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“Extraordinary Attorney Woo” Korean Drama Review. Just Another Mental Health Korean Drama or The Rise Of A Masterpiece?

My name is Woo Young-woo, whether it’s read straight or flipped. Kayak, deed, rotator, noon, racecar, Woo Young-woo. Yeoksam Station (station is translated to yeok in Korean).

Woo Young Woo

The new world, “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” is introduced to Korean drama lovers through the eyes of the character, Woo Young Woo.

Synopsis


Extraordinary Attorney Woo tells the story of Woo Young Woo (Park Eun Bin). a lawyer with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She has a high IQ of 164, an unforgettable memory and a creative manner of thinking however, she has low emotional intelligence and poor social skills.

Plot

Extraordinary Attorney Woo is not the first Korean drama to address the issue of mental health or have one of its characters be a front-runner in that spectrum. From “It’s okay to not be okay,” to “It’s okay, that love” and many more. Korean dramas that touch on the topic of mental health have proven to be a dynamic that is welcome and appreciated by viewers. So what makes “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” so special and is it worth an hour and more?

I saw the trailer for “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” and was scared. The trailer introduced a weak, confused and fragile bird to us in the personalisation of Woo Young Woo. As soon as I set eyes on her, I became worried. From her awkward but quite humorous introduction that states her name -which can be read the same, when flipped or read straight; known as a palindrome, – and the names of other objects can also be read the same way. Her mental cross off of the right things to say and not to say. Her awkward involuntarily dancing of her fingers to her awkward childish gait as she walks down the road.

You can’t blame me for getting scared. I thought to myself that this was probably a k-drama that will pull on my emotions and make me pity her. It will make me watch others trample on her because they can’t understand or relate with her and I won’t be able to do anything but frown. I did not have that capability. I immediately decided that the Korean drama, Extraordinary Attorney Woo would not be making it to the top of my must-watch kdrama list.

Woo Young Woo decided otherwise.

Characters

picture of Korean actress, park eun bin
Park Eun Bin

Park Eun Bin stars as the autistic attorney Woo Young Woo. Suppose you read my other Korean drama review. You would know that I have a terrible memory of most Korean actors and actresses. With that in mind, process my sentence when I say: I can’t remember most of Park Eun Bin’s other Korean dramas.

But with “Extraordinary Attorney Woo”? Park Eun Bin has ensured that her name and face will never be forgotten in Korean drama land.

The character Woo Young Woo is awkward and yet, quite intuitive.
The realization of this fact threw and still throws me off. We sense this as she repeatedly makes- and adheres to -mental notes of things to say and not to say at work.
Her internal and somewhat heartbreaking monologue on what a proper adult should be able to do – for instance, make breakfast for themselves, a task her disability has never allowed her to do- pulls the viewers into Woo Young Woo’s head. and that in itself is pretty startling.

Park Eun Bin serves us the character, Woo Young Woo on a magnificent platter. Her big doe eyes, shaky eye movements, dancing fingers, stumbling gait. With Park Eun Bin’s acting skills, it requires a heavy number of repeated efforts to remember that Woo Young Woo is, but a character portrayed by an artist that is different, very different.

Park Eun Bin as Woo Young Woo delivers a ten out of ten.

picture of korean actor, kang tae oh
Kang Tae Oh

Kang Tae Oh stars as Hanbada’s handsome attorney Lee Jun Ho.

I remember Kim Tae Oh’s face as he starred in Thirty Nine, Doom at your service and Run On. Korean dramas I recently said goodbye to. Seeing him in “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” brought a wave of familiarity.

I have seen amazing actors and improving actors. Lee Jun Ho earns a scale of 8/10 in the acting spectrum. He is attractive, and serves the character of Lee Jun Oh with such impressive finesse that I admit, deserves an accolade.

But his character has not yet been given depth. For now, as a Korean drama of only four aired episodes (episode 5 of “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” airs on the 13 of July, Wednesday), it could be understood that there is still time to get into the dynamics of his character.

In the meantime, I do not understand how his character plays in the drama. Lee Jun Ho gives me the vibe that he would be best suited for two roles in the drama: Woo-Young Woo’s sidekick and best supporter or Woo Young Woo’s love interest. And for selfish reasons, I am more comfortable with the first one. I am still unsure how the second will fare.

As for other characterisations:

Kang Ki Young plays Jung Myung Seok, a senior attorney at Hanbada. Joo Hyun-Young plays Dong Geu-ra-mi, Woo Young Woo’s best friend. Jeon Bae-soo plays Woo Gwang-ho, Woo Young Woo’s single father and Baek Ji-won is Han Seon Young, the CEO of Hanbada, the law firm Woo Young Woo works at.

dynamics

The cast of “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” has an addictive dynamic.
With its characters set in a law firm, the strong air of competition remains strong, seen as a character and lawyer at Hanbada tells another character to stop ‘pitying’ Woo Young Woo and ‘focus’ on their success.

Despite this, there is another scent that wafts strongly in the air. A strange yet welcoming warmness and oneness in the court. An atmosphere that displays itself when a smug smile appears on Jung Myung Seok’s face when Woo Young Woo offsets the opponent’s attack. or Lee Jun Oh helping Woo Young Oh by teaching her to dance her way through the intimidating revolving doors.

A strong friendly dynamic is confirmed between Dong Geu ra mi and Woo Young Woo. A dynamic with an equally addictive friendship chant.

Last, there are budding romances to be seen everywhere. What is Lee Jun Ho’s intention with our girl, Woo Young Woo? We won’t stand for pity. And the silly banter between Woo Young woo’s workmates: love disguised as hate?
and what story does the CEO of Hanbada have with Woo Young woo’s, single father? Is that a case we, the audience might have to litigate ourselves?

personal thoughts

I do not know how autism works. I have never met an autistic person or studied the disorder, so I am no professional on the disability. However, autism is portrayed by the media as a disability that renders an adult, a child. It is labelled as violent, distant and …. awkward.

I quickly understood that this was not “It’s okay to be okay”, with its leads dealing with a mental issue and yet fighting, literally, through it.

“Extraordinary Attorney Woo” is a Korean drama with a female lead that can’t help but stumble through her issues. She will be judged for it – as episode 3 “The tale of Pengsoo” shows us- and deemed unfit for ‘normal’ human socialization.

I expected all that.

What I did not expect, was to watch “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” and fall in love. Woo Young Woo switched on the Korean drama hype and mother in me. (It died after “Yumi’s cells” season 1’s manner of ending).
I found myself wanting no harm to come to her, I wanted her to succeed. I wanted her to dance her way through all the revolving doors at the law firm, till she gets the hang of it.

Sincerely, after four episodes of “Extraordinary Attorney Woo.” I concluded that Woo Young Woo doesn’t need babying. In a manner of way, she falls on the least extreme side of the autism spectrum. With a brain like hers, all I had to do was smile smugly as she turned around case after case. And of course, laugh excitedly with every ‘whale epiphanies.’

The Korean drama, “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” did not play the ‘female lead who lives with a mental illness card. it did not and still does not demand our pity.

No, instead, it introduced a different world to its audience. A world where whales swim in the sky and loud noise irritates our female lead. A world seen through Woo Young Woo’s eyes.

In episode 3, the “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” did something amazing. They placed a mirror in the Korean drama and let me reflect on my conceptions of neurodivergence through the introduction of Pengsoo, a man who had fallen on the extreme side of the autistic spectrum.

Charged for allegedly beating his older brother to death, the drama shows us a different colour of the autism spectrum and consequently, allows us to understand the character presented to us, Woo Young Woo.

Usually, with a Korean drama in its earliest episodes, there always seem to be so many ways the drama could go wrong but with “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” I find myself relaxed.

However, I have an interest in the budding romances- yes with an ‘s’- I smell in the drama. A reason to fawn or just potential unnecessary distractions?

Diagnosed with interesting chapter names, amazing casts and a heart-wrenching plot. “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” is a solid 10/10 and airs every Wednesday and Thursday.

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