A Wonderful Romance Trapped in a Terrible Plot


About halfway through watching Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, a good friend and I were texting each other about the newest episodes, and I kept saying things like “The romance is very cute, but there are a few things that bothered me….” Her response? “Yeah, I mean the total storyline is crap. They could have done so much, but their acting saves it time and again.” And she was right—that’s the perfect summary for most of my feelings on Strong Woman Do Bong Soon.

Overview

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon follows a young woman (Park Bo Young) who—as the title suggests—has superhuman strength. Ahn Min Hyuk (Park Hyung Sik), the CEO of a video game company, hires her as his bodyguard, and Bong Soon suffers from unrequited love for In Gook Doo (Ji Soo), her childhood friend and a police officer.

Review

I don’t think I’ve ever watched a show that elicited such polar responses from me. Sure, I’ve seen shows with cute romance and odd plots before, but my viewing experience has never been even close to this drastically divided before. Basically, I was like this for every scene involving the two leads together…
And like this for pretty much any other scene, even those that involved the leads talking to anyone but each other:

Why the disparity, you say? Let’s consider.

The Romance

The romance is officially one of my new all-time favorites. In a show full of people making sexist comments about how women can’t and shouldn’t do things, we have a male lead who falls for the female lead at first sight because of her strength. Bong Soon’s someone who has always been told to hide who she is, and instead, Min Hyuk encourages her to embrace it, helping her find ways to control her strength without having to pretend it doesn’t exist.

When someone loves you for being bizarre, you know they’re a keeper.


Even when I was afraid Min Hyuk was turning into Gook Doo with his desire to keep her safe, the show clarified that he wasn’t saying he would protect her as some sort of assertion of penis power, but rather it was a normal expression of concern over someone he loved (just like her father also worried for her).

To me, the relationship felt supportive and balanced on both sides—even though Bong Soon had super strength, she never abused it against him, either. Unlike her mother, who is horrifyingly physically abusive (more on that later), neither member of this relationship tried to overpower the other. 

Of course, I might be giving the writing too much credit here—I have to admit that I was blinded by the sheer charisma of the two leads together. I knew Park Bo Young would be charming (she always is), but I had no idea Park Hyung Sik could play romance like that. He’s got his wistful gazes down to an art, and wistful gazes just so happen to be my K-drama kryptonite.

If anyone needs me, I’ll just be a puddle of goo on the floor over here….

Nope, my computer is definitely not full of screenshots of all the ways Min Hyuk looks at Bong Soon….

Gah, their adorableness is too much to handle! 

But alas, there were other things that happened on this show aside from Min Min and Bong Bong canoodling, and all of those things were terrible.

Everything but the Romance

To put it mildly, the writing on this series was a giant, steaming vat of poop wine. Let’s make a list of everything I hated and therefore fast forwarded, shall we? (Mild spoilers ahead.)

  • Any time violence was treated as a joke. This includes the horrible injuries on the gangsters, Momma’s awful and repeated abuse of her husband, and making Bong Soon’s babies beat up their dad at the end. (Way to take what should have been an empowering moment for the multiple generations of women in this family and instead make a dad afraid of his kids, show. You had ONE JOB for the finale!)
  • The gay jokes. I talked about it at length here. My fears about the coworker’s depiction all pretty much came true, much to my chagrin.
  • Everything about the gangsters and/or the neighborhood kids. Why were they there? I genuinely have no idea what they were supposed to add to the plot or why they took up 30% of every episode right to the bitter end.
  • The gross-out humor. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many poop and drool jokes per capita in this thing. Not funny at all.
  • The entire serial killer story. First of all, it never felt like it fit with the rest of the show tonally. Second of all, as soon as they did try to meld the two stories, everyone turned into idiots. Really, your genius plan is to let the guy shoot Bong Soon? What if he shot her IN THE HEAD? I just can’t with the repeated idiocy on this one.
  • The waste of Ji Soo. There were a handful of scenes towards the end of the series that showed what Gook Doo’s character could have been. But how are we supposed to feel for him when he’s written as this hyper-violent and casually misogynistic jerk for 90% of the series?
  • Hee Jin. I didn’t hate her character. I’m just having a hard time remembering anything important about her or her storyline. If it was supposed to be important, they could have cut five poop jokes and given her something compelling to do.
  • Bong Soon’s powers. When you’re building a world as a writer, it’s your job to follow your own rules. apparently, the rules for Bong Soon’s powers were “The gods giveth and taketh away whenever it suits the plot!” She hurt multiple innocent people before the incident, and nothing ever happened. Similarly, I don’t understand why her big power-returning epiphany was sacrificing herself to save someone else when that’s literally what she did when she lost her powers. I guess in this world, saving Min Hyuk counts for more than saving your best friend since childhood.
  • The noble idiocy. Good thing this only lasted a couple of episodes because I was ready to throw some stuff. Also, say what you will, but if you have to put a tracking device on your girlfriend, that’s a bad, bad sign about your relationship.
  • Min Hyuk’s disappearing family. Remember how Min Hyuk’s serious family issues made up the first half of the series? And then we never heard anything about it—or him taking over the family company—ever again? Yeahhhhh. Again, this is something that could have replaced a lot of the unnecessary fluff. At least show his family attending his wedding or something! 

I…think that’s all? In case you couldn’t tell, by the end of the show, I was fast forwarding so much that I only watched 20–30 minutes of content per episode. It’s shocking how much I disliked so much in a drama when the romance grabbed my heart so well.

What’s really sad is that Strong Woman Do Bong Soon had the building blocks to be something great, but the plot went so far off the rails with unnecessary nonsense that it neglected to focus on its core story about a strong woman from a family of strong women. More halmoni scenes would have made this thing at least 50% better.

More of this, less poop wine.

Would I Recommend It?

Yeeees? But with a giant caveat that you shouldn’t even bother starting unless you pinky swear to skip any scene that isn’t romance. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.



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