Strongest Deliveryman: Episode 6
What a fantastic episode! It feels like the show has finally found its rhythm as it balances the lighthearted situational humor with the gut-wrenching emotional moments of truth, all the while fighting a neighborhood turf war over soup. I’m not sure how one can root for all the characters when their goals are diametrically opposed, but somehow it works, and works wonderfully.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Jin-gyu is the new manager for Jung Family’s soon-to-open soup restaurant, and when he sees Dan-ah and Kang-soo stopped outside the restaurant, staring at him in disbelief, he goes to greet them. Kang-soo demands to know what happened with the trial.
Jin-gyu snarks that it’s obvious he was released, since he’s standing right there. Besides, twas no need to go to trial for what was considered to be a minor offense, and Jin-gyu got off by just having to pay a three million won fine. He’s sorry that all of Kang-soo’s efforts to lock Jin-gyu up were wasted, but it doesn’t sound like a very sincere apology. Kang-soo grabs Jin-gyu by the collar, ready to punch him.
Jin-gyu taunts Kang-soo: “Go ahead and hit me.” Dan-ah intervenes, telling Kang-soo to calm down and ordering Jin-gyu to leave. Jin-gyu nonchalantly walks away and Kang-soo gets back on his bike, asking Dan-ah to take over his deliveries.
Kang-soo gets the name of the prosecutor on Jin-gyu’s case and heads to the prosecutor’s office. He’s able to waltz past security by flashing his jajangmyun delivery box, saying that it’s for Prosecutor Kim. Except the prosecutor didn’t order jajangmyun — Kang-soo just needed a way to see him, knowing the prosecutor would deny Kang-soo’s attempt to visit through official means.
Kang-soo demands to know why Prosecutor Kim let Jin-gyu get off with just a fine instead of fighting for jail time, like Kang-soo originally was told would happen. Prosecutor Kim says it’s none of Kang-soo’s business. He then has Kang-soo arrested for trespassing.
At the restaurant, Chef Jang and Soon-ae are ready to fire Kang-soo because he’s been gone for hours and hasn’t completed his deliveries. Chef Jang starts to call up someone to immediately replace Kang-soo but Dan-ah hangs up the phone, pleading for a second chance on Kang-soo’s behalf.
Chef Jang and Soon-ae find her reaction strange, since Dan-ah is usually the first one to demand an incompetent deliveryman should be fired. Soon-ae ponders for a moment, then asks if Dan-ah likes Kang-soo — and if they really were kissing when Soon-ae surprised them in the kitchen.
Chef Jang can’t believe Dan-ah would fall for a guy with such wild hair (heh) and picks the phone again to call for a replacement, saying if she’s really not dating him, then Kang-soo will definitely be fired. At the last second, Dan-ah grabs the phone from him and stutters out that she likes Kang-soo.
Soon-ae is thrilled, Chef Jang is disappointed, and Dan-ah looks like she’s about to be sick. But at least she saved Kang-soo’s job.
The Jung Family employees are prepping the restaurant for its grand opening, and the manager walks Jin-gyu through the restaurant, explaining how the deliveries work. Jin-gyu is shocked that the food is delivered each morning at 5am (so early!), wondering who has to sign for them.
The restaurant manager doesn’t seem impressed by Jin-gyu’s lack of restaurant management experience as she patiently explains that Jin-gyu is the one who signs for them. She then asks if Jin-gyu’s read the Jung Family Food Manual, because that’s where all the policies are written. Jin-gyu says of course he has, he was just testing her. Yeah, uh-huh, sure.
Hye-ran and Jin-gyu stop for coffee — at Ji-yoon’s coffee shop. Ji-yoon is surprised to see her mother there, but even more shocked to realize that Jin-gyu is no longer in jail. Hye-ran tells her daughter to just focus on taking their order, and as Ji-yoon runs through her endless spiel (“What size? In a mug or paper cup? Do you have a loyalty card? “) which brings the satisfaction of annoying her mother, Jin-gyu tries to hide his amused grin.
As they drink their coffee, Jin-gyu reassures Hye-ran that even though he has no clue what he’s doing, he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure the restaurant is successful. Hahaha, as Jin-gyu takes a swig of coffee, he nearly chokes, then discretely spits out a couple of whole coffee beans. Ji-yoon’s smirk makes it clear those beans were no accident. At least it wasn’t an earring.
The delivery guys are at the prosecutor’s office, protesting that Kang-soo was arrested for no reason. When the guards won’t let them see Kang-soo, they stage a sit-in right in front of the gates.
Thanks to Reporter Unni’s broadcast about the peaceful protest, we learn that the chief prosecutor resigned during the case and became Jin-gyu’s defense attorney instead. That makes the prosecutor’s office suspect, and in order to avoid the bad publicity, Prosecutor Kim is ordered to release Kang-soo.
The prosecutor’s office have been trying to dig up anything on Kang-soo’s past as an excuse to hold him longer and paint him as a thug, but Kang-soo could be the poster boy for a “good citizen” award (or ten awards, actually), so they have no choice but to let him go.
It’s late when Kang-soo returns to the restaurant. He finds Dan-ah there, waiting for him. He’s surprised to see her, but she couldn’t just leave without knowing what happened to him.
Kang-soo explains that he went to see Prosecutor Kim. Kang-soo bitterly adds that the prosecutor told him they were just following the law, so Kang-soo should stop bothering them and leave.
Dan-ah gently tells Kang-soo that not everyone is good like him — in fact there are a lot of crazy things that can happen to make you aware of just how many unscrupulous people there are in the world. She realizes that her words aren’t exactly comforting, but she just wants him to know the reality that trying to always be good will only make him disappointed and upset.
Kang-soo silently heads upstairs to his room. He sits in the darkness and cries as he apologizes to Hyun-soo, feeling the weight of the guilt that he was the one who yelled at Hyun-soo to visit his mother that night. Kang-soo blames himself for Hyun-soo’s accident.
Jin-gyu studies the Jung Family Food Manual, remembering how Hye-ran got him out of jail. She’d promised him a new start if, within six months, he managed to make the soup restaurant the most successful restaurant in the neighborhood and won over Ji-yoon’s heart. If he failed at either of those tasks, then her support would end.
Jung Family soup restaurant’s grand opening is in full swing, and the local restaurant owners come out to watch and complain about what it will mean for their own businesses. Kang-soo peers in at Grandma’s restaurant, but the once bustling place is devoid of customers.
Later, Kang-soo and Dan-ah prep for delivery, and Kang-soo is bewildered by Soon-ae’s gleeful serenade of love songs and squeeing every time he and Dan-ah bump into each other. Dan-ah reluctantly informs him that the only way she was able to keep him from being fired yesterday was by convincing Soon-ae and Chef Jang that she and Kang-soo are dating.
In shock, Kang-soo drops his delivery box. When he protests the absurd lie, she grumbles that it’s not like she had a choice. Then she orders him to play along and at least pretend like she’s his girlfriend. Neither are particularly happy about this ruse.
Ji-yoon calls Kang-soo to ask him to stop by the coffee shop. Hahaha, she also declares herself to be his girlfriend, saying that she can since no one else has claimed him. If she only knew. Kang-soo just laughs to himself at the bizarre way he’s suddenly found himself with two “girlfriends.”
Ji-yoon gives Kang-soo a coffee and tells him not to be worried about Jin-gyu — she’s sure Jin-gyu will be punished. But Kang-soo isn’t quite so confident, especially now that Jin-gyu is the head manager of Jung Family’s new restaurant. Kang-soo especially doesn’t respect Jung Family’s aggressive business tactics to make their restaurants succeed and make the long-standing local restaurants fail.
As Kang-soo drives off, Ji-yoon sadly wonders how much Kang-soo would hate her if he found out she’s the Jung Family heiress.
Over dinner, Chef Jang asks Grandma how busy she’s been. Grandma sadly says that she barely served ten meals, which is quite the change from the packed house she used to have. She wonders how long her restaurant will last, and then tries to cheerfully change the subject.
Soon-ae reveals that Dan-ah and Kang-soo are dating, and Grandma asks what Dan-ah likes most about Kang-soo. Dan-ah awkwardly says she just likes “everything,” and Kang-soo chokes on his water. Dan-ah uses a little too much force as she “helpfully” pounds on his back, and they grit their teeth as they try to pretend they’re a happy couple.
It’s convincing enough for Soon-ae, and as she leaves for the night, she sighs that she wants to fall in love, too. Chef Jang says that she can, and the music swells as he turns to look at her with an expectant smile. But Soon-ae curtails that dramatic moment with a “Get lost.”
Seems like there might be some past history between them as Chef Jang starts to make his case, but when Soon-ae orders him to leave, Chef Jang obediently turns and heads the opposite way.
The loan shark steps out of the shadows, pointing out to another gangster buddy that Chef Jang really is the gangster Jang Dong-soo they used to know. The loan shark is ready to deal with Chef Jang now, but the other gangster says they should wait until “the boys” get there.
Gong-gi and his guys hang out and complain about how Jin-gyu put Hyun-soo in a coma and is now proceeding to destroy Grandma’s restaurant. but they all quickly scramble to their feet when they realize Yeon-ji is walking by. Gong-gi also gets up. This is his first time seeing Yeon-ji, and he’s utterly mesmerized by her beauty. Looks like he’s got a new crush. Sorry, Dan-ah!
Yeon-ji arrives home to find Dan-ah studying her English, as per usual. Dan-ah grumbles that Yeon-ji is late, and then realizes that Yeon-ji reeks of alcohol and cigarettes. Yeon-ji insists that she didn’t smoke and only went out to drink with the other yoga instructors.
Dan-ah is suspicious, though, because Yeon-ji is late every night. Yeon-ji finally admits she’s been teaching yoga classes on the side, late at night for those who can’t come during the day. The alcohol is just because her students want to go out and drink afterwards.
Dan-ah doesn’t seem totally convinced, but Yeon-ji reassures Dan-ah that she’s not working in a hostess club. Once Yeon-ji is alone in the bathroom, her cheerful attitude disappears. Hmm, so maybe her extra part-time job is a hostess club, after all.
In the early morning, Dan-ah heads out for her job at the English learning center. Her usual route is blocked by a car — it’s Jin-gyu, headed to the restaurant for that 5am delivery, and he smiles and waves at her. Sighing, she stops to greet him.
After the initial awkward pleasantries, Jin-gyu quietly apologizes. Dan-ah tells him to forget it — it’s all in the past, anyway. But she’s curious how he was able to afford a high-priced defense lawyer when his family disowned him and the public uncharitably thinks of him as a careless chaebol. Jin-gyu says it’s all because of Hye-ran.
He’s not sure why the Jung Family CEO is the only one who seems to believe in him, but he’s determined to do his best to pay her back and live like a human being. Jin-gyu also hasn’t forgotten his promise to Dan-ah, and says that he’ll save up his own money to give her for her savings.
Dan-ah says it’s not necessary, since Kang-soo helped her recover a lot of the money she lost. Jin-gyu curiously asks how much money Kang-soo has, and Dan-ah sighs, telling Jin-gyu that his problem is always thinking about money first.
She adds that if he’s told that someone was hurt because of him, Jin-gyu shouldn’t bring up the hospital fees first thing, but instead visit the injured person in the hospital, see how they’re doing, and then get on his knees and apologize to the victim’s family. Jin-gyu protests that he shouldn’t have to do that when it wasn’t his car that hit Hyun-soo. Dan-ah points out that Jin-gyu likes to spend his money but doesn’t want to lose his pride.
She turns to leave, telling Jin-gyu she doesn’t want his money. She’ll make it on her own. Jin-gyu wonders why she’ll accept Kang-soo’s help but not his, and Dan-ah responds that when he finds out the reason, then Jin-gyu really will be a human being.
As Jin-gyu tries to unlock the restaurant front door, a guy dressed all in black and wearing a motorcycle helmet tries to attack him with a long pipe. The man in black only gets in a few kicks before the delivery truck arrives, scaring him off.
The man in black runs around the corner and raises his visor — it’s Sung-jae. Kang-soo’s on his way to the hospital to visit Hyun-soo, surprised to see Sung-jae out at that hour of the morning. When he sees the pipe in Sung-jae’s hands, he demands to know what’s going on.
Furious that Sung-jae attempted to kill Jin-gyu, especially when it could mean Sung-jae would be throwing his own life away, Kang-soo orders Sung-jae to leave the neighborhood and never come back. Kang-soo picks up the pipe Sung-jae dropped and takes it to a spot where it will be reasonably hidden — a spot that is visible on CCTV. Uh-oh.
Kang-soo arrives at the hospital to see Hyun-soo, but is surprised to discover Grandma is also there at that hour of the morning. She explains that she just wanted to be near Hyun-soo. Kang-soo asks how the restaurant is doing, and Grandma confesses that she hardly has any customers now that the Jung Famiy restaurant opened up. She’s not sure how long she’ll be able to pay Hyun-soo’s hospital bills.
In order to save Grandma’s restaurant, Kang-soo rounds up the neighborhood delivery guys to do some unofficial delivery for Grandma between their own deliveries. Her restaurant has never offered delivery before, so this is a way to gain new customers. Because they have so many drivers available with all the neighborhood guys willing to help out, they can deliver her soup almost immediately. Ha, I love that Gong-gi even hands out a flyer to a glowering Jin-gyu.
Dan-ah is worried about Kang-soo taking on yet another unofficial job, reminding him he’s already on thin ice because of his disappearance the other day. But Kang-soo is confident he won’t be caught — until Dan-ah has to hurriedly shut his delivery box once she sees that he’s brought back Grandma’s soup bowls instead of the jajangmyun dishes.
Thanks to the delivery guys’ efforts, they actually manage to make a noticiable dent in Jung Family’s sales. Hye-ran’s assistant wonders if they shouldn’t send in a more experienced manager to the restaurant, but Hye-ran decides to help Jin-gyu by offering to buy Grandma’s restaurant at a billion won over the market price.
On a Sunday when the noodle restaurant should be quiet and empty, Kang-soo makes a ruckus as he slams dough on the table, having decided to try to make noodles by hand the way Chef Jang does instead of by a machine. Dan-ah yells at him for being too loud and someone will notice, getting them in trouble for running their secret restaurant.
Then he drops the dough he’s holding, making Dan-ah even more annoyed about the amount of flour he’s just wasted.
But they both freeze when they see Soon-ae suddenly appear. When she sees Kang-soo and Dan-ah in the kitchen, her eyes narrow suspiciously as she says she’s figured out what’s really going on. They hold their breath, and then sigh in relief when she asks if Kang-soo was making a special lunch for Dan-ah. Aw.
Awkward as ever, they play up their fake relationship until Soon-ae leaves. Then Dan-ah slips on the dough on the floor and Kang-soo catches her in his arms. He leans in, and Dan-ah gulps as she closes her eyes, assuming he’s going to kiss her — but he just blows the flour off her cheek. Ha!
She practically chokes him in anger as she pushes him away, ordering him never to do that again. Kang-soo asks why she’s acting so flustered, wondering if she thought he was going to kiss her, but she just kicks him in the shins and orders him to clean up his mess.
Jin-gyu picks up Ji-yoon at her goshiwon for a date. She clearly doesn’t want to do anything with him, even when he suggests a movie, knowing how much she loves them. Pffft. The date is one series of mishaps after another, as Ji-yoon purposefully tries to be “accidentally” obnoxious. But Jin-gyu gracefully and patiently endures, no matter how much it may be killing him inside.
When he finally brings her back home, Ji-yoon yells in frustration that dating him is like trying to fight Gandhi. Haha! She demands to know why he keeps dating her when she treats him that way — he should just reject her already.
Jin-gyu sincerely apologizes, but he can’t stop dating her, so he asks her to find a way to suffer through it. He promises to find a way to make it more enjoyable for her. She grumbles that she can’t stand being around him any more, and he politely tells her that he’ll see her next week.
Dan-ah and Kang-soo count their secret earnings for the day, and Dan-ah feels guilty that Kang-soo continues to give her the full amount when he does all the cooking. But Kang-soo insists that it’s his fault that she’s so far behind her goal, refusing to take even a single cent.
Dan-ah’s bought him a “thank you” gift, anyway. He opens it up to reveal a flowery dress. He doesn’t understand why she’d give him such a thing, but Dan-ah just grins and says she knows his secret.
Kang-soo takes her upstairs so she can see his room without all of Ji-yoon’s belongings, explaining the a woman was secretly living there before. Dan-ah sheepishly apologizes for her wrong assumption that Kang-soo likes to wear women’s clothes. But she tells him to keep the gift — “it’s the thought that counts.”
Some detectives arrive just then to arrest Kang-soo for assault. Kang-soo doesn’t know what’s going on, but the detectives have footage of Kang-soo (or at least someone who likes like Kang-soo) attempting to attack Jin-gyu with a pipe. They also found the pipe with his fingerprints on it.
As the detectives cuff Kang-soo, Jin-gyu enters, telling Kang-soo (in words reminiscent of the way Kang-soo had asked him about the street racing) that even up until this moment, he was convinced his attacker couldn’t be Kang-soo. Jin-gyu asks if he really tried to attack him, and Kang-soo looks Jin-gyu straight in the eye: “Yes, I did it.”
Jin-gyu says that they’ll do this by the law, then, and orders the detectives to take Kang-soo away.
Noble idiocy is the worst, especially when you realize that it’s the only thing that makes sense (does that make it Noble Not-Quite-Idiocy? Noble Smarty? Noble Argh-I-Know-Why-You’re-Doing-This-And-Respect-It-But-Doesn’t-Mean-I-Like-It…y?). Kang-soo may be angry at Sung-jae for attempting to attack Jin-gyu, but that doesn’t mean Kang-soo will sell out one of his boys, especially if Sung-jae’s life would be ruined because of it. That’s not to say Kang-soo hasn’t wanted to pummel Jin-gyu with his own hands. But I can’t see squishy, heart-of-gold Kang-soo actually killing someone (or seriously maiming them), no matter how fueled he was by righteous rage. I think there’s also a sense of self-flagellation in his acceptance of the arrest, since Kang-soo already blames himself for Hyun-soo’s coma and the effect it has had on Grandma and her business. There could still have been a struggle against the Jung Family for purposefully stealing Grandma’s customers with their lower-priced product, but at least Grandma might have had the option of naturally closing up shop instead of worrying about how to pay for Hyun-soo’s medical bills for the unforeseeable future.
I’ve been enjoying the show more and more each episode, but this episode tipped me over into fully loving it. It’s finally the show I’d been wanting since the beginning, one that focuses on the neighborhood and the delivery drivers as they support their community, battling what they perceive to be an unwanted corporate outsider who’s already harmed one of their own. Perhaps we needed those prior five episodes to fully establish the motivations of all our characters, but part of me wishes we could have reached this point a week sooner. I really hope we get to spend the rest of the series in the small neighborhood, watching everyone fight for what they believe in as they continue to grow as human beings. I don’t need big dramatic plot devices — I just want Kang-soo and his Deliverymen Army to make the world a better place, even if it’s just those dozen blocks in their neighborhood. I want to see Jin-gyu to continue to learn humility even as he becomes confident in skills that will ideally prove that he’s more than just a carefree idiot. I want Ji-yoon and Dan-ah to finally meet, dammit, and become friends (but not rivals).
At least everyone now is in the same neighborhood, and it seems like they’re there to stay. I love that Ji-yoon is still in her teeny-tiny goshiwon, determined to make it on her own. She’s so spunky and adorable and hilariously obnoxious in her attempts to make Jin-gyu reject her so she can be freed to live her own life. It’s a pity she doesn’t know Jin-gyu is also under an ultimatum from her mother — I feel like if the two of them were honest that they’re only dating each other because of Hye-ran’s crazy schemes, they could actually have some mutual fun. Contract dating that allows each other to date their respective beloved jjajangmyun delivery drivers, even while those two delivery drivers are fake-dating each other? Exactly the kind of farcical insanity that promises to delight. The more fake dating, the merrier, especially if means making me perpetually confused about which relationship I’m rooting for.
Even though Hye-ran is the corporate villain in our underdog story, I’m struggling to really hate her. Yes, she’s controlling, but she’s also in charge of large corporation that she’s very proud of and wants to continue to see it grow. I can’t really despise someone for finding slightly underhanded but ambitious ways of achieving their business goals, even if it makes me angry on behalf of those who want to preserve the local, true family-run restaurants that have been around for decades. I still don’t understand Hye-ran’s goal in using Jin-gyu — especially now that he’s been cut off from his family and his name has been raked through the mud — but I have to respect that she sees something in him that’s worth fostering. He needs someone to believe in him, and as we’ve seen previously, Jin-gyu seems to flourish when he’s given tasks that he can accomplish.
So now I can only hope that he’s able to succeed and prove Hye-ran right. But then I also want him to fail because I don’t want all the independent restaurants — especially Grandma’s — to be swallowed up by the Jung Family. I also want him to succeed in wooing Ji-yoon because these two are delightful together. But I also want Ji-yoon to live her independent life. Ahh, the quandaries this show puts me in.
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