Drama Recaps
Three Dads, One Mom: Episodes 1 & 2
by | April 8, 2008 | 69 Comments

Finally caught the first two episodes of the new KBS Wednesday-Thursday drama Three Dads, One Mom, and have a bit of a mixed reaction. On one hand, there’s a very cute quality to the drama, helped in no small part by its appealing cast — and while they’re not quite superstar-famous, all four main cast members are fairly established and known names.

There are some things I like about the series and the setup; there are other things I don’t. Right now, I’m not sure which way the balance tilts. Eugene is adorably gorgeous as the one mom amidst three possible dads, best-friend bachelors played by Jo Hyun Jae, Jae Hee, and Shin Sung Rok. Their interactions, laced with a healthy dose of good-natured male camaraderie, are one of the more appealing aspects of the drama for me. I’ll wait to see how things develop before making a final judgment; for now, I plan to catch a few more episodes.

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THE CHARACTERS

Simple setup: Start with four best friends who’ve grown up together since childhood.

Despite growing into vastly differing personalities, the four have stuck together all these years into adulthood.

SUNG MIN was the first to fall in love, and married his sweetheart NA YOUNG (played by Eugene). He’s perhaps the most emotionally mature of the four, and also the sweet-tempered one. He dotes on his wife, and she returns his affection wholeheartedly. Both have had somewhat tough childhoods, which heightens Na Young’s desire to become a mother and have a loving family of her own.

Sung Min’s best friends are all single and live together in their messy bachelor pad: SU HYUN (Jo Hyun Jae) is the good-looking, money-obsessed financial manager working in stocks and bonds. He’d like to marry and settle down in theory, although he’s never met anyone worth settling down for. Stingy bastard.

KWANG HEE (Jae Hee) is a manhwa artist who doesn’t believe in settling down and is always seeing one woman after another. Smooth (and fast) talker, somewhat irresponsible.

KYUNG TAE is the hotheaded cop, a little dumb on the outside but softhearted on the inside. He goes by two last names, Na Hwang, in a strange (to Korea) practice of observing his mother’s maiden name (Hwang) along with his father’s family name (Na). That should tell you all about him right there. He’s the sloppiest eater and the messiest dresser, but the kindest in heart.

 
THE STORY

Na Young mostly likes her husband’s three best friends, but they try her patience constantly by making a mess of her home playing poker all night, dragging Sung Min out with them drinking, and generally being well-meaning but insensitive. And vice versa — the guys like her and think she’s a good match for Sung Min, but she’s kinda naggy.

Na Young desperately wants to become a mother, but attempts at conception have failed. Lately her frustration has her fighting with Sung Min because while he’s accepted that they’re probably not going to be able to have children (he’s sterile, having no sperm), she wants to exhaust their possibilities and see doctor after doctor. He’s being realistic, but she interprets it as not taking her seriously.

Sung Min talks over his problem with his friends, who offer suggestions. They could adopt, or go to a sperm bank, but those are deemed out of the question. Sung Min off-handedly mutters that it’s too bad he can’t use his friends’ sperm… which gives him the brilliant idea to use his friends’ sperm. He knows them all personally and can vouch for their character. They won’t tell Na Young, naturally, and the baby will be raised as his. He won’t make demands afterward or dump them with fatherly responsibility. Furthermore, nobody will ever need to know whose sperm of the three was used. No burden. Su Hyun, Kwang Hee, and Kyung Tae — cheerfully drunk — agree. When they sober up, they’re horrified because they don’t really want to go along with it.

Sung Min, feeling desperate (Na Young is growing despondent, and he doesn’t want to lose her), pleads with each in turn go along and donate his sperm. Finally, they’re guilt-tripped into agreeing, and drag their feet to the clinic to make their donations. Sung Min has told Na Young he wants to see the doctor for one more try at insemination, and she happily agrees.

After the friends leave the clinic, they brood — each has the fear that fathering a child now will come back to bite them later, despite Sung Min’s assurances to the contrary. They call Sung Min and tell him they can’t go through with it: Rescind the decision! Sung Min concedes, to their relief — but then grimly progresses with his plan.

Na Young becomes pregnant (I’m assuming in vitro fertilization), blissfully unaware of the baby’s true parentage. Sung Min’s friends are suspicious about the timing and demand to know if he used their sperm; Sung Min insists (nervously) that the baby is his own, which is why they’re calling her/him Ha Sun, “gift from heaven.”

But about six months into the pregnancy, Sung Min is killed in a car accident, leaving behind a bereaved wife and three devastated friends.

For once, the guys think of Na Young’s welfare before themselves — she’s alone, pregnant, and completely overwhelmed. She has a hard time keeping herself together, much less taking care of closing bank accounts and official death-related administrative tasks. The guys promise to handle everything for her, and find among Sung Min’s things a DVD. It’s labeled for his unborn baby, and the friends watch Sung Min’s self-videoed clip. Onscreen, the three friends interrupt the video; after they’ve left, Sung Min resumes taping, now a little tipsy.

Sung Min tells the video that the baby’s three “uncles” are his best friends, people whom the baby should consider with the same regard as a father. He alludes to the uncles’ “priceless gift” without which the baby never could have been born — and they realize with dread that Sung Min must have used their sperm.

 
THE PROS

Episodes 1 and 2 were cute and light-hearted (death notwithstanding, since we were expecting that anyway). The three friends (or four, depending on the scene) have nice chemistry with each other, and I love male-bonding stuff. Always cute.

The characters are diverse; and despite my love for Jae Hee, Shin Sung Rok completely steals the show for me as Kyung Tae. His bumbling cop is supposed to be the most “unattractive” among the three — messy, hygienically suspect, a little dense — but has a heart of gold.

I presume Jo Hyun Jae’s Su Hyun character will be the one to pair with Eugene, because he’s the one who’s placed in the most traditionally leading-man role. He’s the best-dressed, most conventionally handsome, and the most strait-laced. Plus, he’s the one with the coolest relationship with Na Young (he doesn’t hate her, but he’s a little distant), so it’s highly possible that this means he’ll be the one who falls for her. Even if I can’t help hoping that they’ll go with the unconventional but lovable Kyung Tae instead. (Sorry to say, I don’t see much chemistry between Eugene and Jae Hee.)

 
THE CONS

First off, the drama takes an exceedingly simplistic approach. Everything is painted in broad strokes, and the characterizations are really one-note. I understand the need to differentiate among the bachelors when there are so many characters, hence the exaggerated differences, but I think we’re all familiar enough with the actors not to run into the trouble of mixing them up.

As far as story goes, it’s hard to say. The first two episodes went by very slowly for me, because we knew everything that would happen based on the setup. I wish they’d scrunched up everything in the first two episodes into one, because the drama doesn’t really get going until after Sung Min dies and the three friends find out one of them is the father. To have waited until the end of the second episode to bring us to that point seems a waste of the first week’s worth of programming.

The characters are made interesting and likable by the actors portraying them, but on their own they’re kind of flat. They border on stereotypical, in fact. (The finance manager ONLY talks in money-related terms. The artist is single-minded — GIRLS — and we see very little else.) Plus Jae Hee’s affecting some weird nasally tone of voice, which drives me bonkers. Those of us who’ve seen him previously know he’s got a nice, normal voice, so he must be using it as part of his “character work.” Perhaps it’s to make his flighty character seem even flightier, which is compounded by the extremely fast way he talks. All I know is, I wish he’d stop.

And then there’s Jo Hyun Jae. I swear, this has nothing to do with the recent army controversy, but I can’t seem to find him compelling. He’s good-looking, and he’s not a bad actor. But it’s like he has all the ingredients of a strong leading man, but lacks the alchemy to really spark. He’s kind of blank in the charisma arena. Very pretty to look at, for sure, but I’ve just never been drawn to his characters; it feels like watching a well-programmed robot.

I’m hoping Sung Min’s death spurs the three bachelors to develop some maturity. The three may be carried by the charm of their actors, but as characters they’re kind of annoying. They’re selfish and immature — I think their flaws are supposed to make them endearing, but they’re hammered in so strongly (like I said, simplistic) that it’s overkill. I start to hate Su Hyun’s stinginess (thriftiness can be cute, but extreme miserliness makes him seem petty in character as well as in pocketbook) and get tired of Kwang Hee’s libido. (I love Kyung Tae, so no complaints.)

Overall, the drama is good-natured, but it’s not complex, and it’s not exciting. It’s pleasant. I hold out hope that things develop more intriguingly in future episodes, and I’ll stick with the show for now. But I’m not convinced.

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69 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. docmitasha

    Thanks Javabeans! I was waiting for some insight into this show before deciding to add it to my list. For now, I think I’ll hold onto catching up to Who Are You and finishing HGD (though your summaries were amazing while I was away!) :) But thanks for giving your thoughts, it does seem like an entertaining surmise but I want to make sure its heading towards a stronger screenplay before I jump in.

  2. Snapper

    This drama seems like my cup of coffee…thanks for giving me some meat to chew on before I made up my mind.

  3. Anonymous

    hey javabeans,

    I completely agree with you, before the show started, i was rooting for eugene with Jae Hee, but after watching the first two eps, i didnt see any chemistry nor sparks between them. Its like they just put him there to be there, but is he really there? and I don’t really like Jo Hyun either. For some reasons, his character is lacking something for me. I am rooting for of course, Kyung Tae. I love his personality and role the most, therefore, i hope that he’s the one that will paired up with eugene at the end, or at least let him be the dad. I think that right now the story is pretty predictable, we all know that Jo Hyun is going to be the leading man and he’s the one that will likely be with Eugene at the end and possibly the father of her baby. I just hope that they will make this show interesting by not letting us know who could be the possible leading man and surprise us with something special, not something we already know.

  4. choram

    So it’s almost a habit these days for me to wait until you’re reviewed the beginning of dramas before I dive right in…..but somehow I had the time and just ended up watching the first two episodes last night.

    “Mixed reaction.” That’s a good way to put it. It seems like I like it….but not enough in a way. If the next few episodes don’t do it for me, I can seriously see myself dropping this, even if I mostly enjoy the casting in this one (darn you Jae Hee and Eugene and your non-chemistry!). It’s a pity if that happens though… I really am pulling for it to get better.

  5. Dahee Fanel

    I’ve been on the fence about this drama – it all smells like the kind of thing I would normally avoid like the plague, but…but…It has Shin Sung Rok in it. I adore Shin Sung Rok. And, reading your thoughts, it seems like all my suspicions regarding the script and directing have come true, at least in those first two episodes. But…reading your description of SSR’s character made my heart melt. I’ve only seen him in serious roles so far, and I want to see his cute side!

    Argh, this is driving me insane. What the hell. I’ll just dive in. If it turns out crappy, I can always stop later…right?

  6. thunderbolt

    I’ve seen episodes 1 and 2 and agree completely with you that Shin Sung Rok steals the show. He’s unbelievably goofy, so different from his serious roles in Thank You and Hyena. His comic timing is spot on, and his acting is easily the best among the four friends. I will keep watching this just for him because he is so CUTE. (Don’t dig his hairdo, though.)

    Jo Hyun Jae feels like he’s just going through the paces. I have a soft spot for him so it’s painful to see him being this camera-conscious. As for Jae Hee, what’s with THAT voice? Eugene… Hmm, her acting is nothing to write home about, but I believe she will improve (like she did in Really Really Like You as the drama progressed).

    I like ep 1 more than 2 just because it was a lot funnier and lighter. The scenes where the men are prepping themselves for the sperm donation are hysterical.

  7. jennyo88

    I might watch it. Thanks

  8. Linda

    i loved the hilarity(?) in the first episode… when the 3 guys were doing (seriously) everything in the world to make sure they would provide “good” sperm. :D

  9. choram

    ^^^

    I can’t erase that image of Jae Hee with his leg up in front of the fridge. lol

  10. 10 jinkzzmec

    thanks for the recap dramabeans…i had fun watching the first 2 episode…can’t really decide who NY should end up with…i like JHJ but right now i’m leaning towards KT and NY to end up togeter in the end.

  11. 11 :O

    enjoyed the first 2 eps. but i gotta admit that the characters and their flaws are a little overexaggerated.. jae hee did not always sound that nasal!
    i hope hed stop using a fake nasal voice too!
    kyungtae and kwanghee’s characters appeal to me more than su hyun..or maybe its the actors.. i still have some hope for chemistry between jae hee and eugene.. cmon its jaehee <3! and like *anonymous* said in comment #3: “I just hope that they will make this show interesting by not letting us know who could be the possible leading man and surprise us with something special, not something we already know.” I AGREEEE.
    anyways. i hope you continue to summarize and comment and i hope the drama is a great one to watch!

  12. 12 anna

    wow I’m really happy that your posting recap of this show i thought I wouldn’t have to see this for a long time since the kbs in my cable has been canceled. thank you so much

  13. 13 Eisa

    I’ve been kinda skeptical about this one not sure why but Jo Hyun Jae just lacks something, to me. I really want to see it because I love Jae Hee and Shin Sung Rok, but Hyun Jae has never come across as someone I like, in dramas, and its really weird cause he is very handsome and talented. I’m gonna give it a try and see how it goes, and thanks for the post!

  14. 14 Philippa

    I saw the first episode without the sub and I was laughing even though I had no idea what’s going on.
    lol.
    Well thanks a lot! I can’t wait for the subs!
    I hope that he doesn’t have to do the military service or something right now.
    Thanks again!

  15. 15 deeta

    Oh Sarah, how I agree with you. I watched the first two episodes and it just strikes me as simple and fun and lighthearted. I liked it, I thought the 3/4 friends are hilarious and cute. However, the plot is crystal clear with little subtlety and layers. The same goes with characterization. It’s just being handed to us on a plate, which I guess would get dull in a while. JH is as cute as ever, tho I have a feeling his character here would never come close to Mong Ryong in terms of hooking audience. JHJ is so darn hot but lacks personality altogether (although his money loving trait could be really fun). SSR, totally ditto, he’s friggin awesome, omg!! I cannot believe the guy who was often just plain depressing in Thank You could actually pull this off.

    On another note, I don’t know why but so far I don’t feel much of a chemistry between Eugene and any of the guys. I guess we’ll just have to wait on more development.

  16. 16 kamee

    i think i liked the lightheartedness of the story despite the death. and the cop is definitely my favorite! my favorite part was when he started eating with nayoung and the other two guys just stared on. he is the most open heart-wise and if anything, he’s the one more ready and open for love (his quick response to his mother agreeing for a matchmaking date!). jo hyunjae doesn’t really impress me either. he worries too much about money and not enough about life. he definitely needs to grow up a little more, same for jaehee’s character. i can’t wait for episode 3 though!

  17. 17 dae

    I remember one of the very first drama series i’ve watched (north american). It was the one starred by Phoebe Cates – “LACE”. the first book tackled about the search for her true mom. then the 2nd book was about finding his real father. It’s a bit far from this story i suppose. but i’m thinking that the series will progress that way probably….

  18. 18 hjk

    Phew, glad I wasn’t the only one driven crazy by Jae Hee’s (sometimes indecipherable) fast talking/mumbling! And Shin Sung Rok rocks! I can’t wait to see more of his character. :)

    Like #3, I hope they surprise us with something more than what we already know. Maybe things will get mixed up, in a good way, once Joo Sang Wook appears.

  19. 19 maltesers

    wahh…thanks so much javabeans!
    i will start watching this drama :)

    isn’t sung min the second lead guy (to ko soo) who played a director in marrying a millionaire?

  20. 20 knuts

    Agree.
    Shin Sung Rok is so adorable here and different from in Thank You. He will be the reason for me to give this drama a try. Actually he is the only thing I like about this drama so far.

  21. 21 estelle

    I still love Jae Hee as usual… =P But this drama made me do a double take on Shin Sung Rok. His character is really cute! I didn’t like Jo Hyun Jae either, his character seems to be the least appealing among the 3…

  22. 22 phiphi

    In the picture (with the ear head band), Shin Sung Rok looks like Eric Mun in Supper Rookie days!

  23. 23 beng

    Getting from your summary, I think Jo Hyun is the father but eugene will fall in love with Kyung Tae because he has the good heart amongst the 3, therefore the most who would sacrifice for her. But we all know where this is leading, the 3 guys will fall for eugene and the baby, therefore, they will all change for the better. Maybe then Jae Hee will talk in his natural way and Jo Hyun will end his miserly ways. Then what about Kyung Tae?, will he end his sloppiness? then, he’ll still be the best amongst the 3 (^-^)

  24. 24 hjk

    @maltesers #19 – yes, he was the PD of the show in Marrying a Millionaire

  25. 25 Jo

    The reason I am uneasy about this drama is because I really REALLY dont like Eugene as an actor.

  26. 26 linh132

    okay so now i am excited to see where this leads now…hehehe now i guess you can put this series pic into your recapp series icons in place of the placeholder….or you can put hana yori dango..huh hu…??hehehehe :) jkjkjk

  27. 27 gail

    i may be in the minority but i like this drama. i’m looking forward to the rest of the series … unless they kill off another character, then i won’t be watching. i like the camaraderie of the boys, and i am not completely sympathetic with Na Young just yet. Might be because in the first two eps, a lot of time was devoted to the point of view of the boys rather than Na Young’s.

    anyways, if this goes to the dogs, I can always look forward to hilarious eppy summaries ala Witch Amusement’s, right javabeans? imho, the summaries i loved most were your WA ones. :D

  28. 28 pigmom

    Thanks javabeans for the great recapped sumary!
    I have to agree w/ u that Jo Huyn Jae didnt have the ‘spark’ that he needed to have to boost up a deeper impression for his character. I still like him though because to me, he does possess a pretty good-looking appearance. But in the fisrt 2 episodes, he just seemed kinda dull and bleak.
    Yet, i think i did enjoy the show. Well, it’s true that they can pull the plot for both first and second episode all into one; but i guess they wanted to put a little bit more emphasis on the male-bonding stuff so they lenghthen it. Maybe to give Na Young’s husband more acting appearance too.
    I also love the comedy. It was hilarious when i looked at their gestures and expressions. I’m not attached to it as much as Who are you?, but if it continues w/ this kind of light-hearted humor, i should follow along to release my stress. ^^

  29. 29 Anonymous

    i was so excited to know Jae Hee was in another drama but I have to agree with you Javabeans, I’m more in love with Kyung Tae’s character right now…

  30. 30 s

    i will probably check this drama out. i’m curious about the cast. but the storyline of having the guy use another guy’s sperm and not telling his wife seems too creepy/strange.

  31. 31 Imee

    This is a very entertaining drama.Watch it without subs at youtube and still laugh at those guys without knowing what they are saying.I love Jae Hee and I hope he wins the girl.I saw episode 4 where he was the one who cut the babys umbilical cord,.Shin Sung Rok was funny when he fainted during Eugenes delivery. I will continue watching it as I am really enjoying it and these young mens friendship is something to emulate. From USA, we love 3 dads 1 mom.

  32. 32 AnGeL

    I LiKe ThIs MoViE

  33. 33 Diana

    i know that jo hyun jae this drama beste jo hyun jae differente 2 men i not interesent 2 men only jokig i am happy i love jo hyun jae i hope asian beste jo hyun jae please many drama and movie for love jo hyun jae i kiss jo hyun jae

  34. 34 ANNIE BANANIE

    Would you please post more on three dads and one mom ep. thank you
    so much.

  35. 35 Anonymous

    GUSH! THE ONE DAD IS VERY HANDSOME, I GUESS IT’S JO HYUN JAE

  36. 36 sae

    hey! where can i watch it online? with english subs?

  37. 37 eun_chelle

    I just really love trhis drama..
    though everyone says thats its just there and theres nothing to be looked upon.
    but for me, the cast are great.
    they act so well and itsd funny.
    Their character fit so well with what they act!..
    I love 3 dads and 1 mom..
    I will never get tired of watching this all over again..
    as in sooooo much!..
    A very entertaining drama…

    _chelle_
    from Philippines

  38. 38 Anonymous

    i realy liked it’

  39. 39 crzl

    i love jae hee!!! he’s so cute and eugene too!!
    the story is great i think
    i love the characters
    i can’t forget the scene when jae hee raise his leg in front of the fridge!

  40. 40 tlina069

    Hyun Jae is such an eye candy, but you’re right, he’s plain as an actor and definitely not as good as Jae Hee and Shin Sung Rok. The last two are a thrill to watch!

  41. 41 tlina069

    I forgot! Hyun Jae is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay better looking with this short hair cut rather than his prior long, shaggy, manhwa-like hair.

  42. 42 bheann

    I really like this drama………………………………..

    Jo Hyun Jae and Eugene have a good chemistry to each other………………….

    I really like Jae Hee………………..^_______________^

    I hope he can visit Philippines someday……………..

    because I really want to see him.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  43. 43 Cyndy B. Angel

    I love the story of this koreanovela here in the Philippines. It was a good story and crush ko si Jo Hyun Jae. Guwapo talaga siya. Cute din si Eugene as the mother of the story.

  44. 44 Angel

    I hope that Jo Hyun Jae will visit the Philippines someday specifically the Baguio City. Mayat jay pabuya isu nga dapat sapaan da nga ipabuya tapno ammuk ti isturya nga nalalaing .

  45. 45 Anonymous

    keep up the good work! we love you!

  46. 46 lilnacs

    its a very wonderful story about LIFE- LIGHT AND LOVE…
    1- Life is a very mysterious Gift from God…
    Mysteries of life consists of Joyful, sorrowful, painful and
    whatever experiences we most hated to experience..

    2- Light or the Truth – is realized only after all the ups and downs of life…
    it starts with acceptance of man’s existence- which is
    FOR INNER TRANSFORMATION

    3. Love- is the most powerful and Only Way to attain inner transformation
    Love cannot be taught, demanded, bought or sold,
    LOVE can only be given…. and ONLY when we have given out love
    can we experience TRUE LIFE- LIGHT AND LOVE!

    The characters really did their best… More Power!

  47. 47 lilnacs

    its a very wonderful story about LIFE- LIGHT AND LOVE…
    1- Life is a very mysterious Gift from God…
    Mysteries of life consists of Joyful, sorrowful, painful and
    whatever experiences we most hated to experience..

    2- Light or the Truth – is realized after all the ups and downs of life…
    it starts with acceptance of man’s existence- which is
    FOR INNER TRANSFORMATION

    3. Love- is the most powerful and Only Way for man’s inner transformation
    Love cannot be taught, demanded, bought or sold,
    LOVE can only be given…. and ONLY when we have given out love
    can we experience TRUE LIFE- LIGHT AND LOVE!

    More Power!

  48. 48 melody

    i like the drama so much… thats all i can say….
    very entertaining….
    and who will be the true father of the baby….?????/
    thats the big question we dont know im ver excited to know who is really the father.

  49. 49 AP BABE FERG'Z

    I REALY LIKE THIS MOVIE KAHIT NA LUMALAKI ANG I BAG NAMIN SA KAPAPANOOD NITO””””

  50. 50 APRIL BABY LYN

    ”””’SANA MARAMI PANG EPISODE ANGMAPANOOD NAMIN ANG CUTE CUTE TALAGA NI JAKE AND JAYDEN” SINO BA TALAGA ANG TUNAY NA DADY NI BABY NICOLE?

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