bad family – first look

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Bad family (Bul Ryang Ga Jok) is one of the best K-drama series I’ve come across, but I just feel there isn’t enough raving / ranting about this series out there. When I first came across the summary in crunchyroll, it didn’t really catch my interest. But I’m so glad I gave it a try. I’ve watched three quarters of it and so far, it’s two-thumbs up. But then again, as reinforced by Little Miss Sunshine, I’ve always had a thing for endearing dysfunctional families as portrayed in the screen.

It’s a fresh take from other K-dramas which is usually about romance, romance, and romance. Definitely it has a romance, it has ‘the other girl’ and ‘the other guy’, but really, the focus is on family values and love, which makes it a funny, sweet, touching but not saccharine-sickeningly so. Many of the characters start off as being quirky or plain irritating, but as you follow the series they really grow on you; furthermore the group chemistry is just delicious. Did I mention that it’s funny?

Director: Yoo In-shik (Bad Couple)
Screenwriter: Lee Hee-myung (My Fair Lady, Successful Story of A Bright Girl)

Cast:
Kim Myung Min is Oh Dal Gun (Na Rim’s fake uncle)
Nam Sang Mi is Kim Yang Ah (Na Rim’s fake sister)
Yim Hyun Shik is Jang Hang Gu (Na Rim’s fake grandfather)
Yuh Woon Kye is Park Bok Nyu (Na Rim’s fake grandmother)
Kang Nam Gil is Jo Gi Dong (Na Rim’s fake father)
Keum Bo Ra is Um Ji Sook (Na Rim’s fake mother)
Kim Hee Chul is Gong Min (Na Rim’s fake brother)
Hyun Young is Ha Bu Kyung (Niece of man that caused accident)
Park Jin Woo is Ha Tae Kyung (Son of man that caused accident)
Lee Young Yoo is Baek Na Rim

It’s a drama that starts with *wham* sadness and loss. First is nine-year-old Na-rim , the only survivor in a car crash which killed her whole family. Then we meet Kim Yang-ah , a feisty fisherwoman who, after helped gangster Oh Dal-gun (under his threat of course) run away from thugs who were after him, find her boat on fire and lose her only source of living. Dal-gun himself, deemed a failure, is later thrown out of his mob and lose the closest thing to a family he ever had.

Deeply traumatized after the accident, Na-rim loses her memory and refuses to talk. The doctors tell Byun Sang-woo , one of Na-rim’s uncle, that the only possible cure for her is to simulate the same environment for her before the accident, which means creating a surrogate family, in the hopes that she will be happy and content, and regain her memory. Thus Uncle Byun hires Dal-gun, who opens a substitute family service for weddings and funerals. Promised a large sum of money to repay his debt to his former Hyung-nim, Deok-goh, Dal-gun can’t refuse.

What follows is Dal-gun forcing the people who owed him money into the family: happy-go-lucky dance instructor Jang Hang-gu is the grandfather; nose-picking, rude, swearing dumpling-seller Park Bok-nyu is the grandmother. Uncompetent debt-collector Jo Gi-dong is the father; materialistic and selfish coffee seller Um Ji-sook is the mother. A randomly picked guy from the street, Gong-min , is the brother. Dal-gun himself is the uncle. Chirpy market broadcaster Noh Ah-na , Yang-ah’s friend, is supposed to be the sister. But when Yang-ah sees that thug whom she thought burnt her boat and swears to get her money back, she goes to Na-rim’s house in place of Ah-na… only to be thrown into the sister role instead.

At first glance, the family is a disaster. Grandmother and mother bicker all the time. Brother and grandfather mind their own business. Sister is never around, and everybody’s scared of the dictator who is the uncle. But look closer, they are a bunch of lonely, unfortunate people who experience hardship all their lives and most of them don’t have a family both in a traditional and literal sense. Reluctantly, slowly, love grows as their clumsy acting in front of the little girl turns into a strong bond like a family for real.

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It’s interesting also to note the face-off between the layman and the rich, in this case the Mirinae open market (where the granddad, grandmom, mother, sister and Noh Ah-na works) and the Senara department store (Na-rim’s real dad was the CEO. Now the department store is run by Ha In-soo, the evil man behind the car crash).

Getting to know the characters:

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Oh Dal-gun (30), a fallen-thug-turns-uncle, is a rough guy who knows best how to scare and intimidate people. He’s easily annoyed and impatient, he answers the phone with “Who is it?!” instead of “Hello.” Please don’t be turned off since he’s not that pretty (although in my opinion he’s rather cute) and is slightly above the prime age. But he does have a warm, gentle side which will surface and sometimes he makes unexpected decisions, resulting in funny situations.

Kim Yang-ah (24) is a spunky fisherwoman who is hardworking but sly. She’s cute and kind-hearted, but she’s also tough, no-nonsense and drop kicks well; she’s like a man, or so Dal-gun says. Her life had always been a struggle since orphaned at a young age and she has to take care of three little brothers on her own.

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Jang Hang-gu and Park Bok-nyu are the grandparents. Dance instructor Jang lives an easy-going and carefree single life, flirting with ladies and eating any food he likes. Park Bok-nyu is a dumpling seller with the disturbing habit of picking / wiping her nose before handling her dumplings. She’s rude, short-tempered and swears all the time. According to the picture in DramaWiki, he is 62 and she is 58, but I don’t buy that because it’s repeatedly said in the drama that she’s the older one. They both work at the Mirinea Market.

Jo Gi-dong (43), the father, is a very incompetent debt-collector who is timid, polite, apologizes all the time and I wonder all the time why he chose a job that definitely doesn’t suit him. Um Ji-sook (41), the mother, is easily the most irritating character at first; she’s sly, stubborn, materialistic, and selfish at times. She’s a coffee seller in the market who bickers with Park Bok-nyu all the time and she’s very good at not paying back her debts and outwitting her debt collector, who is none other than Jo Gi-dong.

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Very little is known about Gong-min (20), the brother, except that he’s sporting a very flashy bright yellow dyed hair and he was sleeping on a pile of trash when Dal-gun picked him up from the streets. He starts of as being mysterious and has a bit of a social issue. And of course we have Baek Na-rim (9), the little girl who brings her family together. Adorable and innocent, she easily breaks and mends your heart.

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‘The other girl’ Ha Bu-kyeong (28) is the pretty department store manager who’s interested in Dal-gun. A good thing is that she’s a genuinely sweet and kind-hearted person, just a little bit shameless when it comes to hitting on Dal-gun. ‘The other guy’, Ha Tae-kyung (25) is the current department store’s CEO’s son and Bu-kyeong’s cousin. He is a spoilt brat who’s used to getting whatever he wants. After some incidents involving raw squid and Yang-ah, he holds a personal grudge against her. He’s a full-on eye-candy, of course, and he’s not a bad person at all, just immature.

Where to watch:
D-Addicts (Torrent)
Crunchy roll (Online Streaming)
I suppose there are other sources if you hunt for them. I’m just lazy to list them all.

Link to official website:
http://tv.sbs.co.kr/badfamily/index.html

Credits to SBS for the images and various sources (DramaWiki, Crunchyroll, blogs and forums out there) for the information.

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1 Comment »

  1. K-lover said

    Hello, I loved your synopsis of Bad Family. Recently I’ve been way to caught up in school to be able to watch it. So thank you for your fun read! It reminded how great this drama is.

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