Strongest Deliveryman: Episode 12
It’s all hands on deck for our deliveryman team this hour, and they need to continue to find new ways to succeed against Jung Family Foods in their ongoing turf war. Hell Joseon might be threatening to swallow them whole, but with the camaraderie and support they provide each other, they just might be able to break through and find a way to succeed.
EPISODE 12 RECAP
Kang-soo and Hye-ran face off in the middle of the street, and both refuse to yield to the other’s request to move aside. Hye-ran quips that the food Kang-soo delivers hardly qualifies as food before finally backing down to allow the deliverymen to pass.
She tells the rest of the Jung Family employees to return to the store to prepare for lunch, and resolves to get every single customer in the area to eat at their store.
The remaining restaurant owners curse out Hye-ran after she leaves, and the only plan they can think of is to partner with Kang-soo and hope that he can save them.
Over the phone, Kang-soo agrees to partner with another store, and we see him and the rest of the Strongest Deliveryman crew travel around the neighborhood to put up their delivery signs at several new affiliate restaurants.
Back at the Jung Family head office, Hye-ran checks the sales figures for their new stores and seems pleased with the results, but elsewhere, Kang-soo’s delivery app ensures the original restaurants still maintain a steady stream of their own customers.
At Lucky Noodles, Gong-gi arrives to pick up a delivery, but Soon-ae questions why Kang-soo and Dan-ah can’t deliver for them exclusively. Gong-gi tells her that’s not how the system works and heads out, leaving Soon-ae annoyed.
Dan-ah and Kang-soo almost collide in the street on their motorcycles, and Kang-soo uses this opportunity to invite Dan-ah out to lunch with him. Meanwhile, Ji-yoon eats at her typical lunch bench and ponders what to do with the credit card Jin-gyu gave her.
Kang-soo and Dan-ah walk together while nibbling on a quick lunch and run into Ji-yoon, who awkwardly invites them to join her. They sit together in an uncomfortable silence, and Ji-yoon ultimately decides it would be best to leave the two of them alone.
She gets up and offers her farewell to Kang-soo, and as she walks away crying to herself, it’s clear that this is more than a simple goodbye for her. She’s giving up on her one-sided crush.
At the Jung Family restaurant, Hye-ran and her new restaurant manager brainstorm on how to handle Kang-soo’s hindrance on their business, and Hye-ran tells the manager to make sure the other restaurants are frozen out within six months.
The manager heads straight for Jin-gyu’s old notebook and finds all of his ideas for counter-strategies that he came up with prior to quitting.
After work, Kang-soo sees Dan-ah off from Lucky Noodles, and she makes him promise not to follow her to cram school in the morning so he can focus on his own responsibilities as CEO.
Soon after, Sung-jae takes his leave as well, though he stops to ask Kang-soo why he hasn’t asked Hyun-soo to join them yet. Kang-soo deflects, saying he wants to give Hyun-soo more time to rest.
Meanwhile, Kang-soo’s mom closes up shop with Grandma, who is curious to know if something happened between Mom and Kang-soo the other day. Grandma suggests that Hyun-soo wants to join Kang-soo’s company, but Mom snaps back that he can never do that before quickly collecting herself to explain that he should stay with his mom.
Grandma quickly agrees, but she clearly recognizes that Mom’s outburst indicates that she’s hiding something about what happened that day.
At the bank, Hye-ran meets the bank president to talk business. She asks him about the loans that all of the other restaurants in the area took out from his bank, and tells him that since the Jung Family is now the bank’s customer, he should tie up the loose ends with those other loans.
The bank president agrees and offers to clear it up right away, and as they leave the office together, we linger on his nameplate on the desk, identifying him as Kim Jong-hyun.
Elsewhere, the neighborhood loan sharks discuss this same Kim Jong-hyun, who is apparently Soon-ae’s ex-husband, and it turns out that as soon as Soon-ae’s father died, Kim Jong-hyun framed Soon-ae for adultery and left her with nothing.
The person who helped Kim Jong-hyun frame Soon-ae, then, is the person Viper is supposed to be searching for at Chef Jang’s request. But Viper doesn’t know where this mystery man is either, and lied so that Chef Jang would fulfill his end of the bargain.
Just then, Chef Jang surprises the loan sharks out of nowhere and threatens that he’ll kill Viper himself if Viper doesn’t call him within three days. Chef Jang trudges off, leaving the loan sharks to worry about what to do.
Back at Lucky Noodles, Soon-ae pesters Kang-soo and Dan-ah to be the only two drivers from Strongest Deliveryman to deliver for their restaurant. Dan-ah lightly protests, but Kang-soo agrees to bring it up with the rest of the employees later.
When the Strongest Deliveryman crew meet, they unanimously vote to allow Soon-ae’s request, and afterward, they all tease that Kang-soo and Dan-ah should just get married while they’re at it. Kang-soo giggles to himself about it, but an annoyed Dan-ah smacks the table and warns them to shut up, and they sheepishly head back to work.
Before leaving, Kang-soo tells Dan-ah that he plans to put Jin-gyu’s photo in their group chat so the other drivers can look for him while they make deliveries. Dan-ah admits that she too is curious what happened to him, but didn’t want to bring it up in case Kang-soo would get upset.
Jin-gyu, meanwhile, continues to live on the streets and scrounges around looking for free meals and places to wash up, earning the scorn of others as he tries to get by after giving up everything he had.
During her lunch break, Ji-yoon can’t help but reminisce about Jin-gyu’s kindness toward her. On her way back, she realizes that a photographer is trying to stealthily follow her (not very successfully), and she confronts him, knowing that her dad put him up to it.
The photographer reveals that there were three teams of photographers. He followed her, and another followed Kang-soo briefly until it was apparent that he was dating Dan-ah. Ji-yoon guesses that the last one must be following Jin-gyu, and asks the photographer where Jin-gyu is now.
Outside the neighborhood restaurants, a bank official informs the restaurant owners that the bank is calling in the rest of their loans immediately, and the deadline for payment cannot be pushed back.
Soon after, Kang-soo arrives and notices the downtrodden looks on the owners’ faces, so he asks what’s wrong. The owners, though, don’t want to trouble him, and send him off without mentioning their financial troubles.
Back at Lucky Noodles, Soon-ae pulls Dan-ah aside and tells her about the tracking device she put in Chef Jang’s shoe. She asks Dan-ah to come with her if anything comes up, and Dan-ah agrees. Kang-soo arrives and asks if something is wrong, but Soon-ae denies it, again leaving him in the dark.
At the end of the day, Chef Jang hastily leaves on his own, and Kang-soo notices Soon-ae eyeing Chef Jang suspiciously. When Soon-ae leaves, Kang-soo inquires about what’s going on between Soon-ae and Chef Jang, but Dan-ah also denies there is any problem. Kang-soo clearly suspects otherwise, and they head inside for a company meeting.
Meanwhile, Jin-gyu continues to wander the streets and finds some leftover kimbap sitting on a dining table outside. He hesitantly brings the kimbap to his mouth, but Ji-yoon dramatically charges in to stop him.
She wrestles the kimbap out of his hands, and he pathetically pleads for her to leave. Instead, Ji-yoon breaks down and cries at seeing Jin-gyu in this state, crumpling into a ball of tears in front of him.
Back at the meeting, the deliverymen brainstorm advertising ideas for the app, but Soon-ae calls Dan-ah with news that Chef Jang is on the move, and asks Dan-ah to meet her at the location he is heading to. Dan-ah tells the rest of the company that she needs to leave early, lying that it’s because of Yeon-ji before heading off to follow Chef Jang.
Elsewhere, Ji-yoon treats Jin-gyu to a bowl of ramen, and Ji-yoon scarfs down her own food as quickly as Jin-gyu does. When he asks why Ji-yoon is starving too, she tells him, “There was no one to annoy me while I ate, so I had no appetite.”
She offers to treat him to whatever food he wants, and when he giggles in response, she tells him that he’s cute. Taken aback, he wonders if something happened to her, and she admits that it’s because her first love didn’t work out.
But Ji-yoon is ready to move on, she says, and wants to make her second love work out now. Jin-gyu wonders who that might be, and she stuns him by admitting that it’s him.
He asks her if she’s gone crazy, and Ji-yoon parrots back the line he used on her when she was stubbornly refusing his advances, “Yes I’m crazy… for you.” Ha, these two are adorable.
He tells her not to be so scary, but she responds that there’s something even scarier to worry about: She’ll be monitoring him 24 hours per day. She motions for him to look outside to see what she means, and there are the photographers her father hired, now forced to listen to Ji-yoon so she doesn’t get them fired.
Dan-ah heads across town looking for Chef Jang, and while she’s stopped at an intersection, some friends of Kang-soo recognize her as Kang-soo’s girlfriend. At the same time, the Strongest Deliveryman meeting concludes, and aside from Kang-soo, only Gong-gi remains behind, taking selfies with all kinds of aegyo poses for his company picture. Ha.
Kang-soo’s friends call him and inform him of where Dan-ah is, confirming that she didn’t go home because of Yeon-ji. Kang-soo leaves to chase after her, and Gong-gi follows close behind.
Chef Jang arrives at an old warehouse to find Viper and the loan sharks waiting for him. Viper claims that the man Chef Jang is looking for is tied up inside, but when they head inside and the man in question is tied with his back facing them, Chef Jang knows something is wrong.
The rest of the gangsters quickly surround Chef Jang and knock him unconscious. When he comes to, Chef Jang is the one tied to the chair, and Viper admits to lying about performing Chef Jang’s favor.
Viper tells his men to kill Chef Jang quickly, but just then, Soon-ae and Dan-ah barge into the warehouse. Chef Jang yells at them to run away, and the gangsters give chase outside, swiftly surrounding the two women.
The sound of a motorcycle horn startles everyone, and both Kang-soo and Gong-gi roll in, scattering the gangsters. Gong-gi even sends his still-moving bike at a group of them as he dives off. An all-out melee ensues, with Dan-ah joining in herself to help fight off the gangsters.
Back in the warehouse, Chef Jang convinces the loan shark to release him from the chair, and he sprints outside as Viper pulls a knife and starts to approach the fight in progress. Chef Jang quickly dispatches Viper and shouts for everyone to stop, which ends the brawl on the spot.
Viper and his gangsters all kneel to beg forgiveness from Chef Jang, who spares them under the condition that they never show up in front of him again.
Chef Jang apologizes to Soon-ae for getting involved with the gangsters, but she coldly tells him off. Soon-ae tries to get Kang-soo to take her home, but Chef Jang intercedes, and Kang-soo, Dan-ah, and Gong-gi all badger her into letting Chef Jang take her.
Gong-gi leaves as well, and, now alone together, Kang-soo scolds Dan-ah for her foolish actions. He’s absolutely furious, and storms off on foot after telling her that she’s fired, leaving her dumbstruck.
She catches up to him later and musters an apology, but he continues to walk away and ignore her. She chases him down, still pleading with him. Finally, she pulls him into a back-hug, promising to not do it again.
Kang-soo finally relents and turns around to give her a deep hug of his own before making sure she didn’t get hurt anywhere in the brawl.
When Chef Jang and Soon-ae arrive back at Lucky Noodles, he begins to tell her about what Viper promised him, but she stops him immediately. “Whatever that guy said, it’s all in the past,” she tells him, then adds, “I’ve forgotten everything. You should forget too. You forget everything else, so why do you remember the bad things?”
Chef Jang stammers another apology, but Soon-ae, sick of hearing apology after apology, brushes him off and storms off on her own.
Gong-gi, back at his home, dramatically recounts the tale of the gangster encounter for the rest of the crew. He basks in his own glory, only for them to dismissively poke fun at him. Gong-gi looks so upset when he sees their disinterested response as the Knucklehead Trio all lie down in unison to sleep when he finishes. Hahaha.
Sung-jae changes the subject by mentioning that the company should do something to welcome new recruits. Min-chan suggests they should have a company retreat, and the Knucklehead Trio immediately spring back to life to agree.
Sometime later, the company crew heads out to Min-chan’s hometown for their retreat. They all relish in the scenery of the countryside, and Kang-soo promises to help Min-chan buy all the land here so he can preserve it from being built on.
The group explores the remains of what was a firing range used by the U.S. military until the year 2000. Kang-soo wonders how Min-chan could live in a place that was essentially like a war zone, and Min-chan replies that he doesn’t know, he just lived without thinking about it like everyone else there. Wow, what a sobering story.
The group continue to explore the village together, and Kang-soo and Sung-jae reminisce about their own hometown, and their memories of growing up together as friends.
Dan-ah gets a phone call from Yeon-ji, who tries to get Dan-ah to admit that she is alone with Kang-soo, but an annoyed Dan-ah just hangs up on her. Still reeling, Yeon-ji is greeted by Ji-yoon, who is moving into the third floor of their building.
They introduce each other, and when Yeon-ji mentions that she lives on the rooftop, Ji-yoon realizes that she must live with Dan-ah. Ji-yoon asks Yeon-ji to pass along the news to Dan-ah that she’s moving in below, and Ji-yoon heads inside to get settled.
Once inside, Ji-yoon marvels at how big the space is, giggling to herself that “it’s more than enough space for two people.” Ha. She sure is planning to move fast on Jin-gyu.
Meanwhile, Jin-gyu tries to eat lunch on a park bench, only for Ji-yoon’s photographer to catch his attention and wave at him. Jin-gyu turns away to eat his lunch in peace, only to find another photographer staring at him from the other direction. Jin-gyu bemoans his lack of privacy and sighs, “I’ve been totally kidnapped.” Ha.
Back at the retreat, the group plays a bunch of games, including the Pepero game, which hilariously leads to two of our Knucklehead Trio members immediately getting up to the other’s mouth and sharing what is practically a full kiss. Hahaha.
Afterward, they realize they forgot to bring alcohol with them, so Gong-gi tells Min-chan to go buy some, which leads to them going through the full chain of command before the responsibility eventually falls on Dan-ah. She heartily agrees and rushes off to the store.
Kang-soo goes to follow after her, but the guys reveal that they actually already have alcohol, and this was all a setup so they could send Dan-ah and Kang-soo out together.
Kang-soo catches up to Dan-ah outside the store and, after revealing that they were set up, asks Dan-ah to go for a walk with him. They walk along the waterfront together, and Dan-ah affirms her belief that there’s no hope in this country for someone like her.
Kang-soo argues that there is hope — after all, even he could become CEO of a company despite coming from nothing. But Dan-ah worries that even a nice guy like Kang-soo won’t be left alone to succeed in Hell Joseon.
Kang-soo realizes that Dan-ah must still plan to leave, and tells her that no matter where she is, he just wants her to be happy, adding that he always wished that for her.
He explains how he felt when he first heard that Dan-ah delivered food for five years, knowing the unique challenges that women face in this line of work, and how the only other woman he knew who did this job quit after three days because she couldn’t handle it.
Kang-soo never experienced anything like that, and could move from place to place without worrying about those things, but any time Dan-ah wanted to do the same, she’d have to experience those hardships again.
Kang-soo tells Dan-ah that his heart ached for her when he thought about that, and all Dan-ah can do is struggle to fight back tears. He grabs her hand and ask earnestly “Can’t I make you happy? Can you not leave? If a person like me can succeed, you don’t have to leave. You could be happy here too.”
Tears now falling down her face, Dan-ah says she doesn’t know, and Kang-soo pulls her into a hug. He implores her one more time, “Don’t go. Stay here. I’ll try. I’ll try to make you happy.”
Dan-ah sobs in response, so Kang-soo pulls back, and they stare into each other’s eyes for a moment before he leans in slowly and pulls Dan-ah into a soft, tender kiss.
These two are a cute couple, and Kang-soo is doing his best to break through Dan-ah’s shell with every morsel of his being, but she’s pretty tough to crack. Dan-ah put herself in this position, though, when she decided to date Kang-soo for her remaining days while thinking that she could cut the cord without looking back. Now she’s stuck between two mutually exclusive options: 1) leave Korea as she planned in search of a better life elsewhere, but leave Kang-soo behind, or 2) stay and be with the man she is completely head over heels for, no matter how much she denies it, but be stuck in the Hell Joseon she spent her life trying so diligently to flee.
While I think Kang-soo’s optimism is more of a constant character trait for him than something that ebbs and flows depending on the circumstances, I think he is being a little bit shortsighted when it comes to convincing Dan-ah that the Hell Joseon she is trying to escape from is something that can be overcome without needing to flee. Sure, he did become CEO of his own company, but it’s not as if he is suddenly running a wealthy conglomerate. Dan-ah is trying to escape from a system that keeps the less fortunate down and allows the rich to get richer, and Kang-soo’s success, while promising, doesn’t exactly disprove the notion that Hell Joseon is still acting to maintain this status quo in society.
Even as Kang-soo succeeds, we still see the other less fortunate members of society being taken advantage of by the larger firms, paving the way for the Jung Family to take over the area, and the restaurants that the Jung Family is treading on are absolutely powerless to stop it. The banks side with the richest customers, push the smaller ones out, and we see how hopeless the struggle is over and over again. First Grandma’s store fell, and now the remaining restaurants will be forced to immediately repay their loans, and when they can’t do so because the Jung Family takes so much of their business away, the banks will simply take their buildings away from them, and then the Jung Family succeeds in cornering the market again. It’s a vicious cycle, and one that exemplifies exactly what Dan-ah wants to escape from.
So for Kang-soo to use his own success to attempt to sway Dan-ah into staying is, I think, a bit disingenuous, and perhaps even selfish (is that a word I can use to describe Kang-soo without breaking the laws of the universe?). I don’t want this to come off as an attack on Kang-soo, because that’s certainly not the intention. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes, and especially for a guy like Kang-soo, who is so virtuous and upstanding in every ounce of his being. He deserves to get something that he wants every once in a while since he spends so much time looking after the needs of others around him, but I think trying to paint himself as someone who overcame Hell Joseon is a strange choice when we know that a large group of those very people who Kang-soo is trying to help are about to go under.
Which is why, I think, it’s more likely that Kang-soo is being disingenuous. He tried his best to woo Dan-ah simply with his own charm (and frankly how can a girl not swoon when this guy is out there doting on her), and when that failed to convince her not to leave the country, he realized that he wanted her to stay and took a new tack to get what he wants. Again, there is nothing wrong with this, and I don’t think it’s too out of character to think that Kang-soo would do something that indicates he isn’t just a pure idealist. He can have nice things too.
But enough with the serious talk because we need to discuss important matters here, like how adorable Ji-yoon and Jin-gyu are together. I love how their whole dynamic is completely flipped now, with Ji-yoon following Jin-gyu around (well, by proxy at least) and saying cheesy lines like the ones he used to throw at her to display affection, while he now just wants to be left alone but can’t get the thorn out of his side. He may be homeless now, but as Ji-yoon said, there’s definitely enough room for two people to live in her new place (*wink*). Go get him, girl!
I also find the antics of the rest of the Strongest Deliveryman crew to be some of the most enjoyable moments of the show. The Knucklehead Trio are the perfect foil for Gong-gi (who is such a lovable dork in just about every manner), and both Sung-jae and Min-chan balance out the buffoonery of their counterparts with more grounded perspectives, and they strike a great balance between seriousness and comedy throughout. But it’s great to know that when push comes to shove, they’ll be there for their comrades, like Gong-gi was when he fearlessly followed Kang-soo into a den of gangsters (seriously, that’s completely nuts!) to save Dan-ah, Soon-ae, and Chef Jang. If you’re going to try to tackle Hell Joseon, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better group of people to back you up.
- 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