triggering. This drama tackles the issues and how the law does not protect children and it does it so beautifully. The reason why it’s hard to get the law on their side is that child abuse is mostly considered a “family matter” and often law enforcement does not want to get too deeply involved. So what they see on the surface is what they take at face value.

This story uses child abuse as a topic to explain what being a mother is, as it examines the relationships between Soo Jin’s relationship with her biological mother (Nam Ki Ae) and adoptive mother (Lee Hye Young) and Hye Na’s relationship with her biological mother (Ko Sung-Hee) and her relationship with Soo Jin. This must have been a difficult feat to accomplish by the cast and crew. The acting of Lee Bo Young and Heo Yool is phenomenal. Heo Yool and Lee Bo Young both won awards for their roles in this show and they were well deserved.

Nam Ki Ae and Lee Hye Young are both OG Korean actresses. Lee Hye Young played Gyu Kyung Pyo’s evil mom in Boys Over Flowers. Both women put on captivating performances and made me cry over and over again.

This is probably the most emotionally gripping show I’ve ever watched. There are so many side stories and all of them are significant and tie into the main plot perfectly. You will be hooked on the story and go on an emotional rollercoaster. This is a definite must-watch and this show is an 11 out 10.

Spoilers

I watched this show a while ago and reviewing it off of memory.

The backdrop of all the scenes always looks like it’s raining or wet and fits with the subject matter. The ocean scenes are usually used in kdramas to show a time of happiness and love. The ocean scenes in this kdrama felt more sadness and possibly change coming. The ocean washes away their painful pasts to start again.

While Soo Jin is trying to figure out a way to save Yoon Bok/Hye Na, it’s also a healing process for her. She’s forced to face her own childhood traumas of being given up for adoption by her biological mother who was also in an abusive relationship to save Soo Jin. Soo Jin’s adoptive mother is very wealthy and wants the best for Soo Jin but Soo Jin can’t take her controlling nature and being in the spotlight with the Korean elite and competing with her sisters and eventually ran away from her adoptive mother to live her own life while cutting off all communication with her.

It was a huge step for Soo Jin to go to her adoptive mother for help. She didn’t speak to her mother for years. Soo Jin then rents an apartment from her birth mother, unknowingly.

Ja Young (Ko Sung Hee), only cared about making her boyfriend happy and neglected her daughter Yoon Bok/Hye Na in the process. Her acting was also very much on point. There were brief moments of pity for her but those did not last very long. You can see that she had some sort of feeling of love for Hye Na but that never trumped her wanting to be loved by her psychopathic boyfriend (Son Suk Gu) who used to lock Hye Na up into suitcases for hours. She keeps making excuses for her actions when she is being questioned by the cops when Hye Na goes missing.

This was probably one of the most infuriating parts of the show. She openly admits to abusing her child and defends her disgusting boyfriend. At certain camera angles, she looked almost human and within a few seconds, you’re back to hating her again! We all understand that being a single parent is rough but there is nothing that justifies this.

We later find out that this asshole preys on single mothers and previously killed his ex’s son because he believed he was helping her. He planned to do the same with Hye Na before Soo Jin saved her.

Jung Jin Hong (Lee Jae Yoon, this handsome Canadian kyopo!) is a doctor who helps Soo Jin and Yoon Bok because he also doesn’t trust the law or system to help them. He offers his help without asking any questions which is what Soo Jin needed. His relationship with his own is also highlighted to show what a healthy mother-child relationship is like. He brings a sense of hope to the story and makes it easier to get through the hard parts of the show. I’ve seen Lee Jae Yoon play a villain The Watcher, an asshole in Revolutionary Love, and a dumb meathead in Alice. He did a fantastic job of being a kind-hearted doctor as well.

On top of everything, Soo Jin’s adoptive mother has terminal cancer. She was looking for Soo Jin so she can spend her last days with her but Soo Jin tells her she has to go. It’s so strange how Soo-Jin is trying hard to be with her adoptive daughter and at the same time pushing away her own adoptive mother, even in her last days. You would think that Soo Jin would understand how her mother feels and see what kind of damage her own childhood trauma has made her unaffectionate towards her own mothers.

Soo Jin’s biological mother also couldn’t leave her abusive husband gave up Soo Jin to protect her. Soo-Jin struggled with this her whole life and didn’t know how to receive or give love until she met Yoon Bok/ Hye Na.

The show did not hide any of the ugly that comes with child abuse and the foster system and how the laws sometimes do not help children. Beyond all of the sadness that happens, there is a huge sense of healing and justice that comes at the end.

Definitely watch this show and tell me what you think!

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