8 Lessons We Learned From K-drama Dads

Not all heroes wear capes. Sometimes, they wear oversized t-shirts and worn-out jeans and work hard to provide us with everything we need in life. While it is said that you never forget your first love, it is usually our dads that we first give our hearts to.

This Father’s Day, we wish to honor all the super dads out there who never get tired of protecting and providing for their families. Of course, we can’t forget the abeojis (fathers) we meet in Korean dramas who made us appreciate our dads even more. We’ve listed down below all the fictional dads who taught us a lesson or two. From everyone of us here at KDramaPal, Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing appas (dads) out there!

“Dads may not always understand their children, but that doesn’t mean they stop trying.”

—Sung Dong-il (Reply 1988)

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No matter how wide the generation gap is, a father will always take the effort to understand his children. Growing up idolizing K-pop idols may be something dads can’t relate to. Most often, Sung Dong-il doesn’t understand his youngest daughter’s (Lee Hye-ri) ways, but he always tries to be there for her and support her. He also has a distant relationship with his eldest (Ryu Hye-young), but that doesn’t stop Sung Dong-il from reaching out to her. He’s very overprotective towards his children, but they’re also his greatest weakness. Just like any father, he wants the best for all his children and wants them to be happy in their endeavors, even when they test his patience most of the time. If you want a feel good drama that could make you cry and laugh all the same, Reply 1988 is a lighthearted series about five friends and their families who live in the same neighborhood. Aside from Sung Dong-il and his family, there are other characters in the series you can surely relate to.

“To the world, you are a father. To your child, you are the world.”

—Park Seong-yeol (Itaewon Class)

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A great father reflects a great son. Park Seong-yeol (Son Hyun-joo) only lasted a few episodes in the series, but the little time we spent watching him was enough to tell us why Park Sae-royi (Park Seo-joon) grew up to be such a decent young man. Even when it meant losing the job he loved, he chose to stand by his son’s side and told him he was proud to be his father. This explains why Park Sae-royi has such a soft spot for his father; he was his everything. He became the sole motivation of how Park Sae-royi strived to be successful in life. Sae-royi is understanding and patient to his employees, believes in them, and helps them to grow as individuals, too—something that he learned from his father, which tells us how much he loves and respects Park Seong-yeol. After he died, Sae-royi followed his father’s dream of starting a restaurant business, and he turned it into multimillion corporation to take down the company who was responsible for his father’s death. Even after he successfully reached his goals, he never forgot his father, and he lived a life that he knew Seong-yeol would be proud of.

“Behind a great son is an even greater father.”

—Heo Jang-soo (Graceful Family)

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Stepfathers love their stepchildren all the same, and Heo Jang-soo (Park Sang-myun) is not afraid to show the world how proud he is of Heo Yoon-do (Lee Jang-woo). When he lost his wife and son, Jang-soo adopts a little boy whom he saved from hunger down the riverbanks. Even after he found out Yoon-do’s background, he took him in and treated him like his own son. He sent him to school, fed him, and supported his dreams to become a lawyer. His son then grew up to become an employee of a top organization who manages the affairs of one of the wealthiest families in the country who owns a multimillion corporation. Even when Yoon-do got in trouble and Jang-soo was threatened to make his son shut his mouth, he refused to give in to the opposing party’s threats and chose to stand by his son’s side amidst the danger. Jang-soo often brags about his son and stands by him whatever Yoon-do chooses to pursue. Yoon-do may not say it, but he looks up to Jang-soo so much for being a great father. Jang-soo teaches all of us that a father’s love knows no boundaries, even when the child does not share his own blood.

“No man in this world can ever love a girl more than her own father.”

—Kim Chang-gul (Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo)

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Sometimes, a father’s great joy is seeing his child follow in his footsteps. Kim Chang-gul (Ahn Gil-kang) is a former weightlifter. So when his daughter Kim Bok-joo (Lee Sung-kyung) took up weightlifting as a sport, he supported her every step of the way. But oftentimes, a person grows and learns new things along the way. Aside from experiencing teenage infatuation, Bok-joo opened up to her father of how she is slowly losing motivation to continue weightlifting. Chang-gul has the right to be mad, but instead, he chose to open his heart to his daughter and tried to understand her. Chang-gul might be a little rough on the outside, as he is always telling Bok-joo, “It’s your life, not mine.” But this might be the biggest lesson her father is giving her. He might be proud of his little girl following his footsteps, but he wants Bok-joo to know that she is still in complete control of her life, and that Chang-gul will not meddle in her life’s choices, rather, he will be there to guide her. She might be experiencing her very first love, but her father has loved her first.

“Every child has a hero. Sometimes, they call them Dad.”

—Hwang Yong-sik (When the Camellia Blooms)

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Blood does not define a father. When the Camellia Blooms is a feel good romantic story set in the peaceful countryside of the fictional Ongsan, where a single mother (Gong Hyo-jin) and her son (Kim Kang-hoon) moved in and opened a bar to support themselves. There, she catches the attention of a police officer, Hwang Yong-sik (Kang Ha-neul). He is a happy go-lucky guy with a great sense of justice and responsibility. He was already fond of Pil-gu even before he knew he is the son of Dong-baek, the woman he likes. He takes him to play arcade games and buys him all the snacks he likes. He consoles the little boy and tells him not to feel sad even if his father is not around because Yong-sik relates to him and sees himself in Pil-gu. Even after learning of the boy’s background, he continued to put in efforts for Pil-gu. No matter how much he likes Dong-baek, he still respected Pil-gu’s boundaries and wishes and continued to be there beside him. He stepped in immediately after seeing Pil-gu getting bullied in one of his baseball game and defended him. To him, he considers Yong-sik his own version of a hero. Yong-sik proves you don’t need to have the same blood to be a great father to someone, you just have to be there for them.

“No father can ever be perfect, but a father’s love can make everything perfect.”

—Kang Jong-ryul (When the Camellia Blooms)

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A father will always want happiness for his children, even when it breaks his heart. Kang Jong-ryul (Kim Ji-seok) might have been a bad partner to Dong-baek, but he is a great father to Pil-gu. After discovering the truth that Pil-gu was indeed his son, he put in all efforts to support him even if he has no idea how to be a father. He travels every day from the city to the countryside, all to see Pil-gu and take care of him secretly, even when Pil-gu constantly pushes him away. He funds Pil-gu’s training overseas, buys him a lot of food, gives him the latest toys, and supports his dreams to be a baseball star. He wants Pil-gu to have a good life, so when a reporter threatened to reveal Pil-gu as his illegitimate son, which would ruin his son’s peaceful childhood, Jong-ryul threw away his pride and humbled himself to ask the reporter to leave his son alone. Even if Dong-baek doesn’t ask for any financial assistance from Jong-ryul, he continues to give money for Pil-gu’s wants and needs. Pil-gu will always have a special place in Jong-ryul’s heart, and he continues to look after him, even when he obtained another father, Yong-sik.

“Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.”

—Choi Dal-pyung (Pinocchio)

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A girl never gives her whole heart to the man she marries. Oftentimes, she only gives him what’s left from the love she gives to her father. Choi Dal-pyung (Shin Jung-geun) and In-ha (Park Shin-hye) might have an odd relationship (they always bicker around and always mess with each other), but that is what’s great about this father-daughter relationship. And no matter how protective Dal-pyung gets over his daughter, In-ha loves him just the same, which makes their relationship adorable. Dal-pyung is always there during In-ha’s worst times, and he never fails to make her feel his love and support. Even when gruff Dal-pyung has a hard time showing it to his daughter, In-ha knows he will never leave her side. Behind the laughter and giddiness that Dal-pyung and In-ha give us, their relationship also teaches us that if the world turns its back on you, a father will carry you on his back.

“A father will not always hold his children’s hands, but he will always have their backs.”

—Choi Cheon-gap (Fight for My Way)

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Probably one of the heartbreaking moments in a father’s life is watching his child grow to leave the nest. Even when he finds it hard to let Ae-ra (Kim Ji-won) go out into the big bad world, Choi Cheon-gap (Jeon Bae-soo) believes that Ae-ra can get through anything and achieve her dream of finally becoming an announcer. No matter how small Ae-ra’s progress in life is, Cheon-gap never hesitates to travel miles just to see her and show her his undying support, even when it means closing his restaurant for the whole day. Nothing is more important to him than being there for his daughter. He can be overprotective sometimes, but everything is for his daughter’s best interest. At the end of the day, there’s nothing more heartwarming than knowing you will always have a home (and a father) to go back to no matter how far you venture out into the world.

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It was Princess Lulu who first introduced her to Korean dramas but it was Yoon Ji-hoo from Boys Over Flowers who enticed her to stay in K-dramaland. She writes news and features for Kdramapal, which combines two of her most favorite things in the world—writing and K-dramas (look who's living the dream). The name Luna literally translates to "moon" and nothing special; she just likes writing at night.