Jang Seo-Jin is the mother of Hae-e’s best friend and future love interest, Lee Sun-Jae’s mother. Sporting an ever-so-serious face with little time for the gossip or the goofs, she is a formidable yet broken character who’s obsessed with her son’s education.
The high school students in Crash Course in Romance are perpetually plagued by the obsession and follies of their mothers. In an ensemble of privileged, problematic, and status-obsessed moms, Ms. Jang Seo-Jin is in a league of her own.
Ms. Jang has many faults, all of which result from long-running problems that affect her marriage and family. The show sees her reaching the lowest depths of her psyche and her moral compass go haywire amidst drastic changes that stand to destroy the family even more.
A broken woman
Jang Seo-Jin is a top lawyer and the formidability of her professional work stands in contrast with the decrepit state of her family. A big reason why her family is the way it is has to do with herself.
Ms. Jang is an alcoholic, and most of the scene transitions to her home and sees her drowning herself in alcohol, drinking away the regrets and sorrows that inform her current life.
Ms. Jang has a broken marriage rife with constant conflicts, an elder son who suffered a mental decline after the pressure of education (thanks to his mother) crossed the threshold of normalcy, and her younger son who can’t trace the same path as his sibling.
A broken philosophy
Her misery is borne out of the estranged relationship she has with her husband, who she constantly gets into fights with. However, the crux of all that’s wrong with Ms. Jang and her family is the philosophy she follows when it comes to her children’s education.
She needs her sons to excel in their education, and she won’t take any deviation from the path to “success” that she deems fit for them. To succeed in life, she believes, they need happiness, but this happiness is only achievable by the highest education and securing the highest, most prestigious job.
In a classic case of Asian obsession and tunnel vision when it comes to education, Jang Seo-Jin is incapable of looking at the destruction she has wreaked on her own sons and family, just to chase and realize this superficial path to contentment.
A person at her lowest
Her older son is convicted of murder and she has lost so much of her connection to him that she instantly believes the detective’s allegations over her son’s refusal of said allegations, signifying just how large the rift she has ended up creating between herself and Hui-Jae.
Meanwhile, she strikes a deal with the director of Woorim High school and gets her to leak the exams for her son Sun-Jae. When he inadvertently gets his best friend and crush involved in the cheating, he bleeds his heart out to his mother, asking her to confess to the authorities, but she refuses to do so.
She also tries to stop Hae-e from doing so, and when Hae-e falls into a coma, she later admits to having hoped for the girl to not wake up, since she’d go and reveal her part in the leak to everyone else.
Clarity & change
When Sun-Jae confesses to the authorities about his and Jang Seo-Jin’s role in the leaks, she finally has clarity.
This new phase of clarity is like Jang Seo-Jin shedding off the dirt that had engulfed her conscience over the years. She finally reconciles with her husband, who supports her amidst the outrage that erupts over her actions, as well as in the trial at the court.
Jang Seo-Jin also improves her relationship with Hui-Jae, taking him on a trip with her while she finally gets to have a vacation from her work. At the end of Crash Course in Romance, the relationship between her and Hui-Jae has totally healed.