Strong Girl Nam-soon: Episodes 13-14
Our heroes and their nemesis go head-to-head, each side pulling all the strings at their disposal to bring the other down. But this is still just the calm before the storm, and a shocking discovery might just send our supervillain over the edge once and for all.
Much as certain parts of Strong Girl Nam-soon continue to fall flat, there are some genuinely nice moments this week, starting with the opening scene of Episode 13. Following their kiss, Nam-soon and Hee-shik lie in bed together, simply talking. He confides in her about how Dong-seok’s death brought back the helplessness he’d felt when he lost his brother, and she assures him it wasn’t it his fault. They declare each other very precious people and exchange “I love yous” in Mongolian, and then Nam-soon holds Hee-shik until he falls asleep.
Meanwhile, Geum-joo’s special broadcast goes on without Secretary Jung (we’ll come back to her). After demonstrating on-air how the Doogo coat’s “feathers” disintegrate into drug powder, the newscaster exposes the names of Shi-oh’s inner circle of bribed elites — prosecutors, judges, the police commissioner, and the like.
While Shi-oh scrambles to do damage control, Nam-soon sneaks his secret phone out of his desk drawer and quickly copies its contents onto a USB for Hee-shik. She returns it seconds before he gets back to the office, and though he seems to suspect something’s amiss, he brushes it off. Again, he asks if he can trust her. Again, she says yes. So he takes her to his super-secret lab, and while he trades threats with another former Pavel agent, Nam-soon gets footage of the super drug antidote being made from sea hare blood.
In response to Geum-joo’s broadcast, Shi-oh has her banned from further broadcasts… to which she shrugs and decides, oh well, you can’t fight outlaws without becoming one yourself. Cue special broadcast #2. And that takes us back to Secretary Jung. She hasn’t been kidnapped, only drugged — not with THE super drug, but a kind that’s punishable by death in China. Which is where her sister is. Shi-oh personally calls to explain that if she wants to save her sister from certain death, she must announce during the broadcast that the previous accusations were false.
Geum-joo, however, notices that Secretary Jung is trembling and takes her aside to ask what’s going on. The whole story comes out, Geum-joo calls on Opulentia to protect the sister, and the broadcast proceeds as originally planned.
Shi-oh is annoyed, but he has bigger things to rage about now, because he’s finally tracked down footage of Nam-soon’s arrival in Korea and discovered that Tsetseg was Kang Nam-soon all along. Thinking through every time she’s made him smile and every time she’s lied about who she is, he mutters, “Now I understand why Pavel executes traitors and never gives second chances.”
The next shipment of sea hares is scheduled to arrive in Busan soon, so Geum-joo suggests a family trip to their vacation home. She’ll investigate the shipment, and Bong-go and Nam-in will be relatively safe from Shi-oh’s impending wrath. She invites the whole family, but Joong-gan stays to “end things with her husband” and Geum-joo’s brother, HWANG GEUM-DONG (Kim Ki-doo), stays to give his father moral support.
Geum-joo also arranges a surprise for Nam-soon in Busan: her Mongolian mother has flown in to visit! It’s a lovely little reunion, and Geum-joo and Bong-go thank her warmly for caring for Nam-soon when they couldn’t. While Nam-soon and her adoptive mother explore Busan, Geum-joo does her investigating. And who should she happen to meet? You guessed it — Bread Song.
They relocate to a cafe, where he finally explains a bit about his past. As a young orphan, he left Busan for Russia on a fishing boat. Somewhere along the way, his wares changed from fish to choco pies. Geum-joo doesn’t care that this darkest time of his life earned him the nickname “Choco Song,” but at least it seems to explain why he was in Russia at the same time Shi-oh was. He offers his Russian connections if she ever needs help, but she remains disgusted by his very existence. Unfortunately, that’s not how it looks when Bong-go and Nam-in spot the two together. Bong-go may claim he no longer cares about Geum-joo, but the thought of her having moved onto someone else clearly breaks his heart.
As for Hee-shik, he and his team are on the brink of disbandment because of their involvement in Geum-joo’s broadcast. So they stage a walkout and form their own private investigation agency, and Geum-joo gives them use of her private vault for a secret office. When they arrive, only Jun-hee is there to welcome and offer them coffee. They go through a few rounds of guests inviting other guests to make themselves at home, which would be a lot funnier if Jun-hee weren’t here because he “won” a brawl with Joong-gan’s husband in the latter’s hospital room.
Once Nam-soon gives the green light, the detectives hijack an official news broadcast with her video of the antidote lab and evidence incriminating the higher-ups who took bribes from Shi-oh. The detectives are promptly arrested, but calmly bide their time in the holding cell until they’re released. The corrupt police commissioner has been fired, and his replacement has issued a warrant for Shi-oh’s arrest.
Shi-oh, however, has not been idle. After a failed attempt at kidnapping Joong-gan (who easily fought her way free from his minions), he has Hwa-ja followed and stabbed in an alley. “I told you you’d die if you lied to me,” he tells her as she bleeds out on the street. Jun-hee is also kidnapped, but Joong-gan easily rescues him, too.
Then Shi-oh procures a dose of his super drug and uses the boost of superstrength to waylay and murder the new police commissioner. As he does, he texts Nam-soon from Hwa-ja’s phone: “Ryu Shi-oh killed me because I said I didn’t know you… and you’re next.”
I think the thing that frustrates me the most about Joong-gan and Jun-hee’s part of the story is that, especially this week, they have their moments where they’re almost fun characters to have around. Like Joong-gan getting carjacked and only caring about but HOW did you get into my car??? Or Jun-hee acting like a bathrobe-wearing butler in a house that’s not his own. But then they carry on (repeatedly) physically and verbally attacking Joong-gan’s husband — and playing it for laughs — and I’m back to wishing they weren’t in the story at all.
Many of the other characters, however, had some really sweet moments together that I genuinely enjoyed. Like Nam-soon and Nam-in spending some quality time together and discussing family gossip over chicken. And Geum-joo supporting Secretary Jung, and Secretary Jung trusting her to take care of it.
Now that most secrets are out and Shi-oh is on a murderous rampage, I’m expecting a big super-powered showdown next week. And I have a feeling at least part of the outcome will depend on what happened to Shi-oh’s long-lost childhood friend — and whether he’ll make a surprise appearance.