6 Lessons We Learned From Our K-Drama Mother Figures
Featuring some of the most insightful lessons and values we’ve learned from our favorite K-drama eommas, ahjummas, and halmeonis
Life can feel difficult at times but a mother’s love can make a world of a difference in helping us power through. As we celebrate mothers this whole month, we take a look back on the K-drama eommas, ahjummas, and halmeonis who taught us so much about life, gratitude, hard work, selflessness, success, and what it really means to be happy.
KATE PARAS-SANTIAGO, Beauty Editor
It has to be Halmeoni Ms. Gamri, a mother figure for Chief Hong, in Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha. She says, “Look around you closely and you’ll realize that you’re surrounded by many precious things. Everyday is full of so much excitement as if I’m going on a picnic the next day.”
I like how Ms. Gamri always shares invaluable life lessons with Chief Hong. I personally love being around older people these days. Their experience and the lessons that go along with it is truly amazing!
JUSTIN CONVENTO, Culture Editor
I have to give my answer in tandem with my own mother’s because it is a conversation with her that actually sparked the inspiration for this article. Earlier in the month, we were talking about how K-dramas are such an insightful watch and make us often reflect on values, especially the importance of family. We then touched on how, in most K-dramas, mothers play such a key role in telling the story. “Mothers will do everything and will sacrifice for their children,” my mom Jovy Convento said. “Villains will protect their fortune, poor mothers will work hard… both with the same objective—that is for the welfare of their children.”
On that note, my mom loved Dong Baek’s character in When The Camellia Blooms, for the reason that she endured so much. “She put her child before herself,” she explained. “Difficulties being a single mom, and yet, she endured it all for her son.” She also mentioned Kang Soon Deok in It’s Okay Not To Be Okay, because she was very caring and nurturing not only to her daughter but also to Gang-tae and Sang-tae. She then referenced a quote from the drama: “Adults can’t always be right. We will make mistakes until the day we die.”
Connecting to the lessons my mom has learned, which are deep rooted in hard work and in loving, as best you can, your children, my greatest motherly lesson from K-drama is that of “action above words”—words are great, but infinitely mean so much more when paired with loving actions. I was reminded of this through watching the mother-daughter relationship in Pachinko between Yangjin (Jeong Inji) and Sunja (played by Minha Kim as a teen and Youn Yuh-jung as an older woman).
Their relationship is not very affectionate and they are not very vocal when it comes to expressing their love for one another, but the amount of love and care they show each other in silent moments is what I find so memorable and striking. A particular scene that I think about often is when Yangjin struggles to procure a few bowls of white rice (which was only allotted for the Japanese) so that Sunja can have that taste of home before she leaves for Japan with Isak. Yangjin puts down the bowls on the table, Sunja opens the bowl and begins to sob… knowing what her mother must have gone through to get it. She may tend to nag or scold Sunja many times, but underneath that is a deep love for her daughter.
Their relationship in fact reminds me much of my own relationship with my mom in that, even wordlessly, I can appreciate everything she has done for me my whole life.
ANNA ROSETE, Living Editor
My favorite lesson is from Sunja (Youn Yuh-jung) in Pachinko and the quote is: "More important than being successful is how you came by your success."
This quote resonates volumes because often, society sees a person as his or her success. We are all only human, easily taken by what already looks presentable. However, it takes so much grit to become a successful person with integrity. This is what Sunja was imparting to Solomon. It's not just the outcome that matters. The straight path on your journey to get there counts for a lot more.
LEAH PUYAT, Metro's Resident K-Drama Expert, Writer, Editor
Because my mom is gone, I really feel like her motherly advice comes from K-drama. She was the one who got me started watching K-dramas, so it makes me feel so connected to her when I watch any drama. I’ve loved and learned from a lot of eommas, ahjummas, and halmeonis; but my fave is the halmeoni from Start Up: Choi Won-Deok. I loved when she told Dal-mi: “You’re a cosmos flower. Wait for the fall and you’ll blossom.”
And I also resonated so much with the bus station farewell scene when she told Ha Ji Pyeong: “Don’t call me when you’re successful. Don’t call me if you’re happy. But call me when you’re having a rough patch. Come to me if it’s raining and you have nowhere to go as you once did. Don’t just stand in the rain.”
Life lesson: While our moms may be proud of our achievements, we really just have to make them feel we still love them, we still need them.
And I also loved that Halmeoni was always praying because my mom always told me that she couldn’t sleep until she had prayed for all my siblings and me. And I also liked that Halmeoni’s worsening eyesight eventually influenced the app that Dal Min and Nam Do San created; because my mom also loved fashion magazines (actually all magazines!) so I love that her interests became my career.