Strongest Deliveryman: Episode 16 (Final)
The final episode of Strongest Deliveryman is a whirlwind of emotion as we race to the finish line. Will Kang-soo’s noble idiocy ruin everything he’s worked so hard for, or will Dan-ah’s no-nonsense attitude save the day? Will there be kisses and banter, or broken hearts and endless tears? Will Hye-ran finally reap the karma she’s sown? Let’s find out!
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
Dan-ah discovers the note Kang-soo left behind, realizes he’s gone, and runs around the neighborhood, calling out for him. But he’s already on the train, heading back to his hometown.
In their room, Gong-gi and Ho-young grumble about the “deserters” Sung-jae, Byung-soo, and Young-taek. Gong-gi insists that their leaving the SD team is a hundred times more worse than a friend stealing your girl. Min-chan bites his tongue (since he’s got a thing going on with Gong-gi’s crush, Yeon-ji), but thankfully the phone rings just then.
It’s Dan-ah, informing them that Kang-soo has left. Gong-gi mobilizes the nearly 400 delivery guys across Seoul to go looking for their CEO, but Sung-jae suggests that Kang-soo went back to his hometown. Dan-ah takes the next available train, making sure she has her bear keychain with her. Aw.
Kang-soo arrives at his old home and sits down outside the empty building.
In the morning, Hye-ran finds out that Kang-soo has disappeared. She smiles to herself, pleased that her plans are working. But when Manager Sohn tells her that Min-chan rejected their hiring offer, Hye-ran wonders why he’s bothered to stay with a company that’s sure to close down soon.
The delivery guys hold a meeeting to figure out what to do next. Gong-gi is confident that Dan-ah will bring Kang-soo back, but Jin-gyu points out that Kang-soo removed all of the SD signage, so it seems like he’s gone for good. They’ll just have to wait and see.
Dan-ah surprises Kang-soo by showing up at his hometown. She marches up to him and slaps him in the face, demanding to know why he quit and ran away. Tears fill her eyes as she reminds him that he promised they’d see it through together.
She had no idea he was the kind of person who would abandoned his employees just because the company wasn’t doing well. She asks him if he actually thought she’d be happy to live without him, then grabs his wrist as she tells him they should return to Seoul.
He brushes her off, insisting that she’ll learn to be happy without him. Just like he thought he’d never really be able to smile again after his father died, once enough time had passed, he was able to make friends — including her, who gave him the ability to smile.
Kang-soo tells her to bury him in a corner of her heart and move on. No matter how long it takes, he knows she’ll be able to be happy again.
But Dan-ah refuses to leave, asking if he’ll really be fine without her — if he’ll be able to smile again. Kang-soo quietly agrees that it’s what he wants and walks away as Dan-ah cries. But once he’s far enough away, he starts to sob, too.
Back in Seoul, Min-chan finds it odd that the restaurant ingredients were swapped out, since he knows his hometown delivered the domestic ingredients as promised. He decides to look into it further, asking the restaurant ajumma for her CCTV footage.
He finds footage of Manager Sohn visiting the restaurant, but the feed cuts off shortly after. It might not be proof of any misdeeds, but Min-chan is convinced that the ingredients were swapped by Jung Family.
When Kang-soo returns to his home, he finds Dan-ah gone — just like he told her to. Even so, he heaves a sad sigh to realize that she’s not there. Except she suddenly appears behind him, grumpily telling him to move out of her way. She’s returning from the market after buying ingredients to make him lunch.
Dan-ah stubbornly tells him she’s not leaving. She’s already given up on so much, she refuses to give up on him. She tells him to eat up and feel better, and he better enjoy it because the ingredients were expensive. Ha!
Dan-ah leaves him to eat alone, but as she makes her way down the road, she runs into Kang-soo’s mother, headed to the house. Mom admits that she heard from Hyun-soo that Kang-soo had disappeared. Mom was worried that Kang-soo would be alone, and that something would happen to him.
Mom wants to leave without Kang-soo knowing she was there, but Dan-ah says Mom should tell Kang-soo that she’s sorry. Dan-ah believes that if Mom sincerely apologizes, it should fix things. After all, Kang-soo is a kind person and should accept her apology.
Mom tearfully confesses that the reason she can’t apologize is because Kang-soo is so kind. She knows he’ll do everything he can to forgive her, even if it still hurts him — just like his father did. Mom doesn’t want Kang-soo to go through that, so she tells Dan-ah to take care of Kang-soo for her.
But as Mom is about to get on the bus, she runs into Hyun-soo who’s just exiting. Hyun-soo is surprised to see his mother there, explaining that he was going to check on Kang-soo. Mom lies that she just happened to be in the area visiting a friend that Hyun-soo doesn’t know. Hyun-soo suspiciously asks if she was there to see Kang-soo.
He knows that Mom has been acting weird ever since she heard that something might have happened to Kang-soo, but Mom denies it. Frustrated, Hyun-soo wants to know why she and Kang-soo have been acting so strangely ever since they first met.
Back in Seoul, the deliverymen are trying to figure out what their next steps will be for when (or if) Kang-soo returns. Delivering for Restaurant Row is out of the question since no one is ordering from the app.
Jin-gyu suggests they broaden their horizons and start delivering anything and everything. They can reach out to other shops in the neighborhood, such as drycleaners, florists, and grocers.
Gong-gi points out that they don’t exactly have the money to advertise, but Jin-gyu says that since they’re a corporation, they can just get more investors. After all, the hundreds of deliverymen originally chipped in 100,000 won, so they should be able to give a little more for the company.
The hundreds of deliverymen are still loyal to Kang-soo and easily agree to pitch in more money. Dan-ah shows Kang-soo the amount his friends have invested in one day, and he’s stunned to realize SD now has over 300 million won just based on their faith in him.
Dan-ah tells him that if he refuses to go back, then he’ll be betraying his friends’ and employees’ trust. He’ll be betraying her faith in him, too. She holds out her hand to get him to go with her, but he just silently stays seated.
Sighing, Dan-ah tells Kang-soo that he can do whatever he wants to, then. But she’s going back to Seoul because she’s still an employee of SD, and everyone is working hard to save the company.
Before she leaves, she plops down his handwritten copy of his original plans for Strongest Deliveryman.
Kang-soo picks up his business plan and flips through it, remembering all the adventures, friendship, and happiness that went into making his dream come true. Not to mention the promise he made Dan-ah that he would succeed, no matter what.
Dan-ah sits alone on the train back to Seoul, but soon Kang-soo appears to ask if he can sit next to her. Aw.
They ride along in silence until Kang-soo reaches for her hand, quietly apologizing. Dan-ah forgives him since he decided to return. Kang-soo confesses that, for the first time, he was afraid of failure. He thought if he didn’t stop, all of his friends would end up getting hurt — including Dan-ah.
Dan-ah scolds him for being so ridiculous, since all she needs is for him to stay by her side. She rests her head on his shoulder, complaining that she wasn’t able to sleep last night because of a “certain someone.” Kang-soo tells her to sleep — he’s not going anywhere. Awwwwwww.
Chef Jang and Soon-ae are surprised to see Gong-gi prepping the restaurant in the morning, and Gong-gi promises to take care of everything until Kang-soo returns after “resolving an issue” in his hometown. Soon-ae is not happy with this, but thankfully she doesn’t have to deal with Gong-gi for too long, since Kang-soo and Dan-ah arrive just then.
They apologize for being late, and Kang-soo says that his “issue” was resolved thanks to Dan-ah. Gong-gi looks adorably happy to see his boss return.
Kang-soo sends out a video message to all the deliverymen, apologizing for making them worry. He promises to do better so that he can make sure his friends will be by his side. Thanks to their investment, they’ll be able to reach out to other businesses for deliveries, but he also vows to revitalize Restaurant Row.
After all, this business was founded primarily to save Grandma’s soup restaurant. Kang-soo didn’t create the app to make money but to help the neighborhood restaurants coexist with the deliverymen. Thanks to Dan-ah, Kang-soo has learned what a joy it is to share a meal with someone, and he wants to make sure they can share that joy with others.
He asks that the deliverymen put their trust in him once more. Sung-jae, Byung-soo, and Young-taek burst into the SD office, asking if they can get their jobs back. Yay, the team is fully assembled!
The guys get to work, making deliveries for every business they can. One of the florists asks if they can send someone other than Sung-jae since his face looks so scary, and he forces an awkward smile. Pffft. Talk about making sacrifices for a friend.
Now that all the deliverymen have returned to SD, that means no one is delivering for Jung Family. Sung-jae warns Kang-soo that Hye-ran will be coming for him, but Sung-jae is willing to go to jail if he has to. Min-chan also tells Kang-soo about his suspicions regarding the ingredient tampering, but they don’t have enough evidence to prove anything.
Kang-soo sends the deliverymen out to find any cars that might have been parked nearby so they can check for any blackbox footage of the tampering. Apparently they’re successful, because Kang-soo proposes visiting Jung Family before releasing the tampering footage.
When Jin-gyu returns home after work, he finds Ji-yoon poring over college entrance exam books. She’s determined to go back to school and get her Early Childhood Education degree, since it’s always been her dream to be a preschool teacher, but her mother made her major in Business Management instead.
Jin-gyu’s amused by her plans, and Ji-yoon complains that her mother only ever saw her as a commodity to be used for her own personal gain. But Ji-yoon vows that even if her mother decides to give her all the Jung Family money, Ji-yoon will refuse to accept it, no matter what.
Jin-gyu confirms that Ji-yoon really means it, asking if she really would give up everything, even it meant not having enough money for college tuition. Even if, say, Hye-ran suddenly didn’t have any money and couldn’t help Ji-yoon — no fallback plan at all.
But Ji-yoon points out that those are only worries people like them (that is, ex-chaebols) have to deal with. Normal people make plans without any expectation that their parents will help, since it doesn’t even cross their mind that their family will be able to pay for college. Ji-yoon adds that such people have more independence than she and Jin-gyu do.
Just then, someone knocks on the door. Both Ji-yoon and Jin-gyu are surprised to see his mother standing there.
Jin-gyu goes with his mother to meet with his father, who proudly confesses he’s heard that Jin-gyu has been working for Jung Family and learning how to run a business. Chairman Oh tells Jin-gyu to come back home and work for the family business. He’s giving Jin-gyu another chance to be a part of the Oh family dynasty.
Jin-gyu refuses though, reminding them that Chairman Oh’s second son died a long time ago. The response shocks both his parents, and Jin-gyu politely takes his leave. Never to return, I hope.
Kang-soo shows Hye-ran the footage they have of the ingredient tampering, plus the restaurant employee’s confession that Manager Sohn asked her to do it. Kang-soo tells Hye-ran to confess to Sunjin the truth of the ingredient scandal, or else he’ll take this footage to the police.
Instead, Hye-ran throws Manager Sohn under the bus, blaming it all on Manager Sohn and claiming that she had no idea what her employees were doing.
Manager Sohn, now fired from Jung Family and angry about the way Hye-ran treated her, agrees to go with Kang-soo to Sunjin and tell them the truth about the ingredient tampering. However, the Sunjin CEO says that he can’t break the contract since there was no formal investigation.
Kang-soo can’t stop thinking about how Manager Sohn was betrayed by Hye-ran. Dan-ah pragmatically points out that when poor people are used and abused by the rich, it makes them miserable, but there’s no real way to get revenge. Which is why, she adds, that Kang-soo must succeed, so he can change how the world works.
Kang-soo says that Dan-ah makes him feel like a hero, and Dan-ah sweetly says that he is, adding a cute “good job, oppa!” They’re so adorable, especially when Kang-soo teases her for not rinsing off the clams properly yesterday when she made him lunch and that he had to eat sand. Pffft.
Kang-soo wonders where Dan-ah’s hometown is, and she tells him it’s close to his — they passed it while on the train back to Seoul. He says that they should have stopped to see her family, but Dan-ah hesitantly tells him that it’s easier not being in contact with them.
That reminds her that Kang-soo’s mother had stopped by and was worried about him. Kang-soo doesn’t want to talk about it, but Dan-ah points out it must have taken a lot of courage for his mother to come all that way back to his hometown.
Min-chan walks a tipsy Yeon-ji home, but she tells him it was a “farewell drink.” Ohhh, has she decided to quit being a karaoke girl? She regales him with a terrible pun, and they teasingly make their way along the street.
Unbeknownst to them, Gong-gi and Ho-young are watching — Ho-young finally had to tell Gong-gi because he was worried Gong-gi would get hurt finding out about them elsewhere.
As the other guys sleep, Gong-gi sadly studies Min-chan, then grandly says that he’ll step aside and hopes Min-chan will be happy. Aw, Gong-gi’s kind of ridiculous, but he’s a good guy.
In the morning, the breaking news is all about Jung Family’s underhanded tactics to destroy the neighborhood restaurants. Looks like someone — Kang-soo with the help of Manager Sohn, perhaps — leaked the footage of the ingredient tampering.
It’s a huge scandal, and it results in SD getting back their contract with Sunjin. Restaurant Row is back in business! Meanwhile, the public declare a boycott on all of Jung Family restaurants.
Soon-ae visits her ex-husband at his bank. Ooooh, he’s even remarried and has children with his new wife. But thanks to her father’s old friend (and Kang-soo’s cell mate), she’s found the person who lied about the adultery that gave her ex-husband an excuse to divorce her.
She orders her ex-husband to return all of her father’s money, or else he can go to jail. Her ex-husband promises to sell everything and give her back the money.
Hye-ran calls the bank to ask for another loan since Jung Family is struggling. But the bank manager is Soon-ae’s husband, who needs the money to pay Soon-ae back. That means not only does he refuse to give Hye-ran another loan, but he also reminds Hye-ran that she has to pay back ASAP the loan she took or else he’ll seize all of her assets. Yikes.
Min-chan proudly reveals that SD has actuallymade a decent profit this month, thanks to the revitalization of Restaurant Row and the addition of the other business. The guys cheer their success, especially when Kang-soo tells them they’ve earned a bonus of a million won each. What a good boss.
Just then a very drunk Hyun-soo staggers into the office, calling out for his hyung Kang-soo. Hyun-soo tells Kang-soo that he’s his little brother. He passes out, and Kang-soo and Dan-ah help him to Kang-soo’s room to sleep it off.
Kang-soo realizes that this means Hyun-soo knows the truth about their mother. Mom arrives to try and bring Hyun-soo home, but Kang-soo confronts her, reminding that he asked her not to tell Hyun-soo the truth. Why did she have to make Hyun-soo miserable, just like she made Kang-soo and his father miserable?
Mom quietly says that’s she’s sorry — she was wrong. Kang-soo starts to cry as he demands to know why Mom treated his father the way she did. Mom tells him it’s because Dad was so kind. She had so much debt and was trying to care for her family. She fully planned to take Dad’s money and run.
Instead, because Kang-soo’s father was so incredibly nice, it was hard for her to leave Dad, and she ended up giving birth to Kang-soo. But when the debt collectors finally arrived, Mom sold the boats and ran away with the money. She left Kang-soo behind so he wouldn’t spend is life on the run with her.
Mom tells Kang-soo to never forgive her, not even on her deathbed. Kang-soo’s face crumples with anger as he runs out of the restaurant, leaving his mother behind as she weeps.
Kang-soo runs until his legs give out, and he screams into the night, releasing his pent-up rage and tears.
In the morning, Hyun-soo is surprised to wake up in Kang-soo’s room (and with a killer hangover, no doubt). He quietly heads downstairs, and Kang-soo tells him that he shouldn’t drink so much. If Hyun-soo does it again, then he’ll be in big trouble with his hyung.
Aw, the words are no different than what Kang-soo would normally say to Hyun-soo, but the meaning has certainly changed. Kang-soo and Hyun-soo hug, this time both aware that they’re real brothers.
Gong-gi bursts in, revealing that they’ve won — Jung Family is bankrupt! The deliveryment and local restaurant owners cheer their success. Aw, another “good job, oppa!” from Dan-ah, and then all the other guys toss Kang-soo in the air as they shout in victory.
Ji-yoon hurries home only to find her mother calmly sitting and drinking tea, surrounded by her red-tagged belongings that are ready for repossession. Ji-yoon tells Hye-ran that she can start all over again, and that Hye-ran makes the best food Ji-yoon’s ever had. Aw, did Jung Family once start out as a local restaurant?
Ji-yoon escorts her mother out of the big fancy house to the car where her father waits. Jin-gyu is also there, and offers to drive Ji-yoon’s family to wherever their new — and undoubtedly much more humble — home will be.
Kang-soo and Dan-ah wash the dishes, like it’s the end of any normal work day. They cheerfully banter, teasing each other for not rinsing the dishes properly and offering to cook each other dinner (jajangmyun and onion rings, of course).
Epilogue. Ji-yoon helps escort her kindergarteners back home. Jin-gyu is the one driving the mini-bus, and asks if she’s tired. Ji-yoon says she gets her strength from the angelic children, but when Jin-gyu points out that she’s lying, she admits the kids drive her crazy.
They banter a little more, and Ji-yoon asks if he has any regrets. They’re so adorably happy to be together, and nope, no regrets.
Grandma is reestablished at her soup restaurant. Aw, does she know that Kang-soo is related? Mom appears, asking Kang-soo if he’s eaten. He politely tells her that he has, and is about to continue walking away.
But she stops him to gently fix his collar, which is such a mom-thing. Awww, it looks like while they may not exactly be one big happy family, there’s hope of reconciliation.
Some college guys eagerly wait for their fellow classmate, Dan-ah, to walk by. They ask her what type of guy she’s interested in, and she points at Kang-soo, waiting for her by his motorcycle. Kang-soo asks if he can scare her “fans” away and kisses her passionately.
Aw, what an adorable, happy ending for everyone. Or just about everyone, although I suppose Hye-ran reconnecting with her family isn’t the worst thing that could happen. I’m not normally a fan of a drama being extended, but I really would have loved an extra episode (or even just an extra half-hour) so we could really explore everyone’s lives. The last ten minutes felt like such a rush, and I think I’ve still got a little whiplash from that emotional confession from Kang-soo’s mother about why she left his father, to suddenly Kang-soo saving the day and everyone living happily ever after.
Considering that Kang-soo’s main purpose was to find his mother, I would have loved to spend a little more time on that — or with him and Hyun-soo (or at least let me see how Grandma reacted to the news!). Instead, I’m forced to fill in the blanks to the best of my abilty, which is fine, but I still feel as though I was cheated some well-deserved emotional moments.
Like — where are all the deliverymen now? Has the Strongest Deliveryman app totally taken over Seoul along the lines of Uber Eats or Grubhub? Are there business magazines that have done profiles on him? Is Soon-ae still running Lively Noodles, now that she has the money from her husband? Are she and Chef Jang now living their own happily-ever-after? Did Yeon-ji really quit being a karaoke girl? Has Min-chan made enough to buy the land in his hometown? Are he and Yeon-ji still together? Is Hye-ran trying to rebuild her empire or has her daughter taught her the joys of the simple life? How did Ji-yoon pay for school? When are she and Jin-gyu going to have adorable little babies? Is Dan-ah speaking to her family again? Does she still only know how to make onion rings? These are important questions!
Overall, though, this was a sweetly satisfying show that continually took me by surprise by how much I fell in love with the characters each week. When I look back at my initial reactions (Jin-gyu is a chaebol jerk; Yoon-ji a ditzy heiress; the lack of chemistry between Dan-ah and Kang-soo), I want to laugh at how swiftly and completely I was able to change my opinions.
I suppose it just goes to show what a marvelous job everyone did. This wasn’t a complex show by any means — the themes were simple, and the plot chugged on without any major dramatic setbacks (or, at least, without setbacks that weren’t easily resolved within an episode or two). There was a comforting, homey feeling about it all, like someone took a weekend family drama and truncated it down to sixteen episodes, removing any sprawling extended families and replacing it with lost, independent souls who found a family in each other.
The heart of this show was, well, its heart. Even though it dealt with some serious themes, such as suicide and the struggle of making a living in a society that forever wants to keep you down, there was always a nugget of hope. Most of that came from Kang-soo and his irrepressible (and sometimes infuriating) goodness, but it was lovely to see it spread to everyone else. The idealism in this show may seem unrealistic, but it’s also, in a way, reassuring — kindness triumphing over greed is a reminder that there is good (and good people) in the world, even when this world may seem like hell.
- Strongest Deliveryman: Episode 1
- Smiling to keep hope in Strongest Deliveryman
- Premiere Watch: Strongest Deliveryman, Rescue Me
- Strongest Deliveryman refuses to keep hungry people waiting
- The gamble for hearts and empty dishes in Strongest Deliveryman
- May the Strongest Deliveryman prevail in new character teasers
- Thumbs-up for Strongest Deliveryman’s first script read
- Jang Mi-kwan and Lee Yeol-eum join KBS’s Strongest Deliveryman
- Go Kyung-pyo takes on first leading role in Strongest Deliveryman