Strongest Deliveryman (최강 배달꾼): Fun times, with a heart for justice
This drama tried to “entertain-with-a-heart” and it was mildly successful in doing so. The main message it tried to share was that if those without power band together, they can win against the rich and powerful. It’s a message that jives well with what I’m trying to do in my life. And of course there was some romance involved, hah.
As with most dramas, the story has a major turning point in the middle. The first half was basically helping us get to understand who the main characters were, with the second half focusing on the more thematic fighting against the rich & powerful idea.
The main guy character, Choi Kang Soo (Go Kyung Pyo) is an affable, charismatic guy who’s befriended other delivery guys all across Seoul (300+ of them) and gotten them on board with a company he creates that can give them all a respectable career. The main female character, Lee Dan Ah (Chae Soo Bin), though, was developed almost as a counterpoint, who is always saying things like “There’s no hope in Korea” & “Hard work doesn’t guarantee anything”. The story took on a sense of urgency when his earnest effort wins her over and gives her hope that things can change for the better.
I particularly enjoyed this drama because the writers & producers really tried to touch on a variety of issues and I feel like they largely succeeded until the last sequence (though it also felt like that was a product of them rushing the story towards the end). The issues they touched on were:
- That chaebols (the family members of the largest corporations in Korea) have the power to get away with felony charges.
- That chaebols, those born with privilege (a silver spoon), don’t understand the consequences of their actions (that closing off a tunnel so you can do some street racing, can have dire consequences).
- The importance of friendship and camaraderie, particularly in fighting against the rich & powerful.
- That corporations use ruthless tactics to drive out competition (in the case of the restaurants here, that they sell at cost in order to drive their competition out of business, and then sell at a profit thereafter).
- That living a simple life can be happier than the chaebol life.
One of the last sequences was where the corporation used, not a ruthless tactic, but an underhanded one (paying someone off to make it look like the restaurants were using imported and not domestic goods as they were advertising). They tried to show it taking their ragtag group to the brink of failure, but unfortunately, the way the story had been built to that point, there was no way that they were going to ultimately fail.
The lack of realism in Strongest Deliveryman, particularly as compared to my absolute favorite drama, “Incomplete Life”, was that they won every single battle. There were up’s & down’s within a battle, but at the end of the day, they won every time. So, it was no surprise that they “won the war”. In “Incomplete Life”, they also “win the war” at the end of the drama, but they also lost some really hard, heart-wrenching battles along the way.
What I did appreciate about what they did at the end was that they tried to show that there’s only one way for us to truly “win the war” against the rich & powerful: if we trust each other. That if we have each other’s back, that we can make real change. That trusting each other is really difficult, but we need to do it if we, the majority of people, want to win. We can’t let them divide us!
Towards the end there, the viewer could see how easy it was for them to stop trusting each other, to blame each other, and then to all lose at the end of the day. It was like a message to us that we need to trust each other to have the victory that these characters ended up having.
The rich and powerful will try to sway public opinion to divide us. If we let it, our partisan politics will take away the space for us to even attempt to try and work together for a better tomorrow for all of us…and not just a better tomorrow for just one side.
- STORY: 8.5/10
- DIRECTING: 7/10
- LEAD Actors: 7.5/10
- SUPPORTING Cast: 8.5/10
- CINEMATOGRAPHY: 6/10
- MUSIC: Okay, not distracting, but not memorable
- WATCH again with future spouse? 6/10
The run down: Pretty good execution for most of it. Fun, with some heart. A bit predictable, but really enjoyed the different messages they tried to convey to the viewer. You can watch it here!