K-Drama

K-Drama Premiere: “Liver Or Die” Showcases An All-Star Cast, Highlights Difficulties Of Families

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KBS’ new family drama touches an emotional spot by tackling the reality of family problems in its first serving.

The newest KBS drama, What’s Wrong Poong Sang (literal title) or Liver Or Die (English title), centers around Poong Sang and his four siblings. The drama tackles familial responsibilities and on learning how to let go.

As the eldest, Poong Sang has been his siblings’ parents since they were young. As adults, they are all struggling to survive. Poong Sang struggles the most as he is unable to push his siblings to stand on their own feet. 

Pilot Week Recap

The siblings all gather for the funeral of their father, who sadly died on the street. They are upset that their father did not leave behind anything but debt.

Hwa Sang tries to scam a public official into marrying her after dating for a month, but Jung Sang reveals the truth about her twin sister to the man. Upset, he runs away and leaves Hwa Sang. In turn, she gets mad at her sister for destroying her plans. They brawl inside the funeral hall and the brothers physically have to restrain them.

The gang Wae Sang used to be a part of pay their respects to his father, but Poong Sang intervenes and sends them away. He also refuses to accept their funeral money. Wae Sang arrives to find them arguing. He recalls how his father treated him and calls him trash. Angrily, he throws the flowers they brought.

Frustrated, Wae Sang asks Poong Sang to stop the wake since no one will come. His older brother answers that it’s their duty as his children to do this. They fight because none of the siblings wants to do it, but they’re there only because of Poong Sang. Wae Sang throws the funeral photo on the floor and breaks the frame. Angrily, Poong Sang sends them all home.

Jal Da and Chil Bok marvel at how kind Poong Sang is to do this for a man who doesn’t deserve it. Poong Sang joins them and they talk about his father. He had liver cancer and Jal Da says that it’s good that he died. Poong Sang reminisces over how they hardly saw their father and wonder if their mother will show up at the funeral.

Their mother arrives and talks to Poong Sang. She pretends to be worried about them, but finally asks about the inheritance money. He takes all the money he has and throws it in the trash, asking his mother not to bother his siblings because they don’t know anything. Only Poong Sang knows what happened. Unperturbed, she scoffs as he leaves before fishing out the money from the trash. Her boyfriend comes up from behind her and snatches the money.

Poong Sang attends the cremation alone. After that, a woman arrives and tells him that his father was actually on his way to apologize to Poong Sang before he died. He didn’t want to die before saying sorry. Grief-stricken, Poong Sang recalls that they met last year, but his dad never got to say anything. Poong Sang sadly scatters his father’s ashes in the river when the urn falls. He jumps in and tries to retrieve it, but the current washes it away quickly. Dejected, Poong Sang gives up and just floats, seemingly ready to be taken away by the current too. But when he remembers his siblings, he suddenly starts to fight back and calls for someone to save him.

Poong Sang returns home to find that his mother and her boyfriend looting their home, and are trying to take away their valuables. He gathers his siblings to talk about what happened during the funeral. Boon Sil is furious at them for allowing their older brother go alone. Their daughter Joong Yi arrives home. She rudely answers back to her mother, and doesn’t care that she failed her exams.

Poong Sang recalls a conversation  he had with his father when he brought home baby Wae Sang. Poong Sang promises to be the one to care for the baby since he is his older brother. Their father refuses because Wae Sang isn’t his biological son. Later on he talks to Wae Sang and apologizes for what happened. Wae Sang is still angry at their dad but talks about their mom instead. Wae Sang talks to Poong Sang about finding their mom but tells Poong Sang says he’ll do it instead.

Poong Sang gets emotional as he locks the door for the first time. He realizes he never really bothers to lock their door because he’s been waiting for their dad to come back. Now he will never get that chance. Boon Sil tells Poong Sang that his responsibility to his siblings must stop. She wants her father to live with them since he’s old and sickly.

She personally talks to his siblings and asks them to leave. The siblings get offended that she would exchange them for her father.  Boon Sil stands her ground and gives them a month to leave. Jung Sang agrees with her and tells her siblings to grow up, which upsets Hwa Sang. She tells her twin she would have been able to move out if she hadn’t ruined her engagement to the public official. Jung Sang ignores her and leaves.

Poong Sang visits his father-in-law to make up for neglecting him. He does the laundry deliveries and later treats him to a meal.  He berates Poong Sang instead because Boon Sil has to work at the car wash all day.

Young Pil finds out that her fiance marries someone else on the day of her wedding. Devastated, she drives off until she falls into a ditch. Wae Sang, her assigned chaffeur, arrives and stays with her. He keeps her company and tries to comfort her.

Poong Sang deals with both Hwa Sang and Jin Sang as they cause trouble again.

Hwa Sang discovers that her sister Jung Sang is having an affair with Dr Ji Ham. She spies on her sister and catches them in his car just as Ji Ham drops her off and hugs her goodbye.

Boon Sil gets upset that Poong Sang spent their money to help Jin Sang. She packs her bags and leaves.

Afterthoughts

I admire Poong Sang for taking on the role of both father and mother for his siblings, but it’s too much. He practically lives just to bail out his siblings from all the troubles they get themselves into.

Hwa Sang and Jin Sang cause trouble. They don’t want to change because they know that their elder brother will help them out. So for them, it’s okay that they are spoiled, rotten and irresponsible. I hope that Boon Sil follows through and convinces Poong Sang to really kick them out.

This drama shows what happens within the family, and it’s honest enough to say that it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. Poong Sang saves his siblings from the trouble they cause. He didn’t even get upset. As the eldest, he doesn’t try hard enough to encourage them to stand on their own feet. He allows them to be the way they are and it’s crippling him, because it makes him unable to fulfill the role of a father and a husband. In turn, his daughter feels neglected and rebels against her parents.

Catch Liver or Die on KBS2.


 

ABOUT THE WRITER

Nicole is currently juggling motherhood, her job, and her immense love for K-dramas and K-pop. On most days, the latter wins.  Sleeping can wait – this is her motto as she eagerly devours episodes of her favorite K-dramas. Her absolute favorite drama would be Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo.

She is currently watching My Strange Hero, Encounter, Clean With Passion for Now, God’s Quiz 5, and Fates and Furies

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