Yoon Gi-jun marries the daughter of a pharmaceutical company president and lands an executive position, but feels bored with company life. His wife suggests that he should take a break and visit his hometown, Mujin, while she prepares for a shareholders' meeting to promote him to managing director. After arriving at Mujin, Yoon Gi-jun recalls his past as a draft dodger and lung disease patient. He has an affair with Ha In-suk, whom he meets by chance at the house that belongs to the head of the tax office.
Patriotic university students, led by their teacher, along with British friends leave their families and become freedom fighters in Manchuria fighting against the Japanese occupation.
Yeon-sil, who is married to a gang boss, is accused of adultery (though in fact, she was raped) with another gang member, an opium addict, a transgression for which she suffers disfigurement and expulsion from her husband’s side per the rules of the gang organization. She is thereafter forced to remain with the opium addict and work as a prostitute in order to support both of them.
A music teacher works hard with his wife and manages to buy a two-story house. When his wife grows weak from overworking as a seamstress to be able to afford the house, he hires a housemaid. When his now pregnant wife leaves to visit her family, the housemaid seduces him and conceives. The wife convinces the housemaid to tumble down the staircase and intentionally miscarry, and the housemaid, having lost the baby in the attempt, becomes increasingly violent.
Living in an American military camp, Young-shik and his gang steal goods from the camp’s warehouse and sell them in the market. His younger brother Dong-shik arrives in Seoul with the view of persuading Young-shik to return to their hometown, but he instead settles down in the camp as well. Young-shik tries to get Dong-shik to go back to their hometown ahead of him and asks his girlfriend Sonia to marry him after he pulls off a big heist he is plotting. Sonia, however, has her eyes set on Dong-shik and seduces him while Young-shik and his gang are carrying out the heist.
Romantic Papa begins with each member of a family standing in front of the camera and introducing him or herself. The father, his wife, two sons, and three daughters. They bicker over trifles, but each of them does his or her part, living honestly and energetically. The narrative weaves small episodes and shows the daily lives of multiple characters.
Jo Doo-soo, a member of a street gang, helps Joanna, a college student, when bullies try to rob her bag on her way home. Joanna is a diplomat’s daughter and belongs to the upper class, whereas Jo Doo-soo wastes his days serving the gang. Attracted to one another because of their opposite lives, Doo-soo and Joanna soon fall in love. Being a devout Christian, Joanna believes that if only Doo-soo changed his thoughts about the way he lives, he could be a new person.
The Song family lives in a shantytown. Cheol-ho suffers from a persistent toothache while supporting his pregnant wife and son, his younger brother, disabled by the war, two younger sisters, and his bed-ridden mother. The family tries to face the harsh reality until tragedy strikes.
Jin-sook passes the bar exam and becomes a judge. However, her husband feels inferior to his wife’s social status, and her mother-in-law takes his side and misunderstands her daughter-in-law. Jin-sook tries to be faithful to both her job and family.
Through the family of a widowed coachman, the film presents the struggles of a lower class family in a moment of profound social upheaval and generational change.