Here is the thing about the Korean dramas of 2023: They are very good, but this year will never come close to the magic of 2016–17. That was something entirely different, and the magic is either there or it isn’t. We are repeating once again that 2023 is giving us great Korean content, but 2016 remains many leagues apart. With that out of the way, let us talk about Strong Girl Nam Soon (SGNS), which is a spin-off of Strong Girl Bong Soon (SGBS). A huge chunk of the premise is the same, with Nam Soon having supernatural abilities like Bong Soon, which is an inherited family trait. Additionally, we have already seen the love triangle in the making, and to our surprise, the second lead’s profession in SGNS is the same as in SGBS. The problematic element of making a mockery of domestic violence or breaching the line of consent (with Nam Soon’s father) is also there, but it has been handled in a tricky manner. It should not have been there to begin with, but Strong Girl Bong Soon was never a perfect drama, so we shouldn’t be expecting that from Strong Girl Nam Soon either. Anyway, the first episode was mostly okay, and this is the recap of it.
How does Nam Soon end up in Mongolia?
Much like its predecessor, the women of Nam Soon’s family are exceptionally strong, and this trait is passed down. Geum Ja has this ability, along with a knack for making money and some amazing marketing skills. She gets rich very fast and ends up marrying her money manager, Bong Go. The day she proposes to him is when he comes to know about her strength, and this is the problematic scene that we were referring to. Either way, once Bong Go marries her, he quits his job like he has always wanted to and starts doing photography full-time. Eventually, the couple has twins, one boy and one girl, and Nam Soon has the exceptional strength they expected. Bong Go says that his daughter is his muse, and he takes her to Mongolia on a trip to take some pictures of her. However, Nam Soon goes missing, and Bong Go has to return to Korea without her. This causes a rift in his marriage, and the couple ends up divorcing. But they both keep trying to look for their daughter.
Nam Soon has been found and adopted by a Mongolian couple, and she is living an idyllic life in the countryside. She has always been aware that she is adopted, and one fine day, while listening to Gangnam Style by Psy, she remembers that her name is Gang Nam Soon. There couldn’t have been a more profound use of this song than to make it someone’s core memory. When Nam Soon remembers her name and the fact that she is from Korea, she decides to go to the country to find out who she is. But she has to wait a few years before that so that she can earn enough money for her family, who are dependent on her. And that is what Nam Soon does for years until the day finally comes when she has to leave for Korea to find her roots. She wants to reunite with her family and marry an ‘innocent man.’ But she doesn’t know what is in store for her.
How does Geum Ja discover that Hwa Ju is not Nam Soon?
To find her missing daughter, Geum Ja has been organizing a competition to find the strongest woman on earth. So far, no one has been able to pass the tests of strength, but finally, after ten years, one girl emerges as the likely candidate. Hwa Ju is able to hold up to 120 kg of weight, which no one else was able to do. Even her story checks out, and in all likelihood, she can be understood to be Nam Soon. Bong Gu is adamant that she is not, and even the rest of the family advises Geum Ja to proceed with caution, but she is desperate to find her daughter and blinded by love, which is why she accepts Hwa Ju as her daughter and starts taking care of her.
On the other hand, we find that Geum Ja has also taken on the role of a vigilante. In the ending of Strong Girl Bong Soon, that is what Bong Soon started doing, and in this spin-off, the story starts with the woman already being aware of her social responsibility. In one of Geum Ja’s missions, she catches hold of some drug dealers and helps the police secretly. Gang Hee Sik catches a glimpse of her, though we don’t think that he saw her face. Right now, he gets news that there are drugs on a plane about to land in Korea. This is also the plane that Nam Soon is on.
As it approaches the Korean airport, to everyone’s horror, they find that the plane is not slowing down at all. That is when Nam Soon saves everyone with her powers at the end of Strong Girl Nam Soon episode 1. As Geum Ja was telling Hwa Ju, Nam Soon was not just born with super strength but with super speed and the ability to jump long distances. In Strong Girl Nam Soon, the girl already seems to know how to temper and use her powers, which was a separate arc in its predecessor show. Nam Soon jumps out of the airplane and uses her powers to stop the plane in its tracks and save everyone’s lives. When she was using her powers, the connection between her, Geum Ja, and Nam Soon’s grandmother was activated. Geum Ja understood that Nam Soon was using her powers, but Hwa Ju was getting into bed right in front of her. That proves that Hwa Ju was never Nam Soon.
Back on the runway, Hee Sik and Si Oh see Nam Soon walking near the airplane. We doubt they witnessed her show of strength, or at least Hee Sik did not. Si Oh might have, similar to Min Hyuk who was the first to know of Bong Soon’s power. But we will only know for sure in the next episode. Right now, the one thing we know is that Si Oh is far more eccentric than Min Hyuk ever was, and we are not sure how we feel about that.
Strong Girl Nam Soon Episode 1 was good. There have been just enough changes and similarities to keep up the spirit of the predecessor while attempting to give us something new. These are some big shoes to fill because there is a lot of love for Min Hyuk and Bong Soon as a couple and the show in general, but we are looking forward to giving this a chance, so let us see what will fly our way.