TV Wednesday - Strong Girl Bong-soon (13-16)
For February, I will be watching one of the most popular Korean dramas of definitely the past decade and possibly of all time.
I don’t know why this series had to go on so long. Even though 16 episodes is actually not that long for a Korean drama, the most interesting plot, the serial kidnapper one, could have been resolved in half the time (and been a much better series as a result). Instead, to fill the time, we follow the leader of the gang that is trying to take over Bong-soon’s neighborhood as he tries to repent of his former criminal ways after Bong-soon single handedly defeats 30 of his men (an admittedly awesome scene). We spend quite a bit of pointless time following him and a couple of his thugs follow the teaching of a monk who is clearly a charlatan. It goes without saying that all of this could have been easily cut.
As for the serial kidnapper plot, I thought overall it was well-done and resolved. Clearly, the plot couldn’t just end without some serious obstacles. The ploy by the kidnapper to make Bong-soon unintentionally use her strength to harm an innocent person was clever and added some real stakes to the plot. However, it did mean that Bong-soon sort of had to be ultimately rescued by the two men in her life. The writers do get around this by making Bong-soon get her strength back again by sheer force of will and the men are merely making her recognize her own strength, so she is ultimately responsible for her own freedom and for defeating the kidnapper.
The resolution of the love triangle was definitely predictable, and the show really lagged during the many romantic scenes that Bong-soon has with her chosen one. Basically, whichever male lead had to take the longest emotional journey to realize his love for Bong-soon was going to end up with her (a good hint for predicting any love triangle in any medium). I was wondering why the writers didn’t decide to have the kidnapper threaten one or both of the men and make Bong-soon have to make a difficult decision. It does go along with the Bluebeard plot (they shoehorned the actual play in the show) that he would decide to ultimately kidnap Bong-soon and make her his “bride.” I find some similarities among the two romantic leads and the villain in terms of the possessiveness towards women, even if it seems that it is more benevolent in the case of the former. There was a lot of potential to look at this dynamic between the two men and Bong-soon more critically, but it doesn’t seem to really occur to the storytellers.
I believed in this show for a little while and there were a lot of truly funny and thought-provoking moments in the earlier episodes. In the end, it’s just another Korean drama, perhaps not even a particularly good one ultimately.