Angry Mum is a little of every genre — it’s a mystery-thriller, a dark satirical piece on current socie-political affairs, slapstick-comedy and maybe even with some romance dashed in.
- Kim Hee-seon (from Faith) as Jo Gang-ja. The angry mother in Angry. She goes undercover as a highschool girl (i really need Kim‘s beauty regime) when she discovers her daughter, Ah-ran, has been bullied (badly) in school.
- Kim You-jung (from Secret Door) as Go Ah-ran. Gang-ja’s daughter, but she has been telling people Ah-ran’s a niece…we suspect that it’s cos Ah-ran is a child born from rape. In school, Ah-ran gets bullied in turn for trying to protect her good friend, Yi-gyeong. She goes catatonic after a spate of threats, inspiring Gang-ja to go after the blood of those bullies.
- Ji Hyun-woo (from Queen In-hyun’s Man) as Teacher Park No-ah. A rather idealistic and morally upright young teacher, who aspires to connect to his students, but fails miserably at it.
- Baro (from Answer Me, 1994) as Hong Sang-tee. Son of Myeong-song Foundation’s Chairman, Hong Sang-bok. Although he never actively participates in the bullying, he somehow plays the mastermind behind the scene, ordering around the school’s head bully, Bok-dong — who works under Chief Ahn, who is employed by Chairman Hong.
- Ji-soo as Ko Bok-dong. The so-called “Chief Bully” or “Head Gangster” in high school. Everyone defers to him, except for Sang-tee. One of the minions-in-training under Chief Secretary Ahn, who works for Chairman Hong, and is possibly Ah-ran’s biological father (if he did indeed raped Gang-ja in the past).
- Lizzy as Wang Jung-hee. If Bok-dong is the chief male bully, Jung-hee is the female. She is the one who actively terrorises Yi-gyeong (and Ah-ran), but backs off when Bok-dong (under Sang-tee’s orders) arrives to stop the beatings.
- Kim Tae-hoon (from Bad Guys) as Teacher Do Jung-woo. He hasn’t shaken off his smarmy, shady image from Bad Guys…Teacher Do here is also ambitious, and you get the sense he will close both eyes if it gets him to the position he wants. Yet, he remains largely aware and disgusted by the going-ons around him, be it from the student body or the politicians.
For the record, dramabeans is recapping Angry.
The debut of Angry largely sets up the stage for Gang-ja’s undercover mission. And that means we don’t really have a lot of fun, comedic bits in eps1/2. Gang-ja’s daughter, Ah-ran, is bullied by Jung-hee and her girl gang cos of her bff, Yi-gyeong. We have no idea at the moment why Yi-gyeong is targeted, but Angry hints that it may be something darker than juz petty jealousy amongst the students. Probably along the line of adults (teachers, administrators) in school abusing their power and authority, and possibly, Yi-gyeong being sexually assaulted/ molested previously. Cos she is reluctant to tell her mother about the bullyings, despite Ah-ran’s encouragement.
In any case, Ah-ran’s protection of her bff leads eventually to her breaking down from the spate of bullyings and threats. She goes catatonic and has to be hospitalised. Gang-ja is understandably horrified and furious. Her efforts to demand the school (and even the judical system) to look into the bullyings only turn against her (and Ah-ran). Rather than giving in, she decides to take matters into her own hands.
Some short flashbacks into Gang-ja’s own past reveal that she isn’t someone to be trifled with. Although she isn’t a bully in her high school days, her sense of righteousness, and more importantly, her fighting prowess, make the rest of the school (teachers inclusive) fear her. Gang-ja looks up an old friend, (now current mob boss) Han Gong-joo, for help. Gong-joo with her connections, manages to fabricate enough documents to enrol Gang-ja into Myeong-song High School (where Ah-ran is enrolled).
And as early as Day 1, Gang-ja shows who’s Boss in Class 2/3, by subduing not only Jung-hee, but also Bok-dong…and hapless, but earnest, Teacher Park.
I kinda liken Angry‘s delivery to Kill Me, Heal Me. Both stories start off with plenty of Dark, Serious Matters. Juz like we are horrified with Do-hyun’s DID and the pain + loneliness he has to endure, Angry sets the background for Gang-ja’s re-entry into high school as anything but funny. Although we can expect loads of hilarious moments coming up (as exemplified by the short 10mins when Gang-ja reports to school), I can bet that Angry will not let us forget the reason for her undercover op.
And because teenage bullying is easily resolvable — juz place someone like Gang-ja with a strong sense of justice, and a total badass to fight them — we need to get a bigger conflict. That will be on the “adult” stage — corruption, abuse of power, and authority figures who sexually prey on the weak (usually the females). High school is a microcosm of what is happening in society, but without the neat solutions. While it is easy to pinpoint who are the bullies in the student body, it is harder to delineate the good guys from the bad in society.
We already have several examples — Teacher Do, who is in the “bad guys'” camp, but at the same time, sees the price that he is paying for aligning himself with them (then ironically, he closes one eye and does nothing about it). Judge Park, who is supposedly the “good” judge and is adored by Teacher Park for his “venerable teachings”, isn’t such a clean and corruptless man as his son thinks him to be. Teacher Do and Judge Park may not be necessarily “bad”, but they have chosen at one point in time to stop caring, and basically, give up fighting. (and in Teacher Do’s case, it can also be a “can’t fight them, join them” — might as well reap some benefits along the way)
Gang-ja and Teacher Park then, are two characters who I fear will learn some hard lessons in Angry. They possess a very clear sense of right and wrong, only they display it slightly differently. Such characters are usually at a serious disadvantage when the world around them operates in grey. However, I am also rather optimistic that they will prevail to the end — after all, underdogs in kdramaland always do.