Strongest Deliveryman: Episode 11
Just as the momentum picks up for our Strongest Deliveryman team, Jin-gyu’s own goal gets crushed under the heels of relentless capitalist drive. Kang-soo finally finds closure in the search for his mother, but it doesn’t play out as he expected, and Dan-ah starts to realize that there’s more to Kang-soo than just affable kindness as he begins to open up to her.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
The delivery crew and Jin-gyu watch as Grandma leaves her restaurant and the eviction movers drag out her belongings, per court order. Kang-soo wants to blame Jing-gyu for this, but he registers the genuine shock apparent on Jin-gyu’s face.
Jin-gyu goes running off, while all Kang-soo can do is pick up the fliers for the restaurant that an eviction mover has dropped on the ground. Dan-ah and the others soon crouch to help.
Jin-gyu’s destination was CEO Jung’s office, and he confronts Hye-ran on her efforts to shut down Hanyang. Hye-ran glows with pride while she admits her involvement, though she is surprised that Jin-gyu isn’t thanking her, since she did everything to help him become director. Jin-gyu insists that he wanted to win by his own merit, but Hye-ran scoffs that beating Hanyang was never the big win, just a small pebble on the road to the main goal.
Jin-gyu won’t let it go though. He tells Hye-ran that for him, beating Hanyang fairly and ensuring the Jung Family restaurant’s success was his path to being reborn a new man. But Hye-ran reveals that the Jung Family restaurants would have succeeded with or without him.
Jin-gyu demands to know why CEO Jung would go to all the trouble with him then, and Hye-ran confirms her master plan: to restore Jin-gyu as the second heir to the Ohsung Group, and then marry her daughter into the successful family to help her own company rise in prestige. Hye-ran calls Jin-gyu stupid for not realizing her ulterior motives sooner and declares that with the obstacles out of the way, she’ll name him director tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Gong-gi suggests that Jin-gyu could be only acting shocked and gives his own over-the-top dramatic performance of acting surprised, but no one really believes that Jin-gyu is responsible.
Instead, they all wonder at how fast it all seemed to happen, realizing that Grandma must have known for a while and kept it from them to prevent them from either doing something stupid or giving up. Even so, Kang-soo declares that he’s going to find Grandma and convince her to keep trying, and Dan-ah hangs her head in frustration at the typical Kang-soo righteous reaction as he marches out.
Meanwhile, Grandma meets with Soon-ae, and she asks Soon-ae to deliver the envelopes she prepared in the last episode for the deliverymen. Soon-ae asks Grandma not to leave and just join them at Lucky Noodles, but Grandma insists everyone forget about Hanyang and focus on their own businesses, Kang-soo included.
Kang-soo tries Grandma’s house first, but no one answers the door. Dan-ah has followed him here and tells him that Grandma knows that this is the first place they’d look for her.
Kang-soo’s next idea is to check Hyun-soo’s neighborhood in case Grandma has gone to see him, but Dan-ah holds him back and begs him to accept that he can’t stop this. Kang-soo gently removes her hand from his wrist and says that he hates that this can happen because of money. Dan-ah says that she hates it too, but she wonders if something happened to Kang-soo that makes him feel so passionately about these causes. Kang-soo tries to avoid answering, but Dan-ah pushes that she wants to understand him better.
Kang-soo tells Dan-ah about his father’s cancer and their inability to pay the medical bills for treatment. Kang-soo confesses that he had hoped his father would die quickly, just to end the excruciating pain that he was in.
Kang-soo states that he gets why Dan-ah might think these are two completely different scenarios, but to him, it’s all the same. He promises to return soon and heads out on his bike.
Jin-gyu broods in his new director’s office, and he swipes all of the papers off his desk in a fury when he recalls CEO Jung’s earlier confession that his success or failure never mattered. His scream of rage is immediately followed by sniffles as he tries to hold back his tears, and his hand clenches and unclenches as his anger and pain wrestle for top priority.
Jin-gyu takes his fury outside, but it’s surprisingly diffused when he spots Ji-yoon waiting for him. Ji-yoon doesn’t know what to do with herself on Sundays if she’s not on a date with Jin-gyu, and he agrees to go day drinking with her.
At the restaurant, Ji-yoon is serious about her day drinking and races Jin-gyu to the bottom of a pint. She gives him a mighty flick to the forehead as punishment when he loses and then waves for the next round of drinks. Thank you, Ji-yoon, for being the distraction Jin-gyu needs.
Grandma is indeed with Hyun-soo when Kang-soo arrives, but Hyun-soo’s mom isn’t thrilled to see him and ducks into the back of her store. Kang-soo and Grandma trade teasing remarks, with Kang-soo “threatening” her and Grandma cowering at how “scary” he is.
Hyun-soo’s still eager to introduce Kang-soo to his mom, while Mom does her best to hide her eyes from Kang-soo. But then the moment happens—their eyes meet and the smile fades from Kang-soo’s face as recognition floods his eyes. Hyun-soo doesn’t catch the mood change and remarks on how similar he and Kang-soo look, and Mom hesitantly smiles and agrees.
Mom tries to make a hasty exit with the excuse of buying fruit, but Hyun-soo offers to go instead and Grandma goes with him, leaving Kang-soo and Mom alone.
Mom speaks first, and thanks Kang-soo for taking care of Hyun-soo. When that doesn’t get a response, Mom tries to divert with talk of his work and the weather, but Kang-soo curtly shuts her down and gets straight to the point.
Kang-soo lets his mother know that ever since she took all their money and left him and his father, he’s been looking for her so that he could tell her something. Mom calls out to Kang-soo, but he coldly tells her that he hates to hear his name from her mouth.
Kang-soo gets back to what he’s been waiting to tell his mother: that his father died pining away for her, even as he struggled through his cancer and had to work as an employee on the boat he once owned.
Mom calls Kang-soo’s name again with tears trickling down her face, and he screams for her to stop. He says that he wants Mom to remember, until the day that she dies, that his father is dead because of her. Kang-soo struggles to find composure again before he leaves, but first, he asks that she not tell Hyun-soo anything.
As night falls, Jin-gyu and Ji-yoon walk back to Ji-yoon’s dorm together following their drinking date. Jin-gyu notes Ji-yoon’s amazing appetite and wonders how someone who loves to eat has such meager lunches. Ji-yoon blames her low income, and Jin-gyu giggles as Ji-yoon drunkenly curses her hourly wages.
Jin-gyu and Ji-yoon say all the things they usually say when they go their separate ways on Sundays, but this evening, their “good night” and “sweet dreams” sound sincere. Ji-yoon even says that she had a fun time before playfully waving goodbye.
Jin-gyu calls out just as Ji-yoon reaches her door and tells her to bring a proper lunch tomorrow. Ji-yoon says she’ll need 10,000 won more an hour before she can manage that and gives him one final wave goodnight.
At Lucky Noodles, Kang-soo almost misses Dan-ah waiting up for him as he makes a beeline for his room. When she asks if Kang-soo found Grandma and how it went, Kang-soo just kind of shrugs. Dan-ah assumes he’s tired from the day and sends him to bed.
Dan-ah makes it as far as her bike before she reconsiders and returns to see if Kang-soo is really okay. From the upstairs hallway, she can hear Kang-soo crying, and he doesn’t even notice when she opens the door to his room. Kang-soo sobs as he rips the photo of him and his mother into pieces, and only notices Dan-ah when she calls his name.
Kang-soo tells her to leave, but Dan-ah remains, saying, “How could I leave when you’re crying?” She holds Kang-soo and brushes his hair while he wails for his father.
After the tears have dried up and Dan-ah’s heard Kang-soo’s story, she’s not sure what to say. Kang-soo assures her that he’ll be fine and that he’s thankful that she was there for him. Kang-soo tries to send Dan-ah home, but Dan-ah lingers until she knows that he’s fallen asleep.
Yeon-ji has been waiting up for her roommate and berates Dan-ah on her late return home. She accuses Dan-ah of spending all this time with Kang-soo, and when Dan-ah admits it, she asks if Dan-ah still plans on going to America.
Dan-ah says that’s still the plan, but that she wants to love Kang-soo like a crazy woman right up until she leaves, even if that makes her a bad person. Yeon-ji is startled by her friend’s changing approach to life.
The next morning, Ji-yoon creeps in late to work after her previous day of drinking and her manager docks her pay for it. Her coworker hands over a card that a customer dropped off for her while her other coworker chirps that he thinks it was the guy she was selling handbags with. She opens the card to find that Jin-gyu has left her a debit card with the request that she buy herself some proper meals. Aww.
Jin-gyu hasn’t turned up for his first day as director, so CEO Jung gives him a call. He picks up at once and announces that he’s quitting.
Hye-ran tries to argue, but Jin-gyu apologizes that the second heir of Ohsung Group has been dead for two months now, so she’ll have to give the director position to someone still alive, not to a ghost like him. Jin-gyu hangs up and tosses his phone into the river.
Over at Lucky Noodles, Dan-ah has brought Kang-soo every flavor of milk to choose from, and he goes with plain. Dan-ah asks if he’s feeling better, and Kang-soo replies with his usual good humor that he’ll drink the milk she brought him and find strength.
The two tease and chase each other around until Hwa-young shows up to work on the SD app. Kang-soo wants to help Dan-ah finish cleaning, but Hwa-young says that’s what “subordinates” are for and grabs the carton of strawberry milk before dragging CEO Kang-soo up to the meeting room.
Chef Jang and Soon-ae arrive and marvel at how Hwa-young is trying to bewitch Kang-soo. Chef can’t help but agree, citing several more of Hwa-young’s good features. Soon-ae’s voice takes an edge as she asks him to please share more alluring things about Hwa-young, and Chef Jang takes the hint and flees to his kitchen refuge.
Ji-yoon prowls outside the Jung Family restaurant looking for Jin-gyu, but the new branch manager comes out to tell her Jin-gyu quit. Ji-yoon immediately phones her mother, who tells her to forget all about Jin-gyu. CEO Jung decides to oversee the new restaurant herself and instructs her assistant to launch everything next week.
“Ghost” Jin-gyu has returned to the river, this time sitting below the bridge. He calls himself an idiot for not knowing his place in CEO Jung’s scheme.
Back in the neighborhood, that sleepy bank employee from a few episodes ago is on the street distributing fliers for small business loans. He introduces himself loudly to a couple as Na Han-tae, though he slips up a bit and uses informal language with them. It doesn’t ruffle him though, and he continues his spiel while also warning against using loan sharks.
Listening in around the corner just so happens to be the neighborhood’s two new loan sharks, and they approach Han-tae to complain about him “slandering” their business.
Kang-soo rides by right then, and Han-tae leaps into the street when he recognizes him. Han-tae latches onto Kang-soo and runs along with his bike to escape the loan sharks.
Han-tae wants to exchange information, and he’s very impressed to see that Kang-soo has a business card. He stammers an apology when he realizes he’s speaking to a company CEO, but Kang-soo says it’s no big deal, since they all do the same work and earn the same. “What a fresh idea,” Han-tae remarks before Kang-soo rides off.
Kang-soo’s delivery is interrupted once again when he gets a call from Hyun-soo. Kang-soo apologizes for running off but says it was related to the new business. Hyun-soo says that he wants to work for him, but Kang-soo insists that he stays and rests more.
At the yoga studio, Yeon-ji finishes up a class and asks her co-yogi if she’s ordered any food. Jjajangmyun is on the way, but her coworker didn’t order from Yeon-ji’s preferred Lucky Noodles.
In fact, her coworker ordered from a shop that Min-chan delivers for, and Yeon-ji spins around to keep her back to him when he arrives. As he’s leaving, however, she chases after him down and asks if he knows Dan-ah.
He promises not to tell Dan-ah anything about Yeon-ji’s karaoke job, and Yeon-ji offers to buy him a drink to show her gratitude. But Min-chan points out that someone might see them together, and suggests to just pretend he received her thanks.
At Lucky Noodles, Dan-ah cleans dishes as Chef Jang and Soon-ae get ready to head home. Kang-soo’s back in another meeting with Hwa-young, and Soon-ae makes a remark meant to stir Dan-ah’s jealousy.
Outside the restaurant, Soon-ae starts describing how she’d deal with another woman (it starts with a proper hair-pulling technique), but the usually rapt listener Chef Jang interrupts her and leaves her standing alone in the street.
Chef Jang has spotted Viper’s loan sharks, and he throws one against a wall in an alley. The guys with Soon-ae’s ex haven’t shown up yet, but the sharks swear that they’re on their way. Chef storms off, but Soon-ae has heard the whole thing.
Back inside the restaurant, Hwa-young shows Kang-soo the progress she’s made on the SD website. Dan-ah steps in to say goodbye just as Hwa-young is squeezing Kang-soo’s cheeks (exclaiming how cute his photo will be on the CEO greeting page). Hwa-young and Kang-soo need to pull an all-nighter, and when Hwa-young asks Kang-soo to make dinner for her, Dan-ah slams the door shut behind her as she leaves.
Over at the dorms, Ji-yoon attempts to pine for her ajusshi, but thoughts of Jin-gyu keep leading her astray. She tries to stop, but she can’t help but wonder where Jin-gyu has gone (me too).
Yoon-ji’s question is quickly answered—in the park down near the river, a pile of newspapers rises and falls on a bench. A homeless man kicks at it, and from underneath emerges what’s left of Jin-gyu, a bottle of soju still clutched in his hands.
The homeless man insists that Jin-gyu has taken his sleeping bench (and he’s even brought a real blanket). Tired and drunk, Jin-gyu shuffles off the bench, but he doesn’t go far. On the sidewalk ledge nearby, Jin-gyu sits down and settles in for the rest of the night.
At home, the jealousy has gotten to Dan-ah, who can’t help but imagine Kang-soo and Hwa-young giggling intimately together while they eat dinner. She heads to the fridge to get some water, and in the door she notices soju with a note that says it belongs to Yeon-ji and that Dan-ah can never drink it.
At first she resists, but then Dan-ah can’t seem to help but rise to the challenge and grabs the soju. The knucklehead trio even appears in her drinking fantasy as tiny cheerleader fairies. They cheer for her to drink it all in one shot and green (alcohol) fairy light shoots from their pompoms.
Dan-ah’s liquid courage carries her back to Lucky Noodles, dressed to kill. On the way, the neighborhood guys spot her and stare, and she blows kisses at each group she passes.
Meanwhile, Yeon-ji arrives home to find the empty soju bottle on the floor and Dan-ah gone.
Kang-soo and Hwa-young are in fact enjoying dinner together, when suddenly a drunk, sexy Dan-ah saunters into the restaurant. Hwa-young greets her pleasantly, but Dan-ah returns the greeting with a wrist twist and then turns to slam Kang-soo up against the wall.
Dan-ah grabs Kang-soo’s chin and tilts his head as she leans her own in for a kiss. Kang-soo’s eyes go wide, and then he pushes her back (the same thumb to forehead move he used previously on Ji-yoon). Dan-ah makes a second attempt and he thwarts her again, then quietly tells her to stop because he’s angry. Uh oh.
Dan-ah’s never seen Kang-soo respond negatively to her violent reactions, so she’s not sure how to take it (also, drunken confusion). She splutters a bit, but Kang-soo tells her to leave before he gets really mad.
Yeon-ji shows up just in time to scoop Dan-ah up and drag her home, while Dan-ah desperately flails to try to talk it out with Kang-soo. Though Kang-soo has kept a straight face for this long, he can’t help but smile to himself now, and checks in to make sure Hwa-young is okay.
Kang-soo confirms Hwa-young’s suspicions that Dan-ah likes him, but she’s surprised to hear that Kang-soo likes Dan-ah back, and he likes her even more than she likes him.
The next morning, Kang-soo beats Dan-ah to the English school. Dan-ah’s gaze is glued to the floor, but Kang-soo handles it in typical good-natured fashion. He knocks her on the head, and tells her that if she’s going to confess her feelings, he wants her to do so with a clear mind. Aww.
On the rooftop after cleaning, Kang-soo gazes at Dan-ah with hearts in his eyes. He tells her that she looked pretty last night, and Dan-ah asks why he resisted, then. Kang-soo said he was taken aback, but Dan-ah says that he did the right thing as she laughs in embarrassment. So cute.
But then, Kang-soo realizes that he hasn’t seen Jin-gyu in a while. Dan-ah hasn’t either, and they wonder whether something’s happened to him.
Back to that park sidewalk, Jin-gyu opens blurry eyes from his spot on the ground where he slept all night. Morning commuters are looking at him repulsed, but Jin-gyu looks too exhausted and hungover to notice.
Soon-ae stops by a shop on her way to work and asks the man there to insert a tracking device into a pair of shoes. The man says that they don’t do that kind of thing, so Soon-ae lays out an envelope of money and asks for “insoles.”
The shoes are a “gift” for Chef Jang, and he is overcome with emotion. He flips his old shoes off and slides his feet into the new pair, while in the corner, Soon-ae checks her phone app to make sure the tracker is working.
Hwa-young arrives at the restaurant eager to show the SD employees the finished app. Dan-ah avoids eye contact at first, but she warms up at Hwa-young’s enthusiasm.
Hwa-young demonstrates to the gathered employees how an order would be placed and the notifications both the restaurant and SD would receive. Everything works great, and she gets a round of applause. Even Dan-ah has kind words for Hwa-young, but Hwa-young just gushes over what a good fit Kang-soo and Dan-ah are.
The crew is brimming with ideas to grow the business, and Kang-soo says that he’s already contacted people to get started. When they head downstairs, they’re greeted by Sung-jae and many more deliverymen.
Following them are a lawyer, an accountant, and a guy with bike shop connections, all people who were helped by Kang-soo along the way. To commemorate, Chef Jang takes photos of everyone gathered in front of Lucky Noodles.
Meanwhile, CEO Jung gives a speech to her employees at the Jung Family restaurant at the official launch. She believes that the Jung Family company will dominate the market because other, less dedicated restaurants cannot coexist with them, and the new branch manager nods along while Hye-ran’s assistant winces.
Hye-ran and her employees take to canvassing the streets with flyers while the neighborhood restaurant owners watch in dismay. Hye-ran stops her march, however, as Kang-soo’s fleet of Strongest Deliverymen approaches from the opposite direction.
The official branding is complete, and the guys (and Dan-ah) all wear matching white shirts with the SD logo and powder blue helmets to go with their powder blue bikes.
Hye-ran and Kang-soo both approach to greet one another. Hye-ran asks if Kang-soo’s bikes can move out of their way, but Kang-soo asks if she can get out of their way so they can complete their deliveries. Hye-ran responds that she’s not the type to back down, and Kang-soo smiles that he’s not the type to back down either. We’ve got a showdown.
I knew that sleepy bank employee would make a reappearance! And now that he has, I’m placing my bets that he’s going to somehow help out all the small businesses, all thanks to that second bowl of soup Kang-soo brought him.
Okay, but on to the more important takeaways from this episode. There were some big highs and lows for both Kang-soo and Jin-gyu. They both had big confrontations with mother figures in their lives, and they both also got a chance to open up and get closer to their respective leading ladies. But while Kang-soo feels the support of his found family lifting him up by the end, Jin-gyu’s going to need some extra help to prove to him that his life is still worth it.
Even though pitiful Jin-gyu is pretty sad to watch, I love that the show keeps bringing him back to the bridge and river for his moments of “death” and “rebirth.” I’m hoping that we can avoid another leap from the bridge, and that this time, Ji-yoon will help badger him back to a new life. And this new life can be dedicated to the people who have stuck with him no matter what.
Jin-gyu and Ji-yoon are adorable when they banter, but it’s absolute magic when the two are enjoying each other’s company. They both have gazillion megawatt smiles that light up their whole faces when they laugh, and it felt like a really special moment to see them flashing them at each other during their date. I suspect it’s going to take until at least the end of next episode to get them back to this place, but I think it’s going to be worth the wait.
After watching Kang-soo so easily and good-naturedly forgive others so many times up until now, the sting was especially painful when he’s unable to even hear his mother out. Kang-soo had been saving up his anger for a long time, and his plan never considered that his found family might be related to his real one. His trust and concern for Hyun-soo may be the only bridge that can bring the two to an understanding, but I’m not sure how quickly that’s going to happen.
But now with his mission kind of resolved and his constant moving officially at an end, Kang-soo really gets a chance to settle in and open up in ways that he hasn’t before. As stand-offish as Dan-ah has been, she’s there when Kang-soo needs her, and she’s willing to push him when she knows that he needs a little push.
And even if Kang-soo can’t forgive his mother, his good nature hasn’t been broken. The drunken Dan-ah incident was diffused so quickly, and their warm laughter together on the roof of the English school was all the payoff of making up after a fight without any of the drawn-out drama. Kang-soo looking at her so openly with his dreamy eyes made my heart flutter. Now that both Kang-soo and Dan-ah have left their feelings bare for the other to see, I’m curious who will be the first to admit they don’t want to let each other go when Dan-ah heads to America.
And hooray for the official launch of Strongest Deliveryman! The slogan of the company, “Be a good person,” couldn’t be more perfect. It’s been a long time, but all of Kang-soo’s good deeds are paying off in the end. He’s the exact opposite of everything the Jung Family company represents. They succeed by tearing apart communities, while Strongest Deliveryman is built entirely on bringing together Kang-soo’s giant network of friends. While CEO Jung is feeling the burn of her latest “investment” walking away from the job, it seems unlikely that anyone would abandon Kang-soo, since it’s all built on trust and good will. Let the turf war begin!
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