Blue’s first Korean drama

What can be more appropriate than having my first post here be about my first Korean drama?

Three Families Under One Roof (한지붕 세가족) was a MBC Sunday morning family drama that aired for eight years between November 9, 1986 until November 13, 1994.

It is considered to be one of the longest running Korean dramas of all times. If I recall correctly, it’s third only to Diary of a Rural Village (전원일기), which aired for 22 years from 1980 until its finale in 2002, and Love on a Jujube Tree (대추나무 사랑걸렸네), which aired for 17 years from 1990 until 2007.  As typical of such long-running dramas, Three Families Under One Roof went through several director, writer, and cast changes during its 8-year run.

The story was a simple one of conflicts and camaraderie between neighbors, and similar to American family sitcoms, it had a new story every week. The three main families lived at a two-story house, with the landlord’s family occupying the first floor, a tenant’s family living on the second floor, and another tenant’s family living in what I can only best describe as a one room unit adjacent to the main house (it always reminded me of a garage turned into a living dwelling).

The earlier cast members included Lim Chae Moo (Golden Bride), Lim Hyun Shik (Dae Jang Geum), Park Won Sook (Three Sisters), Hyun Suk (You’re My Destiny), and Choi Joo Bong (Harvest Villa, Everybody Cha Cha Cha).

Indisputably, the biggest star of the show was the child actor, Lee Gun Joo, who stole the hearts of the entire country in his role as  Soondol, the chubby troublemaker son of Lim Hyun Shik and Park Won Sook. Even to this day, many people say all they remember whenever they think of Three Familes Under One Roof is Soondol.


Riding on his fame from playing Soondol, Lee Gun Joo went on to star in several movies during the late 1980s. But like many other child stars, he was never able to repeat his popularity as an adult.  You may recognize him as one of the eunuchs in the 2007 drama, King and I.

Despite being my first Korean drama experience, I admit I don’t remember much of Three Families Under One Roof. I remember Choi Joo Bong’s character always coming over Lim Hyun Shik’s store to rub it in his face that his son (and Soondol’s archnemesis), Mansoo, got 100 on his school exam once again.  It was a repeated joke of the show that Choi Joo Bong’s character annoyed all the neighbors with his constant talks of, “Our Mansoo, our Mansoo!”

One of the most memorable episode of the drama was right before the first cast change occurred. The story had the landlord selling the house in order to (surprise, surprise) immigrate to the U.S.  The neighbors came to the airport to bid farewell to the landlord’s family as they left, and Soondol cried his heart out as he said goodbye to the landlord’s daughter, a noona character who was always kind to him. This scene continued to haunt me for a long time thereafter, perhaps because it reminded me so much of when I moved to America myself.

The cast changeover happened gradually, with different neighbors moving in and out during the entire run of the show. Later cast members included Kang Nam Gil (Who Are YouPlayful Kiss), Lee Jung Gil (Boys Over FlowersIris), and Kim Hye Soo (Style). But by then, the show was past its prime and I was no longer following the drama. Surprisingly, the show went on to air for a couple more years before finally signing off in 1994.

Here’s the opening theme song from during the latter years of the show.  By this time, most of the original cast members were gone.

This entry was posted in Blast to the Past, K-dramas and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Blue’s first Korean drama

  1. kcomments@SKK alumni says:

    Yeah! Blue. I’m from the SKK alumni.
    Congratulations on your new blog and am I the first? It’ll be fun. I hope our masters will drop by too.

    I couldn’t imagine a drama airing for 22 years -_-!!
    It must have a really really faithful audiences, LOL.

  2. bitter_lemon says:

    dropping by to congratulate you on your new blog
    this is really cool, blue!

  3. bitter_lemon says:

    oooh i just notice your banner
    i love ‘smile, you’ too, are you going to blog it here too? ^^

  4. REBEL SOULS says:

    hey blue!
    so thrilled to be able to read your writing on a regular basis – wow this drama sure must have had a dedicated audience – normally I find 20 eps dramas to be a challenge to keep up with – the only long one I loved like crazy was Smile you!!
    looking forward to all your future posts!
    your fan always,

  5. endodo4ever says:

    Hi blue! Welcome to the blogging world. You are seriously a fantastic writer! I enjoyed loved reading your thoughts on SKKS over at TP. Look foward to more from you! ❤

  6. saladyum says:

    Hello master blue!
    I already favorite’d your electric ground, totally enjoying it and your blogroll as well ❤

    wow, a series that aired for 22 years! The longest ones I've followed so far are Little House on the Prairie, and Full House – both after they finished airing, and only bits and pieces of them. 22 years is such an impressive number.

    My first Korean drama is Feelings. Loved it then, still love it now. The campus shenanigans are so fun! Oh and I love the OST very much. Feelings' story has romance, friendship, a little bit of dream, and a lot of family secrets – similar elements with many Korean dramas. But it was my first, and the tone so light, and everyone so hot and beautiful! (everyone = mostly Lee Jung Jae ^^) My favorites were Lee Jung Jae's character and a second female lead named Hye Rin. I don't know the actress' name, only remember the character's. She's very pretty, always looks uber cool. My least favorites were the female lead and the boys' mother, two figures constantly giving everyone including audience headaches. But that's drama, I guess. Yup, Feelings is the my first step to K-drama land.

  7. blue says:

    @kcomments, bitter_lemon, softy, & endodo4ever,
    Hello, my fellow SKKS pae-ins. ^^ Thanks for stopping by! Hope you enjoy your visit here! Oh yes, I loved Smile, You too! Weren’t the SooIn couple (Hyun Soo and Jung In) the cutest thing ever?

    OMG, Feelings brings back so much old memories! And of course, Lee Jung Jae was my first love. I used to be convinced back then that I was going to marry him. Delusion is a scary thing.

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