TYPE OF REVIEW : GOOD OL’ REVIEW
It is always a great experience when you come across a series that is well-written, fun, has a great cast and can make you simultaneously laugh and cry throughout. That is exactly what Delivery Man (딜리버리맨) is. The fantasy/mystery comedy/drama from ENA is such a wonderful treat from beginning to end. And one of the most satisfying series so far this year.
Seo Young Min (Yoon Chan Young) is an independent taxi driver who works to support himself and his grandmother. He takes over the taxi after the death of his mother who was its driver for many years, allowing him to pursue his dreams of becoming a police officer. One day, a ghost named Ji Hyun (Bang Min Ah) suddenly becomes his passenger with no memory of who she is or what’s happened to her.
Needing to make money so he can pay their mortgage debt, Young Min decides to take on ghosts as passengers with the encouragement of Ji Hyun. Together, they begin to help grant the last wishes of ghosts in order to allow them to move on. And through this, hopefully uncover the truth behind Ji Hyun’s identity and death.
The series wastes no time setting the stage for the story to come. Young Min and Ji Hyun meet fairly early in the series. And we get the usual clashing of personalities, especially considering Young Min suddenly gaining the ability to see ghosts is obviously something he won’t easily adjust to. The pair are able to help grant the final wishes of a few ghosts. In some cases, righting or even preventing an injustice and in others, fulfilling promises to loved ones.
Young Min is reluctant at first, especially as he wants to focus on earning the money he needs lest he and his grandmother are thrown out of their home. But as Young Min is a kind young man at heart, he sincerely does what he can to help the poor souls take care of their unfinished business on Earth.
Running parallel to Young Min’s story is that of Ji Hyun. Her father and detectives are on the case trying to find the truth behind her death. And as they uncover details and facts, the two sides of the story slowly intersect in exciting ways, even revealing an even bigger mystery that leads to the series’ thrilling and emotional endgame.
The mystery behind Ji Hyun’s life and death unfold in a well-paced fashion. The clues and answers are sprinkled throughout, allowing for a series-long plot thread to play out without feeling slow or repetitive. All the while Ji Hyun and Young Min’s own relationship (yes, with some romance!) grows and is strengthened.
Another integral relationship to the story is that of Young Min and his grandmother. It is a wonderfully relatable dynamic about how much they care for each other, especially after such a tragic loss. And having that relatable story helps the audience connect with Young Min even as he finds himself in this very uncommon and fantastical situation.
Young Min also has a great friendship with his fellow taxi drivers, forming a nice little community that illustrates another type of relationship that can develop and can, like that of family, can help in times of need.
Young Min and Ji Hyun work on just a few “cases,” so to speak, each of them quite emotional and all of them satisfyingly resolved. And if I had one criticism of the series, it would be that I wish they had worked with more ghosts and tell more stories of Young Min and Ji Hyun helping to take care of unfinished business.
The series is 12 episodes long, but there was certainly a lot of potential material that could have easily filled the typical 16-episode format. (Though lesser episode counts seem to be the new norm in Korean drama.)
Still, all the narrative pieces come together to eventually reach the series’ emotional climax. One that actually takes place over a few of the last episodes. And the satisfying scenes are made possible by the well-paced story and its depth as well as the strong cast that helps bring it to life.
Bang Min Ah is a charming ghost. And what she does so well here is how she is able to express the uncertainties of a ghost (essentially a dead person) with no memories. But later, showing the necessary emotions when the truth about her past is revealed.
Kim Min Suk as Young Min’s friend, Dr. Kyu Jin, delivers a wonderfully slowburn performance. And any more about his character may just give away some spoilers. So just trust that he will deliver here, as he always does.
Park Hye Jin as Park Boon Ja is also fun, providing the heart and warmth as Young Min’s grandmother. And a wonderful ensemble with Choi Tae Hwan, Kong Jung Hwan, Jo Mi Nyeo and Choi Cho Woo as the other taxi drivers and their family really help establish the strong and important friendship Young Min has to hold on to.
But the standout is most certainly Yoon Chan Young. He made a big splash in Netflix’s All Of Us Are Dead last year. But he has had a lot of experience already as a child actor and in varied roles over the years. His more recent and more substantial roles, however, have been of a more dramatic and heavier nature. Which is why his performance here on Delivery Man is so great to see. As Young Min, he is able to be a bit more loose and he gets the chance for maybe many different emotions. It’s really great to see Yoon Chan Young actually smiling often during a series instead of being a moody teenager or have to run from zombies all the time. He is such a talented and charismatic actor. You can’t help but be enamored by his charm and endeared to his performance. And he really does help elevate Delivery Man from being a simple lighthearted mystery drama to a deeper, more emotionally impactful story.
And that’s ultimately what Delivery Man succeeds at doing overall. It has an easy premise to jump into. A taxi driver can see ghosts, so he helps to fulfill their final wishes and take care of their unfinished business. But the series is at its strongest with its sincere and heartfelt character moments. Whether it is with Young Min and the main characters or the ghosts and their families they meet along the way. All those pieces come together to help perfectly execute the exciting climax with satisfying results. And overall, Delivery Man definitely delivers one of the year’s best and most complete K-drama experiences so far!