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.
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.
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.
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.
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. <3
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. <3
Beyond the cute, though, there is a whole lotta heart forming the foundation of this OTP connection, and I really, really liked that.
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. <3
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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