Showing posts with label Extraordinary Attorney Woo (Kdrama) 4.9 || 5. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Extraordinary Attorney Woo (Kdrama) 4.9 || 5. Show all posts

20 August 2022

K Drama Review: Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022) 4.9 || 5

When I first heard about this show, I was curious but I was not sure if I'd like it. Oppa didn't seem interested too. But I'm so glad that I didn't ignore the good buzz about this show. It definitely lived up to the hype and now I want to have more. 


This drama is all about Attorney Woo Young Woo (Park Eun Bin of Secretly Greatly and Dream High), a genius lawyer who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Despite her achievements, opportunities remain scarce (or even none at all) for Young Woo because of her condition. It doesn't help that she was raised single handedly by her father (Jeon Bae Soo of Fight for My Way) after her mom (Jin Kyung of Oh My Venus and Wonderful Days) abandoned her as a baby. 

Finally, her father's friend, CEO Han (Baek Ji Won of Snowdrop, Encounter, and Fight for My Way) of the Hanbada Law Firm hires Young Woo. Although CEO Han probably hired her to get at back at the latter's mom who was now the CEO of the country's top law firm, Young Woo still made the most out of the opportunity that was given to her. This show takes us through how Young Woo learns to co-exist with her "ordinary" friends and colleagues and how she showcases her skills and humaneness as she helps win the cases assigned to her team. 

Park Eun Bin as Young Woo

After watching her in Hot Stove League, we already knew Park Eun Bin was a great actress. So it was extra special and amazing to see how much more she had to offer in this drama. 

I super loved Park Eun Bin's very accurate portrayal of a person with ASD. She was so good with the lack of eye contact thing. She never went overboard. In fact, it didn't even feel like she was acting most of the time. She was so natural. Park Eun Bin was at her best when she showed the happy and glowing side of Woo Young Woo. 

There are many things to love about Young Woo but those would probably be best discussed in the more specific topics where they belong so I won't end up repetitive. Suffice it to say that this was another stellar performance from Park Eun Bin and I know I should be watching her other dramas too. 

Kang Tae Oh as Lee Joon Ho (and his relationship with Young Woo)

We've seen Kang Tae Oh in Run On (and apparently in Thirty-Nine too). I admit, however, that he didn't make much of an impression on me because I was more focused on the main leads. But he definitely got my attention this time. 

Joon Ho was a paralegal in Hanbada. I loved how he was so patient with Young Woo even before they were in a relationship. How he helped her cope in her new environment - teaching her how to waltz into the revolving door, limiting her whale talk to specific times of the day, etc. 

I loved how Joon Ho's confession was framed - that he wanted a lawyer like Young Woo on his side. 

I didn't quite get the whole thing about Joon Ho being upset because Young Woo thought they were not dating yet. The girl was obviously just being cautious and didn't want to make assumptions. And the way Joon Ho addressed this by saying he did the things Young Woo loved doing felt off. It came across as he didn't really want to do them but he did them anyway because Young Woo liked them. It felt more like he was forced to do them or he was merely tolerating them. 

That little break up towards the end of the show was understandable and it didn't feel as contrived as your typical K drama. I totally get where Young Woo was coming from. I loved how she acknowledged that it was going to be difficult and lonely being in a relationship with her. For someone who was obviously looking for reassurance, it totally didn't help that Joon Ho didn't say anything after Young Woo's break up speech. 

I'm just glad that they got back together in the end. Joon Ho's cat analogy about being fine with unrequited love was so heartfelt and sincere. I loved how he didn't gloss over Young Woo's loneliness concern by acknowledging that loneliness was probably going to be part of their relationship but it was definitely outweighed by the happiness she brought into her life. And the rushed yet sweet way Young Woo accepted that. How the love was not unrequited at all because cats love their owners too. *sigh*

Kang Ki Young as Jung Myung Seok

We've watched Kang Ki Young in a number of dramas and a movie (Exit, At Eighteen, and What's Wrong with Secretary Kim) and this drama was definitely his best performance yet. 

Kang Ki Young was perfect as Attorney Jung Myung Seok, Young Woo's supervising attorney. I loved how how cool and chill he was most of the time. But the best thing about Attorney Jung was his character development. He was hesitant to take in Young Woo due to her ASD. But once he took her in, he really fought for her and pushed for her recognition. 

Attorney Jung's cancer scared me because I thought he was going to give us a sad ending. Fortunately, that didn't happen. And it was a bonus that he seemed to be getting back together with his wife (Lee Yoon Ji of Dream High) whom he divorced a few years back. 

Attorney Jung is probably my next most favorite character after Young Woo because he genuinely seemed to love what he was doing. His wife was right, his eyes and face lit up whenever he was working, something his wife failed to do during their marriage. 

I loved how even when he was sick, Attorney Jung was still the voice of reason and the moral compass that his rookie associates turned to when needed. So I really hope he won't leave Hanbada for good. Probably a part-time set-up? 

And the greatest thing about Attorney Jung was how he encourages his associates to be their own person and not to be merely like him. I loved how he acknowledges that lawyers can be different with different priorities so it's really up to you what path you'd choose to take. That little pep talk he gave Young Woo about how she was not just an ordinary attorney like him but an extraordinary one was really empowering, something a lot of senior attorneys should do. 

And oh how his face beamed with happiness when he commended how much his rookie associates have grown during the finale. That was very fatherly and loving coming from a mentor. 

I hope this drama will pave the way for better projects for Kang Ki Young who showed us here that he can be lead actor material too. 

Young Woo's "Advocates"

Let me give a special shoutout to the special people in Young Woo's life who always advocated for her. 

Of course there's dad who practically gave up his entire life for her. And let me just commend Jeon Bae Soo for a superb performance as Young Woo's dad. This was the exact opposite of his annoying dad character in Forecasting Love and Weather .

Then there's Young Woo's high school friend, Dong Geu Ra Mi (Joo Hyun Young) who protected Young Woo against bullies in school. And how to date, she's still Young Woo's sounding board, confidante, adviser, etc. Never mind if her suggestions are sometimes silly and bound to fail. 

And there's Young Woo's spring sunshine friend Choi Soo Yeon (Ha Yoon Kyung of Hospital Playlist and Hospital Playlist 2). They went to law school together and are now Hanbada colleagues. I loved Yoon Kyung's transformation here as a lawyer. Absolutely no trace of her cute doctor character in Hospital Playlist. 

I loved how Soo Yeon was a selfless friend to Young Woo. She gave up on Joon Ho when she realized that the two liked each other. She even pushed Jun Ho to confess, with an admonition that he must only do so if his feelings were not temporary. I loved how she was still looking out for Young Woo. 

And while she obviously found taking care of Young Woo burdensome at times, I loved how Soo Yeon was always there to defend and protect her when it mattered like when nepotism accusations were thrown at Young Woo. 

Although I don't really want to talk about Attorney Kwon (Joo Jong Hyuk of Happiness and D.P.), the third member of Attorney Jung's rookie trio team, because he was one of Young Woo's tormentors, I guess I would have to because of his relationship with Soo Yeon. Soo Yeon aptly described Attorney Kwon as a jerk who was expected to act like one regardless of the situation. And I loved how that description probably pushed Attorney Kwon to do some self-reflection. I liked how Soo Yeon somehow humanized Attorney Kwon. Especially when she confessed and implored him to be a better person because she likes people like that. And how he stood up to the challenge by bravely going against their senior who wanted them to shut up. And how he aborted his mission of making Young Woo leave Hanbada. 


Although the overarching themes of this drama (law and autism) might not seem appealing to a broader audience, I loved how the show tried its best to be inclusive and to present each episode in a way that would be easily understood and appreciated by everyone. 

Yes, it was challenging to watch the show at first because Young Woo spoke too fast, which was obviously necessary for her character but difficult for non-Korean speakers like us who had to speed-read thru the subtitles. But we were hooked right away. Especially with how in the pilot episode, Young Woo's first client was their former landlady who said that little Young Woo was going to be a lawyer. 

Let me go through the things that really stood out for me. 


I liked how autism was introduced in the show - as that day in every parent's life when he or she wonders if his or her kid is special. That's a strong hook there and something a lot of parents can relate to. 

I found the show very informative with regard to autism's symptoms (and whales too!) . I liked how the show integrated these symptoms throughout the story. Little Young Woo lining up her toys. Her repetitiveness. How she actually tries to control herself but sometimes she just really can't. Her aversion to sudden changes in noise (hence the headphones) and texture (which explains why she always eats no-surprise and you-can-see-all-the-ingredients-right-away gimbap). How she's a very keen observer (noticing the photos in the room of the client in the wedding gown case, etc.). Her extreme passion in everything that she does (oh the lengths she'll go to to win a case like reenacting the suicide of a client's brother). Her bluntness, which others would find rude (like asking Joon Ho if she can touch him so she'll know if she likes him or how she kept on saying matter-of-factly that Attorney Jung might die from cancer). How you always need to be very clear about what you mean, like defining how many minutes "later" means. 

I appreciated how the show didn't sugarcoat the struggles of people with ASD. The judgment they have to live with. How they're discriminated against even by supposedly learned people like prosecutors and judges. And how they need to deal with all of these for the rest of their lives. 

And how important advocates are. Like that landlady from when Young Woo was young who kept on encouraging her even when she didn't speak. And her dad and her friends. People who believed in Young Woo and helped her overcome the obstacles that come with ASD. 

Admittedly, I was concerned in the beginning that this drama might be romanticizing ASD with how high functioning Young Woo was. That's why the Peng Soo episode came as a huge relief. I believe it was essential for the drama to show that ASD comes in a very wide range and that they had to show the extreme end, opposite of where Young Woo belonged. This was important so as not to perpetuate misconceptions or give false hopes about the realities of ASD. 

But the Peng Soo episode was also a huge eye opener about the unfortunate fact that people tend to lump together everyone with ASD despite the wide spectrum there is. In Young Woo's case, her achievements were always overshadowed by her condition. And how this caused self-doubt, like feeling that she didn't deserve to be loved. And how she must grab every opportunity that comes her way because most of the time, there are no second chances for people like her. 

I also liked how the show dealt with the hard questions when it comes to people with disabilities. There was that special treatment issue that Attorney Kwon kept on bringing up when Young Woo wanted to resign but was granted some time off first to think things through. Or how she was hired after the regular hiring season which led to the nepotism issue. Should she be treated like everyone else or is she entitled to some exceptions because of her condition? 

And are the standards of love different for people like Young Woo? I liked how this was highlighted in the girl with an intellectual disability case. Yes, the guy there probably deserved what he got for being a gigolo. But who are we to question if they truly loved each other? Who are we to doubt the sincerity of the girl's feelings? 

And how the parents or caregivers of people with ASD always think that they might not be doing enough for them. Like Young Woo's dad who seemed to regret not doing more for her, even if he practically gave up his life for her. 

And how people with ASD always have that lingering thought that they're not really accepted but merely tolerated. And how they are ridiculed behind their backs. And how they feel like they're burdens to the people around them and how they're incapable of making their partners happy. 

I am not an expert on ASD so I can't be a credible judge on whether or not the show's depiction was completely accurate or not. But from the little that I know, I believe the show did its best in delivering something as close to reality as possible. 


Yes, the depiction on law and lawyering was far from perfect. There were little inaccuracies and technicalities here and there. Like how the attorneys seem to be only working on one case at a time. Most lawyers probably don't have the luxury of time to thoroughly investigate their cases (like going on-site) because they're swamped with work. Or law firms being that accommodating and considerate the way Hanbada was to Young Woo. And how it's highly improbable that a whole team can take off to Jeju to attend to one case. 

But just like the ASD depiction, I still loved how the show tried its best to make this as realistic as possible. It was easy to ignore the inaccuracies because the show definitely made up for it with all the feels it gave us. 

Like how toxic and competitive law practice can be, which can be made more difficult by conditions like ASD. How even your supposed teammates are out to get you like Attorney Kwon who wanted to see Young Woo fail because he saw her as a competitor. Yes, Attorney Kwon's outburst about how he was the breadwinner somehow explained why he was so competitive but that still did not excuse his dirty tricks (and that outburst felt a bit too sudden too). 

But despite the difficulties, lawyers carry on because the rewards are priceless too. Like how Young Woo felt when she helped her old landlady. That must have been very fulfilling for her. 

And how even if there are rotten lawyers out there, you don't have to be heartless like them. You can be a flexible and compassionate one too like when Young Woo advised the wedding gown case client on how she can withdraw from the case. 

And how sometimes, unorthodox methods are needed to win the case. Like how Young Woo and her team had to perform to get the Peng Soo case client to speak. They had to go to his level and do something that interested him so he can trust them. Or how you have to be persistent as long as it's within legal boundaries (unlike Young Woo and Soo Yeon who made a surprise visit to a judge's chambers). 

And how lawyers should have a "cooperative" mindset - thinking about how they can learn from and help each other. So what if they're new lawyers? Rookies have something new and good to offer too. 

And again, I liked how the show didn't shy away from the difficult topics that come with lawyering. How it's difficult to be a very righteous person if you're a lawyer. Because the law and lawyers are bound to disappoint you like how the law was used to pirate clients in the ATM case. It was a reminder that something might be legal, but it's not necessarily always ethical and moral. 

Then there's the problem of connections and corruption. Like how the judge in the North Korean defector case was kind to Atty. Choi because her dad was a fellow judge. Or how the Raon CEO tried to bribe the judge who was his senior in university. 

And how public interest law seems to be the road less travelled. And how big firms prefer income generating cases. And how others look down on pro bono cases. I loved that gender inequality case because it highlighted how public interest lawyers might not necessarily be swimming in money but they are happy and fulfilled. And how it showed us that law firm practice is not the only career path for lawyers. I was actually hoping Young Woo would explore this option because she might be a better fit for this kind of practice. 

And the dangers that come with lawyering. How unhealthy lifestyle and stress can cause illnesses like what happened to Attorney Jung. Or how vengeful clients or opposing parties can harm you if the case does not go their way. 

And I liked how the drama showed us that not all senior lawyers are like Attorney Jung who is very nurturing. There are bad ones too like Attorney Jang (Choi Dae Hoon of Crash Landing on You and At Eighteen) who sees his juniors as his competitors. Who equates skill with arrogance because he thinks he's the only good lawyer around. And how he only protects himself and not his staff when there are problems like how he left the rookies to deal with the press in the Raon case. And how he was too proud to accept the theories presented by Young Woo, even if it could cost them the case. And how he grabbed credit for it later on. 

I liked how the final case touched on the huge moral dilemma that lawyers face - upholding social justice versus protecting the interests of their clients. Yes, lawyers must stand by their oath of defending their clients. But sometimes, lawyers need to draw the line too, especially when something morally huge is at stake. 

Cases as Social Commentaries

I loved how the show used the various cases as commentaries on different and relevant social issues. 

Like how that wedding gown case talked about arranged marriages and how parents sometimes use these weddings to marry into powerful and rich families, never mind if they put their children into difficult situations. I super loved that plot twist in the end where the bride actually had a girlfriend. That wedding gown boo-boo was a blessing in disguise because it finally freed her from her father. 

Then there's the issue on violence against women in that first case where the landlady with the abusive husband was wrongly accused of killing her husband, who turned out to be terminally ill actually, which caused him to faint. Or the North Korean defector case where the lady who ran away with the money still covered up for her abusive husband even if he continuously beat her up for years. 

And of course, there's that bias against certain types of people like those with ASD and the North Korean defectors. And how the defectors' kids are affected when the parents are pushed to commit crimes so they can live by. 

Then there's the debate on modernization versus keeping traditions and sentimental places or things like the highway case. It's unfortunate that some people are just after money all the time, without considering the sentiments of the people around them who will be affected the most by the changes. 

My most favorite case is probably the Pied Piper/Children's Liberation Army one. It was absurd, yes, but it was also painful to be confronted with the truth that children are stressed because of the immense pressure for them to study (and give up playing time) so they can make it to good universities. Yes, kidnapping, regardless of the motive, is a crime. But it wouldn't hurt to listen to what he has to say because kids are so tired and we can't rob them of their childhood, which will never come again. 

Then that take on gambling in the episode where the lottery winner reneged on his promise to share the prize with his friends. How money is the root of all evil and how it changes people and destroys families. 

Next to the Pied Piper episode, the episode on the gender inequality in the workplace case was probably my next favorite. I found this brave, knowing how Korea is still generally patriarchal. It was appalling how women had to sacrifice in order for their husbands to keep their jobs simply because women are expected to stay at home. I liked how this case was an example of how things might be legal but not necessarily fair and moral. 

I liked that the show's final case was on personal data breach in that Raon case. It's something everyone can relate to with all of our information out there on the Internet. How these breaches are rampant and how it's difficult to trust anyone with our information. 

And that long-running issue in the show about parents abandoning their children to pursue their dreams. Yes, I can't blame Young Woo's mom for abandoning her when she was a baby because she had a lot of things ahead of her. But for the mom to still be selfish and concerned about her reputation after all these years was just unacceptable. I loved Young Woo's confession scene with her mom where mom asked her if she resented her and how Young Woo did not answer directly but simply said it was nice to meet her once. 

I absolutely hated how mom was still ashamed of Young Woo and how she was willing to do anything to keep her away like asking Attorney Kwon to do anything to make Young Woo leave Hanbada. 

And I super loved that plot twist in the end that Young Woo's half-brother was the hacker in the Raon case. I loved how the brother went to and trusted Young Woo to protect his interests when their mom could not. If season 2 pushes through, this is definitely one storyline I'll be looking forward to. I loved how the siblings are similar - they're both geniuses, their love for gimbap. I love the prospect of Young Woo having a meaningful relationship outside of her little circle. 

I loved how the brother's crime prevented Young Woo's identity from being revealed yet. And I thoroughly enjoyed Young Woo's speech before her mom where Young Woo wholeheartedly accepted and embraced herself. How she acknowledged that it was okay to be different. And of course, I liked how she guilt tripped her mom into making her brother testify by saying that while she was not a good mother to Young Woo, she should at least try to be a good one to her son. And how Young Woo broke down after she said that, probably releasing all her bottled up pain and/or resentment against her mom. Despite everything, I loved how Young Woo was not vengeful towards her and how she was not envious of how her mom protected her brother. 


The ending was perfect because the drama stayed true to form. It showed us that despite her age, Young Woo still struggled in labeling her emotions. And it felt so good for her to put a name to how she feels - fulfillment. 

The ending also went full circle when it showed scenes similar to the pilot episode - Dad sending off Young Woo, Young Woo traveling on the MRT to go to work, and Young Woo conquering her fear of the revolving door. Yes, a lot of things remained the same for Young Woo, but she was definitely braver and bolder this time. 

Oppa says...4.9.

Noona says...5.