Strong Girl Nam-soon – K-drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

Birth of the Strong Girl

Episode 1 of Strong Girl Nam-soon opens with shots of the beautiful countryside in Mongolia. It is 2013 and the camera zooms in on a wrestling ring. Inside, a buff fearsome fighter is beaten by a sprightly little girl named Tsegtseg.

At the same time, in Seoul, Nam-soon’s father Gang Bong-go laments taking the little girl to Mongolia, where he lost her. Hwang Geum-ju, a rich CEO who is Nam-soon’s mother, plans to organize a strength competition for young girls in order to find Nam-soon.

Back in Mongolia, someone takes a photo of Tsegtseg (Nam-soon) and the flash reminds her of photos taken with her family. Bong-go tells a journalist about Nam-soon’s super strength and how it’s a genetic trait passed down to women in the family.

Geum-ju is the rich CEO of a pawnshop. Two men approach her with a sword that they claim is a historic artifact and she agrees to take a look after it’s been appraised by an expert. The man begs her for money for his wife’s surgery but when she opens her safe, he and his companion turn on her instead. Naturally, with a few quick moves, she throws both of them out of the room.

While speaking with the journalist, Bong-go describes how Geum-ju used to run a hangover soup shop. She was really good at earning money and he was a bank teller who helped her manage the accounts. They fell in love and Geum-ju told him to marry her and give her a daughter. He was shocked to find out about her strength but they married anyway and had a son and a daughter, Nam-in and Nam-soon. The latter was incredibly strong, just like her mother. Bong-go saw a muse in Nam-soon and took her to Mongolia but she ended up getting lost. That’s when he and Geum-ju got divorced.

Meanwhile, Tsegtseg’s adoptive parents tell her how they found her riding a horse when she was five or six years old. She was crying and calling for her Papa, which they mistook to be the horse’s name. They show Nam-soon the clothes she was wearing and she sees a tag with Korea written on it.

Later, she watches Korean television and hears flashes from her childhood. This allows her to remember her real name. She decides to learn Korean, earn money and eventually go to Korea. Over time, Nam-soon grows up. Her father tells her to get married and go to Korea but she insists she wants to marry a Korean man.

Back in Seoul, the strength competition is still going on and Geum-ju thinks the winning girl could be Nam-soon. She talks with the girl, Hwa-ja, over a meal and is more and more convinced after hearing that Hwa-ja came from Mongolia and has the same blood type as her. Geum-ju calls her family to come to meet ‘Nam-soon’.

From a conversation between the journalist and another man, we learn that DNA tests aren’t accurate for the family because of the X chromosome anomaly. Apparently, most of the country now knows about the search for Nam-soon because of the annual contest.

Hwa-ja is taken to an extremely wealthy home and shown a splendid room. She jumps on the bed in excitement but once she’s alone her expression turns more sinister.

Nam-soon’s grandmother, Gil Joong-gan, tells Geum-ju that Hwa-ja could be faking everything. After all, all the information about Nam-soon was in the newspapers for years. Bong-go says Nam-soon should have a scar on her foot from the time she jumped off the roof. This leads to an argument between the ex-couple about who took better care of the kids. Even Nam-in is dragged into it as they argue about him being fat due to a lack of motherly love.

In Mongolia, Nam-soon practices introducing herself. She later finds out her parents sold all the sheep in order to pay for her trip to Korea. Nam-soon steps outside the house and is distraught to see her horse taking his last breaths. Once he’s passed, she throws the bell he used to wear into the air and sighs. The bell makes its way all the way to Korea and hits a policeman on his head.

Nam-soon’s parents bid her a tearful farewell. Meanwhile, Geum-ju takes Hwa-ja on a shopping spree and gives her a makeover. At Geum-ju’s workplace, a woman begs Geum-ju for a loan. Geum-ju realises that the woman seems desperate and agrees to give her the money.

The policeman from earlier exits the station along with a bunch of others. Geum-ju, too, leaves on a bike, dressed all in black.

The woman from earlier is driving a car alongside another car. She hands the other car’s passenger a bunch of money and they give her a small red casing which seems to be some kind of narcotic. The policeman watches all this while driving behind them. When the woman’s driving becomes unsteady, he decides to save her instead of chasing the drug dealers.

Geum-ju turns up and chases the drug dealers, giving them an appropriate beating. The policeman rolls up in time to see her move the entire car with one hand.

Back at the police station, there is a report of drugs coming in on a flight from Mongolia. Nam-soon gets on that very flight. We also see a rich CEO named Ryu Shi-oh on the plane. The policemen wait at the airport and are told that something is wrong, the plane is not slowing down.

Geum-ju goes to Hwa-ja and promises to get her a driver’s license and car soon. When Hwa-ja asks about her superstrength, Geum-ju says Nam-soon is special even considering the superpowers. She flipped a car when she was five.

At the airport, the plane touches the ground but doesn’t slow down. Nam-soon takes charge and jumps off the plane. As we hear Geum-ju’s description of Nam-soon’s amazing strength, we see Nam-soon run with super speed and grab the plane’s wheel. As she pulls it to a stop, her mother and grandmother’s powers also seem triggered —magical lines flash all over them and their eyes change colour.

Back at the airport, Ryu Shi-oh sees Nam-soon stopping the plane. After averting the disaster, Nam-soon nonchalantly walks away and wipes sweat off her brow.

The Episode Review

Strong Girl Nam-soon kicks off with a slow but entertaining episode. We are introduced to an ensemble of different characters with each member of Nam-soon’s family coming with their own quirks. With the mystery of Hwa-ja and the introduction of the drug problem, there’s plenty to keep us hooked as well. The action and comedy clearly reflect that of Strong Girl Bong-soon, a familiar vein that viewers will enjoy.

There is quite a bit of exposition in this episode which makes it a little slow in terms of pace. Nam-soon’s strong connection with Mongolia is given a lot of screen time so I’m hoping that it is something that will come back around and isn’t limited to being part of the premise.

We’ve only gotten a glimpse of the other two male leads of the show but Ong Seong-wu and Byeon Woo-seok, both, make a strong impression in the few minutes they have. Overall, this is a positive and exciting start to the show!


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Read our season 1 review of Strong Girl Nam-soon here!

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