The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

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THE SHORT VERDICT:

This show’s upsides: a strong heroine; an appreciative, dreamy hero; an adorable OTP with unreal levels of Cute – and several very feel-good earwormy OST tracks.

This show’s downsides: uneven writing; random-feeling side characters; a disproportionately dark side; an extremely insensitive, crass idea of funny.

The upsides battle the downsides just about all the way through, so.. “Your mileage may vary” about sums it up. The 2 Parks are super-duper cute though.

Super. Duper. Cute. ❤

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon OST – 사랑에 빠진 걸까요 (Feat. 오브로젝트)

THE LONG VERDICT:

Watching this drama is what I would imagine it would be like, to start to date (and even begin to fall for) a really cute guy who consistently makes your heart flutter with his sweet romantic gestures – only to find that he’s also got the most crass, insensitive sense of humor, possibly ever, and makes you cringe, hard, with almost every joke that he makes.

The big question is, do you keep on dating him, or do you run screaming for the hills? I’m pretty sure the answer to that question would vary from person to person, and I’d imagine your answer would largely depend on how well you take to his sense of humor – or at least, how much you can tolerate it, right?

Absolutely the same thing with this show, you guys.

STUFF I LIKED

Park Bo Young as Bong Soon

I love Park Bo Young, period. She is tiny and adorable and, I think, should be made the official ambassador of aegyo. I generally cringe at aegyo, but find that it’s fantastic and natural on her, and I just want to fold her up and put her in my pocket, she’s so adorable.

I very much enjoy that Park Bo Young’s charm is dialed way up in this show. I also very much enjoy the dissonance of tiny her releasing so much crazy strength, and doing so quite daintily each time too. It’s also refreshing to have a heroine whom you really don’t have to worry about, even when she’s faced with a bunch of gangsters who are intent on beating her to the ground, literally.

Not only that, Park Bo Young is an excellent actress.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here are just a couple of instances where I sat up and took extra notice, of Park Bo Young’s acting chops.

E7. The scene where Bong Soon (Park Bo Young) starts bawling and asking Mom (Shim Hye Jin) why Mom’s always treated her poorly and believed the worst of her all these years, was so heartwrenching and delivered with so much emotion. I felt so much for Bong Soon, in that moment.

E12. This episode, Bong Soon receives a video showing her friend Gyeong Shim (Park Bo Mi) in Psycho Bride Collector’s lair. Bong Soon’s mounting fear, culminating in consuming, full-blown panic, is so well-delivered, as she reacts to the video and then runs to Min Hyuk (Park Hyung Shik) for help. I completely believe her; Park Bo Young’s performance is simply stellar.

[END SPOILER]

Park Hyung Shik as Min Hyuk

Park Hyung Shik is perfectly cast as Min Hyuk, in my opinion.

The hook for me, in watching this show, is seeing Min Hyuk fall for Bong Soon and go all googly-eyed over her, and even though Show is a little patchy on other points (more on that later), Min Hyuk’s early and unabashed fascination with Bong Soon sweetened my watch a great deal. I just loved that he finds Bong Soon’s matter-of-fact confidence and crazy strength appealing, and even attractive.

A lot of this hook hinges on Park Hyung Sik’s personal appeal, and he holds it all up very nicely. He’s beautiful to look at, is charming and even rather charismatic, and his smitten face is pretty darn great. It’s just so gratifying to see Min Hyuk level his softly thoughtful, vaguely smoldery gaze in Bong Soon’s direction. Melt.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here are a couple of Min Hyuk highlights that I enjoyed.

E6. I really like how Min Hyuk basically marvels in wonder at Bong Soon on a regular basis. And I extra loved that conversation they had – or more like what he said to her – as they watched the sunset, that he would help her realize her full potential, and help her use her power for good. I love that show of support, and more than that, acceptance. He never actually wants her to hide her true strength, and instead seems fascinated and charmed by it. Love.

E7. Park Hyung Sik is not only lovely to look at, he’s really good. He is amazing in the scene where he listens to the voice recording and realizes that the one who’s been threatening him is the only brother whom he’s trusted all these years. The weight of that realization, and the implications, as it all dawns on him, is palpable. His shock, disappointment and grief is so real, and layered over all of that, is a sense of loneliness too, as he fights so hard to tamp down the tears that his body quivers. SO GOOD.

In the aftermath, there is an air of sadness about him, with just a touch of the sheen of tears in his eyes, as he contemplates at the window. Wow.

E9. Min Hyuk’s fake Sick Puppy act is uber adorable, and I just want to smush him and kiss him, all at the same time. Park Hyung Shik’s got great comic timing too. ❤

[END SPOILER]

The OTP Cute

Park Hyung Shik and Park Bo Young make possibly the most adorable pair of lovebirds, ever. The two share a chemistry that feels warm, organic and crackly, and just so real. They are so good together, that watching them be cute on my screen together, sometimes made me positively giddy.

Every time Show disappointed me on other fronts, these two made up for it. Literally, anytime I got Bong Soon and Min Hyuk together on my screen, all my gripes about this show seemed to melt away.

Between the mutual, furtive, absolutely tantalizing stealing of glances, Min Hyuk’s tender gazes in Bong Soon’s direction, and the Super Cuteness – which includes Min Hyuk literally collapsing to his knees (flail) at Bong Soon’s delightful aegyo – I just could not get enough of these two. ❤

Beyond the cute, though, there is a whole lotta heart forming the foundation of this OTP connection, and I really, really liked that.

[SPOILER ALERT]

It’s hard to pick favorites, but here are 3 OTP highlights that stood out to me a little extra.

“This one step, makes the relationship change… like this.”

The moment in episode 8 when Min Hyuk takes the step closer to Bong Soon was so heart-in-throat well-delivered. I could feel the weight of the moment and the electricity of the hyper-closeness. Swoon.

“Won’t you like me back?”

Episode 11 is full of little moments of squee on both sides which had me in the throes of multiple goofy grins. Min Hyuk basking in the idea that Bong Soon wants to get closer to him because she used banmal in the text; Bong Soon looking at Min Hyuk doing his CEO thing and drowning in his starry glow; Bong Soon reeling in realization coz Min Hyuk’s adjusting his meal times to hers. He just lets his liking for Bong Soon show all over the place, not caring who’s around to watch the moment. There’s something so attractive about that.

I love all of it, but it is Min Hyuk’s serious words to Bong Soon that make me catch my breath. “Won’t you like me back?” Be still my palpitating fangirl heart. So sincere and intent, with no pretense or embarrassment whatsoever. And he follows that with a hug that’s so heartfelt that I feel like he’s trying to soak up her presence through his every pore.

I super love that Min Hyuk’s all “so what?” when Bong Soon mentions haltingly that she’s different from other people and is that ok. He doesn’t just accept her in spite of her strength, like it’s some flaw that he needs to look past; he really seems to just love all of her, super strength included, and that’s so swoony.

On top of it all, I love how Min Hyuk continues to empower and enable Bong Soon, even through all these romantic times. She wants to develop her game? Sure, he will work on it with her. I love how he sits with her and runs with her ideas, even enthusiastically giving her the idea to make her character’s weapon of choice a hammer so that she can smash all the baddies. I LOVE HIM. ❤

“I’m not going to leave you alone.”

In episode 14, that moment when Bong Soon and Min Hyuk lay down their lives for each other, is such heady, moving stuff. Bong Soon’s mounting panic as she’s beside herself at the thought that Min Hyuk will die because he refuses to leave her, and Min Hyuk’s exhausted but serene countenance as he tells her not to cry and not to be afraid, and that he won’t leave her. The instinctive desire to protect the other person is so moving to witness; there’s no hesitation in either of them, despite the gravity of the situation and what they stand to lose – literally their lives. OMG the magnitude of it all, that they care this much for each other.

Beyond the adrenaline of the moment, I also appreciate that Show gives them individual time in episode 15, to process the magnitude of the other person’s words and actions, after everything is over, so that the realization sinks in properly. They really do love each other that much. I really liked the way Show uses all of this realization and resulting emotion to build up to Bong Soon showing up at Min Hyuk’s home. The kisses that result feel so tender and so full of pent-up, large emotion, it’s edge-of-my-seat spine-tingling to witness. Augh.

[END SPOILERS]

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon OST – Double Trouble Couple

STUFF I WAS NEUTRAL-TO-POSITIVE ABOUT

Ji Soo as Gook Doo

I have a pre-existing fondness for Ji Soo born of his very endearing turn in Angry Mom, and thought that he’d found quite the perfect role in Gook Doo, since Gook Doo is super righteous, but just a touch dim.

Unfortunately, I found that Gook Doo comes off as rather one-note, overall. He’s just almost always furrowing his brow and doing the righteous crime-fighting thing. It doesn’t help that Gook Doo is written as being rather condescending towards Bong Soon as a general rule.

I didn’t dislike Gook Doo, but I can’t say that I really felt sorry for him either, that he didn’t get the girl.

The thing with Min Hyuk & Gook Doo

Min Hyuk and Gook Doo are set up as romantic rivals for Bong Soon’s affection, and while I understood Show’s intent – to show us the difference between the two men – I wasn’t too hot on the love triangle, most of the time.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Probably the best example of how different Min Hyuk and Gook Doo are, in the way they view Bong Soon, is the time in episode 9 when both men watch Bong Soon fight the gangsters.

Min Hyuk watching Bong Soon fight, and Gook Doo watching Bong Soon fight, are like night and day. Min Hyuk watches in wonder, while Gook Doo watches in horror. That one little moment basically sums up the difference between these two guys.

Min Hyuk loves Bong Soon and appreciates her for all that she is; Gook Doo struggles to love her in spite of her super-strength. I never had a problem deciding which guy I wanted to root for. For this reason, I guess I kind of found the love triangle somewhat boring and unnecessary.

Exception: Min Hyuk & Gook Doo as Bong Soon’s wingmen

I did enjoy this moment in episode 15 very much though. That slo-mo hero walk, with Min Hyuk and Gook Doo flanking Bong Soon on either side, after they take down Psycho Bride Collector together, was so satisfying to watch. To me, this was one of the best moments in this entire show. So much swag.

In this moment, it felt like both men admired and appreciated Bong Soon equally, and I liked that a lot.

[END SPOILER]

STUFF I DIDN’T LIKE

This story is definitely supposed to be viewed through a comic book sort of lens, coz not everything makes sense, and not everything is consistent. I think trying to reason it out – like why Bong Soon’s strength sometimes seems to inflict more damage than at other times – would only be downer on the viewing experience.

Despite that concession, however, there were things that I really, really disliked about this show.

Show’s low-brow sense of humor

In Show’s very early episodes, I actually found its humor pretty easy to engage with, despite Show going for an OTT, rather zany sort of tone. I don’t usually jive with OTT unless it’s done just so, and in episodes 1 & 2, the Intended Funny felt very close to just so.

Sadly for me, though, by episode 3, I found myself cringing at Show’s idea of Funny. Worse, I found myself disliking the attempts at humor more and more, the deeper I got into Show’s episodes. Whether it’s toilet humor, pain, general grossness, or even poking fun at gay people, a lot of things are taken a little (or a lot) too far, and I regularly wondered why I put up with this show. But then, Min Hyuk and Bong Soon would show up on my screen, and the hearts in my eyes over the cuteness of these two would overshadow all the disgruntledness – at least for a little bit.

I’m pretty sure this would have been a much more satisfying watch, if they could’ve done without all the gangster filler and tasteless jokes, and just made a shorter, sharper show focused mainly on the OTP.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here’s a quick list of just a few of Show’s not-so-funny attempts at bringing the Funny.

E7. I find the continual using of gay-related fodder as jokes to be in poor taste. Like the blanket having magical powers on the two guys who got captured by Bong Soon, and then the guys basically fawning over each other. That was not nice.

E7. I am over this show’s use of toilet humor. I mean, dropping the guy’s false teeth into his own pee, and then having him put the teeth back in his mouth without washing them? Why? Why is this funny? Argh.

E10. I cringed so hard at the scene where the androgynous Team One Leader (Kim Won Hae) sobbed with Secretary Gong (Jun Suk Ho) over their misfortunes with Bong Soon, and Team Leader actually reaches towards Secretary Gong’s crotch area in sympathy. I came away from that scene so bemused.

E12. Still don’t find the Team One Leader jokes funny. Still don’t find the gangsters funny. And the new so-called Indian monk is characterized in such a way that he seems to be an affront to Buddhists, Indians and effeminate men all at the same time.

I generally didn’t care for any of the arcs involving the high school ex-bullies, the gangsters, the fake monk, the gay effeminate Team One Leader, and every instance of implied domestic violence

In episode 15, all of these heretofore random-feeling side characters, in the form of the high-school students and the gangsters, get drawn in to the crucial moments leading up to the showdown, to actually be useful. I feel as if writer-nim had created these characters for just this purpose, and had just been, I dunno, throwing random things at them to keep them occupied until this moment.

Sadly, this didn’t feel exactly clever to me. It just felt like we’d been suffering for a long time, in service of a pretty cheap punchline. It did not feel worth it, to me.

[END SPOILER]

The creepy pyscho arc [SPOILERS]

I felt that Show’s narrative became a little muddied, with 2 different criminals to keep track of. On top of that, the pyscho arc is decidedly creepy, and made for a weird contrast to the cuteness of the main loveline.

To me, it definitely felt like the criminals belonged in a different show.

Sometimes the writing is not great [SPOILERS]

Aside from the crass humor, I also found myself feeling frustrated with the writing. Here are a few instances where I felt the writing was not the best.

E8. The execution of the timeline towards the end of the episode felt all over the place. It makes Gyeong Shim look like she only thought to call Bong Soon much later, after discovering that it was a voice phishing call. I mean, calling Gook Doo is fine, but shouldn’t they have alerted Bong Soon first? Unless they didn’t think she’s in any danger, regardless of the voice phishing?

E13. The jibes at the so-called Indian monk are still in force, and now we even get connect-the-dots type of writing where Show just wants to find a way to have Bong Soon lose her powers.

I’m pretty sure that Bong Soon’s accidentally hurt other people before, or misused her powers in some way, like when she accidentally sent Secretary Gong to the hospital, or worse, purposely used her strength to corner & torment the Team One Leader. But this time, with no intention on her part, after being forced into a space where she has to use her powers to save her friend, the kidnapper’s random victim planted in the elevator gets hurt more than he already was by the kidnapper, and Bong Soon’s powers just vanish. I found this logic hard to buy, and felt very frustrated with Show’s lack of internal logic.

At the end of the episode, we see Min Hyuk holding Bong Soon and yelling brokenly when she passes out. This all seems very excessive. She’s not dead. Also, what about Gyeong Shim?

E14. We get another example of Dumb Drama Cops, with the police assuming the baddie’s dead, when they have no body. Additionally, I can’t believe that no one thought to contact Gyeong Shim’s next-of-kin, after her ordeal. It makes no sense that Gyeong Shim has to call someone herself.

Also, how would Kim Jang Hyun (Jang Mi Kwan) be able to deal with his gunshot wound so effectively that he seems perfectly fine? Also, why weren’t other people activated when things became dangerous? Like other cops, and the security team? It seemed weird to have only Gook Doo and Min Hyuk searching the building, especially since it looks like a big company. All of these things just didn’t add up, in my books.

THE UNEASY CO-EXISTENCE OF THE CUTE & THE NOT-GREAT STUFF

Generally speaking, I found The Cute, The Crass and The Creepy very uneasy bedfellows, in this show. There were more than a few occasions when I found that I couldn’t fully enjoy The Cute on my screen, because of some simultaneous event that involved either The Crass or The Creepy.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here’s an example of each one.

E11. I loved all The Cute this episode. Specifically, I love the way Min Hyuk keeps his gaze trained on Bong Soon this episode, it’s just so swoony. Even a screamy, tantrumy Team One Leader sputtering non-stop at the same table, can’t distract Min Hyuk from drinking in the sight of Bong Soon in front of him. I seriously hate the treatment and use of the character of the Team One Leader, but, that idea, of nothing being able to distract Min Hyuk from appreciating Bong Soon, is admittedly a very dreamy one. I really wish they hadn’t done that with the Team One Leader though.

E12. Min Hyuk and Bong Soon are still adorable together, but I could truly enjoy only the initial bit, before Gyeong Shim got kidnapped. After the kidnapping, it just felt wrong to be soaking in sweetness while Gyeong Shim was being held captive and beaten up. Just what kind of viewer does Show think I am, assuming that I’d be happy to gaze at Min Hyuk and Bong Soon being cute together, while I know that Gyeong Shim’s life is literally in danger, at the same time?

[END SPOILERS]

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

To be bluntly honest, Show’s crass humor got to me so much, that I actually took a long break before watching the finale episode. In fact, it took me several attempts to successfully watch this finale, because every time I reached a gangster or fake monk scene, I just could not keep watching, that’s how scarred I felt, by Show’s terrible idea of humor.

For the record, I rather liked the way Bong Soon’s powers returned to her in episode 14, because this time she asked for them – pleaded for them, even – for the sake of saving someone else. I was rather afraid that we would leave Bong Soon without her powers by the end of the show, and although I get the significance of her learning to see herself as more than just her powers, and of Min Hyuk demonstrating to her that it doesn’t matter to him whether she has her powers or not, I’m just really glad that that was but a season, and we get to see Bong Soon rocking her powers all over again.

As for the finale itself, it’s a feel-good ending for the most part, with most of our screen time dedicated to Bong Soon and Min Hyuk cuteness.

Yes, there is a downside; I felt sorry for the women who had suffered under Kim Jang Hyun, who were shown to be traumatized and still distraught while under medical care. That leaves a bitter edge to everything else this episode, even though we see Big Bad Kim Jang Hyun raving in his jail cell while serving his life sentence.

On the upside, Bong Soon’s dream of creating a video game based on her life comes true, and not only that, she continues to use her powers for good, and on the daily too. Min Hyuk is as adorably smitten with her as he ever was, and it’s sweet to see them pledge their love for each other in marriage.

I would’ve been happy to have left things there, but Show goes one step further, informing us that Bong Soon goes on to have twin girls, and the mighty mini Bong Soon babies leave a trail of black eyes on their gangster uncle caregivers and on their daddy, while mom is out saving the world. It’s all handled a little more slapsticky than I personally prefer, but for all the good stuff that Show’s served up this hour, I’m willing to look past this minor difference in opinion, and just appreciate the happy fact that Bong Soon makes it her job to be a Legit Superhero. That’s a pretty awesome thing.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Worth it for The Cute, if you can get past The Crass.

FINAL GRADE: B

TEASER:

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Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

43 thoughts on “Review: Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

  1. Pingback: Year In Review: 2017 | The Fangirl Verdict

  2. I’ll never understand how someone could think that the “romcom with the side of serial killing” concept would be a good idea. 🤔

    Yeah, I didn’t get far with this one. Cute just doesn’t cut it when everything else kinda sucks, ha.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m with you there, Timescout! I just don’t get how rom-coms and serial killers are supposed to go together. I mean, I know opposites are supposed to attract, but.. surely not like this? 😅 I’m not surprised you didn’t get far with this one. Cute’s never been your driving force, I think! 😉

      Like

  3. I like the way you presented a very balanced review regarding this show. I didn’t last long watching this one. I think maybe just the one episode. I could see some sort of potential, but I found it too nonsensical for me. Another show I found disappointing was My Golden Life. I lasted five and a half episodes, which was a bit sad because I like the actors who are in it. On the upside, I have watched a couple of charming Indian movies this week. As per your previous suggestion, I am about to look at The First Half of My Life

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    • Aw, thanks for enjoying this review sean, even though you didn’t finish watching the show itself. 🙂 This show does demand a whole lot of suspension of disbelief, and even then, Show doesn’t always stay true to its internal logic. I can totally see how this would be too nonsensical for a bunch of people. That said, I’m hopeful that you’ll enjoy The First Half Of My Life, which in my head, is on a completely different level than this show. 😉

      Like

  4. I started out really liking this but quickly (within 3 or so episodes) fell out of love to the point that in the last four or so episodes, I just watched the lead couple and skipped everything else. If I had seen the reviews first, I probably would have skipped but I was watching as it was airing. This drama was saved by the actors having amazing chemistry and solid skills. I (like Timescout) am also done with the rom/com mixed with serial killer genre. No!

    I also have never seen Ji Soo get so much grief, not even from his turn in Moon Lovers where he seemed miscast. I think here his character just wasn’t written well. I had just come off seeing him in Fantastic where he is a much more sympathetic character and the drama worked so much better for him even though he had to get surgery in real life right in the middle of production. If there are any Ji Soo fans, they should skip this and watch Fantastic or re-watch Angry Mom.

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    • Heh. I’m with you on rom-com mashed up with serial killing. I haven’t come across a show where it actually worked for me, and I hope Dramaland stops trying to make this a Thing. 😝

      I agree Ji Soo’s character wasn’t well-written. His entire arc felt somewhat forced, and the treatment of his character didn’t help matters. I haven’t seen Fantastic, but I do agree that Angry Mom is a MUCH better showcase of Ji Soo’s talent ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Once again we are in absolute sync. This was the show where I perfected my FFing abilities. I had no patience for the gangsters, the monks, the super creepy villain, and the jarring tonal shifts. I would watch maybe half of each episode (and then re-watch them) because the OTP cute was just so wonderful. I often felt that this show was 2 different ones being smashed together and I never got past that. But the two leads actors are both excellent and sold it 110%. It’s funny I also took several weeks off before I watched the end. I had just hit a wall with the show but I eventually got over that too. It was a pleasure to read this review and relive the good stuff – I agree that boy can gaze like no other.

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    • Hi5 Amy!! ❤ We really do seem to be deeply in sync, almost all the time! 😄 I agree that this show often felt like it had a split personality. I should’ve done the FF thing like you did – I think I would’ve enjoyed my watch so much more, if I had! Also, how funny, that we both needed time off from this show, at exactly the same point? I’m intrigued that you hit a wall with this show too, despite resolutely fast-forwarding through all the not-great stuff. 🤔 And YES, Park Hyung Shik really does have the most melty gaze. I rewatched many scenes because of that gaze. 😍😍😍

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  6. I liked the OTP and OST, and both Parks had very good chemistry. I liked how Min-hyuk treats his relationship with Bong-soon – actually, I think I liked Bong-soon mostly cuz Min-hyuk liked her. The humour is weird, Gook-doo is boring, the gangsters are a waste of space, and the writing is poor and logic-fail in large chunks. I think I sat through this only cuz it didn’t require brain power to process. The Royce chocolates PPL was nicely done, though.

    Interestingly, Park Bo-young said in an interview she doesn’t do a lot of aegyo.

    Some of the dialogue was ad-libbed, to hilarious effect:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly that, Junny! I liked Bong Soon as a character, mostly because Min Hyuk liked her. As a character on her own, I thought she was rather unevenly written. But, because Min Hyuk had such huge hearts in his eyes for her, I got all sucked in too. 😉 That’s interesting, that Park Bo Young says she doesn’t do a lot of aegyo; she wears it so naturally, when it’s required of her. 😍

      That actor really is an ad-lib master – if only Show wasn’t so insensitive in its choice of humor topics though. 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My (internal) reaction when I saw this post was to drop to my knees, raise my arms to the sky and crow out, “FINALLY!!” I’ve been so excited to see your thoughts on this show ever since you mentioned it in the “Year in Review: 2017” post. It is now the second K-drama I’ve watched from beginning to end, and so I’m hungry for other opinions, heheh.

    A refresher, I’m that reader who watched “Hwarang” two(!!) times, once on my own and then a second time with my bestie, and as it happens, that best friend was the one who dragged me into watching SWDBS. I’d heard a lot of good things about this show and so I honestly was pretty willing. 😀 We assembled snacks, met up whenever possible, and got to binge-watching; I think we finished the whole show in about a week before winter break ended? Needless to say….I agree with pretty much all of what you said, and I think Bestie would, too, HAHA. The premise of a tiny, cute, and Hulk-levels-strong heroine was absolutely adorable, not to mention one of the few good things “Hwarang” did for me was introduce my Kdrama-novice-self to Park Hyung Sik himself. And boy. Did. We. Enjoy. Him. Here. Park Hyung Sik has officially lodged himself into my small and tender heart, and I will adore him, his cutely-shaped ears, and his phenomenal acting to the end of my days. That scene where Bong-soon cooked Min Hyuk a meal and he teared up while eating because it reminded him of his lost mother? Bestie and I were actually screaming at the screen, it was SO WELL-DONE. Park Bo-young has likewise endeared me to her 100% as the spunky Bong-soon; she nailed the character despite iffy writing at times, and the emotion she portrayed was truly palpable. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more content starring her! ❤

    I do wish Ji Soo as Gook Doo could've had some better writing, since there was so many instances where I found myself thinking, "I like you, but I know I could LOVE you if only you got more/better characterization." ;; But the last few episodes did fix quite a bit for me when they had him and Bong-soon sit down and talk. I mean, closure for the second male lead?? YES, thank you! I personally found the tonal contrast between the psychopath arc and the rom-com elements really delightful to watch. That's probably because I'm rarely attracted to romance/rom-coms alone, which as far as I knew was exactly what SWDBS was….so can you imagine my reaction when, around Ep. 2-3, Show turned out to be a CRIME DRAMA interspersed with romance and cuteness?? It's not for everyone, definitely not — but I was WOWED and PSYCHED!

    Unfortunately…a lot of other things bothered both me and Bestie with this show, especially its idea of humor. Ugh, the number of times we cRINGED at the ugly toilet humor, the ridiculous portrayal of gay characters (Team One Leader, please…stop screaming….), and oh my word I was just about ready to hurl a chair into the TV screen by the thousandth time Bong-soon's dad was CLEARLY BEING PORTRAYED AS A VICTIM OF SEVERE DOMESTIC ABUSE. For LAUGHS. Seriously, that crap KILLS ME and I found myself becoming more and more furious with Bong-soon's mom as well as Show's insensitive writing. I also wish the grandmother had more screentime or plot contributions, while the other side characters became glaringly unnecessary as Show went on, too, especially with the gangsters and the temple scenes. Seriously, that monk…. Why was he even there. What real purpose did he serve. Will the world ever know. If there's even ONE good thing I can attribute to any of that mess, it's that the head mobster's theme song will never, ever leave my brain for as long as I live. That dramatic organ, yooo.

    But thank goodness for, like you said, the leads' fantastic acting as well as all the WARM AND SOFT in the OTP. Otherwise I would owe my parents a $1000 widescreen TV, no joke. I can't say for certain whether I think the good in the show outweighs or even balances out the bad, since I agree that they are intertwined at times so that you can't separate them. Yet each time a terrible joke or side character popped up, the Parks would steer my heart back afterwards and so I really can't say that the time I spent on this show was time wasted. For their acting and the main relationship alone, Show gets a 7/10 from me. Faaaaar from perfect, but the OTP gets preeeetty close. Nice~ <333

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    • Hey there, QA!! Heh, I remembered you right away, when you mentioned that you were the one who watched Hwarang TWICE! 🤣 Thanks for your patience in waiting for this review; I certainly took a while with this one!

      I LOVE that you watched this with your bestie – that must’ve multiplied your enjoyment by about 10x, I reckon. Coz there’s nothing quite like squeeing alongside your bestie, in real-time, in front of the same screen. ❤ How fantastic, that you both have a similar appreciation for Park Hyung Shik! 😉 And I must confess that I swooned my fair share too; Park Hyung Shik really brought the dreamy in this show. 😍😍

      Park Bo Young is an excellent actress, and I’ve enjoyed her every time she’s been on my screen. As for Ji Soo.. you’re right, Gook Doo could’ve been written better. If you’re curious to see Ji Soo in something better, I recommend Angry Mom (review here) and Page Turner (review here). I enjoyed him very much in both shows. 🙂

      It’s great that you liked the crime elements in this show, coz I – and at least several others – struggled with that romcom-murder mashup. Actually, this makes me wonder if you’d like Oh My Ghostess (review here), which is on a similar page, with romcom mashed up with darker elements like death, body possession etc. It also stars Park Bo Young. 😉

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      • I am so torn about the issue of serious crime in a rom-com issue. Usually when I watch K”drama” it’s for the escapism in the rom-coms. It’s like the guilty pleasure I used to get of reading romantic novels. And many times I question the need for realistic or dreadful crimes & death that can be in K-rom-coms but then I think, if the threat was less than life-on-the-line, where would the tension be when it’s time for one party to risk all or sacrifice for the other?

        Then I think about The Girl Who Sees Smells which was as cute as it gets and the serial killer drove the story and I think, yes, there is an actual need for the serious, hideous, real-world villains to be in my light-hearted cutesy rom-com.

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        • That’s definitely one way of rationalizing it, beez! 🙂 I see how the writers likely intend for the serial killer (or other Real World Bad) to provide the dramatic tension for the story, and how – hopefully at least – that would elevate the sentiment of one party putting everything on the line for the other. At the same time, I’ve also watched a number of dramas where everything felt robust and real, without the need for an Amplified Bad. The Answer Me series come to mind, as do warm family dramas like Father Is Strange and Life Is Beautiful. And then there’s Weightlifting Fairy as well. In these drama worlds, the writers managed to tease dramatic tension from the everyday, and I think that’s what made these shows extra endearing to us. Coz it was so easy to identify with the characters. Long story short, I feel like kdrama writers should depend less on Amplified Bads, although I don’t think they need to be eradicated completely. I mean, there are only so many romcom-murder dramas that one can watch, before it all starts to feel like a dramatic crutch, right? 😛

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          • True. Very true. But I still recommend Girl Who Sees Smells. It recharged Nam Gongmin’s career (I probably spelled his name wrong) and totally changed my opinion on Shin Sekyung (probably spelled her name wrong too).

            The serial killer scenes were more cerebral challenges with his victims rather than the violence and rape scenes in Strong Woman Bok Dong Soo. Still scary dude though.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks beez.. I happen to have seen Girl Who Sees Smells (quick review is here). I thought the OTP was very cute, but while Nam Goong Min did seem somewhat more interesting than in his previous roles, I must say that I wasn’t quite as wowed by him as most other viewers were. I don’t know.. I think I have trouble appreciating him in general. Even when everyone was thrilled with his wacky turn in Beautiful Gong Shim (dropped post is here), I didn’t find myself taking to him very well. 😛 Maybe I’ll like him another time, in another drama – but just not yet! 😅

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              • I found him strange, creepy and annoying in Beautiful Gong Shim, but I’m currently watching Chief Kim and everyone’s hilarious. It’s not a rom-com (so I’ve heard) so I don’t expect anything on that front. I’ve read that the actors ad-libbed all the way thru it resulting in all the funny. I’ll admit, at episode 13, some of the funny noises and voices have become a bit annoying, but that’s just the result of binge-ing –
                it’s still funny overall.

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                • Lol. Thanks for sharing your reaction to Beautiful Gong Shim – I feel less alone in my corner of struggling to appreciate Nam Goong Min! 😆 I’ve heard that Chief Kim’s great, so I might whirl a toe in it sometime, when I’m in the mood again, to try and appreciate Nam Goong Min 😉

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                  • Frankly, I’ve never liked Nam goongmin in all the dramas that he was presented as the second lead that was supposedly “the better choice”. I don’t find him handsome at all. So I admit, I began to appreciate him in his turn as villains “GWSS” and “Remember Sons War”) for his acting ability. As a romantic lead he turns me off. I heard they’re trying to cast him in a role where the title character is “Handsomest Guy” or something like that. I guess I’ll see if I have truly had a change of heart about him as romantic lead. I guess they haven’t learned from “The Prettiest Man” (which failed big time) that when you cast a part like that, the lead should actually be very good looking. lol

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                    • Heh. I’m with you on preferring Nam Goong Min villainous than as a romantic lead. I generally haven’t taken to him much at all, but I did find him a little more interesting in Girl Who Sees Smells, as the villain. I don’t have high expectations of his new drama as the handsome man (the title escapes me too), but.. who knows. He might surprise me yet? 😛 But yes, Pretty Man / Bel Ami was not a great show. I think I survived less than a full episode, ha. 😆

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  8. I have been waiting for you to write about this drama (yeay!!!!!!) because to tell the truth, my vocabulary is not that large. Plus, I watched this drama with the mindset of an otaku (I’m a nerdy otaku) so I can’t notice the weakness of this drama, though I do found something weird here & there but I can’t describe it in words. Even a 20 episode anime has a good storyline & plot. Basically, in my blog, I just write what comes to my mind, it was never a proper review (gosh, what am i doing?!?!?!?!). I kinda feel bad about Gook-Doo too. This character can be as strong as Min-hyuk if it was written well. The monk & the gangster journey to find enlightment was unneccessary (in my opinion). I kinda understand the joke from an otaku point-of-view, however I find it not align with the main story.

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    • Hi there Azleenaa! Thanks for anticipating this review! 😄 Yes, this show definitely had its flaws, and Gook Doo could’ve been written better, for sure. And absolutely, I agree with you, that the gangster thing was just not aligned with the main story. It kind of feels like writer-nim had this gangster story as an underdeveloped nugget in her drawer, and stuck it in this story, just to make up the required number of episodes, heh. Thanks for enjoying the review! 🙂

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  9. I love love love the analogy – “the wonderful boyfriend with the disgustingly awful sense of humor” is exactly the right way to describe SWDBS. I watched it, but I would never boast about watching it >.<
    Thanks for the review Kfangirl! When are you going to come to the dark side and use the FFWD button!?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, no, don’t come to the dark side. 😛
      Then we get to be entertained by descriptions like “cute, and crass”. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol. Thanks for loving the analogy, Webby! I personally was pretty chuffed at that stroke of inspiration. 😉

        I do use the FF sometimes, but particularly with shows that I plan to write about, I try not to FF through it, just to give Show a chance to convince me of its merits on its own terms. In this case, though, I should’ve known better. 😛 I’m very sure I would’ve enjoyed my watch a lot more, if I’d just fast forwarded through all the Crass and the Creepy, and just focused on the Cute. 😉

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  10. Super cute and while I understand S.K. has old fashioned views and I admit to finding Team Leader hilarious, I thought it very weird the way show kept flirting around homosexuality with the two main leads. Not offended. Just puzzled.

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    • Oh. And In too, felt like “what is everyone doing while the best friend was in the clutches of the serial killer”.

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      • Yes, that whole flirting with homosexuality thing among the leads was rather odd, I felt. And YES, how could Show expect us to squee over all the cute, while the best friend was in mortal danger?!? 😝 That was so hard for me to understand.

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  11. I really struggle to talk about SWDBS.

    At least half of this is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It has amazing leads and one of the most perfect OTPs and the King of Second Male Lead Syndrome as well (by that I mean Jisoo, not that this show suffers from SMLS – more on that later*). It’s fun, it’s powerful, it has something interesting to say about toxic masculinity and female power and is super romantic as well.

    But…

    …The other half is an awful mashup of slapstick comedy, gay shock jokes and boring diversions into the lives of minor characters. The monastery scenes, in particular, were excruciating as were the endless gangster scenes.

    During my first watch I got increasingly frustrated with the way the show shifted entirely to romance and pulled back on its main themes. I had an idea in my head of where it was going and then it was just refused to go there, concentrating on couple moments and minor characters and workplace bullying by the most-awful gay cliche I’ve seen in a long time. In that way, I felt the great final scene was unearned by the episodes leading up to it because the OTP took over the show at the expense of other plotlines.

    Having said all that, I really enjoyed this on rewatch. BUT only because I skipped a lot of the gangster scenes and because the OTP is very endearing. Basically, once half the show is edited out, this is an amazing drama. It’s a shame that 50% of it is so bad.

    I think this show and Healer are the only two shows I’ve watched where I really believe the main couple actually like, respect and care for each other. I felt they had a real, genuine relationship and this overcame a lot of the other storytelling problems.
    Overall, I love this drama a lot and I rewatch it a lot. There’s a lot to truly love about it. But it is far far far far far from perfect.

    *Jisoo. I think any discussion of In Gook Du would require one of my essays and I won’t do that to your blog anymore! But I felt his character worked perfectly as a contrast to Ahn Min Hyuk. I know this is a kdrama but I don’t think you were supposed to ship her with In Gook Du, I don’t think this was a love triangle. This was one of the rare kdramas I’ve watched where a character’s “first love” is a fantasy that she needs to get over to have a proper adult relationship. It was one of the best things about the show.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “I think this show and Healer are the only two shows I’ve watched where I really believe the main couple actually like, respect and care for each other”… INAR!!

      My kingdom for an edit button. INAR should be in there too!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Have I told you, Dame Holly, that I love your eloquent and insightful comments? ❤ Thanks for condensing in a nutshell, what makes SWDBS so lovely – and what makes it so repulsive, all at the same time. I especially like your take on Gook Doo not being there as part of a typical love triangle, but being there as a milestone that Bong Soon had to process, in order to grow and mature into true love. I still think Gook Doo could have been better written in general, but your take does make it all better. 😉

      PS: Your essays are welcome anytime, on this blog. Just so you know. 😘

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! I’m glad. Especially after what I did to your INAR page. 😀

        I personally loved In Gook Du because I felt like his relationship with Do Bong Soon was an analysis of the poisonous effect of patriarchy in a microcosm.

        At the beginning, we see that she lies about her abilities because she thinks he wants a weak, helpless woman to protect. He’s a big, manly cop and he talks about how awful it is that men prey on weak women. Which is a positive thought but hugely paternalistic. As the show progresses, though, you realise that he is as much a product of the culture as she is. He has little problem adjusting to the new reality of her being powerful, he just created this manly persona because he also thought *that was what she wanted*.

        In the end, a relationship between them is never going to work out because neither of them felt they were able to be honest about who they are. By the time they work it out, she’s moved on.

        I will say one of the things I didn’t like about the show was that they had some of these aspects in Ahn Min Hyuk’s character as well and they just brushed past them without dealing with it. I was fine with it because of the cute and because I realised the show was never going to be what it could have been. But Ahn Min Hyuk frequently had a similar paternalistic “must protect woman” reaction to Bong Soon several times. But I guess they realised people were 100% on board the Great Ship Puppy Couple and they decided not to deal with it.

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        • Sheesh. You didn’t “do” anything to my INAR page, except elevate our insights and perspectives on the show! 😀

          And here, you’ve highlighted something that I completely missed, possibly in part to my instinct to recoil at the humor in this show. 😛 I find your take on Gook Doo intriguing, because you are spot-on; he IS as much a product of his paternalistic environment as she is. And I agree, Min Hyuk displayed some similar behavior at points, in wanting to protect Bong Soon. But in Show’s defense, Min Hyuk also showed open appreciation for Bong Soon’s unusual strength, which was something that Gook Doo recoiled from. That earned him big brownie points in my head, and I found it easy to accept Min Hyuk’s desire to protect Bong Soon as his “little woman.”

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          • I find Min hyuk’s concern, the amount of concern he should have for someone he cares about. Wouldn’t Bong soo want to protect him if the show were on the other foot? So the same way you’d want to protect any friend or family member no matter how big and strong they are… not misogynistic at all, imo

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            • That’s a great point, beez! I guess that’s why it didn’t quite register as an inconsistency in my head, when I watched it. I’d already firmly categorized Min Hyuk as very much loving Bong Soon’s super strength. It’s still an interesting comparison, nonetheless. With Gook Doo, it was clear that he found her super strength strange and it was also clear that he struggled to come to terms with it, unlike Min Hyuk, who fell in love with her strength pretty much at first sight. With that context, Gook Doo’s efforts to protect Bong Soon came across as condescending and almost dismissive. But with Min Hyuk, it was clear that he just wanted to protect the person that he loved, as much as he could, within his abilities. So I guess once again context really is everything? 🙂

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              • Honestly, it was when Min Hyuk panicked about her safety and then got her a job in his office where he put her at a pink little-girl’s desk that looked like a dollhouse so he could watch over her. I wish I could find a photo of that desk because it was the ultimate symbolic gesture of him attempting to put her in a pretty pink girl box. She’s supposed to be his bodyguard but he actually says he needs to get her the job to “pin her down” and then places her in a subordinate pink position so he can watch over her.

                I was waiting for them to do something with it (it was clearly deliberate) but then I guess the writers decided that people were so enamoured of the ship they shouldn’t mess with it. They mildly dealt with it when they had their fight about her going it alone and she broke up with him. But then she loses her powers and gets hurt and he has to save her and it almost validates his position on the issue.

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                • Oh yes. You’ve got a good point about the pink doll desk, which I had completely glossed over in my happy cloud of the cuteness of the 2 Parks combined. 😛 I think you’re probably right, that the writers clued in on how people were so taken with the 2 Parks together, that they decided to capitalize on that.

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  12. Personally I did quite like the whole crime/serial killer thing tbh. I felt like it added different elements to the show in a very weird dark way (idk). Found it really hard to keep watching bc of the obvious domestic violence, homophobia (by completely stereotyping and misrepresenting gay people) and really offensive jokes. I guess it says something about the strength of the main couple if we can look past those bits and still enjoy the drama.

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    • Hi there lily! 🙂 That’s great that the serial killer angle worked for you.. I don’t know if the serial killer/rom-com mashup will ever work for me, but here’s hoping! 😉 And YES, Park Hyung Sik and Park Bo Young together really made this show worth the watch, in spite of Show’s terrible flaws. It they ever get to pair up again, in a better drama without the awful crass humor, I bet it would be amazing. 😍

      Like

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