Delivery Man: Episodes 1-2
We’re off to a good start in ENA’s newest drama Delivery Man. The first week promises cute, ghostly adventures as our taxi driver helps grant his dead riders’ wishes so they can move on from the living realm. Except his first ghost passenger has no idea who she is or what she needs, so they might be stuck together for a while yet.
Right from the opening credits, I was into the cute, lighthearted tone. The vibe is fun and cheeky, which gives it the feel of a zany adventure with some deeper moments along the way. Although it’s not all happy – obviously, given this is a ghost story, there is a lot of death involved – it doesn’t feel heavy. There are some hints that things could get darker later, but I really hope the cute stays. The cheeky moments add personality, like when ghostly happenings are accompanied by the famous spooky organ opening from Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.
The plot centers around taxi driver SEO YOUNG-MIN (Yoon Chan-young) who is struggling to support himself and his grandmother PARK BOON-JA (Park Hye-jin). They’re about to lose their house because they can’t afford the mortgage, so Young-min squeezes every bit of money he can out of his taxi service.
After his mother was killed in a hit-and-run a few months prior, Young-min took over both her taxi and caring for his grandmother. He’s kind-hearted, hard-working, and tries to stay optimistic for his grandmother, despite their dire situation. He strikes me as the kind-but-downtrodden archetype more typically given to the female lead.
The story really kicks off when Young-min finds a mysterious phone in his cab. As soon as he picks it up, a ghost flickers in and out of sight in his backseat. It’s not until that night that he sees the ghost in his backseat. At first, he thinks she’s one of the actors he just dropped off at the cemetery… then he sees her walk right through the door of his cab, and he promptly passes out.
But it turns out the situation is just as shocking for her since she’s just figuring out that she’s dead. On top of that, she has no clue who she is or what happened to her. While she may have no idea, we learn pretty quickly that she’s a woman named KANG JI-HYUN (Minah) whose death is being investigated. Interestingly, the suspects are three taxi drivers, one of whom is Young-min’s deceased mom.
As if that weren’t enough to tie them together, both Young-min’s mom and Ji-hyun died on the same day. Neither the hit-and-run driver nor Ji-hyun’s murderer (?) have been caught. Adding to the mysteriousness is the fact that Young-min and Boon-ja don’t know how the taxi – minus the dashcam – got back to their house after the accident. Everything screams setup.
Already having his fair share of problems, Young-min is not thrilled that he’s now got a ghost in his taxi that only he can see. He draws the line when her presence loses him business because all his passengers get sick in his cab. That is, all his passengers except Young-min’s regular customer DO KYU-JIN (Kim Min-seok), the doctor who tried to save Young-min’s mother after her accident.
But one customer does not a successful business make, so Young-min does everything he can think of to get rid of Ji-hyun. Because it’s not so much that she won’t leave, it’s that she can’t. Whenever she ventures too far from the cab, she’s magically slammed right back inside.
Young-min shows a hilariously bad sketch to the police in hopes they can find her identity (obviously, that’s a bust), he hires a shaman to do an exorcism, and then he resorts to the tried and true method of internet forums. When nothing works, he has to accept they’re stuck together for now. This suits Ji-hyun just fine since she needs someone to help her figure out who she is and why she’s here.
Without her memory, Ji-hyun’s only tie to the physical world and only chance of moving on is Young-min. Lucky for her, despite his complaining, he’s not the type of person who can just walk away from people in need. He even starts parking his cab outside his house where it’s well-lit so she doesn’t get scared at night.
Then, things get more complicated when Young-min stops to pick up a customer who turns out to be quite dead. So now he’s got two ghost passengers wanting his help. Funnily enough, it’s Ji-hyun who’s more scared since she’s never met a ghost. She gets over her fear quickly enough when she realizes this new ghost Byung-cheol is threatening her territory. Ji-hyun calls dibs on Young-min in a go-find-your-own-living-human way, but it turns out she’s not selfish enough to ignore others’ pain either, so she’s willing to share.
Young-min is at his wit’s end over how the heck he’s supposed to make money in this situation and wants to sell his taxi. Still, he can’t ignore yet another ghost who enlists his help passing along some gold rings to his wife to pay their daughter’s hospital bills. In return, he leaves one of the gold rings to Young-min. Since Ji-hyun is desperate not to lose Young-min as her driver – who else will believe or help her? – she convinces him an exclusive taxi service for ghosts could totally be lucrative. She’ll be the sales manager and help him recruit the ghosts. Byung-cheol jumps in and lies that he’s got a lot of money, so Young-min is willing to give it a go.
It’s not even a full day before he realizes he’s been had by the two ghosts desperate for his help. Even so, Young-min helps Byung-cheol retrieve his gold (does everyone have a hidden gold stash?) so that he can install a bathtub for his wife. Things get more complicated when someone claiming to be Byung-cheol’s mother shows up to con his wife out of the compensation money for Byung-cheol’s work-related death. When signs point to the mother being a fraud, Byung-cheol’s wife is ready to fight her for the money. Then, the wife finds out she’s pregnant.
Thankfully, Young-min and his ghost sidekicks are able to save the day. Byung-cheol got a DNA card before he died, so they test that against his supposed mother to prove she’s a fake. Ji-hyun is thrilled they were able to help Byung-cheol and tries (unsuccessfully) to high-five Young-min. That’s when Young-min notices she’s wearing his mother’s hair tie on her wrist. And with that, we close out our first week’s episodes.
I expected it’d take more time for Young-min and Ji-hyun to become friendly, but all things considered, Young-min adapted pretty quickly to the situation. Ji-hyun’s persistent and forward personality probably didn’t hurt, either. At first, her pushiness and judgment over Young-min being so focused on money was frustrating. But she did back off once she stopped to consider his situation and that he wasn’t being selfish but was truly in a bind. I do like her character overall and think they make a fun team, so I’m looking forward to seeing them use her strange amount of legal knowledge (former lawyer, perhaps?) and his ability to, you know, touch things to resolve ghostly last wishes. I just hope the murder(s) mystery doesn’t take over everything, and we continue to get a good balance of human stories, cheekiness, and ghostly antics.