Strong debuted very strongly (pun intended), and my only fear now is whether it can maintain its momentum. Tbh, I don’t have a very good impression of jtbc cable station, given that it produces plenty of shows which started out roaring, but end up whimpering on their way out (think D-Day, Madame Antoine).
- Park Bo-young (from Oh My Ghostess!) as Do Bong-soon. The titular (female) Hercules who is pint-sized. Her strength is hereditary, but only the women folk in her family gets the genes. Unfortunately, if she uses her strength to greedy causes, not only will her super power be taken away, she may be (literally) scarred for life. Her strength is picked up by Ainsoft’s young CEO, Min-hyuk, who hires her as his bodyguard.
- Park Hyung-sik (from Hwarang) as An Min-hyuk, the self-made CEO of gaming company Ainsoft. He is rightfully a chaebol, but hates his step family (his biological mum passed away in his teens, and his rich daddy remarried). For the past 2 months, he has been receiving death threats from a hooded man, and when he notices Bong-soon’s superhuman strength, he thinks she is a good fit for a bodyguard. Also, he’s attracted to her, and simply wants her by his side – the bodyguard thing is the perfect excuse to make her STICK by him.
- Ji-soo (from Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryo) as In Kook-doo. A serious, by-the-book, detective who is also a longtime friend of Bong-soo. But while he may be an Ace at solving crimes, he is kinda blind to the fact that Bong-soo has been crushing on him since young. Kook-doo has a cellist girlfriend, Hee-ji.
We flash back many years ago, when Min-hyuk was a high schooler and enroute to pay respect to his mum. The bus he was on malfunctioned, and nearly crashed into a mother and her young daughter. Luckily it stopped in time – and the reason it stopped was probably cos of a girl in a pink hoodie. Only Min-hyuk noticed her, since he was sitting in the back row, but he didn’t get to see her face…
Current day Min-hyuk is the President of Ainsoft, a successful gaming company. He has been receiving death threats via email and phone. During the day, he also notices a hooded man stalking him, but always loses the guy when he gives chase. Concerned for his safety, he tells Secretary Kong to get him a bodyguard.
But before Secretary Kong can present him the list of potential candidates, Min-hyuk happens to chance on Bong-soo single-handedly taking down a bunch of thugs. Impressed, he helps Bong-soon cover up her supernatural strength at the police station, claiming that the thugs fought among themselves. When he returns to office, he decides to track down Bong-soon and offer her the bodyguard position. Of cos, part of the reason (besides Bong-soon’s ability) for his quick hire is cos he is already smitten with her.
Bong-soon, who is currently unemployed (cos she isn’t very bright, and her unnatural strength kinda draws too much unwanted attention), jumps immediately to take on Min-hyuk’s offer when she hears of the substantial paycheck and Min-hyuk’s promise of making her part of the game planning team IF she performs well. (Bong-soon is an avid gamer)
The Boss-Bodyguard duo do meet with the suspicious hoodie guy on several occasions, but lose him. Min-hyuk is against getting police help, claiming he “doesn’t trust the police” and generally sees them as a bunch of fools. More so when Bong-soon’s estate is haunted by a series of brutal attacks on young women, and the police have no clue as to who is the perp.
Min-hyuk’s guess that both incidents (one woman died, and the other is badly beaten up) are committed by the same person goes contrary to what Kook-doo and his police colleagues think. They feel that since the earlier victim was murdered, and the second only injured, the perp may be 2 different persons. Min-hyuk is correct though. The attacker returns for the second injured victim and steals her from under Kook-doo’s nose in the hospital (partly Bong-soon’s fault, cos she fails to check on the “doctor” who came to wheel the victim out).
We do not know the identity of the attacker though, but several scenes hint that he is a nut case. The second victim whom he brought back to his lair is named his “First Bride”…which means there will be more women to come.
Worried for Bong-soo’s safety (and also partly his own, cos the detective sent to protect Bong-soo under the Witness Programme is knifed by Min-hyuk’s stalker), Min-hyuk proposes Bong-soo to stay together with him. Reluctantly, Bong-soo agrees. When Kook-doo hears of it though, he is livid. He is worried that his longtime friend will be taken advantaged of by her “sleazy boss” and rushes to Min-hyuk’s house to declare himself the replacement detective for the Witness Programme, and proceeds to pull Bong-soo away.
Annoyed, Min-hyuk pulls Bong-soo’s other arm, and the guys face off (like, literally).
The strength (sorry, but I can’t help the puns coming) in Strong comes mainly from the characters. They are quirky, likeable in their own ways, and yet also annoying (hence the quirkiness). Bong-soo may possess superhuman strength, and you’d think she is invincible…but she can be very dense at times. While her lousy, mish-mash English (“stop motion???”) is funny, her lack of clear thinking and alertness lead her on wild goose chases (anyone with a mask + cap + black hoodie = suspect) and cause an innocent victim to fall prey AGAIN to a psycho.
Min-hyuk, on the other hand, is razor sharp in his observation and thinking. But a total pansy when it comes to anything that need hard work or effort. Strangely though, instead of aspiring to be a Good Guy with his intellect, Min-hyuk leans towards the Dark Side. He self-professes that his childhood ambition is to become a “criminal” (huh?), especially those super smart criminals that get away scot free after committing their crimes.
And while Min-hyuk desires to be a Super Thief, he meets his match in the less smart, but Dogged Detective Kook-doo. Kook-doo isn’t the Sherlock Holmes who solves crimes in an armchair — he is no match for brainy, slippery Min-hyuk. However, his persistence does get him results – like when he goes in drag to capture an assemblyman. (and I simply cannot un-see Ji-soo in the slinky red dress) Though his refusal to budge an inch from the Rules sometimes work against him – after capturing the assemblyman, Kook-do gets rewarded with an instant demotion for stepping on the wrong toes.
I am looking forward to the potential interactions between these 3 characters – they actually do form the best crime solving team, if you ask me. Kook-do (with his eye for details), brings in the evidence, Min-hyuk solves the crimes and Bong-soo catches the criminals.
There is JUZ a niggling worry though. Too much stuff is happening in Strong. We have the rom-com, the over-arching Who-Is-Stalking-Min-hyuk case, and then we may get mini cases like the current Bride Fetish Perp. Plus, we also need to delve into Min-hyuk’s background. Strong already hints that his family is complicated. We know his biological mum died, and he has mutual hatred for his step siblings, but why the antagonism against police officers? Does it have something to do with the death of his mum? Will THAT be another mystery?
Like I said, jtbc doesn’t have a sparkling track record for dramas, unlike tvN. And I’m hoping Strong doesn’t turn out to have so much narrative holes that they eventually weaken the entire show.