Watch Wednesday

Watch Wednesday #9: The Strongest Woman in the World

Foreign attitudes concerning gender are always interesting to me.  If you’re as interested in the media provided by Eastern countries as I am, by now you probably have seen some fairly outdated cultural expectations based around gender; outdated in comparison to Western social standards, I mean.

In Asian cultures, ideologies concerning women are still outdated and, in many cases, wholly offensive.  Consider Japan’s “Christmas Cake Syndrome”–Christmas cakes, sold on December 25, are tossed out after that date because they are no longer fresh.  They equate that to women, saying that if a woman is over 25 and still unmarried, she should be concerned about her own “freshness” in the market.

South Korea is especially bleak when it comes to women’s roles, ranked by the World Economic Forum as 115th out of 145 countries in gender equality.  The show I’m going to highlight today originally aired in South Korea, and while it showcases a strong (literally and figuratively) female lead, it’s nothing groundbreaking.  Still, it’s something.  And that’s what matters–progress.

The Strongest Woman in the World

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Strong Woman Do Bong Soon centers around the titular character who has only ever wanted to be the tiny, demure Korean girl that she appears to be in order to garner the affection of her long-held childhood crush and close friend, In Gook Doo.

Unfortunately, she’s anything but the meek and defenseless character she tries to put off, but rather is freakishly strong.  Like, breaking-everything-she-touch strong.

She’s not a fan of it.

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One day, a gang gets in the way of a bus driver’s attempt to get a load of children to school.  Do Bong Soon tries to let the situation resolve itself, but when a gang member begins harassing the bus driver, she steps in.  And, you know, takes down the entire gang.

Unbeknownst to her, a spoiled and snooty CEO of a gaming company, Ahn Min Hyuk, witnesses her heroism.  Rather than allowing her powers to be revealed to the police–where her crush is a detective–he offers her a job working for him as his bodyguard.

The series follows not only Bong Soon’s crush, a developing love triangle, and her boss’s stalker, but also a serial kidnapper in her neighborhood (which, funnily enough, is Do-bong neighborhood of Do-bong City.  That’s a lot of Do-bong for someone named Do Bong Soon).

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So, really, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon is a mash-up of a plethora of genres.  What seems like a romantic comedy at first–full of bubbly pastel coloration director work–shifts into quite the dark crime drama.

There’s quite a bit of side story, with lots of access given to secondary characters.  While the side stories are, well, pretty ridiculous, and aren’t actually all pertinent to the storyline, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon is so original and well cast that it manages to be highly watchable even through some very weird and unnecessary side entertainment.  (I’m talking poop wine, here.  No joke.  I laughed, I won’t lie.)

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The love triangle between Bong Soon, Gook Doo, and Min Hyuk is extremely entertaining.  While you can tell that Gook Doo must have some feelings for Bong Soon, at first you’re not sure if it’s love or just a big brother feeling.  For Min Hyuk, there’s clearly an attraction, but at the same time everyone is telling Bong Soon that he’s actually gay–and he doesn’t deny it!

I love a natural development when it comes to pairing up characters, and the relationship between the three of them was hilarious while still feeling realistic rather than outlandish or too fast.

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The relationship between Bong Soon and Min Hyuk was my favorite, however.  Rather than simply evolving into some will-she-won’t-she romance, at first they were simply boss and employee.  As they continue to work together, Min Hyuk works to help her come to terms with and control her power, rather than fighting against it every day.

Min Hyuk becomes a real friend to Bong Soon, and while I was being all, “THEY SHOULD KISS,” every twelve seconds, they had a so many great moments not because they were lusting after each other, but because they were genuine (albeit silly) friends.  Min Hyuk drives her insane, and she beats him down accordingly.

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They are the funniest pair, and I love how their friendship develops.  Min Hyuk really enjoys her for who she is–something she has always wanted to experience with Gook Doo.  Which, of course, is where the drama comes in, right?

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon is absolutely ridiculous, but so worth the watch.  It’s silly, outlandish, and yet hilarious, while also having some real dark moments.  It’s a totally unique blend when it comes to a K-drama, and I loved it so much.  It’s not perfect, but, man, it’s still so good.

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Have you seen Strong Woman Do Bong Soon?  What do you think?

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