Strong Girl Nam-soon Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: October 7, 2023 (Last updated: October 12, 2023)
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Strong Girl Nam-soon Season 1 Episode 1 Recap


Strong Girl Nam-soon gets off to a strong – no pun intended – start with a premiere showing off an admittedly wobbly tone but also a fun cast and intriguing premise.

Strong Girl Nam-soon is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a spin-off of Strong Girl Bong-soon, boasting the same underlying premise and hodgepodge of issues. But I have good news for the K-Drama fans who were lamenting the absence of Behind Your Touch, which this show is replacing in the 22:30 Saturday-Sunday JTBC timeslot in Korea and on Netflix everywhere else. It is, at least as far as Episode 1, pretty good!

We’ll break down all of the particulars in the recap below, but do be warned – major spoilers follow!

Strong Girl Nam-soon Season 1 Episode 1 Recap

Nam-soon is, to put things mildly, strong.

This is a concept that the premiere has fun with in multiple ways, but also in some obvious ones. “Birth of the Strong Girl” opens in Mongolia, in 2013, with Nam-soon as a child wrestling a hulking man about four times her size. The circumstances of how she came to be in Mongolia, why she’s so strong, and what she has been doing in the years since then are of particular concern throughout the episode, but the wrestling match is just getting the point across.

Why is Nam-soon so strong?

Nam-soon was in Mongolia with her father, Bong-go, who took her there as his photography muse, lost her, and was forced to return to Korea without her, which led to the dissolution of his marriage to her mother, Geum-ju.

READ: Top 40 Best Korean Dramas of All Time

One doesn’t imagine the union would have lasted anyway since it’s weird from the off. In flashbacks, we learn that Bong-go was once the financial manager of Geum-ju, a very enterprising woman who in the present day is very wealthy thanks to a pawnshop empire. But she, like Nam-soon, is blessed with superhuman strength, a genetic trait passed down through the women in the family and stemming from an X chromosome mix-up that also makes DNA tests ineffective (which will matter later.)

After basically forcing Bong-go into marriage and then into bed, literally picking the bed up and carrying it around in the meanwhile, Geum-ju set him up as a househusband while she went to work. She blames him for Nam-soon’s disappearance; he blames her for her general absence and disinterest.

While all this was going on, we learn, Nam-soon was being raised by a kindly Mongolian couple, living a simple, blissful-looking rural life. However, she was also beset by what seemed to be repressed memories and, eventually, seemingly telepathic messages from her birth family.

Nam-soon always knew she was adopted and knew since childhood that one day she would eventually leave Mongolia for Korea, but years passed before she could drum up the money to do so.

Who is Hwa-ja?

Speaking of money, Geum-ju offers a substantial amount of it as a prize for the winner of a strength competition which she hopes will bring Nam-soon out of the woodwork. And it does… in a way.

The winner of the contest is Hwa-ja, who is certainly possessed of a great deal of strength. Geum-ju immediately thinks she’s Nam-soon, and to be fair she has reason to. She’s the right age, she’s strong, and she has a scar on the sole of her left foot from an accident that Bong-go hid from Geum-ju for basically Nam-soon’s entire life. The case is compelling.

We know that Hwa-ja isn’t Nam-soon, though, and we can also tell that she seems to have obviously ulterior motives in pretending to be her, but this is presumably a matter for subsequent episodes.

Geum-ju’s desperation to reconnect with her daughter after a lifetime of seemingly little interest does seem a little difficult to take seriously, but we also learn why Geum-ju was absent while Nam-soon was young – she’s a secret bike-riding, catsuit-wearing vigilante.

Strong Girl Nam-Soon Season 1 Episode 1 Ending Explained

Towards the end of the episode, Geum-ju intervenes in a drug deal that is tied to Nam-soon’s arrival in Korea, since narcotics are being clandestinely transported on the plane she’s traveling in. That plane’s brakes feel, so while it lands safely enough, it doesn’t stop.

READ: Is Kang Nam-soon blood related to Do Bong-soon?

At this point, we learn that Nam-soon has superpowers beyond strength, including super-senses and super-speed, and she’s able to catch the plane and drag it to a halt. In doing so, she triggers the powers of her mother and grandmother, Joong-gan, showing how all the women in the family are intrinsically linked.

This also has the knock-on effect of showing that Hwa-ja isn’t Nam-soon after all. It’s unclear for now how she, the ominous, enigmatic Shi-O, who was watching the plane go down, and the newbie cop Hee-sik, are all going to factor into the overarching story. Nevertheless, though, some quibbles with tone notwithstanding, “Birth of the Strong Girl” is a fine start.

Additional reading:

Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, Weekly TV
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