Before a couple days ago, the one and only superhero Kdrama I recall watching is Blade Man. The hero had super human strength and sprouted blades whenever he was angry while it was raining. It was a clever idea, but when the writer chose to deviate from the super powers part of the show and concentrate on the love story instead, I was a little disappointed. I couldn’t help but wonder if the same fate awaited me in the new drama Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon. I watched and waited as the romance blossomed between the strong woman and her love interest but, to my happy surprise, her super powers remained the focus of the story until the last second.
For generations, the women in Do Bong-Soon’s family have been born with amazing strength. As long as it is used for good there is no problem, but the power is lost if an innocent person is ever hurt or if the strength is used selfishly. An Min-Hyuk is the CEO of a big gaming software company. He’s had his life threatened on several occasions and after secretly watching Bong-Soon single-handedly beat up several gangsters who were picking on an innocent bus driver, he decides she’d make a perfect bodyguard. When she’s offered the job she agrees under the condition that she is transferred to the game planning and developing division once the stalker is caught.
The guy Bong-Soon has had a crush on since junior high is In Gook-Doo, a police officer whose team is assigned to a kidnapping case in Bong-Soon’s neighborhood. CEO An has fallen for his superpowered bodyguard and is quite jealous of Bong-Soon and Gook-Doo’s friendly relationship. While Min-Hyuk is busy teaching Bong-Soon how to control her power, Gook-Doo is getting closer to tracking down the kidnapper. Will Bong-Soon be able to just sit back and let the police handle things when her friend becomes one of the victims?
“Whimsical, caring, and warm-hearted,” that’s how Gook-Doo describes Bong-Soon. She wants to use her power to help others but isn’t quite sure how to go about it since she doesn’t want the world knowing about her extraordinary strength. Her dream is to create a video game about herself, where the heroin is a normal-looking girl with super powers. Her parents own a bakery/cafe and her twin brother is a doctor who works in a hospital.
Young, handsome An Min-Hyuk is the CEO of Ainsoft, a very successful gaming software company. He’s extremely good at what he does which is why his father wants him to take over the huge family corporation. He is absolutely darling and 100% charming. There’s a rumor floating around that he is gay and, although it’s definitely not true, he hasn’t bothered to correct it. Bong-Soon’s mother likes him the minute she sees him and insists on calling him “son-in-law.” His mother died when he was a boy and he has three older half-brothers who he’s not close to at all.
In Gook-Doo is all cop, through and through. He doesn’t like jumping through all the legal, red-tape hoops that stand in the way of him doing his job the way he wants to do it. He has been friends with Bong-Soon and her brother since they were young teenagers but is totally oblivious to the fact that Bong-Soon likes him. He has a girlfriend but is very protective of Bong-Soon and hates it when she’s with Min-Hyuk, even though she tells him it’s just business.
I need to quickly mention one minor character that completely steels the scene every time he comes on screen – Oh Dol-Byung played by Kim Won-Hae (who also plays one of the main gangsters). Oh Dol-Byung is the director over the planning and developing division at Ainsoft. The guy is flamboyantly gay, in love with CEO An, and hates Bong-Soon. He wears fingernail polish and make-up, feminine shirts and jewelry, shrieks when he’s upset, and snaps the gum he’s chewing while he’s talking. Kim Won-Hae definitely deserves some kind of award for his hilarious, over-the-top performance.
In 2006, right along side Lee Min-Ho, Park Bo-Young (Do Bong-Soon) made her acting debut in the TV series Secret Campus. Her career blossomed when she starred opposite Cha Tae-Hyun in the film Scandal Makers. The show was a smash hit, becoming the number one grossing movie of 2008, with Bo-Young receiving 12 separate awards for her stunning performance. Because of her success with Scandal Makers she was given the nickname “Nation’s Little Sister.” Unfortunately, in 2010 she became involved in some legal disputes involving her then-management agency and a film production company which kept her from acting for a while. The horror film Don’t Click was the first film she did when she was available to work again. But it wasn’t until 2015 that she made her way back to television in the drama Oh My Ghostess, which is on my top 20 favorite Kdramas list. The show was a huge success and due to her wonderful performance the press dubbed her “romantic comedy queen.”
While still in junior high school, Park Hyung-Sik (An Min-Hyuk) was part of a band that actually participated in competitions. It’s not surprising that in 2010 he became a member of the Kpop group ZE:A. From there it was on to acting. He’s done film, television, and musical theater. I loved him in Nine: Nine Times Time Travel, High Society, and Hwarang. As for education, he is busy studying Business Administration. And here’s a little information I found interesting, he holds a fourth stage Haidong Gumdo (Kendo) certificate. It’s a martial art that uses swords. I’m impressed.
And speaking of martial arts, in elementary school Ji Soo (In Gook-Doo) participated in national judo competitions. He is currently majoring in Film. Just like Park Hyung-Sik, he has performed on stage, in film, and on TV. Some of his notable performances are in the Kdramas Fantastic, Page Turner, and Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo. He just keeps getting better and better.
This drama has a few main focuses –
1. Bong-Soon learning how to control the tremendous power she has possessed all her life.
2. Min-Hyuk, Bong-Soon and Gook-Doo’s love triangle.
3. Why Min-Hyuk has a stalker and who is it?
4. Catching the kidnapper who is terrorizing Bong-Soon’s neighborhood.
But it also has a sub-storyline that takes up a fair amount of screen time – a large group of gangsters that hate the fact one little female is stronger than all of them put together. Although they are used as comic relief I thought their part in the story was completely unnecessary. I saw them as not much more than time fillers.
The chemistry between Min-Hyuk and Bong-Soon is electric. The romantic sparks that pop between the two of them is fun and endearing. In an interview published on Soompi, Park Hyung-Sik said, “I really loved Park Bo-Young. She’s that lovable. She really was Do Bong-Soon and, because Park Bo-Young truly was Do Bong-Soon, I loved her. An Min-Hyuk fell in love with Do Bong-Soon at first sight and I think that, because I followed and felt An Min-Hyuk’s emotional trajectory, the first kiss scene naturally came out so beautifully. Because I truly cared for Park Bo-Young/Do Bong-Soon.” And, speaking of kisses, this couple doesn’t hold anything back.
Aired on the JTBC cable network, Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon‘s first episode received the second highest viewer rating ever recorded for that network, surpassing dramas like Falling in Love With Soon-Jung, My Love Eun-Dong, Madame Antoine, Fantastic, and My Wife’s Having an Affair This Week, among many others. Man to Man, the show that took over Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon‘s time slot, is the only drama whose first episode has had a higher viewer rating.
The directing is excellent but then I wouldn’t expect anything less than fantastic from Lee Hyung-Min. He has many wonderful Kdramas to his credit, shows such as – Autumn in my Heart, Winter Sonata, Sang Doo! Let’s go to School, The Snow Queen, and Orange Marmalade to name just a few. It’s got to be a challenge to direct something out of the ordinary. I’m sure there was wire work and CGI and/or green screen work involved in this production and those can’t be easy things to direct. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lee Hyung-Min gets an award nomination out of Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon. However, if you’re expecting The Avengers kind of special effects, you’ll be disappointed. What we see is fine for a 16 hour Kdrama, but lousy for a multimillion dollar Hollywood movie.
There’s really not much to say about the music but there are a few songs I enjoyed – Jung Eun-Ji, from Apink, croons a really pretty song entitled Your Garden, Suran sings Heartbeat which is a song with a “cute” sound, and the rock group Every Single Day performs Super Power Girl. The best part of the soundtrack is a ballad called Because of You. When I heard it during the drama I thought it sounded like Park Hyung-Sik’s voice – and I was right! Guess it’s not that surprising since he was part of a boy band. Even though I liked Because of You, I think I’ll Be Here (the song he did for the Hwarang soundtrack) is better.
As for scenery, there’s a lot of filming at the Ainsoft building/offices, Bong-Soon’s family bakery, the hospital, and the police station. However, the scenery that stands out is the dungeon where the kidnapper imprisons his victims. The set designers did a superb job making it look spooky-creepy. It’s definitely a place you’d see in your nightmares.
I really enjoyed this drama. The plot is interesting and the storyline flows well but it’s the characters and the actors that make Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon so good. Give it a try. I think you’ll like it.
Likable characters – especially An Min-Hyuk
Park Hyung-Sik is a great leading man
Superb chemistry between Min-Hyuk and Bong-Soon
Spooky bad guy
So-so special effects
The gangster sub-storyline