KDrama Review: Strong Woman Do Bong-soon

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After finishing Strong Woman Do Bong-soon, ​I knew it wouldn’t be difficult for me to wax a thousand words or so for the show and here are words, hopefully enough to convey how much I adored this show (whilst still seeing its flaws). It wasn’t difficult but I needed to find time to convert the thoughts and feelings I had in the form of chemicals to a collection of words that would make sense. Go under the cut if you want to read about the show! (Also, this draft has been sitting for a long time in here so I just wanted to be done with it! Sorry if it took so long for my promised review back then!)

Back when Strong Woman Do Bong-soon was airing, I was too busy to squeeze in any drama watching. But I’ve followed its recaps over at Dramabeans and I found it entertaining. However, I was always hesitating if I’d actually watch it because a lot of viewers didn’t seem to click with its humor. There were a lot of grumblings about the plot and editing too, where it apparently felt like multiple dramas stitched together. In the end, I always said that I’ll watch it when it’s available on Netflix.

Then that happened. Last September, Strong Woman Do Bong-soon became available on Netflix PH. Obviously, I now have to watch it, right? So I immediately queued up the pilot episode, even though it was past midnight and I had to be up early. And the first episode was such a blast!

I actually and immediately liked the lowbrow humor so whew. I was afraid to watch it before because of the criticisms on the humor so I’m glad I could appreciate it! I do admit though that it’s not for everyone because it is certainly over-the-top and it also hinges on a bit of schadenfreude, as our heroine beats up mobsters, who are obviously up to shady things. But then, isn’t that just comeuppance? Heh.

It felt like a comic book come to life and not only because our main character is a very petite woman who possesses super strength. Even the opening credits had comic book elements, with all the chyrons and panel dividers. With the combined effort of the script, the directing, the editing, and the music, the whole drama really felt like it was straight out of a graphic novel.

Sure, I adore this show so much but I don’t think it’s a great drama. I actually agree with most criticisms. I’ll address aspects of the show one by one so I could go discuss it systematically. Or at least I’ll try to.

~Plot~

Let’s get the weakest aspect out of the way first, shall we? Most of my criticisms of Strong Woman Do Bong-soon fall on its script. It indeed felt like three dramas were stitched together. Or actually maybe even five dramas? We have the romance between Bong-soon and Min-hyuk, which was utterly adorable and delightful. Then we have Guk-doo in his own police procedural. The serial kidnapper was so creepy and he deserved to be in his own horror/slasher show. Then the gangsters were in a separate slapstick comedy of their own. Then all the B- and C-plots could make another drama no one would care about. And out of these five, only the romance portion was worth watching. And it was so great that I would still recommend this show because the unnecessary is worth wading through just to see the amazing chemistry between Park Hyung-shik and Park Bo-young. Seriously.

Okay, I sound like I completely hated the writing, which isn’t exactly true. In the beginning, I actually found the gangsters funny but as the drama progressed, they kept on taking precious runtime that could have been used to improve other aspects of the drama. They stopped being hilarious and their arc got repetitive and then SO RANDOM too. There was just too much of them! But I did like that when my interest on whichever episode I was watching starts to wane because of them, scenes of Min-min and Bong-bong will save me from quitting the drama. Which I guess is its own brand of torture because the high is so high that you’re willing to experience all the lows just to get to the next high. And I know I sound like an addict because of my previous sentence but seriously, the romance portion was really addicting and worth all the trouble.

~Characters + Acting~

As if tonal whiplash wasn’t enough torture just to get the next hit of giddy-making and sickeningly sweet yet adorable romance, we’re also saddled by characters so one-dimensional they were flatter than standees. This was the first time I’ve watched Ji Soo and from all the talk prior to the show of him being an eternal second lead, I was ready to suffer from Second Lead Syndrome (I suffer from chronic SLS). But nope, the writer made Guk-doo a chauvinistic guy who thinks that females are weak. Even if Bong-soon pretends that she’s weak, I like my male leads respectful and supportive, which was exactly how Park Hyung-shik’s Min-hyuk was written. Min-hyuk was just so perfect for Bong-soon in that he actually finds her strength hot and sexy! (Which totally reminded me of Nam Joo-hyuk’s Joon-hyung in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo, which I still have to review.) Min-hyuk wasn’t exactly a beta male but he’s fine not being the dominant person in their relationship or whatever because he just adores and loves Bong-soon as she is. He’s not your usual bumbling beta male because he’s so smooth and swoony but he’s also not an alpha male whose ego is so easily threatened. He’s also quite weird and quirky!

Which was somehow surprising too because honestly? Bong-soon isn’t that of a likable lead. I don’t have anything against “unlikable” females in fiction as they’re more human like that and Bong-soon isn’t exactly unlikable. I don’t think I’m making any sense but she’s flighty and a bit selfish and doesn’t really use her powers for good? I mean, I get it that she’s trying to hide it and she hates being super-strong but if you witness a fellow woman being groped on the train, shouldn’t you, I DON’T KNOW, do something??? I know it’s a character growth kind of arc, where she ends up helping people down the line, but I just remember thinking to myself: Why does Min-hyuk even like her?

Something to that effect. But I didn’t really dwell on that because Park Bo-young just makes you root for Bong-soon. Because it’s Park Bo-young playing her, you’re just bound to root for her and not question anything. Haha! Park Bo-young, as always, was amazing. She embodied the character and HOW IS SHE SUCH A GREAT ACTRESS? Those emotive eyes and her face that just successfully conveys everything. HOW?

Ji Soo was just scowling most of the time in this drama so I don’t think he’s a particularly good actor, although I’m sure he was great in his other dramas. Just, not in here. Guk-doo was not dimensional but I think Ji Soo could have elevated the character more so that I’d feel for him more?

As is, Park Hyung-shik just nailed his role of Min-hyuk. He exuded charisma and yet you also see and believe that he’s also very quirky and kinda weird. And hello, I seriously believed he was in love with Park Bo-young because WHAT IS WITH THOSE EYES? They sparkle whenever he sees Bo-young’s Bong-soon! Which perfectly segues into the next aspect…

~Romance~

HELLO THE ROMANCE IS A+

I’ll try to be coherent instead of you know, just squealing. But just in this review, I’ve mentioned how any shit the drama will throw at you would be worth it just for the romance. Watching Min-min and Bong-bong being their adorable and cute selves made me really think that Bo-young and Hyung-shik were definitely dating by the side. Or you know, at least having a “some” (what Koreans call reciprocated interest). How can they look so in love and so perfect together?!?!?! I just think that, even if Ji Soo’s Guk-doo was a better character and contender for Bong-soon’s heart, in no way would have I suffered from Second Lead Syndrome because Min-hyuk is just so perfect. By himself as a person and as a love interest. He’s respectful and the right amount of pushy (please like me soon!) and/or forward. He’s also not an asshole chaebol, which, you know, is such a refreshing concept in dramaland. I can’t say that I’d say they’re my couple of the year (because that title is owned by Ji Chang-wook and Nam Ji-hyun’s Ji-wook and Bong-hee in Suspicious Partner) but they’re definitely in the list of my favorite kdrama OTPs of all time. Hee! I mean, Min-hyuk turns into a puddle of goo every time he swoons over the littlest things Bong-soon does and I’M JUST SO HERE FOR IT GIMME EVERYTHING

~Directing~

I couldn’t exactly remember specific thoughts and reactions that I had with the cinematography, which probably means that it wasn’t something to write home about? It did feel like a comic book though although I’m also blaming it and the editing with the tonal whiplash I’ve suffered from. Some scenes were draggy and all that, but it did still feel breezy and easy to watch so I commend the directorial staff for that.

***

TL;DR: JUST WATCH STRONG WOMAN DO BONG-SOON FOR THE A+ ROMANCE

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