I love it. Darker than what I was expecting, but so meaningful. Again S. Korea is sparking awareness in another controversial issue, bullying (especially in the high school/adolescent period). Angry Mom is a story where a mom does everything in her power to protect her child. Her daughter, Oh Ah Ran, is a nice, smart high school student who isn’t afraid to befriend the outcast of the class. However, she is severely bullied by a group of girls and the “iljin jjang” (top dog, “gum chewer”) of the school. However, this is not your regular bullying that you are thinking about. This is a whole new level where the bullies draw blood and threaten death if the victim decides to tattle. Traumatized by one particularly violent episode, Ah Ran is admitted to the hospital. She isn’t forthcoming to her mother and misunderstands why her mother won’t tell anyone that she is her daughter. (I suspect from some shadowy flashbacks that her child may be an offspring of rape).
Her mother is so heartbroken as her daughter distances herself from her mother and as she slaves away day and night as a night diner owner to provide for her. While her mother tries all kinds of ways to bring justice such as reporting to police, department of education, etc., nothing works as money and power are the decision makers here. Pushed to the limit to bring justice for her daughter, she resorts to her own skills. In the past, she was the “jjang” of all the school distracts with mad fighting skills and a unbreakable attitude. She calls upon her past friends and decides to pretend to be a student in her daughter’s school to find out who the bullies are and bring justice. As she has a really young face, she manages to squeeze her way in before getting noticed by a new transfer homeroom teacher who mistakenly recognizes her as a foul-mouthed wild student he met at an academy. The drama also links deeper politics about corruption, politics, money laundering and the seedy underlife of bribes being filtered through school districts. Of course our school hijinks and the real world will come to a head gradually. The last scene in episode two we get is her headlocking her teacher and choke-holding the top “jjang” while the three girl bullies kneel on the ground. SO BADASS.
While this kind of situation is highly unrealistic and perhaps a bit extreme, mothers who are pushed to the limit for their children can do unimaginable things. What is really heartbreaking to watch is the mother feeling helpless about her child being bullied. She has tried everything in her power, going through the lawful channels to get justice, but nothing works for the underdog. She is poor, hasn’t finished high school, has a useless husband (not father of child), a nagging mother-in-law, and an exhausting job. Then imagine, your child, beaten bloody, bruises everywhere, threatened with DEATH and more bodily harm not only to her, but a threat to her mother as well. What would you do? I would certainly go crazy for sure. While I may not understand the extreme bullying culture in Korea, it definitely exists everywhere and have seen it firsthand. While you may think that bullying is nothing, a scrabble amongst children, a few scratches or words aren’t going kill you, it can be more damaging than you think. It creates mental scars, damages your self-esteem, life, quality of living, and ultimately and unfortunately suicide. These victims are not weak of mind or body, but in this fragile state of adolescence, humans are just starting to develop their identity. With this constant damage, it can really warp and twist a person’s life. Sometimes bullies causes senseless harm to feel a sense of superiority, dealing with insecurity, or lashing out at others due to other unfortunate events in their life. However, none of that gives them the right or excuse to harm another person. Your choice is the one you made; nobody made you do it and it’s on you to reevaluate your actions. Now, observers are also at fault as well. If you see bullying being done and don’t try to help, you are also propagating it. While sounding like I’m standing on a soapbox here, I know how hard it is to break away from the group mentality and stop being oblivious. I know that I am definitely guilty of being such an observer like this and had wished I could have done something before a student was transferred due to bullying. The number one fear is that telling someone else or asking for help will just making the bullying worse either on the victim, yourself, or your friends.
Furthermore, teachers can make a huge difference at this stage of an adolescent’s life. For the most part, an adolescent spends most of their young life in school where they are constantly in contact with teachers. Whether the teacher is oblivious to such situations or choosing to ignore can sometimes make or break a developing youngster. The teacher is in an authority position and does have the power to call out and acknowledge bullying and make an attempt fix it. However, do they want to rock the boat? Will this affect their jobs or will a helicopter parent with money and power squash them like a bug? In the drama, we see the background politics that choke-holds a school. We see that teachers are willing to take bribes or be cowed by parents. Can we blame them? We can’t all be idealistic people like that one good teacher who is the son of the judge in the drama. However, sometimes it takes that one good teacher who can be the parent that the child needs if they aren’t receiving the guidance or discipline needed at home. The teacher is the role model and we don’t give them enough credit for this vital period in a kid’s life that will shape them into future adults.
Okay, rant finished. Let’s kick some bully butt!