Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
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I just finished watching Korean Drama Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, which aired from February to April of 2017. The drama starred Park Bo Young as the titular Do Bong Soon, Park Hyung Shik as Ahn Min Hyuk, her prince charming, and In Gook Doo, her first love.
The drama was about strong woman Do Bong Soon, who comes from a long line of strong women, who have spent generations using their strength for good. Why? Because if they use their strength for personal gain or if they hurt an innocent, they will end up losing that strength. These powers are passed down from mother to daughter only.
Do Bong Soon has spent her entire life hiding her powers, and living a half life because of her unique abilities. This is the story of how she learns to use her powers for good, or it was meant to be.
The drama has been very ably recapped on the Dramabeans website – LINK HERE – so I will not be talking about the story in detail.
Quick recap: Do Bong Soon gets into a fight with some men, and Ahn Min Hyuk witnesses this and hires her to be his bodyguard. The two work together and solve the mystery of who is after him (his brother, who does not want him inheriting the family business). In the process, Min Hyuk falls in love with Bong Soon.
Min Hyuk then trains Bong Soon on how to utilize her strength without causing horrible injuries to villains, and he also promotes her to be an intern in the Planning and Development division of his Gaming software company. Bong Soon then begins to use her powers to save people, and solves the mystery of the serial kidnapper/killer wandering around their neighborhood. Bong Soon develops a game about a character similar to her, thereby accomplishing one of her most cherished dreams.
The two marry in the end, and live happily ever after, with Bong Soon giving birth to twin girls with super strength.
- The Mystery/Rom-com Mix
This drama was both a rom-com and mystery/thriller, and I felt very uncomfortable with the tonal shifts in the drama as it moved back and forth. Because we had this horrible serial kidnapper/killer wandering around in the background, which is something I could not forget, I couldn’t then enjoy the rom/com elements and the main couple being cutesy in the forefront, or the second lead realizing his love for the main female lead.
It took incredibly too long for the police to catch the killer, and this only showed their ineptness, which made me very frustrated.
Additionally, the villain of the piece was too one-note. We delve in no way into the background of the villain, we don’t know where he comes from or where he gets all the money or the tech know-how. I also don’t get how he is always one step ahead of everyone else in the drama, and those scenes of him winning over and over were too unbelievable.
And then knowing that the villain has bought a sniper rifle, allowing Bong Soon to go out in the open to meet him? Not smart. What if he hadn’t taken the gut shot but had aimed for Bong Soon’s head? I would really like for drama writers to think about that once, at least.
The mix of the two genres was too uneven, and lead me to not enjoying either part too much.
2. The Casual Violence/Abuse
The casual violence in this drama also made me feel very uncomfortable. Weird, I know, in a drama about a woman who is a super woman who doesn’t know how to control her powers. But her violence against the villains wasn’t bothersome, but when it was played for laughs it became a problem. Seeing the horrible injuries those villains suffered, and expecting us to laugh about it or take in stride, not possible. Also, seeing some of them or Min Hyuk getting black eyes from the babies at the end wasn’t funny either.
Additionally, seeing the police repeatedly whale on a suspect was not something I was happy with. Living in different country, maybe I wasn’t understanding if this is how things happen in Korea, but I felt that it was very improper. Even knowing he was guilty, the cops violence was just not okay.
And when that casual violence morphed into domestic abuse, as in the violence against Bong Soon’s father, who had black eyes and split lips after an argument with Bong Soon’s mother, I really became uncomfortable. For many episodes, everyone was lead to believe that she had abused him. It was only in the last episode, that we found out that Bong Soon’s father fell and hurt himself. The mother blithely states that she only uses words and glares, as in verbal abuse, to control someone. So, all of sudden, we’re supposed to breathe a sigh of relief that she didn’t abuse him. Let’s just forget about the verbal abuse, the financial control, and the emotional abuse that she has been heaping on him for decades due to her disappointment over losing her own powers due to her greed.
This was a subject matter that was taken too lightly, and I did not appreciate being forced into watching something so horrible being condoned.
3. Insensitivity to the LGBTQ Community
Initially, when the drama used Min Hyuk and Gook Doo’s supposed intimacy off for laughs, whenever Bong Soon imagined them together because of her misconception that Min Hyuk was gay, I admit that I found it easy to ignore. I might have even found it amusing.
But then we meet Oh Dol Byeo, the manager at the Planning Department of Min Hyuk’s company, who is clearly gay, but is meant to be a gag character, someone we’re supposed to laugh at or shake our heads at or cringe at when he screeches. The drama created a caricature to represent an entire group of people in the most cliched manner that they could, and I really felt it dehumanized who this character was meant to represent.
Additionally, in the beginning episodes, when two men fell in love due to a shaman’s spell, it was played for laughs, but once again it was very crass and uncomfortable to watch.
No wonder I heard some rumblings of people’s unhappiness with these issues when the drama aired.
4. Bong Soon’s Power / Her Character
No explanation as to where it came from. None as to who decides when it got taken away, especially when an innocent was innocently hurt (without intent). I felt it was unfair that Bong Soon’s punishment for saving her friend was equal to her mother’s greediness back in the day. And no explanation as to why the strength came back. It’s not like Bong Soon was asking for the return of her powers for unselfish reasons. She wanted to save the man she loved, but suddenly her powers were returned to her. This entire issue was kept a mystery, and that was another cop out by the drama writers.
Bong Soon was a strong woman, but the drama team/writers tried really hard to show us that she was still feminine. One thing was, of course, picking the right actress. Yes, she was strong, but they did not want her to be big, as well. Which is where Park Bo Young’s size fit in. They also made the character try to be extra cute. But ultimately, what really irritated me, was how she cried. Like a little kid, full out, bursting into tears at every…single…thing. It irritated me so much, especially since I felt the writers were only doing it to say, “See, she can be normal, too.” No, that is not how a woman is normal. That is how you make a character into a cliche.
Overall, I did not really enjoy the drama, even though I had begun watching it with high hopes. I give it a 4/10 overall.
I would also warn anyone who’s hot button topics are domestic abuse, violence against women or are tired of watching the LGBTQ community being made fun of, then please avoid this drama.