Behind every great character is an even greater mother. This Mother’s Day, we celebrate all kinds of mothers in the world, as we thank them for their love and sacrifices. Of course, we wouldn’t want to forget the eomoni(s) from K-dramaland.
We’ve rounded up the most memorable maternal characters from our favorite Korean dramas to celebrate this special day. Here are 10 wonderful mothers in Korean dramas who taught us that a mother’s love is the purest form of love, regardless if they’re real or fictional. (You can binge-watch these series with your mom!)
Cha Yu-ri (Hi Bye, Mama!)
There are no perfect mothers, but a mother’s love can make everything perfect. Cha Yu-ri (Kim Tae-hee) might have died five years ago but she continues to watch over her family, especially her daughter. So when finally given the chance to return to her old life, she goes back to her husband who now has a new wife and her child who has a new mother. She could have chosen to sabotage or harm Jo Seo-woo’s (Seo Woo-jin) stepmother so she could complete her reincarnation and get her new life back. But she knows Oh Min-jung (Go Bo-gyeol) loves her family just as much as she loves them and that she will protect and care for them in her place. The series proves that a mother’s love is powerful enough to cross boundaries of the living and the dead and tender enough to let go of what’s dearest to her in exchange for her loved one’s happiness.
Oh Min-jung (Hi Bye, Mama!)
When we hear the word “stepmom,” we usually think of evil women and ugly witches with poisoned apples, just like those from our bedtime stories. But Oh Min-jung (Go Bo-gyeol) proves that stepmothers are not all bad. Some love their second children with the same care and warmth as their first mother. Oh Min-jung loves and cares for Seo-woo, just as much as her biological mother Cha Yu-ri does. She is even willing to sacrifice her love and family and let Yu-ri take back her place because she also cares for their happiness. Stepmoms are all moms, too, and their feelings and love do not discriminate blood ties.
Oh Dong-baek (When the Camellia Blooms)
A mother is strong enough to play both motherly and fatherly roles for her child. In order to support her son’s and her needs, Oh Dong-baek (Gong Hyo-jin) manages a small bar. Through her hard work, she was able to raise Kang Pil-gu (Kim Kang-hoon) as a single mother. Even as the regular subject of their neighborhood’s gossip, Dong-baek never faltered. Instead, she stands bravely because that’s what mothers do. Along with her sacrifices for her son, she continues to be strong and firm for him.
Kim Hye-ja (The Light in Your Eyes)
A mother is not only a mother to her children but also a mother to all. She doesn’t stop loving even when her hair grows gray and her body becomes weary. Plagued by Alzheimer’s disease, Kim Hye-ja (Kim Hye-ja) starts conjuring an imaginary world inside her mind, where she imagines she failed in her dream of becoming a news anchor and ends up as an old woman. But beyond this plot, we see the nurturing and caring love that Hye-ja has for her son Lee Dae-sang (Ahn Nae-sang), even when he resents her, thinking that his mother does not care about and love him at all. Throughout the story, after discovering that her mother took care of him secretly, he slowly warms up to her. The show magnifies that everyone will become old and gray eventually, but a mother’s love will not. Kim Hye-ja won the Grand Prize at the 55th Baeksang Arts Awards for her performance in the series.
Kim Soo-hyun (God’s Gift: 14 Days)
There’s no one braver than a mother on a mission to save her child. After her daughter gets kidnapped and murdered, Kim Soo-hyun (Lee Bo-young) is given the chance to go back in time, save her child, and expose the crime before she dies all over again. Even with the big and dangerous risks that lie ahead, Soo-hyun faces all with determination in exchange for her child’s safety. The drama is a perfect example of the lengths that a mother is willing to go to for her loved ones, and that no mother backs down in the face of danger to save her child.
Im Soon (Graceful Family)
Mothers love their children so much they are willing to throw away their lives in a blink of an eye. When the opposing party threatens to harm her child, Im Soon (Jo Kyung-sook) willingly sacrifices 15 years of her life in prison for a crime she did not commit to protect Park Tae-ho (Lee Jang-woo), her only son. She even cut all ties with him so that the perpetrator would not be able to track him. For fifteen years, she fought her battles alone, away from her son. If that does not spell the greatest love of all, I don’t know what will.
The Mothers of Reply 1988
A mother’s love is so limitless, it extends to her neighbors. Reply 1988 shows how mothers (Kim Sun-young, Ra Mi-ran, Lee Il-hwa, credited in the series as mothers of the main characters) can become the strength and foundation of a community. The mothers from this series cook and share their food with everyone in the neighborhood, so every home basically ends up with a complete course of meals on their table. Each mother is also protective and nurturing in their own way. Mi-ran still likes taking care of her family even when they’re all full-grown adults. During one incident, Il-hwa runs barefoot just to protect her daughter Sung Bo-ra (Ryu Hye-young). Scenes of Sun-young’s close relationship with her son Sung Sun-woo (Go Kyung-pyo) are also notable. It’s also heartwarming to see the children in the drama do little things to make their moms happy. This goes to show how much they love and appreciate their mothers.
Go Eun-sook (Go Back Couple)
Go Back Couple gives us the most important lesson of appreciating our mothers while they’re still with us. When Ma Jin-joo (Jang Na-ra) and her husband’s (Son Ho-jun) unhappy married life leads both of them to a breaking point, they wake up one day, back to their 20-year-old selves. There, Jin-joo is once again reunited with her mother, Go Eun-sook (Kim Mi-kyung), who has died in her present life. Now, she is torn between staying in the past with her mother and going back to the present with her son. But Eun-sook knows what a mother feels like when she’s apart from her child. Thus, she consoles Jin-joo and tells her she needs to let her go so she can go back to her son, and that she needs to be strong for him as his mother. This series is a heartwarming tearjerker about a mother’s love, and Eun-sook makes us realize that the hardest thing to let go in life is our mothers.