Mother: Go Hug Your Mom Now

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It took me a long time to post this. To be honest, this is more of a review than a first impression of Mother, the Korean remake of the famous Japanese Mother drama. Even now, as I write this, my heart aches in a way that is hasn’t been before.

Mother is a drama that documents the journey of a woman who rescues an abused and neglected child and goes on the run with her. Soo Jin is a socially awkward bird researcher is currently between jobs as she prepares to go to Iceland to fulfill her dream career. She has a cold and distant personality which leads her to stay out of complicated situations. However, her attention is drawn to mature and pitiful child in her kindergarten class that she is the substitute for. She noticed the telltale signs of abuse on the poor child and grudgingly helps a fellow teacher pursue the case. Time after time again, she encounters Hye Na and can’t help but have emotional flashbacks to a past trauma she also endured. It finally comes to a point where Hye Na’s mother leaves her for dead in a trash bag by the curb. Soo Jin decides she will take this child and go on the run with her to save her. She fakes Hye Na’s death and thus begins their arduous quest out of the country. Their journey is incredibly difficult and then encounter many unfortunate situations. However, Soo Jin and Hye Na, who goes by Young Bok, develop a deep emotional relationship. Young Bok sees Soo Jin as the mother she never had and just soaks up all the love that Soo Jin gives her. She learns to let go of her past and embrace each day as it comes. This journey also matures Soo Jin who learns to accept other’s help and brings down her tall wall that she had built around her heart. Without this journey, she would never have encountered her birth mother along the way or made up with her adoptive mother.

Without giving away the ending, I must say it is one that is very realistic, but also so optimistic and perfect. There was not one episode where I was not crying. The story is incredible touching and it features all types of mother and daughter relationships, good and bad. It showcases the sacrifices a mother is willing to make to protect her child, whether they be biological or not. The story is very dark and has a lot of triggering content, so please watch at your own risk.

I must say that there was not one character that was wasted in the story. You even feel twinges of sympathy for the unlikable characters as most of them are molded by their circumstances. Lee Bo Young is very talented at playing the role of a “mother” as showcased by her previous drama, God’s Gift, where she was also searching for a child. She is so natural and raw in this drama, that you can feel her pain. And now, Heo Yool, god what an AMAZING child actress. This is her first drama and she carried it on her back! I can’t believe that this is her first one as she is so immersed in such a difficult role for a child to play. Can you imagine playing an abused kid in the drama? She has a air of maturity that you just don’t see in kids her age. I just am astounded at what a masterpiece this drama was and it will be forever in my favorite dramas list even though I used a whole box of tissues while watching it.

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Queen’s Classroom – Reality Check

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The Queen’s Classroom

With the ages of the cast falling mostly under 15 or so, it may not seem like an appealing drama at first. Even as a fan of school dramas, I found Queen’s Classroom to be an outlier in terms of focus and was iffy about watching it. However, my curiosity had stemmed from raving reviews of the Japanese version and so I decided to check out the Korean version just for a taste. It was and wasn’t what I expected. In this drama, there is a teacher who seems bitterly cold and cruel on the outside to her middle school class. The kids name Teacher Ma as the “Witch” as she harshly rules her classroom based on grade discrimination. For her, the better grades you get, the better she treats you and the more privileges you get. The worse and weaker you are, the more she picks on you. Knowledge and power are everything while friendships mean nothing. For a kid in middle school, it must seem like the end of the world with each difficult situation they are put through. However difficult she may seem, it seems she lives by the philosophy of tough love. She values practicality and teaching the kids about facing reality. The more she picks on the weaker kids of the class, the more she cares about toughening them up to face reality. Her classroom is basically a simulation for future society where there is most definitely discrimination based on power, money and knowledge. Furthermore, she is also hiding a dark past to which known of the kids or staff know about.

After marathoning 8 episodes, I still have not cracked the mystery as to why Teacher Ma acts the way she does. It seems as if she teaches the reverse of the other “usual” teachers. Other teachers care more about being “nice”, “well-liked”, and “democracy”. She does not coddle her students and treats them as society would treat them. Is this a better way to teach? I do not know. I have had one teacher like this in high school who took no nonsense, but not to the extremes that Teacher Ma does. Am I better for it? In the long run, I believe it did me well. Society is not going to smile at me and pat me on the back for each little thing. Even in the news these past few months, articles have come out discussing whether schools have been coddling the minds of young adults with certain subjects and bending to the wills of parents.

As for these children, they are at an age of being moldable and going through puberty. It is vital that the right lessons be installed in them. They are on the brink of becoming independent from their parents and maturing into young adults. Is it too young for these lessons or should these children be raised with more “love”? Teacher Ma seems to feel that it is better to endure these lessons now than to be shocked with disappointments later.

While I appreciate the drama for the lessons it teaches, and the great acting from its younger cast, I am not sure if I am going to finish it just yet. It is one of the those dramas that do not have a huge climax, but just a well written plot that teaches great life lessons in each episode. However, the curiosity of Teacher Ma’s dark past may just keep me going back!