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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 15-16


The two main conflicts this time are, for episode fifteen, the question of how to best spend vacation time, and for episode sixteen, the question of how to deal with incrementally chaotic financial situations. As is usually the case for "Strong Family", the conflicts are defined by their relatively minor scope. These are the sorts of issues normal families have to deal with on a regular basis, so the problems are quite easy to discuss.

Indeed, on further consideration, "Strong Family" is light on action and plotting and even jokes, at times, precisely because a lot of screentime is dedicated to just having the family discuss their predicaments with friends. And by friends, I mean that Cheon-il discusses them with his co-workers and Ra-yeon discusses them with her family. Cheon-il talks about family problems so much at work it took me way too long to realize that they work in the soju industry, of all things.

Although really, what anyone's actual job is an office environment never really matters in most dramas, so there's no reason for it to matter here. Indeed, it allows the production team to put the focus on actual character relationships instead, which tend to be a lot more interesting. Static though Cheon-il may be when it comes to his co-workers, the constancy of those relationships is quite comforting in its own way, much as his wife is.

I like how "Strong Family" never really tries to get into love so much as it does the proper maintenance of a happy household. Cheon-il constantly struggles with how much he willing to annoy his wife versus how far he is willing to go to make her happy. The fact that he talks about her with his co-workers is, if nothing else, a testament to how much he's always thinking about her. While Cheon-il is never really all that romantic, it's easy to appreciate how he makes an effort.

And likewise, Ra-yeon is always there herself, ready to pitch in with whatever degrading solution she can think of in order to maintain that household. Note how her big climactic goofy scene in the sixteenth episode is prompted by Cheon-il's prompt text- because of course he wants to share the good news with her as soon as possible. I like how Cheon-il and Ra-yeon are always able to come to a proper understanding, even if the process is frequently a tad inconvenient.

Review by William Schwartz

"Strong Family" is directed by Choi Moon-seok, written by Jin Yeong and features Park Hyuk-kwon, Park Sun-young, Kim Ji-min, Uhm Hyo-sup, Park Hee-von, Kim Ki-ri and Lee Ho-won.

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