Strong Woman Do Bong-soon: Episode 15
In its penultimate episode, this show has decided that it needs to murder us all via cuteness, and giggles, so that none of us are alive and sane for the final episode, and therefore cannot actually process that this show is really over. I’m in disbelief. Don’t take Bong-bong and Min-min away from me. It isn’t all fun and games though because there’s still a crazed criminal on the loose and it’s up to our heroes to stop him once and for all.
Episode 15: “Level Up”
We rewind a little back before the big explosion, so our hearts can be pummeled again as we watch Bong-soon scream out for Min-hyuk to leave her. Min-hyuk promises that they’re in this together no matter the outcome. Don’t make me live through this again!
A column of light breaks through the darkness and returns Bong-soon’s powers after she begs for the strength to save Min-hyuk. She frees herself, then runs off and whips the bomb into the air. Min-hyuk and Bong-soon hold each other as the sky lights up. Down in the crowd, Jang-hyun looks up in confusion as everyone else cheers at the light show. He puts two and two together and realizes his defeat, then leaves thwarted.
Bong-soon fusses over Min-hyuk’s injured hand, promising to buy him some new clothes when she gets paid, which he intends to hold her to. He faces her, and begins to say something but is interrupted by the sound of Bong-soon’s rumbling stomach.
He finds it super adorable, of course, and smiles, then leads her out for some well-earned udon. As they eat, she gets a text from Dad telling her to hurry home. Min-hyuk’s disappointed, but manages to hold it in, since he understands that Dad’s probably very worried. Then Bong-soon suddenly suggests she not go home tonight, and he chokes in surprise.
He can barely keep it together as excitement buzzes through him. Bong-soon notices his overreaction and scoffs as she asks what he’s imagining. He denies letting his imagination run wild, but breaks into this wiiiide grin, then gets up to flap his jacket and cool himself down from the sudden attack.
After they eat, Bong-soon offers to drive but instead of replying yea or nay, he gears up to suggest they stay together for the night, with a sincere glint in his eyes. His phones rings before he can finish his question, and he answers the call annoyed, but changes his tune immediately when he realizes it’s Bong-soon’s father.
Min-hyuk assures Dad that he’s taking Bong-soon home right away, but when he hangs up it looks as if that promise has killed a little bit of him inside. He’s resigned to his fate, and drags himself to the car like a soulless body, hehe.
They arrive outside her house, and he manages to say his goodbye without too much disappointment. But when she tells him to sleep well, he grumps to himself bitterly: If she wanted him to, then why did she say that?
She takes his hand and says with a smile, “Today was the happiest day of my life.” The weight of those words land fully on Min-hyuk and his heart swells. He waves goodbye, though clearly not wanting to leave, and realizes he’s not going to sleep at all tonight.
At home, Min-hyuk reflects on the long evening: He recalls the way Bong-soon pleaded for him to leave and save himself. And says aloud, “How can I leave?” then muses, “You were trying to save me…” He’s moved by her deep care for him, and lingers over the words.
Meanwhile, in her bed, Bong-soon is filled with similar thoughts and remembers him pledging never to leave. She thinks back to his promise from an earlier episode, where he vowed to protect her.
And then her mind drifts to their kiss on beach, where they literally joined hearts. She sits up to send him a text, but then changes her mind before she can put down any of her thoughts.
As he predicted, that night Min-hyuk can’t find sleep. Bong-soon’s proposal echoes through his mind, (seriously girl, why you gotta play
us him like that?) and he jumps to his feet to let out a roar of frustration, then begins vigorously exercising to burn off the tension. HA.
He works up a sweat and manages to curtail his, uh, wishfulness, but then just as he’s in the clear, Bong-soon’s voice rings through his head again and offers not to go home for the night, and so he drops to the floor for some push-ups.
Finally, he goes back to bed, however, even after alllll of that he’s still restless. But if it’s any consolation, so is Bong-soon. They toss and turn in sync, unable to escape the spell they’ve cast on each other. Hours later, Min-hyuk wanders out to the kitchen for some water. He jolts when he hears the doorbell ring, and hurries to the door. Could it be….?
It’s Bong-soon! She stutters to explain herself, until finally she admits, “I wanted to see you.” (This better be real!) He springs forward and kisses her, lifting her onto the piano so that they are level. And they kiss soft, gentle kisses in the early morning light.
They run into each other at the entrance to AinSoft later that morning, and immediately Min-hyuk takes her hand for all the see.
In the elevator, they fawn over each other; Bong-soon examines Min-hyuk’s injury, completely unaware that Secretary Gong is in there with them. He announces himself with a loud cough, begging them to stop, and they scramble apart in shock and embarrassment.
They asks how his head is doing from when Jang-hyun knocked him out, and after Secretary Gong answers that he’s fine, Min-hyuk goes right back to cooing at Bong-soon as if they’re alone.
Apparently, Dong-pyung is at the hospital because he hurt his leg trying to escape the building. Dong-pyung walks with a crutch under his arm, and passes his doppelganger, Kwang-bok, who also sports a crutch like a perfect mirror.
They both stop in their tracks and turn at the same moment, recognizing themselves in one another. Dong-pyung gasps in horror, while Kwang-bok dribbles.
Bong-soon returns to the generator room on the rooftop where Jang-hyun had chained her. She examines the broken restraints, then makes an oath: “Kim Jang-hyun, I’m going to get you.”
All across Korea, a manhunt for Jang-hyun is underway: The police post a wanted posters for the fugitive and the entire country is put on notice. Meanwhile, Unit 3 gets up to date on Jang-hyun’s latest, and most explosive crime yet.
They understandably don’t really know what to make of the story that Min-hyuk allegedly threw the bomb into the sky (yeah great cover, guys), and are still stumped by how Jang-hyun escaped death after his car fell off the cliff. Being the only one who knows about Bong-soon’s strength, their team leader figures out that Jang-hyun’s true target is Bong-soon, and not Min-hyuk.
At AinSoft, Gook-doo meets with Bong-soon, and is alarmed to learn that Jang-hyun is aware of her superpower and that the events last night were a trap to ensnare her. Gook-doo knows that she lost her powers, but she corrects him and says that they’ve returned.
He realizes that she was the one responsible for the “fireworks.” He’s relieved though, and thinks it’s a downright miracle that everything worked out the way it did.
Bong-soon becomes thoughtful and says that she prayed for the power to save “that person,” and her powers returned. Gook-doo guesses that Min-hyuk refused to leave even after knowing that the bomb was attached to her.
He sighs as he processes the truth, then lets out a tiny smile to himself, deciding not to write a report on the incident since it’s not exactly believable. He hugs Bong-soon before he leaves, relieved that she’s safe and back to her old self.
Upstairs in his office, Min-hyuk is lost in thought as he looks over Jang-hyun’s wanted poster. Min-hyuk proposes to Secretary Gong that they could implement a pop-up window in their game with Jang-hyun’s picture, and offer a reward for any information. Min-hyuk then swears to be the one to catch him.
Before he leaves, Secretary Gong hesitantly informs Min-hyuk about Bong-soon and Gook-doo’s hug downstairs, having witnessed it from afar (he even tried to snap a photo as evidence, but failed). Min-hyuk jumps to his feet, and shouts out in disbelief. He’s radiating rage, and spews out question after question, trying to get the all the specifics. Secretary Gong fearfully ekes out his replies, but each detail enrages Min-hyuk further.
Min-hyuk then demands that Secretary Gong “simulate” exactly how Gook-doo hugged his “girlfriend” (he said girlfriend!). Secretary Gong plays the part of Gook-doo in the scenario, but points out that there should be a height difference, prompting Min-hyuk to crouch down to imitate Bong-soon. Bwahaha!
Secretary Gong demonstrates how Gook-doo held Bong-soon, and right as he’s cradling Min-hyuk to his bosom, Dong-pyung limps into the room. He screams, hitting his signature high note, then hobbles over to grab Secretary Gong by the hair and rough him up. Dong-pyung sends Secretary Gong to the ground, then immediately snuggles into Min-hyuk’s embrace, who strokes his head lovingly.
This, of course, is a daydream, so we return to reality where Dong-pyung strips off his jacket and tie, then beelines for Secretary Gong (without even limping) and tries to hit him. Secretary Gong scoops up Dong-pyung and carries him out of the office, while Min-hyuk shouts in annoyance at his Gook-doo problem.
At the walnut shop, Mom finds a letter from Dad telling her not to look for him because he wants to “live [his] life.” She’s aghast at his gall and receives a double blow when she learns that they don’t have anything left to sell at the shop. Looks like living his life means eating ramyun while camping the woods, because that’s where Dad has run off to. Tell me that isn’t the face of true contentment.
Dong-pyung grimaces from his sore wrist as a result of Bong-soon’s chopstick bracelet, and screeches out her name like a curse. He’s startled when she actually appears in response and backs away as she nears.
He asks her again who the heck she is, and she responds with her Do-bong motto, and he tells her to go back to her planet. She advises him to be nice to new employees as she fastens a second bracelet around his wrist. This time she uses a spoon, and calls it a “set,” to Dong-pyung’s shock and horror.
She walks off triumphant, then snaps her fingers, and on cue Dong-pyung topples over and passes out.
On the rooftop, Min-hyuk calls Gook-doo and, using his most intimidating voice, requests some of the detective’s time, because they gots to talk. Gook-doo agrees and informs Min-hyuk that he’ll text him the time and place before promptly hanging up. Outraged, Min-hyuk huff and puffs about being unable to like Gook-doo.
Min-hyuk runs into Bong-soon downstairs, and she grabs his hand to go get some food in the cafeteria. He stops her, still pissed, and grouches that there’s somewhere else they need to go.
He pulls her aside to scold her when suddenly she says, “Min-hyuk-sshi.” She asks if she can call him that when they’re alone. Internally, Min-hyuk coaches himself to stay strong, and under no circumstances should he be distracted by all the adorableness in front of him.
She tiptoes up to kiss him on the cheek, then asks if she can call him “Min-min,” and he turns into mush right before our eyes. He’s no match for her cuteness, and literally drops to his knees in giddiness. Someone please tell my roommates that I’m a normal person, because this show has made me into an obnoxious laughing/squealing idiot.
In the cafeteria, Bong-soon hand-feeds him a bite of his sandwich, and he melts at the gesture and smiles like a fool.
Afterwards, Secretary Gong and Min-hyuk look over photos of famous models, trying to pick out someone to be the advertising face of their game. Secretary Gong suggests a certain female model that Min-hyuk is a fan of.
Bong-soon watches them with a walnut hammer in her eyes, and once Min-hyuk notices, he begins backpedaling and whacks Secretary Gong, then berates him for making up stories. Min-hyuk claims that he had insisted on using a male model for their game.
Not catching his drift, Secretary Gong argues that Min-hyuk has said he liked the model before. Min-hyuk denies it through gritted teeth and in an abnormally loud voice says that the woman’s legs are “uselessly” long, then whispers for Secretary Gong to get lost.
Meanwhile, Bong-soon texts Gook-doo asking to meet later because there’s something she wants to tell him.
Later, Min-hyuk and Gook-doo sit down for a drink (getting some flashbacks of the last time you guys drank together…). The air is combative as they stare each other down and take shots of soju. Min-hyuk says that he wants to make it clear to Gook-doo that he and Bong-soon are—
Gook-doo cuts him off to take issue with Min-hyuk’s usage of banmal, and Min-hyuk tells him to use banmal too then. Gook-doo fires back that he has manners, unlike Min-hyuk, and only uses banmal to people he’s close to.
Min-hyuk asks if he thinks that he’s using banmal because they’re close, and adds that if Gook-doo doesn’t want to be closer then why is he also using banmal? (These two knuckleheads.) They down another shot just to survive the conversation.
Gook-doo suddenly asks Min-hyuk if he likes Bong-soon. Min-hyuk is incensed that Gook-doo has the audacity to pose that question to him. He then throws down the gauntlet and warns Gook-doo, “Don’t hang around my girlfriend anymore,” then gets up to leave.
He’s not going anywhere though, because Gook-doo grabs him by the collar, and Min-hyuk returns the favor. They both accept a fight as an inevitability and prepare for war.
Bong-soon walks in before it can turn into a bloodbath. Min-hyuk is surprised to see her, so Gook-doo explains that she’s here to see him, and the boys start arguing back and forth until Bong-soon has to break them apart, pushing them back into their seats.
She joins them at the table, and announces to Gook-doo that she wants to catch Jang-hyun together. She looks over at Min-hyuk and realizes that it’s probably not the right time to discuss that so they may as well drink. In unison, the boys tell her not to, and Min-hyuk is immediately upset that Gook-doo is telling Bong-soon what to do.
Gook-doo shoots back that he’s her friend, and asks Min-hyuk who the hell he is. They begin swearing back and forth at each other as Bong-soon rolls her eyes and tries to sneak a drink, but is stopped by Min-hyuk.
She pours them drinks instead, and then later has to carry them both back to Min-hyuk’s again. Oh! This time, she puts Min-hyuk’s feet on top of Gook-doo. I love these little touches.
The next morning, Bong-soon heads out to work, but stops when Mom informs her that Dad ran away. Mom claims not to know why Dad left, and Bong-soon accuses her of hitting him. She denies it, but the twins don’t really believe her.
Min-hyuk wakes up and notices that his socks and jacket have been removed. He smiles to himself, happy as a little peach, guessing that Bong-soon did it for him. Suddenly, he remembers Gook-doo then races out to see him asleep on his couch. His pleasure at seeing Gook-doo not covered in a blanket trumps his annoyance at seeing Gook-doo in his house. Haha, remember when she left Min-hyuk on the floor? What fond memories.
Min-hyuk skips over to Bong-soon when she enters through the front door and greets her. She’s somber as she replies, and he switches over to concern, asking her what’s wrong. She tells him about Dad and Gook-doo falls off the couch, awakening.
Bong-soon fixes them some hangover soup, and Gook-doo thanks Bong-soon as she serves them. Min-hyuk gripes that Gook-doo should thank him since it’s his house. As they dig in, Bong-soon mentions her desire to catch Jang-hyun and asks for their help.
Speaking of the devil himself, Jang-hyun rages alone in his hideaway as he looks over his wanted posters and bemoans his massive failure at killing Bong-soon.
Back at Min-hyuk’s, the three reconvene in the secret room where the boys express their disapproval to her plan. Min-hyuk asks why they need Gook-doo on their team, and Gook-doo shares the sentiment, but in reverse. They start bickering and Bong-soon begs them to stop, then threatens to work alone if they can’t get along.
This catches their attention and reluctantly they agree to help out, only if she promises never to act alone. She agrees, and discuss their Jang-hyun situation. They know that Jang-hyun will target Bong-soon again, but now that there’s a nationwide arrest warrant out for him, he can’t move as easily as he did before.
Bong-soon suggests they manufacture a scenario that forces him out into the open. Gook-doo believes Jang-hyun will try to to smuggle himself out of the country via cargo ship, given his predicament as a hunted man.
Min-hyuk calls Boss Tak to cash in on the gangster’s debt. Boss Tak agrees to help out in collecting information on smugglers using cargo ships. Bong-soon also makes a call to her followers and asks them to put Jang-hyun’s picture on a popular blog they run.
Jang-hyun’s picture is everywhere, and he finds it difficult to be in public without being immediately recognized. He heads to an underground weapons seller, and purchases a sniper rifle. After he leaves, the seller immediately reports the Jang-hyun sighting to his boss, which eventually gets relayed to Boss Tak. Boss Tak tells Min-hyuk which cargo ship Jang-hyun intends to board, and the unsettling news about the gun.
A little later, someone reports a Jang-hyun sighting to AinSoft and the location lines up with the area where Jang-hyun is supposedly going to board the cargo ship. The team theorizes that Jang-hyun will try to shoot Bong-soon from afar then immediately get on the his boat; thus, he’ll try to lure Bong-soon to him.
Bong-soon thinks that they need to figure out a way to bring Jang-hyun to a place of their choosing, which would increase their chances of success. Min-hyuk comments on her fearlessness in the face of a gun threat, and she replies back confident that she’s Do Bong-soon. So he reminds her that she’s “Do Bong-soon and not Wonder Woman.”
Gook-doo advises that when Jang-hyun calls her, she needs to hurt his pride because he can’t handle being disrespected by a woman. He tells her to use that weakness to her advantage and tell Jang-hyun where to meet her, then hang up the phone promptly, setting out their bait.
Things aren’t going so well at the walnut shop, as a customer comes in to complain about the egg tarts. Mom defends her product, but the customer wants a refund. Mom accuses the customer of being a serial refunder, and prepares to fight this battle to end, until Min-hyuk walks through the door and suddenly Mom begins apologizing for the inconvenience.
Mom greets Min-hyuk and sits him down as her friends fawn over him. Min-hyuk promises Mom that he’ll bring Dad home, because Bong-soon is very worried. Mom explains that there is no need because she gave Dad “freedom.” She adds that sometimes couples need to be apart and that it’s even healthy for them.
Mom then builds up the courage and asks Min-hyuk for his birthday and time of birth. Min-hyuk guesses that she wants to get his and Bong-soon’s marital compatibility read, and encourages her to do so.
He also asks to know the results, and in the event that they aren’t compatible… the ladies lean in close, awaiting his answer. After a beat, he asks Mom to continue getting their charts read by different people until she receives a positive result. Mom and her friends leap to their feet and cheer, elated by Min-hyuk’s reaction. That’s it, he’s perfect. Swoon.
That night, Bong-soon sits down with her strength journal and records her deeds. She chronicles how she saved those three kidnapped women and Kyung-shim using her strength. Then vows to capture the man who kidnapped them.
The next morning at AinSoft, Bong-soon’s opportunity arrives when she receives a call from Jang-hyun, who lurks outside. She suggests they meet, but Jang-hyun isn’t so easily drawn in.
She utilizes Gook-doo’s advice and provokes Jang-hyun by suggesting that he’s running away scared because of a “little girl like me.” She says that he’s no match for her, and that gets him listening. Bong-soon tells him to meet her tonight at the construction site where she had lost her strength, then hangs up.
She tells Min-hyuk afterwards, and he expresses his understanding of the situation, but discomfort with the plan. He asks for some time to adjust to the idea of her putting herself in harm’s way, but she assures him that she’s going to be fine, and eventually he nods.
Finally, the time to meet with Jang-hyun arrives. Bong-soon walks into the construction site with Min-hyuk and Gook-doo in position off to the sides. They’re all connected by earpieces and Min-hyuk warns them to be careful, since Jang-hyun is likely hiding somewhere high up.
Bong-soon thinks to herself, “Kim Jang-hyun, stop hiding like a coward. Face me in a proper fight.” Jang-hyun readies his gun from high in the sky, as Bong-soon stands in on the ground right in the open.
Jang-hyun locks onto Bong-soon, aims, and then fires out a shot that hits her right in the abdomen. She falls to the ground and closes her eyes. Gook-doo spots Jang-hyun and sprints to intercept him, while Min-hyuk runs to Bong-soon.
He calls out to her, and we don’t see if Bong-soon ever wakes, but soon Min-hyuk is also running in search of Jang-hyun. The criminal escapes by car, but they know where he’s going: Incheon Port.
They relocate, and Gook-doo chases Jang-hyun down while Min-hyuk guides Gook-doo through the maze of cargo containers using his drone. Jang-hyun manages to give Gook-doo the slip, but Min-hyuk has eyes in the sky and directs Gook-doo back on the trail. At some point, Jang-hyun races ahead, and Gook-doo slows—then lets Jang-hyun fall into their trap.
Jang-hyun runs forward as a shipping container moves and blocks his exit. He turns around to go back the way he came, but another closes him in. Bong-soon leaps to the top of the container and reveals herself.
He’s confused because he’s certain he shot her. We flash back to Min-hyuk giving her a bulletproof vest to wear, and when he checked on her at the construction site, she opened her eyes and confirmed she’s A-OK, to his relief. (But if he shot her in the head… what then guys?)
In the present, Bong-soon pulls out a walnut from her pocket and whips it at Jang-hyun’s leg, sending him yelping in pain. Oooh, that sound was so satisfying. She pelts more superpowered walnuts at Jang-hyun and they hit him each time. She jumps down to the ground and reminds him, “I told you that you’re no match for me,” then makes her way over to Jang-hyun squirming on the ground.
Jang-hyun limps out through another exit and comes face-to-face with Min-hyuk and Gook-doo. Min-hyuk breezily greets him, unconcerned when he runs away. Bong-soon follows after him and then tosses a large wooden crate into the air. It surrounds Jang-hyun when it lands, trapping him inside.
She thinks to herself, “Kim Jang-hyun, you try being locked up. You’ll have to live forever locked up like this.” The A-team do their glory walk as the police arrive, and Do-bong is safe again.
After crying like a baby last week, this episode made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I’m glad that we settled the score with Jang-hyun early, because I was sure they would stretch it out a little longer. Now, we have one whole final episode to bask in the glorious cuteness of our leads and figure out how to say goodbye to them.
We’ve been preparing for a Jang-hyun and Bong-soon showdown all along, but I was a little surprised that Jang-hyun didn’t have one more trick up his sleeve. It seems like once our heroes started using their brains, the villain forgot to. I guess he put all his bets on his bomb in the last episode, then started panicking. What bothered me about the whole bomb setup was that the showdown was reframed as a boy’s game. Jang-hyun is Bong-soon’s enemy but Min-hyuk played the central role in the last episode. I still felt satisfied ultimately because everything else hit all the right notes on an emotional level, but a very small part of me was disappointed that Min-hyuk was calling all the shots, and Bong-soon became a pawn.
I understand narratively why it happened that way, but in this episode, I like that Min-hyuk and Gook-doo played clearly supporting roles and it was all about Bong-soon and her wrath, because that’s what I came here for.
I find it interesting that Jang-hyun knows of Bong-soon’s strength, but still can’t recognize her as being superior to him in any way because of his hatred for women. It’s a great analogy for women in the real world that can be impressive and outstanding in their respective fields and still be unable to win against deep-seated discrimination based on their gender. It’s satisfying that Gook-doo, who has been guilty of unintended misogyny toward Bong-soon early on, points out Jang-hyun’s misogyny as his weakness, and uses it to take him down. I feel like I could blab endlessly about the small ways in which this show, despite its absurdity and imperfections, at times made me, as a woman, feel rather empowered, and I don’t think that’s a small feat. Empowerment on a micro, day-to-day level is just as important as on a macro, more abstract, policy-making level. And I enjoyed that the show attempted to grapple with that in such an unapologetic way, even if the execution sometimes missed the mark. Romance is often framed with masculine and feminine terminology, so it was nice to see the way the show subverted that, and dissolved some of the framework, while still being so damn romantic.
Ultimately this show is a romance, and, sure, the relationship between the two leads was super swoon-worthy and all kinds of adorable, but it was also built on how much they respected each other as individuals, and how willingly they were to express how much the other meant to them. I connected more to Bong-soon through her growing love story than I did in other aspects of her life, including her conflict over her strength. Her love for Min-hyuk made her more relatable and more heroic than she’d ever been before. Normally, I worry when a female’s storyline is woven so tightly with her boyfriend, but for them it’s about being equals, just like the way he lifted her up onto that piano and kissed her at eye level. They are constantly bringing each other up so that they can stand side-by-side, and that is what I take away at the end.
Besides, Min-hyuk is awesome. As we approach the end, I think back to my earliest impressions of the character, and how I couldn’t wrap my mind around how weird and contradictory he was behaving. I realize now that I was struggling because I couldn’t immediately classify him with other characters I’d seen before, and it’s mainly because he kept blossoming and impressing me as his love for Bong-soon clarified. I’m terribly sad to see this show end, but I’m thankful we get one more episode to hang out with Bong-bong and Min-min, and I can’t think of anything better than that, can you?
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