Is the relationship between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law really bad in Korea?
If you are a fan of Korean dramas, you have seen many storylines where a young Korean woman struggles with her (future) mother-in-law in some way. But that's just fiction, right? Well, mostly that's correct. Mostly.
Think of a relationship between a boss and an employee. There is a good chance that they get along just fine. Then again, there are endless stories where the employee despises his boss or vice versa. A mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law have a similar relationship. In the Korean society, the mother figure would have too much power or control over her son and her daughter-in-law it's sometimes hard to not have any conflict.
Often in Korean dramas, the mother-in-law is portrayed as the evil human being. For some reason, she's always extremely rich and quite overbearing. The young and pretty daughter-in-law is almost always the nice one. This is because most K-drama scripts are written by young Korean women. In real life, the daughter-in-law may not be such a Cinderella. I've personally seen numerous situations where the daughter-in-law was the bad apple, not the mother-in-law.
Many young couples in South Korea depend on their parents financially when they are about to get married. The groom's parents usually spend a hefty amount of money for the wedding and for the newlyweds' new home. (The bride's parents are more responsible for taking care of household items like furniture and appliances.) So the mother-in-law sees her son move away from her to another woman. Surprisingly, many Korean mothers do not take this very well. Not only he moves out of her home, but he also takes her money with him. The daughter-in-law, who comes out of nowhere, takes away her son and her money. But the mother got married pretty much the same way when she was younger. So she feels okay. She is happy for them, until the daughter-in-law does something wrong. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how it all begins. (And the fact that everyone lives so close to each other.)