Director Kim Jin-woo of 'A Model Family' looks to break the perfect stigma

From left, actors Kim Jin-woo, Jung Woo, Yoon Jin-seo, Park Ji-yeon and Park Hee-soon pose for a photo at a local press event for upcoming Netflix original series "A Model Family" at JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul in eastern Seoul on Tuesday. [N

Director Kim Jin-woo of upcoming Netflix original series “A Model Family” is attempting to dismantle the stigma of words “model” and “family” through his series.

“A Model Family,” which will be released on the streaming platform Friday, tells the story of a very ordinary, model family that one day becomes entangled with drug cartels. The narrative starts off showing the breadwinner of the family, Dong-ha, portrayed by Jung Woo, who is on the verge of bankruptcy and divorce. With a teenage daughter and a sick son in desperate need of a heart transplant, he needs money, when all of a sudden he comes across just that — in a car on an empty road, a bag full of bills, and two bodies.

The series uses the cash bag and drug cartels to draw in other characters in the story in order to ask viewers what defines the ideas of exemplary and family.

“The meaning of the word ‘model’ is given by others based only on your exterior elements,” Kim explained at JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul in eastern Seoul on Tuesday. “People often use the word to describe others without really knowing their inner thoughts or circumstances. In some ways, the word is irresponsible.

“Family is something that we are innately born into, we cannot be pre-educated or know in advance how to form a family,” he continued. “Particularly regarding our local culture, we have a distinctive social stigma on what defines a family, and what kind of family is considered to be exemplary. By seeing the story of Dong-ha’s family, I wanted viewers to think about how can we really define those two words.”

The local sentiment related to family is what differentiates his work from other similar stories. After the trailer’s release last month, some commented that the narrative resembles American crime drama series “Ozark,” which is also a Netflix original.

“I have heard from people who’ve read the script that [it is similar to] ‘Ozark,’ and though I believe the two series use similar elements [such as money laundering and drug cartels], I haven’t seen the series before I heard such opinions,” Kim said. “Then I purposefully did not watch the series because I thought it would involuntarily affect me [and ‘A Model Family].”

Other leads are Park Hee-soon who portrays Gwang-cheol, the infamous drug cartel’s second-in-command who chases after the cash bag; Yoon Jin-seo as Dong-ha’s wife Eun-joo; and Park Ji-yeon as a cop named Joo-hyun who is on the chase after the drug cartel.