The Good Bad Mother Episode 1 recap: After a tragedy turns her world upside down. Young-soon raises her son with the aim of steering him away from a life of hardship like hers.
The story takes place in 1986 in a rural village in South Korea. Where Jin Young-soon (played by Ra Mi-ran) works as a feed salesman. She falls in love with Choi Hae-sik (played by Cho Jin-woong), the owner of a pig farm, and they get married, living happily at the farm.
However, their happiness is short-lived when Young-soon becomes pregnant. And the government announces plans to improve the area for the upcoming 1988 Olympics. Unfortunately, Hae-sik’s pig farm is on the marathon route, which prompts a construction company to negotiate for land expropriation.
Hae-sik refuses to sell his land, as it is a precious family heirloom. But the construction company responsible for the project sends people to set fire to the farm. The incident leaves the farm devastated and many pigs dead. Hae-sik is determined to fight back and takes the matter to court to prosecute the construction company.
Hae-sik fights back and takes the matter to court, seeking justice against the construction company for their actions. However, despite his efforts, the court acquits the defendant in the arson case due to insufficient evidence.
However, Hae-sik refuses to give up and continues to search for evidence on his own. Eventually, he discovers multiple cases of arson in areas where land expropriation was requested but the owners refused to sell. Hae-sik presents this evidence to the prosecutor, urging them to request a new trial. He also threatens to contact reporters to expose the truth.
Unbeknownst to Hae-sik, the prosecutor is in cahoots with the construction company. As soon as Hae-sik leaves the room, the prosecutor calls Song Woo-byung (played by Choi Moo-sung), the president of the construction company. And informs him that Hae-sik has uncovered crucial evidence that could harm them.
On his way home, Hae-sik is tragically murdered by Woo-byung and his accomplices, who stage the scene to look like a suicide.
Upon learning of her husband’s death, Young-soon immediately becomes suspicious and refuses to believe that he took his own life. Despite arranging his funeral, she goes to the prosecutor to seek justice and shares her doubts about her husband’s death. However, the prosecutor dismisses her concerns, claiming that Hae-sik had visited him earlier and expressed a desire to die while intoxicated. The prosecutor lies with such ease and conviction that Young-soon doesn’t even suspect. He has just received a large sum of money from the construction company president, who was the real murderer of her husband. Young-soon remains unaware of the truth.
Despite the injustices she has faced, the loss of her husband, her pig farm, and everything else. Young-soon decides to carry on for three reasons: her unborn child, a pregnant mother pig, and the money left in her husband’s account.
Determined to start anew, Young-soon purchases an abandoned farm in Oju-ri Village and builds a new pig farm. At first, the villagers are unhappy with her arrival because of the smell and dirt associated with pig farming. However, they eventually come around after seeing that Young-soon is pregnant.
The story progresses until the day of Young-soon’s delivery. When an extraordinary coincidence occurs: two children are born in the village at the same time. One is a boy named Choi Kang-ho (played by Lee Do-hyun), Young-soon’s son. And the other is a girl named Lee Mi-joo (played by Ahn Eun-jin).
The scene cuts to Kang-ho, a boy who is currently in fourth grade. And doesn’t appear to be a normal kid. At home, he lives with his strict mother who imposes on him an endless cycle of studying, taking tests, and doing everything he can to become a successful prosecutor. At school, Kang-ho is bullied by his classmates for the stench of pig poop that clings to him. But he never fights back or speaks a word in his defense.
One day, Kang-ho complains to his mother about the bullying he endures. He tells her that his classmates make fun of him for smelling like pig poop. But his mother’s response is far from comforting. She tells him, “Let them say whatever they want. You just focus on studying hard and becoming a successful prosecutor. On that day, nobody will dare to bully you again.” Then, she takes him out to eat, reminding him not to eat too much, as it might make him sleepy and unable to study.
Despite Kang-ho’s efforts to do everything his mother tells him. He can’t help but feel that she is a “bad mother” deep down inside.
Kang-ho & Mi-joo
The story continues until Kang-ho attends high school. On his birthday, Mi-joo brings a box of Kimbap to celebrate his special day. And she takes this opportunity to confess her feelings to Kang-ho and asks him to be her boyfriend.
However, Kang-ho only eats a little bit of the Kimbap. And when Mi-joo asks why he didn’t eat more. He explains that he can’t eat too much. Because it will make him sleepy, and he won’t be able to study for the exam to become a prosecutor.
Fast forward to the day of the 2007 college entrance exam (CSAT), everything is going smoothly until Mi-joo gets into a motorcycle accident. Despite having the important exam only once a year. Kang-ho chooses to skip it and go see Mi-joo at the hospital.
The incident deeply upsets Yeon-soon, who questions why Kang-ho would sacrifice his entire future for just one woman. But Kang-ho’s response catches his mother off guard. He asks, “Do I even have a life? You made all the decisions for my life and forced them upon me. Is it my fault that Dad died like that?”
Young-soon slaps Kang-ho hard across the face before asking the question that has been haunting her all these years. “Then whose fault is it?” she demands. “Why did your father have to die like that?” She then tells Kang-ho that the only way for him to escape his miserable life and his “bad mother” is to become a prosecutor. That’s his ticket out.
Years later, Kang-ho achieves his goal of becoming a prosecutor. But shockingly finds himself working on a case involving Woo-byeok’s construction company – the very company responsible for his father’s death. It appears as if he is serving as a mere pawn in Woo-byeok’s game.
Images via JTBC Korea
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