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[In Defense Of] Strongest Deliveryman and what it means to be innately good

By @javinne

When I started watching Strongest Deliveryman, I simply did it because of Go Kyung-pyo, and I also wanted to like Chae Soo-bin since I hadn’t watched her in anything else since Sassy Go Go. But what kept me tuned in was that last scene in the first episode, where the hero had already buried his father and said he would keep his promise to become a good person, a good man.

And I know what you’re thinking: This premise is simple, lame, boring. Who wants to have a hero who claims to be a good person? We all know our heroes are good—that’s why they are heroes. It’s a given. They are good and that’s why they get the girl, LOL.

But in actuality, it’s not really a given. How many of us started our drama history watching the story of a modern version of Beauty and the Beast in the form of a very handsome chaebol’s son who was a bully in the school he owned, forcing weak ones to want to commit suicide? (I’m looking at you, Gu Jun-pyo. And even if you got Jan-di, I was never sure that made you into a good person. Better than the beginning, yes, but not exactly innately good.)

In dramaland there are certain standard characterizations which are repetitive and reusable: the rich handsome jerk (Lee Young-jae in Full House, Baek Seung-jo in Playful Kiss), the handsome but poor, hardworking guy (Choi Ban-do in Go Back Spouses), the successful, young, handsome CEO (our Min Min in Strong Woman Do Bong-soon), the sassy, funny clown who makes everybody laugh but sometimes carries a heavy burden, tons of descendants of dysfunctional families (most of the members of F4 if not all of them), workaholics, and a very typical Casanova (Choi Han-kyul of Coffee Prince).

But really, think about it: good men, just for the sake of it, are very few. Also, the characters I just mentioned didn’t really change so much by the end of their respective storylines; they just found someone who fell in love with them the way they were and became a little bit better, not necessarily good.

And that is why I was so in love with Go Kyung-pyo’s Kang-soo from the beginning. He had a sad story to overcome, a running mother to find and eventually forgive. He had hundreds of friends and he had an idea for a business. But beyond that, what I loved about him was this good nature which compelled him to serve others and take someone else’s problem on as if it were his. Amusingly, it was the reason why he ended up in prison for the first time, LOL. But it was also the main reason why he was so loved and respected.

It was the reason why he could make all kinds of friends in a society where people are too busy to see one another. It was Kang-soo’s good nature which made it possible for Jin-kyu to regret his bad actions and learn to apologize. Who didn’t cry at one of the most beautiful forgiven acts seen in K-dramas? And with the help of Dan-ah and Ji-yoon, Jin-kyu really became a good man. I was so proud of this second couple!

For me, it was impressive how caring and generous Kang-soo was, not only with women or grandmas, but also with other men as well, paying his friends and employees wages that the company hadn’t even earned due to the big corporation’s boycott. He could have given up when the business represented a loss for himself, but he was consistent and loyal to his principles.

He was also trustworthy and responsible. I know many of our dramaland heroes are hardworking. But for Kang-soo, who was so young, it’s not a small thing to become a successful chef. I find him very admirable, because he didn’t have backup—he was practically an orphan, and he became successful by his own means.

Finally, in regards to his love life, he was a man of honor, being able to let Dan-ah go to the U.S. if that made her happier. He was always willing to sacrifice himself for her sake, but I appreciate that he was also able to ask her not to go. Because it is that simple—sometimes all you have to do is ask and let the other person make the decision. And I was soooo happy that Dan-ah knew he was worthy. And we had a happy ending.

Strongest Deliveryman is not a perfect drama; I doubt there is any such thing. Personally, I felt even though it was recapped, this show was not as loved on Dramabeans and it never went above 8% in ratings. Within the show’s story, I did not appreciate some acts of disloyalty, but at the same time those plot points worked to show how good Kang-soo was, and that is the reason why I am defending him today. But regardless of its imperfections, Strongest Deliveryman was a good drama, so for those of you who missed out on one of the best dramas of 2017, I strongly recommend that you to check it out and binge-watch it over a couple of weekends.

 
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I loved it with all its flaws! In the beginning I used to wonder how Kang soo never was taken advantage of because he was so good to a fault. But then I realised that he knew when to stand up for himself and for others. and for this reason he was immensely respected and loved. He was also lucky to have such a good support system of friends. I ended up loving the second couple more though! Anyway I totally agree with you defending this drama. It wasn't perfect but like you said it was a good drama and even I would recommend it for some light hearted binge watching. Thanks for the article.

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You are very welcome!!! 📖

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Agree one hundred percent. Loved the drama and loved your defence.

I actually very much liked that we didn't have much character growth and change. It showed that you can tell a beautiful story with already established characters.

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Agree. I like character growth. This is how you, as the audience, can have the sensation of development. But in real life, we don't necessarily change so much for a period of time, we just learn new things and gain new connections. Life, still, makes us move on. And I felt that is what happened to our ensemble in SD. Things happen, and you can still have a beautiful story to tell.

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Agree with every word.

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I think there was plenty of character growth for many characters, other than Kangsoo who was the rock they could all rely on.

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Of course, of course... But Kang soo and Dan ah, their chiefs, Grandma and some of the friends, they didn´t change so much. Jin-kyu changed for good! He was really nice to watch.

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I think jaded hell-joseon hating Dan-ah changed a lot for the better thanks to Kangsoo. But it is true, a drama definitely doesnt need to be entirely based on characters that need fixing. Great inspiring stories can also come from watching characters persevere and win, remaining just the way they are because they are awesome.

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Nice comment😍. I wish people would say that about me when I am gone. 😉Although, by the way, in my case I want to change for the better, and this year I want to lose some 5 kilos 😂😂😂😂, and I need to find a new goal, because bachelor, master and moving abroad is already done, he he...

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Silly me. I thought this show was good enough to not need defending.
And I gave it lots of love and attention on Dramabeans

http://www.dramabeans.com/members/lordcobol/activity/232932/

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Hi @javinne. Thanks for this piece. Strongest Deliveryman was a lovely series. Probably the main reason I started watching SD was because I had enjoyed Go Kyung-po in Chicago Typewriter and this was his first series as a lead actor. It turned out to have a terrific ensemble cast especially the two lead couples. After this series Chae Soo-bin has been wonderful in I Am Not a Robot and Kim Kyung-nam who played Sung-jae is doing a great job playing Jung Kyung-ho's brother in Prison Playbook.
If I can go slightly off topic and nominate an actor who has played good guys in his last two series that would be Choi Jin-hyuk for Pride and Prejudice and Tunnel.

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I am great fan of Jane Austen. Someday I will have to take a look at the korean version of P&P!! Thanks for mention it!

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I loved this show and I absolutely adored Kang-soo for being who he was, at first I wondered how can a person have that big a number of friends but seeing how he treated everyone I got it, every friend of his was important to him, he never thought twice when someone asked for help, he worked hard and gave his best to everything he did, and that's why he was respected and loved by everyone, that speech he gave the first day of their business is one of my favorites! Kang-soo was just good and there was no WHY to it!

(I kept reading his name as Gang-doo, LOL)

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Oh you and your JBL obsession ! LOL

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I am also now obsessed with JBL. Who isn't? So beautiful I cannot tell with words.

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Oh don't worry. I am also in love with it. I've written essays though of course not as good as I want them to be hehe

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I can't help it 😅❤

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I have yet to watch Strongest Delivery man but you my friend have caught my attention, all of it. *opens new tab to watch*

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Watch, watch!!! You will both laugh and cry (I think) more than once. Enjoy!

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Strongest Deliveryman doesn't need defending! It's my favourite drama of the year!

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I don't care what others said, but I loved this drama to pieces and I diligently waited each week for the new episodes. It's one of the best drama in 2017 for me. I do feel that it's a bit underated and under appreciated, both in ratings and in DB land. But I remembered that those who loved it, were very vocals in the comment sections here.

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I had forgotten that this was the first series that I watched entirely in sequence with the DB recaps and beanie comments.
It was a lot of fun and a great ride.

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For me it was also another stronger: Strong woman Do bong soo... But SD came second in row, or maybe third? I think Chicago was a little before...
But whatever... I also watch it "live" (also, after subs were in, LOL) and joined the small group loving this show in the recaps and other threads... What a fun! :)

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Thanks for defending this drama! It wasnt one of the best dramas of 2017 but it was one I thoroughly enjoyed while watching. I just loved the themes of slice-of-life, the deliverymen gathering to defeat the strong and the two chaebol son and daughter choosing to live independently of their riches

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Correction: it wasnt one of the best dramas of 2017 to most people, but it was to me, hence the need to defend this drama :)

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Yes, right? The second lead couple could have had their own drama, and how different for most chaebol kids over there. I felt, for them, their pride was to really be able to step on their own, without the help of riches. And we both ended very proud of them as well. Even when i just remember them, i smile, because it was not common. I wish there were more stories like that, just breaking the overused pattern we already know.

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I love this show to bits. It was such an uplifting watch!

I also appreciated how Kangsoo's goodness didnt stem from him being helplessly naieve as is often the case in kdramas, but rather was a conscious choice he made, fully knowing how horrible the world could be. He still chose to take the high road every time and I admire him even more for that.

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Right. Kang-soo was the walking definition of a virtuous man
which to me means that doing good or evil is a choice and that Kang-soo chose to do good to and for others.

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I think, with true values and/or principles that is the key. It is a choice we make, knowing that many times we are just swimming against the flow. But because of that, it requires a very strong will. Some people think that if you are humble, honest or kind, you are a weak person, but actually... to be like that in a world like this, well, it is not easy. Otherwise most people would be like that. Taking the easier way.
To be morally upright is such a difficult thing! But then again, it is a consciously and deliberately act of our hearts. I love such people of courage, that they are not afraid of being how they are and remaining themselves. Kang soo is really a good example in Dramaland. He is very selfless indeed, and I am glad for Dan ah, but I also fell in love with him... Otoke??? LOL!

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I started this show for Go Kyung Pyo and stuck around for Mr. Dimples! ;)

Seriously, thank you for writing this because I, too, felt like it was an under appreciated series. SD was my bright and happy spot at the end of the week - one more reason to look forward to Fridays. Definitely became one of my favorite kdramas.

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"Kang-Soo ya!"

I aim to have my name so happily uttered one day.

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Currently watching this one though I'm still not through with it, I'm currently loving every episode of it. I love how the second leads aren't just there to provide the usual foil to main pairings love line or as the back up cute but they were something else other that the second lead. If the drama wasn't about the deliveryman, Jin Kyu could be having his very own kdrama.

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Strongest Deliveryman was a lovely show. I liked everything about it, especially the character of Kang Soo. It was a simple story and it was clear the trajectory that it would take but that was its charm.

It was a stress-free watch with a winning combination of characters, so much camaraderie and warmth. I'd finish a show feeling a warm glow and sense of comradeship with all and sundry LOL. What a great watch it was!

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True. It leaves you with that beautiful message about friendship! I will watch it again, when JBL and IANR finish. I am looking forward to watch Lee Bo-young in Mother, but i know I will cry with that one, because i didn have a mother.... :(

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I feel you @javinne
However, like in JBL, a mother figure, who becomes more than just a figure, will be great as well. It's hard to find an omma or halmeoni, but who knows, we can maybe find great friends and choose to be family too. 😃

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Yes, i have had (and still have some) until now, but they are far away. That is why sometimes I feel I live out of fiction! LOL. But at least I get to choose good fiction to feel my emotions. Fighting!!!!

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I really need to finish this drama. I started it and then life got in the way and I put it aside.

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So I watched and enjoyed Strongest Deliveryman a lot...my overall impression is that it so heartwarming! I def haven't seen many male leads like Go Kyung Pyo's character...and I so loved the secondary couple too!!

This drama also addressed so many interesting topics that are heavier than the usual drama and I was surprised to see our male lead in prison. Also didn't this drama start the Melona ice cream craze in the beanie wall? I still haven't tried Melona as I don't live near any HMarts...but sometime soon hopefully!

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I'm a huge fan of this show and it's now a staple on my re-watch list. One thing that made this show special is how the writer went out of his way to humanize Kang Soo. Kang Soo wasn't supposed to be some mythical being that no one could relate to, in spite of how good he was. Kang Soo was bad at sports, terrified of horror movies, and his greatest strength was his biggest weakness. How many times did being too nice get him in trouble, especially with Dan-A? 2017 had so many wonderful slice of life dramas and I'm so happy Strongest Deliveryman made that list.

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For me, it didn't need defending because I love it but when I read what you said feeling like it didn't really get much love here on DB, I kinda agree. Lovely defense, @javinne! Good job on doing the work of persuading more people to go watch this one hihihi

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That is why i wrote my small defense. While watching it, i felt it was not that loved in DB, and only watched and followed by a small group. But we that loved it, we loved it to bits. And I am happy that my article could make other people take a look into this wonderful show. :)

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Thank you for recommending this drama. I binge watched it after reading your defense. I can see what you love about the feel-good positivity of the drama, but I have to admit that Kim Seon-ho's portrayal of Oh Jon-Gyu as a fragile, deeply-wounded egomaniacal man-child was what really got to me. I just really felt for him and wanted him to find friendship, love, and a sense of self-worth.

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Wow! I really made someone watch something!!! Cool! 😉...
You are more than welcome. I will watch it again when I am not a robot is done. Have fun!!!! 😊

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Actually I linked all the three KBS Weekend dramas starting from The Best Hit-Strongest Deliverymen-Go Back Couple

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Yes! I loved this show. And Go Kyung Pyo was perfectly casted for this. It's true, his character was unique in dramaland and I appreciate the writing done for it. Good job!

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I love this drama the chemistry between Chae Soo Bin and Go Kyung pyo are good. I don't know but I enjoyed watching this drama it is a good feel drama. Lots of laugh with a lesson to learn on how to live your life. Go Kyung pyo's voice is so sexy hehehe... He can be a leading man now after being a second lead. And it's not that easy to lead a drama and made it love by the viewers even though the ratings in Korea are low i'm sure it was watched by international fans.

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ah, javinne! hello :) I didn't realise that you'd written this piece - actually, I was inspired to write a 'defense' of my own after reading yours, so thanks for the inspiration! and also for defending SDM/Gang-soo. really felt quite sad that SDM was overlooked in so many ways - from it not being aired on KBS World, to losing out to FFMW at the KBS Awards last year (though kind of expected, but still. sigh) - but this drama was a gem and I'm glad there are many others who enjoyed it too! I felt like this role really suited Go Kyung-pyo to a T, and am happy that he took up this role :)

on another note, if you're a fan of drama locations, feel free to check out this guide of some SDM locations I'd visited on my trip to KR last year: http://koreandramaland.com/the-ultimate-strongest-deliveryman-guide-to-gangdong/ :)

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