Call Me Mother
Many K-Dramas have been floating under my radar this year thus far, but there was one name that kept appearing throughout the end of February and all of March. tvN’s Mother, also known as Call Me Mother, was overlooked at the beginning by international drama fans. However, after hearing about the high ratings and the significant accomplishment of being one of the ten shows to enter the Cannes Series Festival 2018, it became of interest.
Mother was originally a Japanese series in 2010 that won many awards. This story is not for the faint of heart, as its very first episode may just be the hardest to watch of them all. Mother follows Kang Soojin (played by Lee Boyoung), an independent woman who studies birds; she has no interest in children or putting her dream of studying in Iceland aside. However, after filling in for a teacher on maternity leave, she gets to know a troubled girl named Hyena (played by Heo Yool). After crossing paths with her many times and noticing little things that seemed off about her, it is soon realized that she is an abusive home. This becomes the basis of the whole story, and Soojin faces many obstacles when her growing love for the girl proves to be stronger than her love of solidarity.
The dynamics between Soojin, Hyena (later known as Yoonbok), and Soojin’s own mother(s), are unique and compelling. These stories all revolve around the idea of motherhood—those whose sole purpose is to raise children, those who are not ready to raise children, and those who thought they would never have a child. There are versions of all of us seen in each mother portrayed in this drama, and we quickly learn of the massive importance a mother’s role plays, whether it be good or bad.
Being someone who studies child development and has to learn about child abuse and how to detect it, the rawness of this show struck me close to heart. While many people watch such things and believe it isn’t common, these heartbreaking scenarios happen more often than we’d like to think, and I think it is incredibly brave to show such domestic violence in such a raw yet respectful way. It’s not a topic to be taken lightly, and while there is an inkling of a love-line in the story, it not once overshadows the love between mother and child. It’s a new kind of love that is one of the most refreshing and heart-warming relationships I have seen.
Viewers very quickly learn to love the little girl and to associate with Soojin, someone who I think can become an inspiring figure to many of us—male or female. I find that lately most female leads have been outgoing, friendly, and their emotions are made clear to the viewers (think While You Were Sleeping’s Nam Hongjoo, Goblin’s Ji Euntak, and countless other female leads from the past few years). It’s very refreshing to receive a believable, introverted character—one that we may need to dig a little deeper into in order to truly understand what she is thinking. It’s exciting and causes you to love her even more—she just feels so real. This is of course thanks to the marvelous script writing and the talented Lee Boyoung. She does a remarkable job taking on such a difficult role to act, and it has sparked my love and interest in her as an actress.
While Mother may not be a one-dimensional, easily binge-watchable, guilty pleasure K-Drama that we can all admittedly fall prey to searching for, it is an important drama to watch if you are a fan of heartbreaking and beautiful storylines. It is daunting at first because of its serious topic, but once you dive in you will be glad you did. It is most certainly my favorite drama of the year thus far, and maybe it can be yours too.