Strongest Deliveryman: Episode 8
The bromance is back! Well, at least for now, but I’ll take whatever I can get. Dan-ah continues to struggle over her feelings when it comes to Kang-soo, and apparently decides that the best way to handle it is by making Kang-soo’s life even more difficult. It’s not easy realizing you like someone when you know you won’t be sticking around for long.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Kang-soo pulls Dan-ah back into his arms, hugging her as he tells her that he missed her and couldn’t stop thinking about her. Before he can explain why, she stomps on his foot and pushes him away.
Dan-ah defensively says that he shouldn’t take her drunken ramblings seriously. She tells Kang-soo that she’ll be emigrating in 230 days, so she has no interest in getting involved with anyone. But when she’s alone in the bathroom, she has to take a moment to pull herself together, reminding herself that if she falls for Kang-soo, it’s all over.
Ji-yoon angrily chomps down on her triangle kimbap, refusing to look at Jin-gyu when he wanders over. They banter as per usual, until Jin-gyu reminds her she said she’d be nice to him once he got Kang-soo out of jail. But Ji-yoon says that she won’t act sweet for Jin-gyu, so he might as well put Kang-soo back in jail.
Jin-gyu realizes that Ji-yoon’s bad mood is because Kang-soo didn’t visit her after he got out of jail. He tells her to give Kang-soo a break, pointing out that Kang-soo has a lot of friends and was probably with them all night.
Ji-yoon calls Jin-gyu “Ghandi” again, and Jin-gyu agrees, saying that he’s for forgiveness, harmony, peace, and love. Ji-yoon looks at him like he’s insane, and Jin-gyu laughingly admits this neighborhood has a way of making people crazy. After all, first he was the bad guy, and now he’s the good guy.
Jin-gyu hurries to his office to find Hye-ran impatiently waiting for him. Hye-ran has decided to open up the rest of the Jung Family restaurants all at the same time, becoming the new restaurant alley that will displace the current one (which includes Grandma’s restaurant). When that happens, Jin-gyu will be promoted to the general director of the entire alley.
Jin-gyu thinks that’s kind of a sudden promotion, and Hye-ran agrees, which is why she has a task for him to prove his worth in order to get it: Make the sales of the Jung Family soup restaurant higher than any other Jung Family restaurant grand opening before.
Dan-ah and Kang-soo prep their deliveries, and Kang-soo picks off a loose hair from Dan-ah’s shirt. She orders him to put the hair back, and, bewildered, Kang-soo does so. Dan-ah yells at him to never touch her again, no matter what reason. Baffled, Kang-soo follows her out for their deliveries.
Chef Jang is also confused by Dan-ah’s reactions, and Soon-ae explains that some women act affectionate when they’re flirting, but when they know the guy likes them back, they’re no longer interested. She likens it to wanting to hold someone tight, but also wanting to stab that person. Soon-ae’s aggressive explanation makes Chef Jang blanche a little.
The Knucklehead Trio greet Dan-ah as she stops for a delivery. They’re dying to know the secret behind Kang-soo’s luck with women, and they eagerly ask what is she likes about Kang-soo. She’s annoyed by them, but Gong-gi arrives and grandly pronounces that there’s no reason to be ashamed of love.
Gong-gi also wants to know what is so appealing about Kang-soo, and finally Dan-ah agrees to tell them. She gets them all to lean in close to hear whatever words of wisdom she’s about to impart, but they actually end up on the receiving end of one of her kicks to the groin. Ha!
Dan-ah continues to be grumpy and combative for the rest of the day, as she yells at Kang-soo for eating his jajangmyun too loudly. Soon-ae and Chef Jang are on Dan-ah’s side, and Soon-ae even offers to give him money so he can eat elsewhere since he’s not quiet enough.
Finally, at the end of the night, Dan-ah leaves after ordering Kang-soo to clean the restaurant from top-to-bottom. He just sighs as he accepts her instructions, knowing its pointless to protest.
He goes to his room to change, but when he turns around, he gets the scare of his life when he sees Ji-yoon huddled in the corner. She sadly says she was waiting for him, pouting that he hadn’t come to see her after he was released from jail.
Kang-soo apologizes, but Ji-yoon is ready to break up with him. Her wish for him to have a good life sounds more threatening than it should, but Kang-soo manages to placate her with his continued apologies. Ji-yoon spots the gift bag with the dress that Dan-ah gave him, and she assumes that Kang-soo bought it for her.
Kang-soo stutters as he tries to explain the dress, but Ji-yoon cries tears of joy as she hugs Kang-soo, apologizing for assuming he didn’t care. She kisses him on the cheek as she tells him good night.
Kang-soo chases her downstairs out of the restaurant, trying to explain, but she assumes he’s following because he wants more than just a kiss on the cheek. Ji-yoon sweetly explains that she wants to take their relationship “slow” and then happily scurries off to her room.
Jin-gyu arrives just then to ask if Kang-soo would like to have a drink. Haha, it looks like this is the first time Kang-soo has ever had whiskey, but he manfully coughs his way through the first shot. Jin-gyu compliments Kang-soo on the food he made, but when Kang-soo reaches to pour another glass, Jin-gyu takes the bottle and respectfully pours it for Kang-soo instead.
Kang-soo thanks Jin-gyu for getting him out of jail, but Jin-gyu says he did it for himself, not Kang-soo. Jin-gyu just didn’t want the guilt of arresting an innocent guy to haunt him for the rest of his life. Kang-soo then asks why Jin-gyu couldn’t just apologize — if Jin-gyu had done that in the first place, then they could have avoided this whole mess.
At Kang-soo’s insistence, the two of them go to Hyun-soo at the hospital. Kang-soo practically has to force Jin-gyu to stay by Hyun-soo’s bedside. Jin-gyu awkwardly tells Hyun-soo that he didn’t block the road to purposefully bother people — he didn’t know what would happen. Hyun-soo amiably says that the accident was his own fault, anyway (since he tried running a red light).
Jin-gyu’s like, “So we’re good now,” and then bolts. But he soon returns and says, with quiet sincerity, that he’s sorry. As in, the actual words: “I’m sorry.”
Kang-soo’s proud of Jin-gyu for apologizing, and as they leave the hospital, they have some cute banter that solidifies their bromance once again. Kang-soo says he has to return to the restaurant to clean per Dan-ah’s orders. Jin-gyu wonders why Dan-ah is being so hard on him now that he’s been released from prison, and Kang-soo just smiles as he says it’s probably to make herself feel better.
Speaking of Dan-ah, Jin-gyu tells Kang-soo that he’ll take responsibility for her now. Jin-gyu will help her emigrate, get settled in the new country, and just generally take care of anything she needs. He declares that his dream is to make Dan-ah’s dreams come true, so he asks Kang-soo to stay out of it.
Kang-soo understands the sentiment, but he refuses. Jin-gyu may know Dan-ah’s dreams, but Kang-soo knows Dan-ah’s heart. Jin-gyu can do whatever he wants, and in return, Kang-soo will do what he wants. Kang-soo points out that it’s up to Dan-ah, anyway. Aw, but Kang-soo still seems genuinely encouraging and friendly as he wishes Jin-gyu well.
Dan-ah tries to focus on her English studies, but she can’t stop thinking about Kang-soo’s confession that he missed her.
Ji-yoon wears the dress that Kang-soo “bought” for her, thrilled that it fits so perfectly. That must mean Dan-ah has a terrible sense of size, since there’s no way it would have fit Kang-soo. Ji-yoon’s happy reverie is broken by the noises of her neighbors as they talk on the phone or burp, and she leaves snarky passive-aggressive notes on their doors, insisting they be quiet.
The landlord asks to see her for a moment, telling her that no one is able to sleep because of how noisily she grinds her teeth at night. Pffft, it’s a pretty lame excuse, but it’s probably the nice way of telling her she’s annoying everyone else and needs to move. Ji-yoon balks at the cost of another nearby goshiwon, since she can’t afford even a slightly nicer place on her barista wages.
Her fellow baristas point out that she’s always dressed head-to-toe in designer goods, so she should be able to make some money selling some of her clothes and accessories. This is the first time Ji-yoon’s ever heard of people buying used items, but she’s thrilled to know there’s a way she can make some extra cash.
Kang-soo starts to head upstairs at the restaurant just at the same time Dan-ah is coming down. He accidentally blocks her away, and she sends him sprawling. Soon-ae decides it’s time to step in and give Kang-soo some dating tips.
Kang-soo’s eyes grow wide in terror as Soon-ae shoves him against the wall, telling him that when a woman is wavering, that’s the time to corner her. Hahaha, she waves Kang-soo down until he’s crouching at her eye-level, and then shows him how to confront Dan-ah and kiss her.
Chef Jang intervenes, since he and the terrified Kang-soo both think Soon-ae is actually going to kiss him, but Soon-ae grumbles she was just showing Kang-soo the proper angles. Kang-soo gets Chef Jang to take his place, but once Chef Jang is cornered, Soon-ae growls that she has the urge for a knife. Pfft.
Kang-soo and Chef Jang skedaddle for their own safety, and Kang-soo gets a message that Grandma has a delivery ready for pick-up. Grandma’s reading a letter of eviction due to the building ownership changing hands to Jung Family, but she quickly hides it when Kang-soo arrives.
She tells Kang-soo that he and the other guys should stop doing deliveries her. She doesn’t wan them getting in trouble with their official restaurants. Grandma says she’ll find a new place on the outskirts of town, but Kang-soo protests. Kang-soo believes that Grandma should stand her ground — if she concedes because she doesn’t have money, then the people with money will continue to look down on her.
Jin-gyu and the restaurant manager go over the books, and Jin-gyu realizes that he’s still far behind in making the soup restaurant the most profitable Jung Family restaurant. The manager offers to give him some marketing books. I love that the restaurant manager knows Jin-gyu’s totally clueless but she won’t directly say it to his face.
Jin-gyu tries to read the marketing books, but they’re all in English. Which is how he ends up at the same English center where Dan-ah works, since he has to brush up on his English. As she gets ready to leave, Jin-gyu asks her how she honestly feels about Kang-soo being out of prison. Dan-ah: “Honestly? I wish he would go back to prison.”
Jin-gyu thinks she’s being sarcastic, but I’m pretty sure Dan-ah would rather deal with the worry of Kang-soo being in prison than the stress and embarassment of him having heard her drunken confession.
Hyun-soo’s mother visits him in the hospital. She asks him to return home with her, but Hyun-soo wants to work in the same neighborhood as his delivery “hyung” before he finally agrees to stay with Mom. Mom’s curious about this delivery “hyung” Hyun-soo keeps talking about, and freezes when Hyun-soo tells her Kang-soo’s name.
She tries to hide her rising panic as Hyun-soo cheerfully tells her more about Kang-soo, and she manages to make it outside the hospital without Hyun-soo catching on. She shakily repeats to herself that it’s okay. Seems we’ve found out who Kang-soo’s long-lost mother is, and it’s a pity that neither she nor Kang-soo see each other as they pass on the street.
Kang-soo arrives at the restaurant, where Dan-ah immediately yells at him for picking up “her” dishes. Bewildered, Kang-soo explains that it was on his way from another delivery so it just made sense to pick them up for her, but Dan-ah hilariously demands him to go and put the dishes back so she can get them herself.
Kang-soo’s finally reached his limit, demanding to know why Dan-ah is so angry with him. He tells her to calm down — he understands that he shouldn’t take seriously what she told him when she was drunk. He adds that if she keeps acting like this with him, though, other people might start to think she actually does like him.
The new neighborhood loan shark arrives with the gangster his men. They’re there to talk to Chef Jang — who was once apparently the leader of the gang. The new gang leader reminds Chef Jang how loyal he was to him, even getting a tattoo of a viper on his back to match Chef Jang’s tattoos.
When Soon-ae starts sassing back at Viper, mocking his gangster stories, Kang-soo and Dan-ah practically drag Soon-ae out for an ice cream break. Clearly there’s some history — and ill-will — between her and Viper’s gang.
While Kang-soo is paying for the treats, Soon-ae asks Dan-ah why she’s being so hard on Kang-soo. Soon-ae would think that Dan-ah would want to enjoy what little time they have left together. After all, this is Kang-soo’s last week at Lively Noodles, since he only spends two months in once place before moving on. That’s news to Dan-ah.
At the restaurant, Viper asks Chef Jang to return to the gang. Actually, it isn’t a request — it’s an order. He needs Chef Jang to help them get rid of an opposing gang.
Chef Jang isn’t interested, so Viper sweetens the deal by telling Chef Jang he knows the location of Soon-ae’s life-ruining ex. That gets Chef Jang’s attention, but Viper won’t tell Chef Jang where the ex is until he helps the gang. When Soon-ae returns to the restaurant after Viper leaves, Chef Jang tells her that he’s not interested in working with Viper. But his worried sigh reveals his inner conflict.
Kang-soo and Dan-ah wash the dishes, and Kang-soo’s amused because she’s treating him like she did when he was first hired. He asks what she’s doing Sunday, suggesting they go to a movie.
Not at a movie, for once, are Jin-gyu and Ji-yoon. They’re at the coffee shop where Ji-yoon is surrounded by her belongings. Instead of going on their usual date, she’s made plans to meet with people who’ve made offers for her designer goods. Jin-gyu retreats to a nearby table to watch, and the first customer is none other than one of the Knucklehead Trio.
Ji-yoon recognizes him right away, and he says he’s buying the designer handbag not to impress a girlfriend, but for his younger sister. Ji-yoon is won over by his story and her connection with him through the Deliverymen Army, so she says he should accept it as a gift, no payment needed.
At the movie theater, Kang-soo and Dan-ah watch a horror film. Or, rather, Dan-ah watches it while Kang-soo cowers in fear and clutches at Dan-ah. He then later sees a claw machine and decides to show off his skills in getting a prize, but it takes him multiple tries and 30,000 won before he successfully catches a cute little teddy bear keychain.
Dan-ah thinks it was a waste of money, but Kang-soo rightly points out that Dan-ah would never accept a gift that he specifically purchased for her. He hooks the teddy bear to Dan-ah’s bag, telling her that when she’s upset, it will make her feel better when she looks at it.
Ji-yoon continues her “sales,” although she’s not making that much money since she’s easily swayed by everyone’s hard luck stories and resulting low-bid offers. She doesn’t have the heart to say “no” and insist on her original asking price. Jin-gyu steps in, telling her that she doesn’t have the knack he does.
But even Jin-gyu can’t stand his ground against a couple of sad kids who want to buy a dress for their sick mother. In the end, Ji-yoon only earned about a quarter of what she anticipated she should get — she’s still 15,000,000 won short of a deposit for a decent room.
While he’s sad for her, Jin-gyu takes it all in stride, musing that they’ve discovered something they’re both terrible at. He suggests that they should do something they’re good at next time — like go see a movie. Ha. Ji-yoon waves at him as he tells her good night, and it wasn’t even a mean-spirited wave, either. Their failed business venture seems to have been a bonding experience.
Dan-ah gives Kang-soo a pair of shoes, since she feels weird getting a gift and not giving anything in return. He protests, but she rips the tag off, making it clear that these shoes are not to be returned. It’s also a “good-bye” gift, and Dan-ah hesitantly tells him not to come back to the neighborhood to hang-out or see how everyone is doing. Let it be a clean break.
Kang-soo asks her how long it will be until she emigrates, wondering if she’ll be okay until then. Fighting back tears as she stands to leave, Dan-ah tells him not to worry about it. Aw, is that her final goodbye? Sniffle, sniffle.
It’s a long night of independent brooding for the both of them. Kang-soo drives around the neighborhood, reminded of the times he spent with Dan-ah. Meanwhile, Dan-ah studies her keychain bear and finally allows herself to weep.
When he returns to the restaurant, Kang-soo is surprised to find Chef Jang and Soon-ae waiting for him. They wanted to give him a final goodbye. Aw.
As Chef Jang hangs up a “help wanted” sign, Soon-ae blames herself for not having trained Kang-soo properly in the art of dating, convinced he’d be staying if he’d been able to woo Dan-ah. Aw, it’s sweet, but I have to imagine her methods probably would have only resulted with Kang-soo getting a swift kick in the groin.
But as we all know, Kang-soo only sticks around one neighborhood for two months before moving on because his ultimate goal is finding his mother. Before scribbling off the Lively Noodles neighborhood on his map, Kang-soo studies an old photo of his mother carrying him around when he was a baby. There’s no longer any doubt — Hyun-soo’s mother is also Kang-soo’s mother.
Yeon-ji tries to comfort Dan-ah as she cries over Kang-soo. Yeon-ji says that Dan-ah should just cling to Kang-soo and not let him leave, but Dan-ah can’t do that when she’s just going to leave months later, herself.
Kang-soo gets on his bike and heads off to his new neighborhood.
In the morning, Dan-ah arrives at the restaurant, sad to see the “help wanted” sign and that Kang-soo’s bike is no longer parked there. So she’s surprised to see Kang-soo sitting in the restaurant.
Kang smiles and explains that his bike is in the shop. He got into a minor accident because he kept looking back, hoping to see Dan-ah. Then he smiles as he says he doesn’t think he can leave.
Okay, now I’m more onboard with Dan-ah and Kang-soo’s relationship. I just needed to see them in a context that wasn’t about work. Then again, I’m probably won over by the fact that Kang-soo is the best boyfriend ever for buying all the flavors of ice cream since he wasn’t sure what Dan-ah would like. (Hey, I’m a simple girl who likes ice cream, so that’s a tactic that would definitely work on me.) I also really appreciate how patient Kang-soo is with her, knowing she’s lashing out at him due to embarrassment, but he puts his foot down when she’s getting too ridiculous. He won’t let her walk all over him, but understands that she needs time to work through things too.
Kang-soo’s righteous streak may be a bit unyielding, but I love how squishy and friendly he is when he believes someone has done the honorable thing — like when Jin-gyu apologized to Hyun-soo. Forced apology or not, I think it was something Jin-gyu needed to do just to take him one step further down his path to becoming a decent human being.
I really, really, hope the bromance is back for good, though. The show seems to be setting itself up to once again pit Jin-gyu and Kang-soo against each other as rivals — this time for Dan-ah’s affections. Which I will haaaaaate if it happens. As Kang-soo pointed out, it’s up to Dan-ah to decide who she likes, so it’s pointless fighting each other. But mostly I don’t know if I can take another stretch of Jin-gyu and Kang-soo being enemies when they’re so delightful as friends. Now I somehow want a four-way date between all of our leads — it would probably be a hilarious mess since we’re stuck in this weird love triangle (which, if I think about it, isn’t even a proper triangle, or even a square — a giant messy scribble is more like it). But I still want it.
I loved all of our main characters this episode, but I was also appreciative that the minor characters got a chance to shine, too. Especially Soon-ae. She’s been one of my faves ever since her first terrible pun, but she had me rolling with her “dating tips.” She’s a delightfully fierce woman, and it makes me think that Chef Jang might have been at the receiving end of her knife urges at least once. I’m dying to know her story and who this jerk was that ruined her life, and why she and Chef Jang somehow can’t be in a relationship. Even though she and Chef Jang get so little screen time each week, I feel like they already have an entire show’s worth of story.
It was also fun getting another look at the delivery guys, who so far have primarily felt little more than joke fodder as they support their neighborhood. But the guy who bought the bag for his sister (well, had it given to him by Ji-yoon) is also working hard to pay for her tuition and clearly wants the best for her. Another is a college grad who’s struggling to find an office job. They may be goofballs, but they still have their own stories that show they’re more than “just” deliverymen. Which is a lesson, I think, the show is trying to teach us in general: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Or, to be more precise: “Don’t judge someone based on what type of spoon they were born with.”
Finally, I like that the discovery of Kang-soo’s mother means Hyun-soo’s affection for his “hyung” now has deeper meaning, since they’re blood related. Not to mention that Kang-soo will still be able to find her even though he’s decided to stay at Lively Noodles (how convenient!). But it also makes me worry since this means that Jin-gyu’s determination to make the Jung Family’s soup restaurant the most successful ever will end up being more personal than just the rich corporation destroying a local mom-and-pop business. We all know how unbearable Kang-soo can get when one of his righteous beliefs crosses a personal boundary, and I can’t imagine how he’ll react when he realizes that Grandma is his real Grandma. Sigh. Can’t we just sit down over a bottle of whiskey and talk it out instead?