Being a parent is not all rainbows and butterflies. It’s not as sweet and perfect as the perfectly curated snapshots we see on Instagram. Being a parent is about raising imperfect beings who throw tantrums, make mistakes, and sometimes even break your heart.
Korean dramas didn’t come short of note-worthy storylines that will inspire you to be a parent. It’s not about perfect stories, but one that is built on problems, adjustments, and challenges. Get your fill of heartwarming stories with these 8 K-dramas that will inspire you to be a parent—a good one at that.
Hi Bye Mama
This 2020 tearjerker shows us the different faces of motherhood. It makes one ask if there really is a limit to what you can do for the ones you love?
The story mainly revolved around Cha Yu-ri (Kim Tae-hee), whose untimely death left her newborn baby, Seo Woo (Seo Woo-jin), motherless and his husband devastated. Since then, Yu-ri’s soul remained earthbound like an invisible guardian to her little girl. Her happiness is complete even just by watching from a distance, and she is willing to do anything possible to ensure that her daughter is safe and happy.
Another relationship highlighted in this series is between Yu-ri and her mom, whose desperate longing and fervent prayers turned out to be a powerful voice that made the impossible happen. From her we learn that being a parent also means giving way for the good of our children and the people they love.
Seo Woo’s stepmother, Min-jung (Ko Bo-gyeol), also displayed true love for a child even if she wasn’t biologically her own. She still showed genuine care even though her husband was still obviously hung up on Yu-ri. Even though she was the one who raised Seo-woo, she was even willing to step back believing that it would be for good.
Even though life has been unfair to them and even if it hurts, the mothers in this story choose to rise to the occasion and be the bigger person. Indeed, a mother’s true love, seeks the highest good.
SKY Castle shows us the many different ways and extent in which a parent can show their love for a child. This drama centers on Korea’s competitive educational system and how parents obsess to get their children groomed for the best schools.
The story follows the lives of four housewives living in a luxurious neighborhood called SKY Castle in suburban Seoul. The name is also a reference to the country’s top three universities: Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University. These wealthy tiger moms, wives of doctors and an ex-politician, are determined to see their children enter Korea’s top medical school no matter what it takes – because money is no issue for them. This desire to put children on the pathway to success defined the lives of these moms, however, they realized that going too far can have negative consequences.
SKY Castle is more than just the education craze that has viewers gaga over the series. Beneath the surface, the show is about parenthood — the hardships and importance of raising children. We see all these parents who seem to do it by the book, sometimes to a fault. Lee Soo-im (Lee Tae-ran), however, comes into the picture with a totally different approach to parenting. She is an inspiration to parents, especially if you wish to rear well-adjusted individuals.
This is a story about a terminally ill single mother (Uee) who enters a contractual marriage with a chaebol heir (Lee Seo-jin) so she can give her daughter a stable life in the event that she dies. Meanwhile, the man is also looking to save his mother’s life with this marriage.
On its face, it may seem like the drama is putting the romantic relationship at its center, but upon closer look, it actually reflects the effects of familial relationships at its core. The entire sham of a marriage only reveals how a mother’s love for her daughter runs deep, and how a son’s affection for his mom is also similar.
It is fun to watch the little girl adjust to her new stepdad, who at first, was not at all prepared to be one. However, despite all the back and forth banter, the progression of how they eventually came around to genuinely care and love each other is enjoyable to watch.
Beyond showcasing the unconditional love of a mother, the drama gives us different views of the importance of family, as told from the perspectives of a son, a child, a brother, a step-dad, a single mom, a mother-in-law. It teaches us a lesson that the definition of “family” is not by blood, but rather, how much you support and care about each other even if you’re not related biologically.
When the Camellia Blooms
When the Camellia Blooms is a drama that sheds light on the struggles of being a single parent. It tells the story of Oh Dong-baek (Gong Hyo-jin), who opens a bar named Camellia in a small town. As an orphan and a single mom, she’s had her share of hardships, but she remains optimistic. Despite the hand that she was dealt in life she does everything in her power to love and support her child.
Dong-baek’s life begins to change for the better when she meets Hwang Yong-sik (Kang Ha-neul), a shy police officer. What is interesting about this story is the fact that single parents in K-dramas were often out to be scandalous or pitiable, reflecting prevailing social attitudes. Despite that, Yong Sik falls in love with Dong Baek and is not discouraged by the social stigma or the existence of her child. The reason for this is that Yong Sik was raised by a single mom, so he understands Dong Baek’s challenges and loves her all the more for facing them.
If there is any takeaway from this drama about having kids, it’s that being a parent is a commitment that will require a lot from you. It is twice as challenging when you’re at it alone, but the fulfillment is also twice as much.
In this story, Hong Dae-young (Yoon Sang-hyun) and Jung Da-jung (Kim Ha-neul), started out as young parents. While marrying young may have strained their relationship over the years, they have proven that they strived hard to be good parents to their twins.
When Da-jung was given a do-over in life by transforming into his 18-year-old self, he was given a front-row seat to how his teenage son and daughter were really doing with their lives. Da-jung realized that his children are actually faring better than he expected.
What this drama reminds us is that rearing a family is not all butterflies. It’s about appreciating the many small and insignificant things that will put a smile on your face. It’s in the sense of pride you feel when a child learns how to ride a bike without training wheels, the nighttime rituals, the cuddle that comforts when they’re not feeling well. All these are seemingly insignificant, but these are the memories that parents and their children will cherish for a lifetime.
While it may seem that having their twins at such a young age was a setback, standing firm with their decision was rewarding in the end.
Oh My Geum Bi
Geum Bi (Heo Jung Eun) is a sweet and adorable, yet a strong-willed child who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease at the tender age of 10. Abandoned by her aunt, she ends up hunting down and living with her deadbeat father, Mo Hwi-cheol (Oh Ji-ho), who never knew she even existed.
Riddled with a daughter he doesn’t want, Hwi Cheol finds it hard to take care of Geum Bi. However, Geum Bi is bright, selfless, and has such a strong effect on those around her, that Hwi Cheol, despite being tough around the edges, gradually warms up to her.
The drama focuses on the relationships of old friends, family members, and caring romance. The characters in the drama show a lot of personal growth while relaying the message of what it means to be a “family”. The sense of optimism that Geum Bi exudes and her ability to impart positive change in those around her despite her own situation is one of the greatest life lessons from a Korean drama yet.
At its core, it depicts the relationship between a father and a daughter. It may not be the most ideal, but it grew into something meaningful. The pair can bicker like crazy, but they also genuinely love each other, and the two go on a moving journey of healing together.
We witness exactly how a little girl can have such a big impact on those around her through her cheerful and fighting spirit. She’s the one who needs to be taken care of, yet she’s taking care of the adults around her, both directly and indirectly.
Reply 1988 is a slice-of-life drama about parents and their children at a very interesting time in South Korea. The struggles they have may seem mundane, but its familiarity is what made it relatable for a lot of viewers because it is real and raw. In this drama, we see different types of parents and the struggle they have in raising their teenage kids.
Sung Dong-il (Sung Dong-il) and Lee Il-hwa (Lee Il-hwa) lived from hand to mouth, but they see to it that they provide for their children with the best they can. We also see how they’re eaten by guilt when they fail to do so. But even though they are pinching pennies to make ends meet, they made it a point that their children get the education they need and set up a brighter future for them.
In the Kim household, Kim Sung-kyun (Kim Sung-kyun) and Ra Mi-ran (Ra Mi-ran) show their love to their two sons in different ways. Sung-kyun has a more quirky approach as he loves to joke around and play with the neighborhood kids. Mi-ran, on the other hand, can be short-tempered but that was her way of expressing her love and concern for her kids. Even though money was not a problem, their patience as parents was tested when their eldest failed his college entrance exams six times. But they did not give up on him despite his shortcomings until he eventually found his niche in which he excelled in.
Kim Sun-young (Kim Sun-young) is a single mother who worked hard so she could give her children a comfortable life despite difficult circumstances. She shielded them from the fact money was really hard to come by and that she had to take odd jobs just to make ends meet. She finds comfort and contentment when she sees her children get what they need.
From these families, we see different interpretations of a parent’s love language, and it’s heartwarming and enjoyable to watch.
My Father is Strange
This series follows a family whose father (Kim Young-chul) has quite an interesting past. Things went for an interesting turn when a random idol (Lee Joon) suddenly shows up claiming that he is also a part of this family. It makes you wonder what secrets your parents could possibly be harboring. While the issues the parents face are at no fault of their own, it shows you just how far parents will go to make a better life for their children.
This drama gives a raw interpretation of a typical middle-class family and their struggles, which makes you feel for them, making you feel that you’re watching your family’s interaction on screen. This shows us that a family doesn’t have to be perfect for it to be the best. It means embracing the growing pains and learning to find the good in situations because children can only be under your care for so long before they find their wings to fly.