Drama

Fathers of Dramaland

Fathers… For some a provider of sperm, for others providers of money, they can also be providers of angst and abuse and for those who are lucky they are providers of comfort, stability and love. No matter what type of father you may be, have or can relate to, I am going to make a bold statement that all of you reading this have heard of the concept of fatherhood and will be able to relate to this subject.

While the article me and Kie wrote about Motherhood was based purely on function and went beyond assumed gender:

We could have chosen to write about parents in this article, believing that people of all genders should take on the same responsibilities and roles and be able to share the same lifestyle as parents. However, by doing that, we would be showing ignorance towards the reality that society sets different standards according to gender. Even if we chose to use the gender neutral term ‘parent’, it would not have the same meaning.

This one will be a bit different. To be honest, I had no intention of writing a separate article about fatherhood, since in my mind we got those covered as parents in Motherhood, however, several people did raise the question and asked when we would write about fatherhood, so to settle that issue I figured why not, confided with Kie who left it to me to write it. As I do love, I really do love writing about dramas, gender, and parenthood. So this article will focus on assumed gender and include both the types of fathers that could easily have made the list of parents in the article about motherhood, those who simply are highly influenced by gender conventions and those who simply provided the sperm. All fathers who can be found in our beloved Dramaland. Hopefully, you will be able to find one portrayal you can relate to, or can just make you reminiscences about dramas that have passed…

Unforgettable Love 

Before we get this fatherhood feast started, here are some disclaimers etc. 

1. This is purely written for entertainment purposes, and not factual statements. It relies solely on my memory, googling skills, Wikipedia and charm. I reserve the right to remember scenes inaccurately.
2. The opinions stated here are my own and do not reflect upon MDL in any way, dramas mentioned here do not guarantee that they are actually good.
3. Though I have tried to avoid spoilers – just like marriage does not guarantee you are the father of the child, I can not guarantee that this is completely spoiler free. However, most potential spoilers come with a heads up, or a cover. And “Plot twists and spoilers” is actually completely spoiler free.
4. Violence- There are traces of violence and blood in “I made you therefore I own you” and Off With Their Heads… So if you are highly sensitive to this you may want to scroll past them.
5. There is no way I can remember or have enough patience to mention ALL the fathers of dramaland, therefore this is just a small selection that comes to mind. If your favourite portrayal is missing feel free to add it as a comment.
6. This is best viewed in landscape mode but should work for both dark and light mode users. Can be binged as a whole or savoured one part at a time.
7. All the pictures shown in this article have information or a link about the title they were sampled from, either as text or inside the photo/gif.
 

Let’s Talk About Death!

All Of Us Are Dead 

(Fathers, Not the Drama)

The amount of parents, especially fathers that die, have died, or die within the show in Dramaland is ridiculously high, making me wonder if the number one risk factor for early death in Dramaland is parenthood. This can be seen in the use of the following tags:

Death of a Father 570

Death of an Adoptive father 

Orphan Male Lead 416

Orphan Female Lead 395 

November 5th 2022

The Best Story

However these are just numbers, because to be honest, most of the dead fathers pass by barely noticed as part of the lead’s background, tag-less and just part of the drama normalcy. Killed off to be used as a setting that will explain why the lead is the way they are, excuse some bad behavior or show how responsible they are because of having had to grow up without a father, taking on responsibilities, learning to care, cook and so on and so on. As the only way to know Best (War Wanarat Ratsameerat) in the gif above is fatherless is to read this article or watch the show, as it is neither mentioned in the tags or description of the drama.

Dealing with the death of a father

There are of course dramas and movies where the death of a father is more prominent than in others. The first to come to mind is Dear Ex, a movie that truly deals with the death of a father. We get to see a kid deal with the death of his father, by more or less forcing himself into the home of his father’s lover. The father’s lover is in no way a father figure but a way for the kid to get away from his mother, a way to learn about who his father actually was and what led to his father’s death. The next bunch of dead fathers that come to mind are the fathers who die due to unjust causes and leave their kids to fight on their own. These are mostly found in dramas starring Lee Jong Suk (W, Pinocchio, Doctor Stranger) but can of course be found in other South Korean dramas as well Itaewon Class, My Name, Just Between Lovers to name a few, and from a bunch of other countries too, such as I Am U (Philippines) and Fall In Love (China).

My father died and all I got was this lousy superpower

While some are just left on their own to avenge, move on and or figure out their father’s death, some characters in Dramaland get superpowers to help them along the way. Such as the boy in I hear Your Voice, yes another drama starring Lee Jong Suk. His father is killed within the first episode and suddenly the kid can hear what other people are thinking. In He Is Psychometric we get to see a guy, not Lee Jong Suk but Park Jin Young who gets the ability to see the past of the living, the dead and also objects by just touching them… creepy at times but kind of cool too.

He Is Psychometric

In While You Were Sleeping there does not seem to be a father in sight (ok one abusive for a side character and a few guest appearances) as they have all died, not only leaving this earth but they got to die as heroes sacrificing themselves for strangers, leaving their kids behind to deal with the aftermath and dream about people’s deaths…

While You Were Sleeping 

When my brother died I took over the kid 

While this trope seems to be more about making sure the guy seems pure than about taking over his brother’s kid, or it could be a way to save time and money not having to cast or deal with a potential mother. In Unforgettable Love the male lead (Wei Zhe Ming) is portrayed as pretty much completely uninterested in relationships and romance, but needs a mother for his brother’s child. He is pretty much shown as incompetent as a father, since no one can control his kid in the beginning of the drama.  

Unforgettable Love 

In 18 Again the second male lead (Wi Ha Joon), a celebrity baseball player is first caught in a scandal for having a kid out of wedlock, but then shown to have adopted his dead brother’s child (so people could relax). The struggles of raising a child was a way to connect with the female lead (Kim Ha Neul) as he is a man who is caring, but clueless about raising a kid, much like the guy in Unforgettable Love.

To be honest I am not sure if it was a brother or a sister that died but when the female lead in Honey was orphaned, her uncle dropped everything he was doing just to take over the family restaurant and give her the home she needed.

Note: a father does not have to die for the uncle to step in and try to be a father figure for the kid, in some cases it is having an absent father (we know nothing about this biological dad), and a mother who runs off at will makes way for this very relatable and beautiful portrayal of fatherhood (and motherhood) in Close-Knit.

When my kid died  I took over his kid… 

The father’s father is indeed a double father, in dramaland these men are often portrayed as either caring or extremely controlling or both. For example the grandfathers in A Business Proposal, Something About 1 Percent, and Cinderella and the Four Knights, Perfect and Casual, Go Go Squid!, who seem to be able to do almost anything to make sure their grandsons are on the right path and marry the right girl. Who the right girl is differs between the lot but it is very clear that these men may use some controlling methods. However, the love, care and bonds they share with their grandsons are no less than the bonds between a father and son.

A Business Proposal

Other dramas where the male lead (odd that I can only think of male leads) were raised by their grandfathers can be found in Bokura wa Kiseki de Dekite Iru, Yong Jiu Grocery Store, Innocent

 But wait, I did find two movies where the female leads are raised by their grandfathers Night in Paradise, and One in a Hundred Thousand both with terminal illnesses but both grandpas do some pretty kick ass jobs… at raising these girls.

Time for a game!

How much do you enjoy watching people whose father has died?

  • Go to your Completed list on MDL

  • Sort by score 

  • Choose the top 10 titles 

  • Try to remember, which titles feature at least one main character whose father has died? 

  • Count the titles with dead fathers

  • How many did you get? 

Psstt… I got 6/10 + one I am not sure of…

*if you do not have a completed list you can go to someone else’s and find 10 titles you have seen.

Who Cares About Genetics 

If you have ever read anything written by me, it will come as no surprise to you that I don’t really care for genetic bonds, especially when it comes to parenthood. So having dramaland provide me with some lovely examples of fathers without shared DNA is almost as fun as this father-daughter combo in Healer. A combo that taught the viewers that the love of a father can easily heal a child’s wounds and help her move on from a timid child, too frightened to talk…

From Healer Made by AnQuat 

… to this vibrant young lady full of joy, and with an ongoing amazing bond with her father, far closer than most of the relationships shown in this article.

From Healer Made by AnQuat

In Terius Behind Me we see a former secret agent (So Ji Sub) go from, oops, your father’s death was not an accident and I kind of secretly need to protect you, to nanny, to daddy… Witnessing this transformation is a pure joy for the eye and there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that this guy will do anything for these two kids.

Okay maybe not in the beginning but later on… 

Source

Another dad, or should-be-dad that I keep circling back to is this guy who becomes a better man by taking care of this little precious girl in You’re So Precious to Me bonded by debt and death of a mother. These two go off to experience the world and create this beautiful and sad bond.

You’re So Precious to Me

Spoiler: Though these two connected in a way, way beyond genetics and the viewers may wish to see them live happily ever after. In society genetics and economics do seem to matter after all. But hey we get to look at these pretty pictures of father and daughter and go oooh how cute.

Single Fathers

There are those fathers who manage to survive. I know it can be hard to believe but it does occasionally happen. However! That does not mean it is smooth sailing, as many of these fathers end up raising the kid without a second parent. Some will have a village to their disposal, others will have a kid who will take over their work and raise their siblings for them, some will make use of their own or their other half’s parents, then there are those who will actually raise their kids on their own. All of these go under the umbrella of single fathers. I actually had a single father myself for a few years, but have yet to find a good representation of him in Dramaland.

In One Spring Night we get to see some of the prejudices society has against single fathers as we follow Yoo Ji Ho (Jung Hae In) a man who was pretty much abandoned by the mother of his child when his child was still just a baby. He has since raised his kid with the help of his parents. This guy is however not the least bit ashamed of his child, as one of the first things he mentions to the female lead is the fact that he has a child. He is shown missing the child, feeling sadness and pain, and worries over his child having been abandoned. And though he may not see his kid nearly as much as he would like to, he is strong in his belief: While some people see my kid as my weakness, I see him as my biggest strength (may not be the exact words).

One Spring Night

Our Blues has not only one but two very single fathers, both live in the same building. They hate each other and happen to have kids of the opposite sex, who grew up to be perfectly healthy, curious teenagers top 1 and 2 in their class, and are what society would call good kids. One of the fathers is shown as this angel completely devoted to his daughter. He has enough patience to be called a saint, until he snaps and kicks her out, but other than that he is just such a caring sweet dad. The other one is shown to be a short tempered man that will give his son condoms while calling girls who have sex sluts. He has some other qualities as well that I will mention later on. Still both men were left by their kids’ mothers at an early age and raised their kids with the help of the people at the market where they work. Through the first guy we get to see the sacrifices a father is willing to make to support his daughter. Through the other we get to see how fatherhood can put a man on the right path from being a gangster to a soup salesman at the local market.

Our Blues 

 

That being said, none of these two will be getting the father of the year award any time soon…Spoiler: but maybe they can make up for it and become grandfathers of the year?

Some fathers become single after the death of their partners (yes another dead dad), as the biological father in Dear Tenant has left this father and child in mourning. Lin Jian Yi (Morning Mo) is shown caring for both his child and mother in law until the day she dies and he has to fight against some pretty harsh accusation (murder) and prejudice just to be able to not only keep his child but also stay out of prison.

Dear Tenant

Plot Twists and Spoilers 

For some dramas just mentioning who the father is, or mentioning the father under one of the headlines here can reveal both plot twists or information that would spoil a whole show. 

Such as letting us know that the so-called father figure raising the main lead is actually the villain who is responsible for the lead’s biological father’s death. There are dramas with fathers who are knowingly or unknowingly responsible for their kids’ deaths. Talking about who or what type of father the actual father is is the biggest spoiler of them all. Now I could be mean and mention these dramas here, but then I would probably lose all my readers. So though I want to write about these evil men who lock up their kids not knowing they are theirs, or who mislead the lead to become a killer under their win and so on and so on, I will restrain my fingers, just let you try to remember them quietly for yourselves. DO NOT COMMENT about these below, but take a moment to try to reminisce about those wonderful twists of fatherly fate…

 

The Really Bad Fathers

Really, Really, Really Bad Dads

Unfortunately not all fathers who are still alive in Dramaland are actually fit to be fathers. Some single fathers are bad, and I mean really bad. The father in The Sound of Magic is a strong contestant for the worst father of the year, single or not. He leaves his teenage daughter to not only take care of her younger sibling as he is off in hiding, he does not even contribute to their living cost. On the contrary, he robs his own daughter when he actually does show up.

If you think robbing your kid is not bad enough, how about this dad in Forecasting Love and Weather who not only empties his kid’s account over and over again he also makes a scene at his son’s workplace and pretty much ruins every chance of happiness his kid ever comes close to, making the kid take a step back on his own.

Forecasting Love and Weather 

*Yes sir, indeed you have! 

But on the bright side, at least he knows he is a terrible father. 

Spoiler:This drama actually had me hoping this father would not be forgiven, and finally let viewers see that DNA is not stronger than Soju but nope, the father gets a terminal illness and all is forgotten…

Psychopath Killer Dads 

Some of the father in dramaland are portrayed as men who find joy in killing others, leaving their children forever stamped as children of a murderer living in utter fear of becoming like their fathers while often facing accusations of being killers themselves. Showing the viewers how children of killers get punished over and over again. These can be found among others in Come and Hug Me, Flower of Evil and Mouse.

 Flower of Evil

Off With Their Heads in the Name of… Dads 

While the children of killer dads will more or less get their heads chopped off by society’s fears and prejudice. There are those fathers who let superstition and prophecies dictate how they treat their kids. As the father in Save Me does give his child away to the high priest in hopes to get a place in the ship or whatever it was up to the sky.

Probably most common in historical dramas, I seem to have seen a bunch of fathers/kings/grandfathers who order their kids to be killed the day they are born, just because of a prophecy or superstition. So whoever thought being a prince or princess was all fun and luxury may just have to think again as the father of Nokdu in The Tale of Nokdu had had his son killed at birth just to avoid a prophecy saying that a prince born on a certain day would someday kill the king and take over the throne. 

Another father/prince and grandfather/king who had his own can be found in The King’s Affection who ordered the slaughter of his grand/daughter for the crime of being born a female twin.

The King’s Affection

 Then there are fathers who get killed by their own kids, one of them can be seen stabbed to death in a blaze of fire in Love Between Fairy and Devil, mind it was in self-defense but the son did indeed kill his father.

Love Between Fairy and Devil

I Made You, Therefore I Own You 

Abusive fathers come in many forms. We have those who will bluntly say I own you and therefore I can beat you as much as I want as seen in Our Blues. There are those who terrorise their entire families (seen in Marriage part 2). There are those who neglect their kids, and then there are those who use their kids as currency to get what they want. There is probably not a single historical drama where this does not occur in one way or another, and not many CEO ones either.

Our Blues

The idea of owning one’s kid goes hand in hand with what I call: Stay Away From My Heir as when claiming ownership of the kid fails, the fathers will instead threaten, kill, use weaknesses to their advantages, and bribe the love of their heirs’ life. These fathers can be seen in Youth of May, The Heirs and a bunch of other dramas that momentarily slipped my mind.

The Heirs 

Pappa I Love You…But Enough is Enough 

As we have read some fathers in dramaland will be shown beating, ruining their kids life, offering money to their kids lovers, isolating their kids and so on and so on, but suddenly get an incurable disease and all of a sudden the child will go oooh father I love you; however there are some very rare depictions of those who actually have enough… One of these is seen by the female lead’s best friend in A Business Proposal, where the father keeps on trying to get his daughter to marry the “right” guy. However this girl does not budge a bit and when daddy does not get it, she is forced to show him that no matter how badly he threatens her she will not budge, and rather say bye bye daddy than be treated like a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder.

The Absent Providers 

Another common living or pre-death father in dramaland is probably the absent provider, the person in charge of bringing in the dough, so to speak, while the mother (in most cases) is there for the kids. Sometimes this means just father working long hours as seen in 18 again, in other cases the family will be abroad while the father is in South Korea sending them money as in Our Blues (not the single fathers, a different one), or the dad may just be a complete workaholic staying out of town chasing his dream Forecasting Love and Weather or more forecasting weather, so much so that he does not know how to live at home with his family once he transfers back to Seoul so he keeps staying at the office. 

Forecasting Love and Weather

Though the reasons may differ, these fathers have the shared experience of not knowing anything about their children’s lives, including their allergies and are often shown regretting missing out on their children, hoping to reconnect.

The Man of the House – Fathers Wearing Aprons 

Gender conventions will often show the fathers as providers and mothers as home makers. There are a few dramas where the father takes care of the kids while the mother is of working or saving the world.

In Racket Boys the father may not actually have an apron, however while his kids’ mother is off training the future of the Racket Sports girls, the dad is left alone to care for both son and daughter.

Racket Boys 

And a bunch of Racket Kids  later on, too.

Fathers that do however have at least one apron each can be seen in Goong, Black,Cinderellaand  Another Miss Oh, while the apron wearing dad in Goong seems to be okay with selling off his daughter and shows some type of inferiority complex/ is shown a tad pathetic inside his apron. The dad in Black Cinderella owns his apron, he is shown standing up for his kid, not afraid to voice his opinion and most importantly he is shown being supportive and not the least bit ashamed of his apron.

Black Cinderella

And well this father in Another Miss Oh wears an apron too, but he does not really use it to be the man of the house. As  my friend AnQuat says it best: “he is just being part of the family, just helping out. Nothing pretentious”, just cooking with his family avoiding getting his clothes dirty. 

From Another Miss Oh made by AnQuat

And the perfect cross- over to the next batch of fathers. 

The Caring Fathers 

The father in Flower of Evil may or may not be a psychopath being the son of a serial killer and using a fake identity + a bunch of other stuff. However the way he not only takes responsibility for raising his child and how he shows care is hard to miss.

Flower of Evil 

Wait, or is it all fake? 

Flower of Evil 

I just love the father in A River Runs Through It. This father truly does his best to provide for his family while still being able to make the time to support and listen to his daughter’s concerns. Showing that a good father does not have to make a lot of money or even have a lot of time to spend with his kids. Just knowing the father cares can be good enough.

Paving Roads- Over Others 

Fathers paving roads over others can be found in a whole bunch of dramas that show fathers, corruption and school, in some way or another. These are the fathers who use their privilege to trample over the competition and give their kids all, from the correct answers to tests, to creating elite classes for their kids based on income, or covering up any misconduct. These are the fathers who will create scandals, fire, frame, expel all who get in their way as seen in Melancholia, Itaewon Class and Signal (among others) .

Melancholia
 Itaewon Class

As for this guy in Beautiful World, you can forget paving, he bulldozes the road ahead for his kid without showing the least bit of mercy, as he believes that he was born to rule and so was his kid… In his opinion they belong to the top 1% while the rest 99% are just trash and nothing to be bothered with. As he will kidnap, threaten and kill all who stand in the way of his heir.

Beautiful World

What? Do I Have a Kid?

There are those fathers by sperm count that willingly or unwillingly leave the mother of their child.

Sometimes they do this knowing they have a kid, as the biological father in You’re So Precious to MeHe not only leaves his child who has several disabilities at a very young age, he shows no interest whatsoever to take responsibility for her after her mother dies. But sometimes the presence of a kid comes as a complete surprise, many, many, ok not that many years later.

In Was It Love? we get to see a mother deem the man she got the sperm from so unfit to be a father that she breaks up with him, leaving him all bitter to come to his own conclusions about her and become famous for writing about how much women suck. Only to then become all regretful as he figures out why he was denied the opportunity to become a dad, showing us once again that genetics do not make a father.

But honestly don’t you think this other guy would have made a great dad?
 Was It Love?

Another What? I have a kid? dad is found in Uncontrollably Fond, a very powerful man, who seems to do all in his power to help us prove that DNA does not necessarily mean father.

There are of course some men who find genetics to be very important, in a good way. Men who are willing to take in and stick up for their newly found daughter at the risk of their own marriage, image and what not, as seen in He’s Into Her, where the female lead is brought in to the already existing family of her biological father (Richard Quan) after her mother is long gone and her grandmother falls ill. We do not really get to see this man’s struggles to come to terms with the fact that he has two daughters the same age, but we do get to see the effect of bringing in a teen to a family where only the father wants her there.

And then there’s this guy, a man who was suddenly confronted with fatherhood, actually not only fatherhood but also grandfatherhood all at once as the main theme of the movie Scandal Makers. This guy’s journey to become a dad/granddad is not really as smooth as one would hope. And it does come off as slightly annoying at times, but at least he has some character development and shows this side to becoming a father.

Source 

 

The best, most evil portrayal of What? Do I have a kid? can however be found in SKY Castle, if you have seen it you are sure to know why. If you have not seen it and plan to, I hope you will remember these lines, and for those who won’t you will either have to wander around the world not knowing or you can ask and I will tell you. 

The Good Father 

The article I wrote with Kie about Motherhood, was actually the first article I ever wrote, so wouldn’t it be fun if this were my last? Just kidding, I have plenty of more articles on their way. The article about mothers ended by us writing about the mother we wish we had or we could be like. Where we decided that Li Hai Chao (Tu Song Yan) in Go Ahead was the best mother we had seen in all of dramaland, since he is technically a man that would make him one of the best fathers we have seen as well.

But in the year 2022 we should know that parenthood goes beyond biology and genetics. There are of course a lot more good fathers out there who are shown as both caring and responsible, and so on and so on… so choosing just one is probably an impossible task.


A Business Proposal 

Dramaland has provided us with a whole bunch of fathers and ways to act like a father. All kinds of relatable, despicable and not so relatable portrayals. However, if you look hard enough you are sure to find a mother to fit each and every caption in this article. That said it is easier to find fathers who kill, are absent or are the breadwinners in the family. It is therefore hard to deny that gender conventions still exist in and outside of Dramaland, keeping many men from taking part in their children’s lives.

I do acknowledge that there are a lot of obstacles out there for people to be good parents (whatever that is), especially when you add gender conventions and toxic masculinity. At the same time I believe that people of all genders have the ability to be horrible parents, decent enough parents or awesome parents. I also believe that what type of parent a person is does not have to be static. People can learn, circumstances can change, there are more grown ups out there. As for me, I settle for decent enough, and use backup grownups to help out where I fall short.

That will be all for this time, feel free to share pictures of Jung Hae In, thoughts about fatherhood and anything else you may feel like sharing. As usual, just keep it civil.

Credits: Screenshots and gifs are either from MDL’s database, made by me or will have a link to their sources under them.  Special thanks to AnQuat and the editors! 

If you want to read the other articles in this series order of publication: 

Motherhood

Marriage part 1

Marriage Part 2

Friendship


Edited by: SumiTheCat (1st editor)

gender
paranthood
fathers
fatherood
death of a father

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