It has been a very long seven weeks, and after the ups and downs of this journey, The Good Bad Mother is finally at a close. It is not the most tightly written ending, with the court scene violating a lot of actual court procedures, but this story was never about that. That was background noise to Young Soon and Kang Ho’s relationship, and that has a beautiful end. Here is a recap of it.
How Does Kang Ho Get Justice?
The story of The Good Bad Mother started almost three decades earlier, when Choi Hae Sik was killed by Song Woobyeok. Choi Hae Sik had been protesting against Song Woobyeok for unjustly burning down his farm, but since the latter had bought off all the witnesses, Hae Sik did not have any success. However, seeing Hae Sik’s relentlessness, Song Woobyeok murdered him, and Oh Tae Soo, who was the prosecutor at the time and was in cahoots with Woobyeok, helped him cover it up.
Young Soon had started a new life with her son, Choi Kang Ho, and she wanted him to succeed as a prosecutor since that was a career that would guarantee him success and power in life. She had been hard on him, and Kang Ho may or may not have resented her for it, but according to The Good Bad Mother series, he understood her reasons and actively worked to use his position to get revenge on Oh Tae Soo and Song Woobyeok. Acting as someone who wanted to be in their good books, he continued to silently gather evidence against them. But Oh Tae Soo couldn’t stand that Kang Ho was dating his daughter. That is why he set up an elaborate plan. Since Oh Tae Soo wanted to run for president, he had asked Kang Ho to murder the woman he had an affair with and the child born of that result, not knowing that Kang Ho had been working with them to gather evidence this whole time.
Once Kang Ho gets the order, he pretends to kill the woman and her child while making sure that they reach a safe destination. Unfortunately, Oh Tae Soo’s men had followed the woman into the sea, and she had jumped into the water to not be killed by them. Currently, Kang Ho is being suspected of their murder since there are photographs of him pushing the car with them into the sea, which Oh Tae Soo had arranged to lie to his daughter. He told Ha Young that the illegitimate family was Kang Ho’s, and he set her up to drug him and kill him. Ha Young acts accordingly, but unfortunately, the accident doesn’t kill Kang Ho but erases his memory back to when he was a child. Though this gives him and Young Soon a chance to redo their relationship, it sets Kang Ho’s plans back by quite some time. However, now that he has regained his memory, it is time for him to strike the final nail in the coffin and execute the last step of his revenge.
In episode 13, he approached Oh Tae Soo despite knowing the danger he was placing himself in. Kang Ho told Oh Tae Soo that he was going to arrest Song Woobyeok by inciting him to assault him and then slyly bring up his past crimes in court. To support his case, Oh Tae Soo would have to testify against Song Woobyeok. The purpose of this would be that it would allow Oh Tae Soo to claim his own innocence towards Song Woobyeok’s dealings through their long association. Additionally, it would lend legitimacy to Kang Ho’s case. Oh Tae Soo is forced to agree since Ha Young is with Kang Ho.
One of the guys who Song Woobyeok wanted to be killed had called Kang Ho and asked him to run for his life, but the latter had put him up to something. He made him provoke Woobyeok so that he would get violent, and Kang Ho seized that opportunity to arrest him. In the court, the entire village of Jou Ri is there to hear Kang Ho present his arguments.
Kang Ho very cleverly turns the arguments from the motive of Song Woobyeok for the assault to his past illegal dealings. He also mentions that Hwang Soo Hyun was his secretary, and she probably knew about what he was doing. When Oh Tae Soo comes in as a witness and testifies against Song Woobyeok, that is when Ha Young makes her entrance and reveals that it was her dad who was the killer of Hwang Soo Hyun and her child. When Oh Tae Soo tries to call her statements invalid because of her mental instability, she reveals the entire truth to the court about Oh Tae Soo’s involvement with Song Woobyeok in killing Kang Ho’s father 35 years ago.
Ending Explained: What Happens To Young Soon?
At this point, it is all hearsay, but when Kang Ho brings in Hwang Soo Hyun’s son to the court, a DNA test will reveal the entire truth, and it is game over for Oh Tae Soo and Song Woobyeok. Kang Ho has achieved what he set out to do. He has found justice for his parents and can live as an honest prosecutor now. As for the people that Kang Ho had seemingly imprisoned unjustly, he had done that so that he could protect them from Song Woobyeok’s hitmen. Now that he has taken care of the two villains, the innocents have been released from prison and Kang Ho’s name is free of any traces of corruption.
Back in Jou Ri, Young Soon is still sick, but she is finally happy and at peace. She thanks all the villagers for a happy life as she reminisces about the past. That night, Young Soon passed away peacefully in her sleep. She had a hard life, but at least she found a peaceful death. At her funeral, as Kang Ho grieves for her as she had taught him to previously, her phone rings, and her ringtone of the song “One should always be happy” reminds everyone of the motto she lived by.
As the village slowly starts to move on, life returns to normal, except for a few surprises. Sam Sik is still a capable thief, but he now has eyes only for Ha Young, and he regularly visits her in jail, where she is serving her term of two years. Ha Young may have lost a lot, but she has found a friend, if nothing else. Gum Ja (Mi Joo’s mother) is apparently dating Hoon Ah. This was a surprise since we thought he might be interested in Young Soon before we knew that her time was limited. We suppose it makes sense in a way since women always begin by hating their best friends’ boyfriends. As for Ye Jin, she has found a new boy to crush on, and this time, he is someone more age-appropriate.
Finally, there is the case of the village head and his wife. It turns out that the rumors were true and that she was indeed the daughter of a yakuza. We never saw her face in the entirety of the series The Good Bad Mother, but she finally reveals it now, as she is leaving her husband to go back to her father. But she finds out at the last moment that she is pregnant and chooses to stay back with her husband.
The Good Bad Mother ending celebrates Kang Ho and Mi Joo’s elegant marriage ceremony. They had to wait a long time for this happy ending, and they were finally here. Kang Ho discovers a letter left behind for him by his mother in which she writes that, given another chance, she would like to be the kind of mother who would love him more.
It is a hill we are ready to die on that despite its name and content, The Good Bad Mother was left lacking in the exploration of one crucial aspect of Kang Ho and Young Soon’s relationship: that of their love when he was an actual child. We understand that the narrative demanded that we only see Young Soon’s tough side during Kang Ho’s childhood, but there had to have been more than that for Kang Ho to love her while ignoring his other emotions. That part of their relationship should not have been left to the viewer’s imagination. As for the rest of the show, we wish Ye Jin and Seo Jin had more screen time. Otherwise, it was a great watch that needed more hype.