Edited by Kim Won Hee
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
If Do Bong Soon flexed her muscle in Dobong District back in 2017, make way for Nam Soon in Gangnam District in 2023! Strong Girl Nam-soon is a spin-off to Strong Girl Bong-soon, and writer Baek Mi Kyung takes up the pen again. While the original drama was lauded for its charming romance between Park Bo Young and Park Hyung Sik and its focus on crimes against women, this new entry has its own unique appeal that has been receiving positive reviews.
Kang Nam Soon (Lee Yoo Mi) hails from a family with a peculiar lineage: generation after generation of women in her family possess Herculean strength. Nam Soon, along with her mother Hwang Geum Joo (Kim Jung Eun) and grandmother Gil Jung Gan (Kim Hae Sook), all wield enormous strength. Nam Soon stands out even among them with her remarkable eyesight, high jump ability, and speed. In 2013, she went missing during a trip to Mongolia with her father, growing up under Mongolian foster parents with no memory of her past. After a decade, she returns to Korea to search for her lost parents. This search seems to take a hitch when the fake daughter Lee Hwa Ja (Choi Hee Jin) shows up in front of Geum Joo, who’s never given up on meeting her daughter again, but with the aid of police officer Kang Hee Sik (Ong Seong Wu), the family is finally reunited. Finally together in one place, the three generations of strong women are determined to use their power and wealth to make the world a better place.
While the prequel focused on a string of kidnappings targeting women, this new installment zeroes in on the persistent issue of drug-related crimes. Strong Girl Nam-soon doesn’t shy away from highlighting several societal issues in scenes and dialogues, adding an edge to its appeal. For instance, right upon her arrival in Korea, Nam Soon falls prey to an Airbnb scam and theft, underscoring the lax penalties for scam crimes targeting travelers, which occur more frequently than we’d assume, and the inadequate investigations when foreigners are the victims.
In another episode where Nam Soon takes on a part-time gig as a delivery driver for a covert mission, the drama takes no prisoners in calling out the unsafe working conditions. From bosses who disdainfully dismiss their low-income employees to customers who wield their complaints like weapons, engaging in unchecked power plays, the show dissects the harsh realities the part-timers face. Especially the scene featuring Nam Soon’s stint as a background actor brings attention to the disregard for the basic welfare of extras who work hard on sets. Through these scenarios, Strong Girl Nam-soon offers a vicarious sense of satisfaction by solving these problems with Nam-soon’s abilities.
The cast’s stellar performances are another highlight. Lee Yoo Mi encapsulates the innocence, cuteness, and righteousness of Nam Soon perfectly. The contrasting chemistry between Ong Seong Wu, who plays upright police officer Kang Hee Sik chasing after the crimes, and Byeon Woo Seok, portraying the ruthless psychopath Ryu Si Woo who wouldn’t stop at anything to get what he wants, is also noteworthy. But the standout character is indisputably Hwang Geum Joo, portrayed by Kim Jung Eun. She nails her vigilante moments a la Batman and Black Widow while, at the same time, bringing a bubbly comic flair, displaying a tender side toward her daughter, and even showcasing unflinching resolve when it comes to doing what’s right.
The drama reaches a pivotal point as Nam Soon successfully infiltrates “Dugo,” the source of the menacing drugs, and gets close to Ryu Si Woo. How the collaboration between Nam Soon, Geum Joo, and Hee Sik unfolds in their quest to uproot the drug menace, and how the love triangle between Si Woo, Nam Soon, and Hee Sik evolves, promises a plethora of twists and turns. Here’s to hoping the rest of the series continues to deliver its unique blend of cuteness, levity, and satisfying triumphs. (6/10)
Edited by Kim Won Hee: I am a person who needs more than 24 hours in a day because there are so many things I love. I am amassing various genres in the jewelry box in my heart.