For fans of the well-received series Strong Girl Bong-soon, Netflix has developed a spin-off focusing on a new member of the family, Nam-soon. With Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 1-2 now released, will the series manage to capture the delightful quirkiness of its predecessor series? Based on the first two episodes, it’s safe to say that it is an easy sell, with Nam-soon easily capturing hearts.
In Strong Girl Nam-soon Episode 1, Gang Nam-soon (Lee Yoo-Mi) accidentally disappears in Mongolia as a child. Missing for over 15 years, her parents, stay-at-home dad Gang Bong-go (Lee Seung-joon) and CEO/breadwinner Hwang Geum-joo (Kim Jung-eun) have spent much time and have spared no details in doing what they can to find their daughter.
Geum-joo decides to hold a strength contest to make it easier to find her daughter. However, this opens her up to being scammed by the young Lee Hwa-ja (Choi Hee-jin), who manages to ace the strength competition and at least parrot back the details that had been made available in the papers over the years. Bong-go and Geum-joo’s trusted secretary, Jung Na-young (Oh Jeong-yeon), are suspicious of the woman. Until cracks form in Hwa-ja’s story, the gullible Geum-joo eagerly accepts the young woman as her long-lost daughter.
Meanwhile, Nam-soon has spent the past fifteen years under the care of Coco and Jo Ja-ya in Mongolia. With limited means to communicate, they take her in and raise her as their child. Bits and pieces of her memory come to her, making her realize her true name and nationality. Ever supportive, her adoptive parents encourage her to study Korean while also maintaining her duties. Her strength consistently baffles them, but they grow to just shrug it off.
Right around the time Hwa-ja has been “found” as Nam-soon, the young woman is set to journey to Korea. Saying goodbye to her childhood horse (who conveniently and sadly dies before her departure) and her parents, Nam-soon boards a plane. As luck would have it, this trip is also how she gets roped into Lieutenant Gang Hee-sik’s (Ong Seong-wu) life.
As is revealed in Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 1-2, there is a drug epidemic rapidly developing in Korea, and Hee-sik must try to clamp down on that. Earlier in Episode 1, Hee-sik tries to track down a drug exchange but is thwarted. It is here audiences also learn how much of a cool vigilante Geum-joo is. She tracks down the drug handlers on her motorcycle after Hee-sik misses them and smashes their vehicle. Honestly, this is the point in Episode 1 where, regardless of anything, Geum-joo reaches goddess status.
Back to the plane. With suspected drugs reported to be on the flight to Korea, Hee-sik is waiting at the airport with his team to inspect the luggage. The plane has other plans. Refusing to slow down, it seems catastrophe is ahead. Just as the plane touches down, Nam-soon jumps out of the plane and activates her powers to slow it down. At this moment, this activates Geum-joo’s and grandmother Gil Joong-gan’s (Kim Hae-sook) powers and inadvertently confirms that Hwa-ja is not who she says she is. This wraps Episode 1.
In Strong Girl Nam-soon Episode 2, Nam-soon goes head to head with Hee-sik as his insistence to do his job ends up stepping on toes. What bonds them is her search for her mother, and he promises to help her however he can. But first, Nam-soon has to learn the hard way that her idolized version of South Korea is a fairytale. She gets scammed, with all her money, identification, and phone taken away. Her solution? Building a ger in the middle of a government park after seeing other people camping there.
Here is where the audience gets insight into the homelessness issue in South Korea. Much like ours here in the States, it can boil down to just lack of luck and, in terms of homeless people finding places to stay and ways to fill their bellies, options are limited. Nam-soon learns this in her meeting with a homeless couple, Ji Hyun-soo (Joo Woo-jae) and Noh Son-saeng (Park Gyeong-ree). With no questions asked, Nam-soo builds them their own ger, and they immediately teach her how to survive without money until she can get on her own two feet. This marks the most wholesome point in Episode 2.
After trying to contact Nam-soo to have her pick up her stuff, Hee-sik manages to run into her yet again after a confrontation between her, her new buddies, and some volunteer staff escalates at the park. Realizing that the system has failed her, Hee-sik is determined to make things right and promises to vouch for her at the embassy to get a new passport. He gives her money to find a room for the night, and she points out to him that the police are failing to protect their citizens from actual harm, instead choosing to penalize the innocent rather than go after the guilty. This rattles Hee-sik, especially after he loses his link to the drug trade earlier on in the episode.
With Hee-sik’s help and the ending of Episode 2, it seems like Nam-soon is going to be reunited with her family shortly. Especially considering how not-so-slick Hwa-ja is. After it is revealed at the beginning of the episode that she didn’t emit the power common among the women in the family, Geum-joo gives her secretary permission to watch over the woman. A recorded conversation with Hwa-ja reveals the woman’s motivations, but Geum-joo is not yet ready to penalize her just yet. She should act soon because once the threat of losing luxury occurs, Hwa-ja is likely to get super dangerous.
Speaking of danger, across Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 1-2, there are brief moments with Byeon Woo-seok’s Ryu Shi-O. There’s just enough to give us a general idea of his character. He doesn’t care about safety. Instead, it seems like he values adrenaline-filled experiences and testing the limits of his mortality. This is highlighted in his lack of fear when the airplane is headed towards the airplane shuttle he’s in and also when he sticks the Q-tip with the new synthetic drug into his ear despite warnings of how deadly it is.
Close-up shots, the design of his company’s lab, and how Byeon Woo-seok is lit give an almost stereotypically villainous vibe. Strong Girl Nam-soon is delightfully unsubtle, and so this choice to make Ryu Shi-O’s limited appearances so far villain-coded to the extreme sets up expectations. Whether or not the character decides to lock his sights on Nam-soon in the future, though, remains to be seen. It’s easy to guess that this is likely to happen, given how the women in her family can’t help but draw attention with their strength.
Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 1-2 do a great job of establishing the characters and the stakes. It isn’t a carbon copy of Bong-soon, nor should it be. Instead, the team has managed to make the scenario their own so far while also using the rubric laid down by its predecessor series to build up the power of Nam-soon and her family. As a family that must use their powers for good, we all see through the drug plotline as well as issues surrounding justice and how that might play out in the future.
Also, a big shoutout to the team for bringing back Kim Won-hae in a cameo as Oh Dol-ppyeo. It provides a little extra specialness to Strong Girl Nam-soon that reminds us right off the bat that while the series is a spin-off, it is very much in the same world as Bong-soon. There are confirmed rumors of other cameos on the horizon. It’s just a matter of time.
Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 1-2 lay down the groundwork for what is set to be a delightfully adorable and quirky series. It’s so nice to see this superpowered family come back to the forefront again. With Lee Yoo-Mi’s incredibly likable performance as Nam-soon, it’s super difficult not to root for the young woman in her struggles. I honestly can’t wait for the next episodes to come out.
Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 1-2 are now available on Netflix, with new episodes airing on Saturdays and Sundays.
Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 1-2
Strong Girl Nam-soon Episodes 1-2 lay down the groundwork for what is set to be a delightfully adorable and quirky series. It’s so nice to see this superpowered family come back to the forefront again.