One of the most salient social problems plaguing Korea today is violence and bullying in schools.
A new Korean TV drama is seeking to address the issue with the story of a mother who, after discovering that her precious daughter is a victim of school violence, decides to take matters into her own hands by putting on a high school uniform and enrolling in her daughter's school as a student.
MBC's new series, "Angry Mom," which is comical at times and serious at others, aims to open a discussion on violence and bullying in schools to show how such matters are ultimately connected to the wider society, according to the drama's director Choi Byeong-gil.
"'Angry Mom' reflects the story of real mothers who are living in today's real world. The drama will be light and sweet most of the time, yet certainly reflect the darker reality (of current Korean society)," Choi said in a press conference on Tuesday.
The drama's central plot unfolds as Jo Kang-ja, a 34-year-old mother played by veteran actress Kim Hee-sun, finds out that her teenage daughter Oh Ah-ran, played by actress Kim Yoo-jung, has been severely beaten by someone at school.
Kang-ja, a former troublemaker and an energetic street fighter back in her teenage years, is a devoted mother at best, though she looks way too young to be the mother of a high school girl ― she had her daughter during her late teens as a single mother.
Ah-ran, a bright yet sensitive girl, is reluctant to share her life with her worried mother, refusing to discuss the black bruises covering her body.
Determined to do everything to keep her child out of harm's way, Kang-ja decides to become a returning high school student who was "held back" a few years.
Kim Hee-sun, 37, was chosen for the role because she was "one of the only Korean actresses who could act as both a mother and high school student at the same time and naturally blend within a school setting," director Choi said.
A mother of a 7-year-old girl, Kim said she could relate to her character.
"I found that bullying takes place even in kindergartens where there isn't violence per se, but certain kids are knowingly pushed aside as outcasts," she said.
"I can very much empathize with Jo Kang-ja and I believe that all mothers around the world would feel the same.
"If such incidents happened to my own daughter, I think I would be willing to go beyond what Kang-ja did in the drama," she added.
Teenage star Kim Yoo-jung, 15, also expressed that she felt a personal connection to the drama's storyline as a student entering high school this year.
"Filming this drama got me thinking more about school violence and bullying and whether these things actually happen in high schools.
"I think many high school students, including myself, fear such situations and worry about what they would do if they were victimized," she said.
"I hope that 'Angry Mom' can encourage many high school students to think more positively and help them avoid being hurt by others. All in all, I also want to have a good school life and be good to my own mom."
Alongside the mother-daughter actresses, actor Ji Hyun-woo will play Park No-ah, a naive yet devoted teacher at Ah-ran's high school.
Actress Oh Yoon-ah, actors Kim Tae-hoon and Kim Hee-won and B1A4 group member Baro will play supporting roles.
"Angry Mom," which premiered this week, runs on MBC every Wednesday and Thursday at 10 p.m.