New Review: Father is Strange (2017)

Confession time: Lee Joon and Jung So Min in Father is Strange.

Here’s the detailed review (for a condensed version and more K-rom-com recommendations, go here):

Father is Strange
A warm-hearted family drama about an actor who thinks he found his biological father and moves in with his family. The father runs a snack bar, so food and family meals play an important role but we also spend time at other locations, for example, an entertainment company and a lawyer’s office. We soon discover that the father is not the actor’s dad – but the actor and his four new-found “siblings” believe he is. We follow the turns and twists of their romantic entanglements and the obstacles they face – among them, unwanted pregnancy and social inequality with their chosen partner. The smartest daughter even questions the institution of marriage: “Was I born in Korea with some kind of historical duty to get married?” (Ep. 21)

For us romantically inclined, the couple stories are of course the most interesting part of the show. Two couples stand out. One is the feisty lawyer daughter (played by Lee Yoo Ri) and her TV producer ex-boyfriend (Ryu Soo Young), whose story highlights the craziness of dealing with the partners’ families. Then, there’s the actor (Lee Joon) and his manager, the clumsy second daughter (Jung So Min, also in Playful Kiss and Because this Life is our First), whose volatile interactions and mixed-up confusion make for quite the emotional roller coaster. Which of the two couples are more popular? Hard to say. The Best Couple Award at the 2017 KBS Drama Awards went to Ryu Soo Young and Lee Yoo Ri but the drama crew at the after party selected Lee Joon and Jung So Min as the best couple (who later ended up dating in real life). I side with the drama crew here, as I thought their romance was more gripping and emotionally engaging.

Family dramas are extraordinarily long, this one has 52 episodes. This means there are lots of tangents like all the stories involving the extended family. I wish they’d release a shorter “romance edition” but, as that is unlikely to happen, I skipped over the dry parts and made my own “director’s cut.”

A really nice show with a lot of likable characters, no evil machinations or unpleasant figures. A crowd pleaser, hugely successful in Korea with some episodes reaching ratings over 35 percent and also popular internationally. Romance parts are excellent.
KBS. Written by Park Kyung Soo.