2/4 Quarter Review: Angry Mom episodes 5-8
I was taking my time before watching the next four episodes of Angry Mom and here i am since i swore myself to see it to the very end. And i am glad it remains relentless and vivid in presenting bullying in front of the cameras as an immense aspect of reality through its drama prism. It doesn’t remain at that very specific factor though. Angry Mom depicts various faces of injustice that may reveal themselves to students and everyone around them, especially their parents and eventually their teachers, depending on which side of the river they chose to stand as they watch or take the situation in their own hands since the corrupted system itself didn’t leave any other choices. It’s not that this multifaceted ever-expanding plague stroke only one school, but this very specific school is at the center of the drama and it works as a microcosm which depicts perfectly well a wide variety of unjust possibilities that can occur in real life since the fish rots from the head down.
The 5th episode keeps up from where the 4th one left us with Ah Ran’s explosion and direct accusations towards the “ethics teacher” and chief of planning, Jeong Woo! Ah Ran, protected by her mother Kang Ja and undercover student Bang Wool and the idealist teacher No Ah returns back to the clinic whereas Bok Dong is getting dragged at the court by the police amidst a media uproar. Netizens start spreading their own rumors and speculations on the net concerning Yi Kyeong, some of them with respect and compassion, some others with disgust. Bok Dong’s sentenced to 2 years of probation and 80s hours of community service and soon enough he will return back to school. In order to protect her mother, Ah Ran fakes some sort of dementia and memory loss, an overly hilarious scene as she moves from patient to patient accusing each one of them of murder! The scene itself though is a traumatic one for such a young soul as she takes into consideration her loved ones, but the comical aura it possessed was spot on in order to ease a bit Angry Mom’s overburdened aura after Yi Kyeong’s departure, easing the grief among the living.
Ah Ran returns back home and she wants to keep attending the same school, Kang Ja disagrees, but Ah Ran has the support of the worthless duo that causes only problems, Kang Ja’s mother-in-law and husband! Of course, No Ah’s idealistic world considers essential Ah Ran’s return and Kang Ja tries to prevent it, but Ah Ran uses her own methods in order to keep her mother at home. It’s an ongoing comical battle through various steps between an utterly protective mother who wants to stay by her daughter’s side at school and bring to justice everyone responsible for Yi Kyeong’s death and her daughter’s pain and a daughter who wants to take the overall situation in her own hands and keep going at school without her mother whom she wants to protect from harm. We witness various events with both of them trying to come up with ideas in order for Kang Ja to stand by Ah Ran’s side as Bang Wool and Ah Ran to get rid of her “forced friend” Bang Wool by unveiling the truth in front of No Ah that she’s actually Kang Ja, her mother, and not Bang Wool, the student. In this ongoing journey Kang Ja makes Ah Ran understand that if people find out that she was faking her student identity at this point, she will have to face the law and this wouldn’t have any positive effect for anyone in the family.
Even though Yi Kyeong passed away and Ah Ran suffers a traumatic ongoing experience, bullying didn’t stop by the time she returned back school. Her locker was filled with terrifying artifacts and writings that were accusing her directly for Yi Kyeong’s death. It’s yet another violent experience she had to go through and she finds the perpetrator in Sang Tae’s face who’s not as innocent as he looks, in fact, he’s a frightening figure hiding behind his father’s pockets and does everything he wants to. Bang Wool manages to punish him with her fists and finds herself once again in an awkward situation face to face with consequences in front of No Ah’s eyes. Kang Ja is a dynamic woman and she doesn’t intend to leave her own daughter defenseless, regardless of the punishment and consequences she might face both at school and in real life in case her identity got revealed.
In the meantime, Jeong Woo doesn’t stand still, even though he feels relieved that Ah Ran suffers from memory loss. Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer, they say. And that’s what he does, he promotes Ah Ran’s parental father, Jin Sang, and makes him director of the school’s annex construction under Dong Chil’s shady command. Wearing the caring mask in front of Jin Sang is essential for Jeong Woo in order to know about Ah Ran’s condition in the first place just in case she remembers anything that could harm his thirst for wealth and power. It’s something that will bring further problems to Kang Ja since her husband will be working at the same school and chances are high they will cross roads with possible catastrophic results for her undercover plan. We all know that Jin Sang and his mother are brain-dead living organisms and they can’t think in general and both of them have great potential to ruin Kang Ja’s plans. They belong to this very specific cast of stupidly cunning people with a ridiculously simplistic and narrow point of view that can’t think of the consequences of their words and/or actions, henceforth they can cause major problems to anyone else but themselves. Jin Sang by visiting the school makes Kang Ja hide in any possible way and the mother-in-law discovering that something’s fishy about Kang Ja’s behavior and following her to find out her real plans makes the overall ambiance dangerous! At least Kang Ja doesn’t live up to her arch suspicions and she’s not having an affair! She doesn’t intend to cooperate and wants her to stop instantly what she’s been doing all this time or else she’ll reveal the whole truth, but Kang Ja eventually blandishes her and earns more time.
Bok Dong returns back school and eventually finds himself in more trouble as fights between him, Sang Tae and Kang Ja erupt. Sang Tae would never pay the price for his actions since he’s the school president and chairman Hong’s son. Circumstances bring Kang Ja and Bok Dong closer together with Kang Ja reading behind Bok Dong’s enigmatic face. Especially after the scene between Dong Chil and Bok Dong as Kang Ja was hiding underneath the desk, the indirect proof points towards Jeong Woo’s direction who’s not as innocent and caring as he seemed to be. In a strange way, Bok Dong is protective towards Kang Ja who can’t blame him for Yi Kyeong’s death after she finds out in her own way that a young boy like him, who has never touched a woman in a more affectionate way, couldn’t actually kill a young girl. In Kang Ja’s eyes Bok Dong is the ideal scapegoat for a whole shady operation lurking in the background and her attitude towards him becomes more caring and compassionate as she can see a victim hiding behind a bully’s mask. Bok Dong’s in the eye of the storm, just like Ah Ran, but from the opposite side of the fence and even though he threatens Ah Ran anew, her words are fearless and sharper than a knife as they depict perfectly well his wounded and fragile internal world.
The idealistic world of teacher No Ah gradually collapses after an ongoing series of events filled with injustice and he starts leaving his crystal castle as he questions the purity of the educational system. It’s not easy to see your beliefs shatter one after the other in such a short period of time and his general approach steadily changes as he forges a stronger shell by disobeying the non-educational air various people’s decisions breathe. Even though they were supposed to lead the students into the light, they bury them even deeper in the mud and No Ah doesn’t intend to stand still. If it’s a battle he’s willing to fight on his own, he will do so, for his students’ sake. Kang Ja and Ah Ran play a major role in his life as he witnesses their special and caring relationship, unaware of the fact that they’re mother and daughter. They are the light that trespasses the clouds, a light he was refusing to see blinded by his benign self, but the blinders have cracked and step by step he faces situations that were never supposed to feel right in the first place and he’s the only one to stand up to all this injustice, even though he steadily realizes that the roots of the problem lie in immense heights. Frightened, because he’s just another teacher and he’s not irreplaceable, but courageous, because his beliefs are more edgy and spot-on, he doesn’t intend to step back and heads towards the heart of the problem, even though the truth at some point might hurt. And if it hurt once by being unable to help Yi Kyeong and his idealistic world collapsed in front of his very eyes, the fact that he was the fruit of bribery itself, since his father wasn’t as innocent and fair as he seemed to be and managed to place No Ah at the teacher’s position through shady methods, was a trauma carved deep inside his heart. His world starts collapsing anew and the burden is more than he can bear at this very moment.
Kang Ja’s never alone in her overall attempt, she has Gong Joo by her side who pretends to be her mother and supports her one step right after the other. Truth be told, she loves Kang Ja deeply and she’s as caring as a real mother would be, trying to protect her at all costs and by doing background research and successfully equipping her plans in the most possible effective way. Whenever she has to appear as her mother in front of the school’s principal, teacher No Ah and/or other parents she’s serving her purpose well as Bang Wool’s mother! She’s utterly hilarious as Kang Ja’s friend too and as the two renowned swag figures’ hyungnim as well! Gong Joo and her two swag slaves are a source of utter laughter as they take care of the main core of Kang Ja’s and Gong Joo’s missions or they move in peripheral side-missions for the main mission to be accomplished. Their grotesque figures alongside Gong Joo’s anti-Disney figure are a powerful weapon against Angry Mom’s reality and through their quirky interpretation and interactions they don’t only progress the storyline according to plan, but they also make laughter blossom on barren soil and lessen the emotionally fortified ambiance of the drama. Although being grotesque, all three figures possess a very important role in Angry Mom without looking ridiculous in a bad manner of speaking, on the contrary, they are an utterly comical and inseparable part of the drama.
The shadows from the past keep emerging one after the other. It wasn’t only Dong Chil’s presence, but also Ae Yeon’s appearance in Kang Ja’s life all of a sudden. She’s the one to have framed Kang Ja for Dong Chil’s brother’s murder back in the days and her life ever since was flowing accordingly to plan. She had everything she was missing up to her school days, a proper job and money to make her life much easier. Just like she was used to frame Kang Ja back then, her current life isn’t any better, she moves in the shadows under chairman Hong’s will and she has to go through his violent explosions becoming the target of his corrupted nerve system. She never ceased being a bullied person and she tries to find shelter in Jeong Woo’s arms as she manages to help him against chairman Hong with all the necessary information he needs to bring him down. Although she doesn’t utterly trust Jeong Woo, she helps him in order to escape a lifetime’s hell without necessarily knowing that she’s walking upon another corridor of the same fiery place, but with different contours. Dong Chil seems to be caring about her with his renowned sharper attitude and tries to protect her from chairman Hong and Jeong Woo respectively. He stands somewhere in the middle between the two powerful men and he’s the mainspring behind their shady plans. Noticing Ae Yeon changing camps under all these difficult circumstances puts him in a protective mode towards her as he watches from a distance and tries to prevent her from taking rash decisions that can eventually harm her. If Dong Chil cares about two people, then they have to be Bok Dong and Ae Yeon and he shows his affection in his very own way, not necessarily emotionally but in a sincere yet powerful way in order to protect them. He’s not a saint, but when it comes to people he deeply cares about, he’s there, one way or another.
Ae Yeon’s world starts crumbling by the time she meets Kang Ja after all these years and her guilt starts reigning supreme as she questions her arch statement against Kang Ja. She feels guilty, but Kang Ja’s attitude towards her is thankful for making her realize that the life they were living in the past wasn’t worth it, she’s thankful for the new life she embraced and wants Ae Yeon to help her find the truth behind Jeong Woo in order to protect her daughter and avenge Yi Kyeong’s unjust death. Ae Yeon doesn’t believe her, but she starts being more careful when she’s around Jeong Woo and from a moment and on she silently helps Kang Ja every time they cross ways as the light of truth starts shining in front of her very eyes. She doesn’t want to believe that Jeong Woo is such a ruthless person, but the course so far, especially after Kang Ja entered her life once again, points towards that direction and she can’t overlook it.
We’re currently having two main camps in this power struggle. Chairman Hong alongside the minister of education stand in one hand. On the other hand we have Jeong Woo along with his powerful card, the fact that he’s the minister of education’s hidden son. He’s not alone in this attempt, Ae Yeon leans towards his side as time passes by and supports him with all the necessary information, Dong Chil’s also kind of close to Jeong Woo, even though he’s somewhere in the middle of this power struggle and last but not least a number of people who are thirsty for power and long for chairman Hong’s collapse alongside the minister of education. Even though both sides help one another under various circumstances, it’s not because they care for one another, it’s because if one of them falls at this very moment then the other one will eventually follow since both of them are laundering. The real fight will take place once the laundering reaches an end behind the school library’s bookshelf. As for now, even though Kang Ja gathered all the necessary information to put Jeong Woo in front of justice and forwarded the evidence to the ministry of education, the truth wasn’t enough to put Jeong Woo behind bars and instead of being punished he returned back stronger by upgrading himself in a higher position, the one chairman Hong possessed at school. Even more injustice was served rather than justice itself and Kang Ja’s unaware of how far his connections go and how grandiose the shady business hiding itself behind the bullying mask is. Eventually Ah Ran finds herself in a more dangerous situation and she has to either remain silent or follow the same road Yi Kyeong was forced to walk upon so violently.
The school principal is a greasy beast sucking his superiors’ pockets and tormenting the ones below him. He doesn’t give a penny for education and he’s one worthless human being wasting precious oxygen from living organisms. He’s never afraid to receive money and presents from wealthy parents in order to achieve his own wealthy dreams in exchange for their children’s success in exams at school. Sang Tae is his most favorable student because he’s chairman Hong’s son, as for the others he “cares” in different levels and it depends on the value of their families’ presents. Gong Joo as Bang Wool’s mother deals with him the way he deserves it, beating him up once the occasion asks for it, as for the other parents, they are victims of the overall situation and perpetrators at the same time as they keep fostering injustice. Not everyone achieves the desired special treatment and the student under the nickname Mackerel was one of them, not only did his mother pay for him to receive the test’s leaked questions but he didn’t receive back anything in return. His mother exploded in front of the principal and demanded back her “letter” since he kept on denying that it had money inside, as for Mackerel, he had to face the consequences by getting bullying at the toilet and eventually bursting into tears in front of Kang Ja for the whole injustice and that his studying and overall attempts never blossom because of the subjective and different treatment students receive depending on their economical status and principal-friendly or not pockets.
Sang Tae, like father like son, is a detestable person and he starts showing his power even more from the moment chairman Hong appeared once again at school. He has no shame, he uses his father’s wealth and power in a like-minded way, he just tries to keep his civilized mask on as much as possible and when he can’t do so, his forced influence upon other students does the talking. Psychological bullying is an excessive piece of art in his hands and he uses it properly. Targeted kindness isn’t just charity coming straight from the kindhearted president, it comes at a great cost, the students’ souls and frightened allegiance in order to strengthen even more his network of influence. Baro plays well as Sang Tae, he’s arrogant, fearless until Kang Ja’s arm of justice lands upon his face and then even more malevolent and plotting in order to project her as an outcast in front of the students’ eyes. Trying to keep Ah Ran by his side in order to frighten her in a more civilized way is one more reason for Kang Ja to get enraged, but she has to be cautious since there’s always at least a pair of eyes watching or a mobile phone eager to capture her on video. The school is a violent playground for Sang Tae, he’s a useless spoiled child unable to achieve anything on his own, but with his father backing him up he can achieve everything, at least for the time being. Although, we already have witnesses his tormented world inside his home and he’s probably a psychologically abused child unable to forget the fact that his mother wants a divorce from his father who was probably using violence against her. In order to hide his personal pain at home, he reflects it back at others as an outlet for his own personal wounds. I don’t like Sang Tae at all, he has no remorse for his actions and moves on in order to preserve his scepter and remain in the lead of everything. I would like to see him pay for his actions or progressing himself into a different kind of person by realizing the background of his wounds and pointing his arrows towards the right direction while at the same time seeking forgiveness for his actions.
Kang Ja’s last shelter was to deliver a letter to the minister of education himself because she believed in his words through the TV. Reading all the detailed information he reassures her that he will deal with the overall subject himself and Kang Ja feels relieved that justice will be served! The cameras that Gong Joo’s swag slaves had placed inside chairman Hong’s mansion think differently and Kang Ja can’t believe that the righteous minister of education is one of the many perpetrators in this violent journey that started as a frightening bullying experience.
Thoughts: Money laundering behind the moniker of education, the hardships of a student having to pour him/herself totally in studying, grade injustice, leaked exams, principal graft, student discrimination and injustice, a corrupted minister of education and businessmen who appear with the mask of philanthropy towards education, bullying, death and a whole story lying in the background that emerges steadily from the past at the present keep progressing Angry Mom masterfully and so far it delivers the message through its drama prism and i’m grateful for that.
The cinematography is exceptional through the presence and absence of light; every single figure’s psyche, emotional world, ambitions or cravings are being depicted perfectly well in front of the cameras in the ideal environment under the necessary visual prism. It’s the actors’ and actresses’ vibrant acting that gives life to the script in front of the cameras, there are only distinctive figures and as the story progresses we get to know the exact air each and every one of them inhales and the beauty and pain or disgust they exhale. I could go on forever and praise each and every actor/actress for their interpreting abilities as sole figures and through their interactions as well, but i will remain humble and state that all of them live up to my personal expectations according to the roles they are bringing to life.
So, in just a few words:
Kim Hee Sun shines through the dual world of her character, she’s Kang Ja and Bang Wool at the same time and she masterfully remains stellar on both sides, even when both worlds collide and circumstances try to ruin her plans. Ji Hyun Woo is exceptional as a naive and idealist teacher awakening from slumber, unable to sleep anew since the lullaby is too violent to be at ease and watch from a distance. Kim Yoo Jung is the next big thing in terms of acting when it comes to the world of South Korean dramas/movies and she never fails to prove it. Ah Ran’s traumatized world and multifaceted (re)actions shine through her wounds and everything she’s been through so far.
Go Su Hee is brilliant as Gong Joo, the almighty yet kindhearted hyungnim, and along with her swag slaves they never fail to brighten the world of Angry Mom anytime, anyplace! Lizzy as Jeong Hee and the other two female students depict wonderfully the quirky team of potentially active bullies yet playful young girls who are getting easily influenced by each other, but also from orders that come straight from Jeong Hee’s family and/or Sang Tae, the last ones apply to Jeong Hee the most. Kim Tae Hoon as Jeong Woo is a great villain, shameless and manipulative as he is, he nurtures fear in many people’s lives in order to achieve his own plans as he’s not willing to pay for his sins. Baro as Sang Tae is pretty good, his broken on the inside but arrogant and powerful on the outside spoiled self is always representative of such a character. Needless to say that his humorous aspects as a character pace perfectly well with the overall idea behind such a figure.
Newcomer Ji Soo as Bok Dong is another representative figure. He’s sacrificing his most precious years for his imprisoned brother’s sake since Dong Chil has promised him to get his brother out of jail sooner if he cooperates. We can witness his internal struggle between the mask of a bully and the better self on the inside that tries to blossom. The seeds have been planted and the watering has began. Kim Hee Won‘s character, Dong Chil, whose violent and arrogant past put the blood of his brother in his own hands is a villain with the more traditional term of the definition, he seems heartless and vicious, but the trauma of his brother’s loss still lingers and wakes him up at night. One can witness that he cares for Ae Yeon and indirectly tries to protect her, but his most caring attitude reflects upon Bok Dong in his very one way. He probably sees his younger self or his deceased brother in him. Oh Yoon Ah‘s broken and maneuvering figure as Ae Yeon is utterly representative of her course on a journey to the point of no return, but Kang Ja’s appearance in her life steadily shakes her flimsy foundations.
I treasure the way the screenwriter deals with the overall subject and the raw and eventually emotional emphasis being given to every unjust factor and side story; raw when it has to do with one perpetrators’ side, utterly emotional and moving when it comes to the victims. We have victims and perpetrators with many standing on the perpetrator’s side having been victims at least once in their lives in events that changed and progressed them viciously on a constant perpetrator’s journey, one way or another. The question is, how much sympathy can you feel for each and every figure who is guilty for his/her words and/or actions? How much forgiveness can you offer them if you witness in front of your very eyes the world of people who are part of the victimized side? To be honest, i really don’t know, i am still working on it, for the time being i want justice to be served by the end of the drama and nothing’s going to change this.
Thanks to the intense humorous overtones of Angry Mom, all this tension and its darkening world get infused with brave doses of laughter that have the potential to turn your blurry face into a smiling living organism! Had there been only raw realism we’d be watching a drama version of Han Gong Ju under a more multifaceted prism, but Angry Mom is angry and her quirky yet deeply thoughtful world holds in her hands all the gloom and all the light which will shine in full grandeur at the end of the tunnel, hopefully!
Concluding, some questions arise in my mind concerning the continuation of Angry Mom. Will Ah Ran’s parental father use Jo Bang Wool’s name in order to create the fictional figure Jeong Woo and Dong Chil have in mind for their annex construction plans? How will No Ah deal with his not so innocent father and what will happen when Kang Ja will find out that Park Jin Ho lurks in the shadows as well and he’s No Ah’s father? Kang Ja prevents Gong Joo and others to keep talking about the past, could it be that Ah Ran is Dong Chil’s daughter and she’s her real mother instead of her sister as she stated in the beginning? What will happen when Dong Chil and Kang Ja meet once again after all these years and if my assumption about Ah Ran being his daughter is right, how will he feel after finding out about this after all this hurt Ah Ran had to go through? Questions, questions and assumptions, but everything will be revealed as episodes pass by, so come forth, Wednesday!