Strong Woman Do Bong-soon: Episode 14
This episode left me completely in shambles, and I had to sit in a corner for a little while and regain my composure because I am not okay. I still can’t get over all the feeeeels that were inflicted onto me by our favorite pair. I love how they always, always emerge from their trials stronger and better than they were before, and more certain of their love for each other. I can’t promise tons of coherency in this recap because I was basically a tangle of emotion throughout, but I hope you cry, laugh, squee, and then somehow end up better for it.
Episode 14: “Prelude to the Battle”
We return to the chaos where the previous episode left off: Min-hyuk holds a fading Bong-soon and embraces her tightly, as she goes limp in his arms. Meanwhile, Gook-doo faces off with Jang-hyun, gun in hand. He fires a bullet that pierces through the glass and hits the kidnapper’s arm. Jang-hyun yelps in pain then steps on the gas and zooms out of the lot, but not before Gook-doo rolls out of harm’s way.
Gook-doo trails Jang-hyun closely by car as they race through the numerous winding roads. In a panic, Jang-hyun accidentally turns into the path of an oncoming car. He swerves right and flies off the side of the road, sliding downhill and flipping over into a small lake, as Gook-doo watches in helpless horror.
Sometime later, backup arrives to fish the car out of the water, but the crew still can’t find Jang-hyun’s body. Gook-doo stares thoughtfully at the water, and his team leader tells him to wipe that look off his face since the case is now finally closed.
Gook-doo gets a text from Min-hyuk, informing him that he is taking Bong-soon. He’s polite but somber in the voiceover of his message, and Gook-doo sighs.
Instead of bringing Bong-soon home, they relocate to Min-hyuk’s secret room. He watches over her as she sleeps with a worried expression in his eyes. Eventually he remembers to call Dad (who anxiously waits for his daughter to return) and notifies him that Bong-soon is with him and fast asleep. Dad picks up from the tone of Min-hyuk’s voice that something has happened.
Min-hyuk doesn’t deny it when asked, but promises that everything is fine now and offers to wake Bong-soon up so Dad can talk to her himself. Dad refuses then adds meaningfully that he trusts Min-hyuk.
Bong-ki joins Dad on the couch with a beer after the call, having overhead everything. He wonders aloud if Min-hyuk and Bong-soon are in a serious relationship, and Dad says that Min-hyuk seems like a good person. Bong-ki goes a step further and says that Min-hyuk is like a savior to their family.
Dad becomes pensive as he tells Bong-ki that since Bong-soon was young she always had to be vigilant about controlling her strength and he worries when Bong-soon isn’t home, since he’s afraid that she might attract trouble because of her strength. He’s constantly afraid that she’ll get hurt, and if not for Min-hyuk being with her today…the idea terrifies him, and he can’t complete the thought.
Dad’s honesty compels Bong-ki to divulge the reason why he decided to enroll in medical school. He explains that he wants to study their family genetics and understand why the women are born with their unusual strength. And for Bong-soon who only wants to live a normal life, he hopes he can help her in some way.
Heartbreakingly, Dad asks if Bong-soon can ever live a normal life, and Bong-ki answers back that it’ll be hard and that’s what worries him. He admits that he’s always worrying about his noona. Dad ruffles Bong-ki’s hair and says when he’s like this he seems more like the oppa, so Bong-ki smiles and replies, “I am the oppa,” which makes them laugh. Aww, these two.
Deep into the night, Bong-soon’s eyes flutter open, and she sees Min-hyuk curled up on the same couch facing her, just as he had so many episodes ago when she slept over at his house for the first time. But this time, instead of shock, the sight of him makes her well up with tears.
She reaches out to touch his face, but her hand hovers right above his cheek, before deciding against it, and withdrawing.
Bong-soon sits up to leave, but Min-hyuk, who has been awake all along, pulls her back down besides him. Her eyes widen in surprise and he whispers:
Min-hyuk: “Please look at me.”
Bong-soon: “I’m looking.”
Min-hyuk: “Please love me.”
Bong-soon: “I am in love with you.”
Min-hyuk: “You’re like a tiny peanut so I can keep you in my heart, but I don’t think I’m in your heart.”
Bong-soon: “You’re in there.”
They stare into each other’s eyes for a long moment, as tears streak across Bong-soon’s face, until Min-hyuk says finally, “I love you.” He then pulls her into his arms, and strokes her head as the turmoil of the day unleashes its tight grip over them. It’s going to be all right, guys. It’s all right now.
The next morning, Mom finds Bong-soon’s room empty and immediately breaks into the biggest smile ever. She hurries through the house to report her findings to the nearest family member and runs into Bong-ki. Already aware, Bong-ki tells Mom that Bong-soon spent the night with Min-hyuk but it seems like “something happened.”
Before Mom can badger him to clarify what he means, she’s interrupted by a call from Kyung-shim. Mom remarks on how she’s hasn’t seen of heard from Kyung-shim in a while, and Kyung-shim, who can barely get out a word, breaks down and sobs into the phone to Mom’s confusion.
Min-hyuk wakes up alone and immediately seeks out Bong-soon. She hasn’t gotten far though, and sits in the kitchen deep in thought. She picks up an apple and tries to make her signature hand-squeezed apple juice, but is unable to produce a single drop.
Min-hyuk witnesses the scene, and Bong-soon hurries to hide her weakness when she notices him. She asks how Kyung-shim is doing and Min-hyuk assures her that her friend is fine and had refused to stay at the hospital, so she’ll go to the Do house once she finishes with her treatment. Bong-soon is relieved, and Min-hyuk looks down at the apple in her hand then starts to ask a question, but after looking into her eyes, he reconsiders and chooses instead to scold her for not listening to him.
He complains that he specifically told her not to race off and meet with Jang-hyun alone, and he warns that he’s really angry, but is holding back his rage. She apologizes then says that she just wants to go home to see Kyung-shim.
He understands and then immediately cuts up an apple and symbolically juices it for her with a juicer. (That’s the sweetest thing everrrrr. Great, now I’m crying.) Then he hands her the glass and repeats what she had said to him when she made it for him, “Eating an apple in the morning keeps you healthy. That’s what you told me.”
Elsewhere, Gook-doo struggles to write up his report for Jang-hyun’s accidental death and the police still can’t find his body. His team leader voices his suspicions to Gook-doo about the story Kyung-shim told him of how Min-hyuk rescued her. Gook-doo avoids answering and promises that he’ll take care of it.
At the Do house, Mom is shocked that Bong-soon kept quiet about Kyung-shim’s kidnapping. Bong-ki defends Bong-soon and states that the kidnapper threatened to kill Kyung-shim if Bong-soon had reported it to the police. Kyung-shim arrives and immediately Mom pulls her into her arms where she cries.
After she calms down, Mom worries that Kyung-shim lost too much weight and insists on making her some nourishing soup.
Min-hyuk drops Bong-soon off at her house, but before she leaves she asks about that innocent man she injured when she protected Kyung-shim from danger. Min-hyuk says that he’ll be fine, and tells her not to worry because he’ll take care of it, and to focus only on Kyung-shim. She takes his word for it and jumps out, so he casually adds, “You should worry about me a little too!” She smiles, then agrees.
Inside, Bong-soon tearfully reunites with Kyung-shim. She frets over her friend and touches her injured face, asking how she is and if she was afraid. Kyung-shim nods in response to Bong-soon’s questions between sobs, but reassures her that she’s mentally strong. Bong-soon sweetly explains how she was going to buy Kyung-shim this dress she’s wanted, and they embrace as they weep.
Kyung-shim asks if Bong-soon is okay and inquires after her strength, and is alarmed to hear that Bong-soon’s strength disappeared. Bong-soon confesses that she had always wished that she didn’t have her powers but now that they’re gone, she feels strange inside. She shakes it off and states that nothing matters as long as Kyung-shim is safe.
Down at the breakfast table, the family watches Kyung-shim take her first bite before Mom begins berating Bong-soon for failing to tell them that Kyung-shim was in danger. She slaps Bong-soon hard on the back as she normally does, but now those blows actually hurt, and Bong-soon shouts at Mom, then flees from the table in annoyance.
Mom is stunned by Bong-soon’s outburst, and struggles to understand what she did so wrong. So Kyung-shim delivers the big news, and everyone becomes quiet as they watch Bong-soon who hangs her head in shame in the other room.
After sending Kyung-shim off safely in her police escort to Busan, Mom sits Bong-soon down for a chat. She tells her daughter that it’s okay that she lost her powers, and now she can live like everyone else. She says that at first it will be an adjustment and she’ll feel empty for a little while, but it’ll pass. Mom explains that the first thing she did when she lost her strength was to start lifting weights, beginning from the lightest and increasing slowly over time.
Mom describes that after losing her strength she continued on with her life and pretended that she was fine, and so can Bong-soon.
Tenderly, Mom promises that from now on she’ll take good care of Bong-soon. She reveals that the reason she cared so much for only Bong-ki all this time is because all the women in their family took the strength, leaving the men with little. And so she felt bad for Bong-ki, who always fell ill as a child. Wahhh, why do I keep crying today?
However, now Mom says she’ll care for Bong-soon too. Bong-soon is moved by Mom’s vow, only for Mom to immediately ask about how her sleepover at Min-hyuk’s was, returning to her regular self.
On her way to work, Bong-soon is knocked over by an overly eager passenger who hurries to get on the bus. She falls to the ground and thinks to herself:
“I’m not special anymore. From now on, I have to living like a normal person. Now, I can’t go out late at night freely. Now, I can’t protect other people. I can’t help people the way I used to help them. I, Do Bong-soon, have truly become an ordinary person.”
She walks into AinSoft and sees the large poster of the female warrior character from the Chronicles of Albertan and salutes it as if to say goodbye.
She enters their office and after staring at Min-hyuk’s empty desk, she heads to her seat and settles in. She thinks of what Mom had said about continuing on with her life after she lost her powers and pretending like she was fine. She repeats Mom’s words to herself like a mantra and gets to work on her Super Bong-soon game. Oh cute, she draws in a key-shaped necklace like the one she received from Min-hyuk.
She gets a text from Min-hyuk who lets her know that the innocent man she injured is well on his way to recovery, and she exhales in relief.
Still enraged by her chopstick-bracelet stunt, Dong-pyung orders Bong-soon to retrieve ten more boxes of paper so he can expose her. He corrals Min-hyuk and Secretary Gong to show them what a freak Bong-soon is (unaware that his audience is pretty familiar with Bong-soon’s quirk), but when they poke their heads into the supply room, Bong-soon is stacking boxes one at a time.
Secretary Gong chides Dong-pyung for harassing Bong-soon, while Min-hyuk pulls her from the room, after watching her with anxious eyes.
He takes her to the roof to ask why she came to work when he told her to rest. She explains that Kyung-shim went back to Busan, so she didn’t have any reason to stay home. Now that Kyung-shim is safely home and Jang-hyun is dead, Min-hyuk expresses his desire to go on dates like a normal couple.
He complains that because his girlfriend is so special, it’s been difficult to schedule dates with her. She answers quietly that she isn’t special anymore, and he replies that he knows. He leans over, places his hands on her shoulders, and asks if she’s doing okay. She admits truthfully that she isn’t fine, but her Mom promised her that it would get better with time, so she puts on a brave face and smiles.
Min-hyuk pats her head and says that he doesn’t care if she’s special or not, because all he wants is for her to be happy. He gallantly offers to move all the heavy stuff and open all the jam lids, then even tells her to “trust this oppa.” She sneers at his usage of “oppa,” and reveals that she knows he’s the same age as her. He explodes in mock outrage at Gook-doo for exposing him, and says, “That’s why you can’t trust the police!” Hee.
Turns out she didn’t actually know, but she just guessed, and is amazed that they are actually the same age. After being duped, Min-hyuk insists that based on maturity levels he’s the oppa anyway, but Bong-soon can’t hear him and immediately begins using banmal.
Flabbergasted, Min-hyuk says, “Go ahead!” then begins walking away. With his back turned to her, she calls out to him by his first name as if they are close friends and he can’t suppress his giant smile. He pretends to be angry and chases her around as she calls out to him using his first name and a shortened, more friendly version of his title, but his big, goofy smile gives him away.
Mom and her girls meet at the walnut shop to grumble about the greenlighting of the redevelopment despite their protests. One of the ladies regrets not paying off the financial backer of Boss Tak’s construction group (which she implies is “that handsome CEO’s company”). And Mom regrets curing Boss Tak with the poop wine, but then suggests they try to win over him over to their side.
Gook-doo’s Mom enters the shop as they’re scheming, and orders some walnuts to make walnut porridge for Gook-doo. Mom regretfully informs Gook-doo’s mother that their shop will no longer sell their products to her. Dad jumps in to veto Mom’s edict and bravely proclaims that he’s the owner, then accuses Mom of never doing any actual work, but scrambles away in fear when Mom approaches.
As Min-hyuk gives Bong-soon some notes on her design for the villain in her game, they both wonder where they’ve seen that character’s face before. Then when Secretary Gong enters the office, they both gasp at the uncanny resemblance.
Bong-soon and Min-hyuk depart on their first normal date, and pick up some PPL chocolates. Min-hyuk opens his mouth for a bite, but Bong-soon playfully eats it instead at the last second. She offers him a second piece, but he isn’t appeased, so as penance he takes a kiss first before gobbling up the tasty morsel.
Down at the construction site, Boss Tak and his boys celebrate winning the redevelopment grant. Nizamuddin calls Jaws for their jjimjilbang trip, and surprisingly Boss Tak suggests they all go.
They lounge around in shorts and Boss Tak asks Jaws for the latest on Bong-soon, who reports that Bong-soon and Min-hyuk are now an item. Boss Tak expresses his shock and muses cryptically that Min-hyuk must be having a “difficult” time. Nizamuddin suddenly sits up and orders Jaws to scratch his back because the water at the jjimjilbang makes his skin atrophy flare up.
Jaws complies using his finger brace, and when he lifts up the monk’s shirt he’s shocked to see a pen drawing of a map on the monk’s back which says that Nizamuddin is actually from a remote island off the coast of Korea and not India.
The cops find Jang-hyun’s jacket on the shore of the lake, but still no body. One detective asserts that based on the height from where Jang-hyun’s car fell, there shouldn’t be a chance of survival. The team leader isn’t too concerned by the missing body, but Gook-doo can’t shake his suspicion that something is amiss.
After their disagreement at the walnut shop, Mom declares that she wants a divorce from Dad. Dad asks if she’s sure she won’t regret it and she tells him to go live with Gook-doo’s mom since he likes her so much. Bong-soon returns home at that moment and tries to break up their fighting.
Mom pushes her out of the way like nothing, and Bong-soon falls to the floor. Alarmed, Mom and Dad pause their bickering long enough to check on their daughter before using it as a reason to start fighting again.
Bong-soon sits alone in her room and looks up at her cabinet of strength booklets. She takes out her book filled only with empty pages and thinks that she won’t need to write in it now.
Min-hyuk texts her to remind her about their picnic date tomorrow, so the next morning she packs an elaborate lunchbox and goes through her entire wardrobe, searching for the right outfit.
After she’s ready, she steps outside in a pretty purple dress, and Min-hyuk gasps at her beauty. At the park, they bask in the sun and read manhwa together, totally in love. Bong-soon unveils her super-sized lunchbox, but is disappointed when the heart she made using peas has moved out of alignment.
Min-hyuk calls himself an expert at hearts (aww) and fixes it for her, he compliments her on her stellar cooking skills, and even applauds, but then jokes that he found a fish bone.
Elsewhere, a still very much alive Jang-hyun limps into a house while clutching his injured shoulder, and then he reads up on his new target: Min-hyuk. He snips off his long locks, and we flash back and see how after his car hit the water, he escaped from drowning and quickly left the scene.
Gook-doo calls Bong-soon to meet up since they haven’t seen each other in a while, and checks to see if she’s okay. She agrees, but when she hangs up, she accidentally knocks over a glass cup which shatters as it hits the ground.
Oh no! Jang-hyun goes to AinSoft dressed in a suit and pretends to be the reporter who wrote a recent article on Min-hyuk. Thankfully, Min-hyuk is too busy to meet with the fake reporter, and so Jang-hyun asks to wait inside, but is refused. Jang-hyun continues to insist, until finally he is permitted through. Crap, crap.
As he walks to the elevator, he passes Gook-doo on his way to meet with Bong-soon. They don’t recognize each other at first, but then Gook-doo stops in his tracks, turns around, and calls out to Jang-hyun. Yessss!
Gook-doo grabs Jang-hyun and flips him to the ground, but Jang-hyun slips into an open elevator and seizes a female employee, then threatens to cut her with the ID tag hanging around her neck if Gook-doo approaches. Okay, I’m sorry but just let him cut her! It’s an ID, she’s not going to die, right? Ahem, maybe I should check my priorities.
Thinking fast, Gook-doo calls Min-hyuk to tell him that Jang-hyun is on the premises and he needs to order all building exits closed.
An announcement is made to the entire building, warning of the lockdown and asking all to report any suspicious persons. Min-hyuk heads back to his office to check on Bong-soon, and lets her know that Jang-hyun has appeared again.
She isn’t surprised, but she is worried. Then suddenly Jang-hyun’s voice comes on the building’s PA system. His message is for Min-hyuk, inviting the CEO to play a game with him. The time limit is fifteen minutes, and in those fifteen minutes if Min-hyuk can’t catch him, then he’ll blow up the building. Jang-hyun’s crazed laugh rings through the halls as the game begins.
Min-hyuk tasks Secretary Gong with watching over Bong-soon, and before Min-hyuk leaves, she begs him to stay safe. He squeezes her hand and tells her not to worry, then sets a timer and runs.
Gook-doo and Min-hyuk meet up at the broadcasting room. Min-hyuk announces to his employees that the threat is real and everyone needs to evacuate the building.
When Gook-doo asks what Min-hyuk intends to do, he voices his intention to win the game. Gook-doo asks where Bong-soon is, then runs off to be with her. That’s exactly where he needed to be at that moment, because Jang-hyun comes and knocks Secretary Gong out, then takes Bong-soon.
Min-hyuk orders all the power off in the building, then makes his way through the darkened halls. Jang-hyun takes Bong-soon to the roof and chains her to a large pipe, baiting Bong-soon to break free and use her strength like she did before. Then he beats her until she passes out. Grrrrr! I’m so tired of his shit.
Gook-doo reports Bong-soon’s kidnapping to Min-hyuk after he finds Secretary Gong unconscious on the floor. Min-hyuk tracks Bong-soon’s location and races for the rooftop, where Jang-hyun reminds an unconscious Bong-soon that she promised to marry him. And as punishment for breaking her promise, she dies.
Jang-hyun fastens his bomb to Bong-soon and chains the door handles to lock her inside, growling to himself, “This is really the end,” just as he hears Min-hyuk calling out for Bong-soon nearby.
Jang-hyun escapes and nearly walks right into Gook-doo’s path, but instead Gook-doo finds a black beeping box with green lights, which seems like another bomb.
Min-hyuk finds the chained door and desperately bangs against it, screaming for Bong-soon to answer if she’s in there. Bong-soon comes to and hears Min-hyuk calling to her, and begs him to leave while there’s still time. Oh, Bong-bong. I can’t watch this.
Meanwhile, the timer on Gook-doo’s bomb expires, but it’s a dummy.
Jang-hyun makes his way through the crowd of people outside and smirks, crowning himself the winner of the game.
After failing to break open the door, Min-hyuk slumps against it, his hand bloodied from his attempts to break it open. He says in response to Bong-soon’s pleas for him to leave, “Where would I go? I’m not going to leave you alone. Let’s leave together.” I have no more tears to give! Stop it!
He tries to stay strong for them and tells her not to cry, as tears fill his eyes. He complains that she never listens to him, as she screams for him to get away. But he doesn’t know how to listen either and says, “I won’t ever leave you alone. I’m not leaving. I’ll stay next to you. Don’t be scared. Do you understand?”
With less than ten seconds left, Bong-soon begins praying to anyone that is listening and shouts, “Please help me save that person!”
From her room, her strength book lights up, and a large light beam shoots down from the sky illuminating over her, returning her strength. YES!!
She breaks through her binds, kicks open the door and flings the bomb high into the sky where it explodes like a series of fireworks. Min-hyuk embraces Bong-soon and they hold each other reeling, as the orange light blazes through the black night.
Sometimes I find the filler and the circular plot points tiresome, but this episode just burned all of that away and left me with something so pure and lovely at the end. Min-hyuk and Bong-soon’s relationship is the heart and the almost blindingly bright spot of this show, so I don’t care if I have to watch Boss Tak wax poetic about literal shit for half the episode if the other half is as emotionally vivid and moving as those last ten minutes were. This show lives and dies on the strength of our Romeo and Juliet, and today I feel like it’s as strong as Bong-soon is — super-powered or otherwise.
I wasn’t surprised that Bong-soon got her powers back right in the nick of time, but it was so satisfying when she did. It didn’t feel contrived to me at all. I felt it was right and true that she lost her powers saving someone she loved, and regained them for nearly the same reasons. When she reflected on how her life would now be different because she no longer had her strength, the majority of her reasons were because she wouldn’t be able to help anyone anymore. In her case, her punishment from the gods turned out to be a question, asking her what this power that she never wanted means to her.
We also had some deeply moving moments between the Do family members. I loved seeing Bong-ki and Dad discuss how much they care for Bong-soon, even though they may never say it directly to her. I’m glad that Mom stepped up to be there for Bong-soon at a time when only she could understand what Bong-soon was going through. I didn’t even realize how much I was waiting for that moment between mother and daughter until it happened and I was a crying mess.
I liked that the show didn’t play Bong-soon’s loss of strength for comedy. The mood of the episode was almost solemn and contemplative. Even Min-hyuk’s modern-Hercules moment when he juiced her apple was so wonderfully done. It was a quiet moment that he did on instinct. It was his way to tell her that you don’t have be anything but who are you right now, you don’t even have to be same person you were yesterday, and I’ll love you. I love that the only person in this show who tried to diminish Bong-soon for not having her strength was the biggest asshat in the universe, Jang-hyun. Everyone else, from Mom to Bong-ki, even Gook-do, and of course Min-hyuk didn’t act like she was weak—just normal. They stepped in to be beside her when she felt vulnerable, and revealed to us how deeply she matters to them. So it make sense to me that her gift is something she gives to them, and that it comes and goes based on her burning desire to protect them.
Min-hyuk and Bong-soon showed so much maturity in this episode and I feel like they’ve come so far in terms of navigating the confusion and loneliness they’ve felt all their lives, and became better and stronger people after confronting those feelings. In each other they’ve built something solid and lasting, and I’m so grateful for it. I love that their relationship is about being vulnerable and brave, honest and thoughtful. And above all, strong and weak, but never alone.
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