It is time to say goodbye to Strongest Deliveryman, but before we say our final adieu we have one last delivery. Come join, DeShonda, OhSoEnthusiastic, Logan, June and myself, Tiara as we deliver our last order and say our farewells.

Underdogs are the winner

Tiara: Can’t say I’m surprised by the win, but why add the other two companies in the first place? They were only brought into the story to make us think they had a shot and narratively, I think neither winning over each other would have been amusing and more interesting. However, yay to the underdogs.

Logan: I was happy to see that those employees used their logic well, at least initially. The ease with which the company revoked and reinstated contracts was a little concerning. In reality, I feel like if a company had that many issues trying to pick a food service, they would just reopen their own cafeteria. Lol.

June: I was so glad they ended up winning! I always love seeing underdogs win. I also already had a feeling they were going to win anyways.

DeShonda: I am so happy that the underdogs won! I was not surprised at all. I always believed in them as well.

OhSoEnthusiastic: I agree that neither of them winning would have made for a more interesting story, but I didn’t mind the direction the writers chose to go with it either. I like that it ended up driving Madam Jung to do something that proved to be her undoing. She’s been super sneaky and underhanded so far, but that tactic wasn’t going to work for her forever, and we finally got to see the claws really come out. I just found that whole bit to be incredibly satisfying, because now everyone knows what kind of person she is.

Jung Family’s last hail mary with blackmail & Restaurant Row blame Kang Soo

Tiara: The lunch contract was too good to be true as Madam Jung resorted to gang-like behavior. I thought after Madam Jung fired most of the managers they would have gone to Strongest Deliveryman to get back at Madam Jung. A little disappointed the firing of those employees had no consequences.

Madam Jung’s hail mary was also unsatisfying. Madam Jung was a smart businesswoman who has made her company successful with her smart business tactics. I might not have liked her strategy to get rid of restaurant row, but the tactics weren’t illegal before. Giving money to employees of restaurant row to accept unsafe food and then blackmailing members of the Strongest Deliveryman wasn’t smart. I get she’s desperate, but I know she’s smarter than these methods.

I’m also disappointed and frustrated with the Restaurant owners. I understand their anger over the situation, but assuming Kang Soo wants to set them up for failure is ridiculous. How they came to that conclusion is beyond me since he was the one fighting so hard for the owners to survive when they wanted to throw in the towel. I’m overjoyed that Dan Ah steps in and pointed out their hypocrisy.

Logan: I was honestly surprised that Madam Jung hadn’t resorted to those tactics earlier on. I kept expecting her to approach the employees of Strongest Deliveryman. Of course, in my mind when she did that they spit in her face. But she did have good ammo to get them to come over, so she was probably just waiting for the right moment this whole time. In reality, she would have preferred to win without resorting to such dirty tactics but like you said, Tiara, she got desperate.

The restaurant owners should have been worshipping the ground Kang Soo walked on. If it wasn’t for him, they would have been bankrupt and out of business long ago, something that they seem to keep forgetting. They have absolutely no right to accuse him of anything. How could they possibly think he’s making money off of them? They know how much they pay him. A great moment when Kang Soo’s character shone through again is when everyone else wanted to be done with restaurant row, but Kang Soo wanted to keep helping them even though they betrayed him. He made an interesting statement in regard to his friend how if he waits long enough, he’ll come back. He sees the redeemable in everyone even after he’s seen the worst. It makes it easy for Kang Soo to get burned that way, but he’s decided the reward is worth the risk.

OhSoEnthusiastic: Realistically speaking, I think it highly unlikely any of the managers (save manager-steal-someone-else’s-ideas) would have gone over to Strongest Deliveryman. They have no ties to the company, and it would be rather embarrassing to show up and be like ‘Hi there. Can I has job please?’

I said before, and I’ll say it again. Jung Family not getting the cafeteria contract is what drove Madam Jung to go full on evil, and I think it fits in with her character perfectly. She was holding back before, mainly because she didn’t expect to encounter so much resistance. She’s done this so many times now that she already knows the other guys' playbook before he even makes his first move. Kang Soo gave her a genuine run for her money, and she realized she didn’t have what it takes in comparison.

As for Restaurant Row, I was over the lot of them at that point. Kang Soo did so much for them, stood by them through some tough shit, and they all suddenly turn on him like that? Nah, fam. Nah. You can go lose your businesses at that point. Maybe you don’t deserve to have them if you’re that disloyal.

June: I agree! He did so much for them and for what? For them to just betray him! They were the worst, and I hate disloyalty so much. *angry face*

DeShonda: I was so unhappy that the other owners would betray him and I was not expecting them to do that. It was really sad seeing Kang Soo depressed and I was hoping that the truth would come out.

A nice guy doesn’t finish last but his support group is there to back him up

Tiara: Kang Soo is such a nice guy he takes full responsibility when all hell breaks loose. He sees himself as a failure to not be able to fix the problem, and it breaks him as he flees home. It’s a sad moment for Kang Soo, but it’s irritating to see him not allow Dan Ah to help. She offers her “get out of Joseon Hell’ money, and he pushes her support away.

Thank goodness Dan Ah won’t allow Kang Soo to wallow in self-pity. Not to mention the rest of the Strongest Deliveryman team and his many friends pull their money together to support Kang Soo like he’s done for them in the past. I know Kang Soo doesn’t like to ask for help, but hopefully, he’ll be able to in the future.

Logan: I liked that fact that Kang Soo had his moment of self-doubt and ran away. It showed he was human. Because everyone has those moments, and in those moments of self-doubt we need our loved ones there to remind us of who we are and what we are capable of. He was scared, but he didn’t run away because he was scared. He ran away because he was scared that if he stayed everyone he loved would invest all their resources to keep going because of him and at the end everyone could end up with nothing and be miserable. He didn’t want to abuse the incredibly strong loyalty that he inspired. I understand why he wouldn’t take Dan Ah’s money. I already lost everything, I don’t want you to too.

I am glad that his friends didn’t let Kang Soo’s temporary departure scare them. They were more worried about him than themselves, which is nice to see. Kang Soo brings out the best in everyone; he reminds everyone how much better life can be when they do it all together.

OhSoEnthusiastic: Goodness was I invested in Kang Soo’s pain in that moment. And just as invested in Dan Ah’s anger and frustration as well. I’m not as tenacious as Kang Soo and would have given up long before he did, so when he finally reached his breaking point, I was Right. There. Then when Dan Ah showed up and was like ‘You made me a promise. You really think I’m going to let you break it?’ I was pumping my fists. He had a legitimate reason to feel like giving up in that moment because things really did look hopeless. But he had no right to up and leave Dan Ah like that. She hadn’t failed him. She hadn’t screwed him over. She had stuck by him, even when she was afraid to. She faced her fears for him, and he owed it to her to stick by her as well.

As for his friends (so-called in some cases), I was so pissed off at those three for running off like that. Yeah, yeah, yeah, one of them was just trying to save Kang Soo from getting dragged into something he didn’t deserve. But it was also stupid. Noble idiocy never did anyone any good. The other two just needed to grow up and stop making stupid life choices. Thank goodness for the rest of Kang Soo’s friend network coming in and saving the day, or I would have had to spend the last two episodes just fuming.

The ships that confirm their sailings

Tiara: Yay for Chef Jang and Soon Ae. I’m dancing with joy over these two lovebirds getting together. I also love it was Soon Ae who grab onto Chef Jang’s hand as they were walking home. It was nice to finally hear about their first meeting, the rich daughter, and head gang member. I knew Chef Jang was a softie, but this confirms it.

I smell love in the air for Min Chan and Yeon Ji. They were able to give each other comfort during their time of need, and it warms my heart to see the bond forming for these two.

Logan: Chef Jang and Soon Ae just look so cute together too. Soon Ae’s stubbornness was proved even more when we learned that she’d been jilting him because he took too long deciding whether he would run away with her or not all those years ago. If he had run away, he would have saved her a lot of heartbreak. Or maybe this path helped them grow closer. Either way, they’re together now and that’s what matters. I hope for a long, happy life together for these two.

I was happy to see a kiss between Jin Gyu and Ji Yoon. They’re both so quirky and together their quirky romance is so much fun to watch. And the kisses between Dan Ah and Kang Soo this week were intense and so great!

OhSoEnthusiastic: So many cute couples’s in this drama! I wholeheartedly love all of them! Although I still wish we could have gotten more romantic moments between Ji Yoon and Jin Gyu, and maybe even some between Min Chan and Yeon Ji. I must admit to being really sad for Gong Gi though for being so utterly clueless about women and hopeless unlucky with them. He’s so determined and loyal, and I honestly would have loved to see him find someone who could appreciate him too, despite his oddities, lol.

DeShonda: I was all in for the couples in this series! They were all so cute together and I think they all compliment each other really well. It’s hard to pick a favorite but I really love watching the chemistry between Kang Soo and Dan Ah.

Ji Yoon’s dream and Jin Gyu’s offer

Tiara: I’m glad the drama kept Ji Yoon out of her mother’s shenanigans. She could have used her title as the daughter of Jung Family to try to talk sense into her mom, but I think she knew talking sense into her was pointless. Case in point, Ji Yoon wanted to be a good kindergarten teacher, but her mom wanted her to take business management. I love that Jin Gyu was there supporting her dream.

I’m so proud of Jin Gyu for not accepting his wicked father’s offer. Money was never what Jin Gyu wanted from his dad. He wanted to be loved and accepted instead of being the black sheep of the family. He could have gone back to his chaebol life by accepting the offer, but he knew there was no love being offered. He would rather have his small apartment he shares with Ji Yoon with little money than all the money he could ever need without comfort and love. Jin Gyu’s character growth is super satisfying as he is no longer the character we saw in the first episode.

Logan: All along I have found Ji Yoon’s character refreshing - the rich daughter who would rather live independently and poor than taking her parents money and do what they want her to, and to the end, she didn’t falter in her convictions. I find that incredibly admirable. When she approached her mom to comfort her and help her start over when she lost everything, that was so touching. Because even though she was kinda awful, Ji Yoon’s mom did genuinely care about her.

I can’t say the same for Jin Gyu’s dad who never treated him anything other than horribly. It was a hard offer for Jin Gyu to turn down, but if he had accepted his father’s offer, he would have been subject to his father’s control and abuse again.

OhSoEnthusiastic: I was very concerned throughout the drama that mom would swoop in and carry Ji Yoon off, and we would be trapped in Madam Jung hell for 16 episodes. I’m very, /very/ happy that didn’t happen because I would have quickly become stuck in a drama I wanted to quit.

I don’t think Jin Gyu found it difficult to turn down his father’s offer, as far as the money and prestige and career are concerned. I don’t think he had any desire for those things anymore, and it was very easy for him to turn them down. I think what probably made it hard was knowing that they were only being offered because of superficial reasons. He had matured to the point that it would make his father look very good to have him back in the company. Oh, how awful that must feel, to know that you’re only value in the eyes of your parent(s) is that of making them look good.

Good grief was his father the worst.

What I’m sad about is how his relationship with his mother has been affected and how it’s going to affect their relationship in the future, because that woman loves her son and wants good things for him. I hope that Jin Gyu is able to maintain a relationship with his mom because I would be so sad if ten years down the road there is nothing there between them anymore.

Karma pays its debt to those who did wrong

Tiara: Soon Ae gets her revenge on her ex-husband after all these years. With Soon Ae’s ex working to give the money he owns back to her, his bank really needs to collect on Jung Family’s loan. They don’t have the money to give back and with news spreading about the illegal behavior, no one wants to eat at Jung Family. It was a delight to see the consequence of firing the wrong person this time around. Manager Sohn did the right thing by exposing the evil deeds of Jung Family.

With Jung Family’s fall, Madam Jung is at a lost on what to do. It’s a nice scene to see her sitting in her big house with all the red stickers. Ji Yoon being the one to pull her mom out of the house and tell her life isn’t over because her mom is the best cook is a gratifying end to Madam Jung.

Logan: It would have been nice to see a rehabilitated Madam Jung, I am a fan of redemption stories after all, but it just wasn’t possible. So having Jung Family foods completely destroyed was really the only way for a happy ending.

OhSoEnthusiastic: I loved Ji Yoon in that moment, being there for her mom in a situation that she deserved to be in because she put herself there, and still having grace and love for her. I’m happy just seeing that and didn’t really need anything more. A rehabilitated Madam Jung would have been unrealistic at that point, and I’m very glad they didn’t go that direction. A humbled Jung was a much better option.

The secret is out of the bag and the award for the worst mom is granted

Tiara: Finally Hyun Soo learns the truth about Kang Soo. It broke my heart to see him drunkenly walk into the office saying hyung. But WOW! What a piece of work mom is. I mean I get she said it in such a way for Kang Soo never to forgive her but, darn, that really hurt. She took her husband’s money because he was nice and could be fooled. Sure, she left Kang Soo to live a better life away from debt collectors, yet she took the money to help him live a life. That doesn’t make complete sense.

With Restaurant Row safe, Hyun Soo’s grandma can reopen her store and this will give Kang Soo and Hyun Soo time to become true brothers. This makes me happy in the end.

Logan: It’s interesting to know that Kang Soo’s mom was a bad person all along, that she always had been intending to use Kang Soo’s dad but wavered because he was so nice. That made it easier for me to swallow and less likely to feel like Kang Soo needed to forgive her, although he did a little bit and after some time I believe he would have completely forgiven her. I think she knew Kang Soo’s dad would treat Kang Soo better and raise him better than she ever could have but it’s still a pathetic excuse for leaving him like she did. But it also leaves me to wonder about Hyun Soo’s grandma. I always assumed it was the mom’s mother, but it would make more sense if it was the mother-in-law because granny isn’t the type of lady to let her kids be on the run because of her debts.

Hyun Soo is lucky to have Kang Soo as a brother. Although Kang Soo always took care of him, he’s going to even more so now. Hyun Soo has to feel awful about what his mom did to Kang Soo too. Either way, I’m glad these two had the opportunity to embrace as real brothers before the drama ended.

OhSoEnthusiastic: The conclusion of Kang Soo and his mom’s plotline was such a poorly planned cop-out, in my opinion. Way too late to reveal such a complicated backstory that you were never going to be able to expound upon. They should have just had her say she left because she was scared about having to take care of a dying husband and two children with no money. Way more believable and wouldn’t have required exposition that would have been impossible for the writers to give at that point.

I actually would have been way more open to forgiving her if that had been the case because it’s a simple and easy explanation that I can understand. As it is, I just feel really pissed off and frustrated and like I was gypped out of a really important part of the story.

Everyone’s Happy Ending

Tiara: The drama didn’t show everyone, but what it did show was a nice ending to this chapter. Ji Yoon and Jin Gyu are basically married, living and working together. These characters started out with money but left it all behind to live as good people doing what they wanted to do. The drama was as much about them growing as characters as it was the main leads. It was refreshing to see two second leads not resort to KDrama troupes.

Kang Soo and his mom were awkward after we got mom’s confession. Kang Soo is such a nice guy that he won’t be able to not forgive his mom even after she told him not too. It’s going to be a bumpy road to mend, but it is doable that mom, Hyun Soo, and Kang Soo could become a family.

Dan Ah didn’t leave Joseon Hell and instead, she put her money to go to college. The one thing she wanted to do, but couldn’t all those years ago. It’s not surprising she’s a popular girl on campus, but no one can compare to the man who gave her hope and they want to stay. It tickles me how he asked for her permission to chase the boys away and we end with a very nice kiss. Couldn’t have ended it better in my opinion.

Logan: I was very satisfied with the ending. It didn’t give us the “fantasy happy ending” where they show the characters in the future married and with babies nor did it show the characters stuck in the same places in life and bickering. Instead, the ending we got was much more rewarding. Seeing our characters growing as people and growing together as loved ones was the payoff of all the struggles they had faced so far. Their goals were never lofty, but realistic and achievable with hard work. Because each of our characters was willing to put some elbow grease into their dreams and into helping each other we get to see them in a place where they are finally happy in life.

OhSoEnthusiastic: Ji Yoon working with children is the cutest thing, and her admittance to finding it frustrating work was so funny. It’s what she wants, and it’s also stressful at the same time, and isn’t that so normal and realistic, lol? Jin Gyu being right there helping her was also really cute and sweet, and I love the idea of them working together. I could probably watch an entire drama of the two of them flirting and bickering and being cute at work, lol.

I was also very glad to see Dan Ah going to school like she had dreamed of doing and Kang Soo being there to support her in that. Kang Soo achieved his dream, and now it was Dan Ah’s turn.

I do feel like the happy endings could have used a little more oomph though, a little more romance or something.

FInal thoughts:

Tiara: Now this was a cute drama. It may not have wowed me like some other dramas this year, but I’m sure glad I gave it a chance. It was funny, dark, and with a lot of heart. Jin Gyu was a troubling character at the beginning but I’m pleased by the progress of the character throughout the drama. Ji Yoon’s story of becoming independent was refreshing to witness. I enjoyed seeing her give to Jin Gyu after Kang Soo’s act of kindness and support.

Dan Ah’s headstrong started out as a little overbearing, but she was able to soften as she learned there was still hope and goodness in the bleakness. I appreciated such a strong female character. Kang Soo’s overall nice guy could have been annoying but it was consistent throughout the drama. It was also the true theme of the drama as well.

The plot was simple and at times could be a little dark. I mean, you had two characters try to kill themselves, but I appreciate the way that was handled. I was disappointed by the last trail as it fell flat compared to the rest of the issues. Overall, I’ll miss the Strongest Deliveryman, but I can always revisit it again.

Logan: Strongest Deliveryman will always have a special place in my heart because of the way it portrayed its characters. Characters are the #1 influencing factor to how I feel about a drama and this drama gave us a cast of characters we could love and root for. From Kang Soo who displayed unrivaled kindness, forgiveness, and loyalty and inspired the same from nearly everyone he encountered to Ji Yoon who was given everything she ever asked for but turned it down for a chance to live an honest life pursuing her dreams. And even better than these characters individually was the sum of these characters - the way they pooled together to become a network, a family who would do anything together. They exemplified what can be accomplished when you band together.

This drama didn’t go where I thought it would in the beginning. It was a largely character-driven rather than action-driven drama. While there was plenty of conflict, the story was more about overcoming the conflicts/struggles rather than focusing on the impact of each blow they received. The character development in Jin Gyu and Dan Ah especially was so satisfying because they were two characters you could see good traits in from the beginning, but were still too rough to be considered good/nice people.

So in summation, I really enjoyed Strongest Deliveryman and would probably give it a 4.7 out of 5 stars if I had to rate it.

OhSoEnthusiastic: I have to be honest here and admit that I haven’t been eager to watch this drama these last few weeks. I’ve had to remind myself to sit down and keep going. Despite there being some really heartfelt moments that genuinely broke me, it just hasn’t been holding my attention. It started to become a little bit draggy, and the situations the characters were finding themselves in weren’t really gripping like they were in the beginning. I wish the drama had kept that dark edge in the second half that it started with because that was a lot of what really kept me invested. There was such a sense of desperation in the characters, a deep need to find some kind of meaning and hope in life, and the drama lost that halfway through when it started focusing solely on the machinations of a corporation against the little guy battle. That was never what this drama was really about. This drama was about Hell Joseon and fighting to survive in a world that wants to keep you down.

I give this drama a 4 or 5 out of 5 stars for having a consistent storyline and characters worth loving, but I’m still sad that it lost that edge it had at the start. I wanted more desperate hope from the drama than what I got.

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Catch up on our past Drama Club posts

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