Baek-il (played by Bae Yoo-ram) is Cheon-il's brother, who around the house wears a matching, and equally ridiculous looking blue tracksuit to match Cheon-il's red one. Don't get too used to him though. Baek-il is an obvious temporary guest star, there to remind us about the importance of having dreams, even unambitious ones, in your early thirties. Which does thematically tie into the overall idea of "Strong Family", which is that you can extraordinary simply by being extremely ordinary.
That uh, that doesn't really make sense does it? Well, it's more of the usual contrast between the concept of "Strong Family" coming into conflict with the drama's simplistic situation comedy design. Fortunately these episodes err more on the side of the latter, so what we're left with is Baek-il being a bit of a sympathetic oaf who, disheveled appearance notwithstanding is a perfectly nice normal guy who helps out with errands and gives honest advice which really, is more useful than good advice most of the time.
That's only for the fifth episode, though. The sixth episodes shifts the focus to jokes about sexual harassment. Worry not- writer Jin Yeong is a woman, and a fairly level-headed one at that. We get a good look at all sides of the issue. Those sides being, Cheon-il is a well-meaning idiot who doesn't think about this stuff, and the various women in his life who have gone through enough bad experiences to interpret Cheon-il's actions in an overly negative light.
Jeong-min (played by Park Hee-bon), as the token woman working underneath Cheon-il, gets most of the real exposition here though, basically for having an opinion and having to explain herself. And I like that Jeong-min does indeed explain herself rather than just acting chronically grumpy. That's not a man/woman angle, that's just a general being a good co-worker angle. It means listening to other people's concerns and resisting the urge to get aggressive just because they say something ignorant.
Baek-il's whole honest versus good advice shtick is itself a good metaphor for "Strong Family" when it's at its best, because this drama never gets preachy with its simple wholesome messages. That makes it easier to focus on the jokes. In small doses, I like Cheon-il being a well-meaning idiot. I like Ra-yeon's commitment to expressing patience. And I like how Ik-hee combines these traits into a single person- as children often do.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Strong Family" Episodes 5-6"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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