Showing posts with label Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (Kdrama) 4 || 4. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (Kdrama) 4 || 4. Show all posts

26 August 2022

K Drama Review: Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2016) 4 || 4

A few years back, my brother recommended this drama because it was funny. However, I put off watching it because I thought it had some fantasy element to it because of the "fairy" in the title. Turns out there wasn't. And while it was not as funny as I expected, it was still worth my while. 


Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo is about athletes enrolled in a sports university. The main lead is weightlifter Kim Bok Joo (Lee Sung Kyung of Record of Youth). Although an extremely talented athlete, Bok Joo appears to have low self-esteem. While in the university, she is reunited with her grade school classmate, Jung Joon Hyung (Nam Joo Hyuk), who is a swimmer attending the same school. Initially, Joon Hyung did nothing but annoy and tease Bok Joo. As the story progresses, however, we see how the two forge a deeper and more meaningful relationship while balancing the various aspects of their busy lives involving training, school, their friends, and their families. 

Lee Sung Kyung as Kim Bok Joo

For someone who looks so polished and glamorous, it was amazing to see Lee Sung Kyung portray the role of tough, rough, and funny Bok Joo really well. And while she was mostly funny in this drama, I also appreciated how heartfelt she delivered her dramatic scenes. 

I loved how Bok Joo was a relatable character especially with regard to her insecurities. She articulated how girls always want to look their best, especially before guys they like. And it was heartbreaking to hear her say that her sport was the exact opposite of that because it highlighted her popping veins, bulging tummy, double chin, etc. 

Aside from her relationships with her friends and Joon Hyung, I also liked Bok Joo's relationship with her dad (Ahn Gil Kang of Dream High). They always bickered but you can see that their love for each other was sincere and unconditional. My favorite dad and daughter scene would have to be their conversation when dad was hospitalized and they kept on apologizing to each other for their shortcomings. That was so heartfelt. 

I can say that I'm now a Lee Sung Kyung fan. I just hope she'd do more dramas so I can watch more of her. 

Nam Joo Hyuk as Joon Hyung

We've seen Nam Joo Hyuk in a number of dramas. And while this is not his best performance (Start-Up and Twenty-Five Twenty-One are still probably his best), this was still way better than Moon Lovers Scarlet Heart Ryeo. So, yep, great job for Nam Joo Hyuk who seems to be getting better in acting over the years. 

Nam Joo Hyuk excels in wimpy, nerdy, awkward characters and Joon Hyung helped him showcase that. It was a plus that he was quite hunky here too as a well-toned swimmer. 

It was not love at first sight for me and Joon Hyung though. I hated how he bullied Bok Joo by using her childhood nickname, Chubs. And when he saw that Bok Joo was actually a good daughter, he treated her better all of a sudden. Then he goes back to teasing her and threatening to reveal her visits to his brother's (Lee Jae Yoon) weight loss clinic. Yes, I know that some guys express their fondness for girls that way. But I was just uncomfortable with how he was crossing boundaries a lot of times without checking if Bok Joo was fine with everything. 

While I enjoyed Bok Joo's relationship with her dad, I can't say the same about Joon Hyung's relationship with his mom who abandoned him when she remarried. I was so disappointed with mom and the only silver lining was that it highlighted how forgiving, loving, and kind-hearted Joon Hyung was. He still sent her off when she left even after he discovered her real motive for coming back. I loved that he returned her handkerchief, which he used as his security blanket for so long. That was symbolic of him letting her go finally. And it also helped us appreciate Joon Hyung's relationship with his adoptive mom (Lee Jung Eun of Our Blues, Soundtrack #1, Mr. Sunshine, Parasite, A Taxi Driver, Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, Monthly Magazine Home, Law School, Ms. Hammurabi, and Fight for My Way). I loved their reconciliation scene so much. It helped that Nam Joo Hyuk handled his breakdown scenes really well. 

Bok Joo and Joon Hyung

I didn't find Joon Hyung and Bok Joo adorable together right away. I guess that has something to do with how I felt about Joon Hyung. But they grew on me. I loved how their relationship progressed, how they grew closer to each other. Like how they understood each other since they were both athletes who experienced slumps, anxiety, etc. 

I loved how they helped each other overcome their difficulties. Bok Joo was there for Joon Hyung when she discovered his trauma and his anxiety. Joon Hyung, regardless of how he kept on teasing Bok Joo, was there for her when everyone hated her for going to a weight loss clinic when she was supposed to gain weight. He was there for her too when she thought of quitting because her coach (Jang Young Nam of Seobok and Confidential Assignment) was fired. And she tirelessly looked for him when he ran away after finding out the real reason why his mom came back. 

I loved how things fell into place eventually. How their friendship from long ago explained Joon Hyung's fondness for Bok Joo, which he expressed by annoying her. It was cute that he used to leave chocolates for her in elementary school, as a sign of gratitude that she saved him when he fell off the classroom's window. It was nice to see their relationship mature and how they learned to trust each other with their deepest, darkest, and most painful secrets. 

I enjoyed Joon Hyung's confession. It was so them. He teased her. He was funny. And his confession was casual. And I also liked the cute way Bok Joo accepted it a few days later by saying that she'll keep him. 

I loved their sentimental and nostalgic ending although I would have preferred less (or even none at all) of the bickering scenes. It would have been more special if the finale was light, fun, and happy, in keeping with the show's overall theme and vibe. 

Special Mentions

Bok Joo and Joon Hyung's friends (Cho Hye Jung of Our Blues, Lee Joo Young of Something in the Rain and Itaewon Class, and Ji Il Joo) were just okay. Although they provided most of the comedy in the show, I didn't always find them that hilarious. But I loved them anyway because of their loyalty to our main leads. 

I loved Bok Joo's dad and uncle (Kang Ki Young of Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Exit, At Eighteen, and What's Wrong with Secretary Kim) because of their devotion to Bok Joo. Although I didn't always agree with how they shielded Bok Joo from heartaches, I understood where they were coming from and I knew they meant well. 

Of course, I loved Bok Joo's coaches too (Jang Young Nam and Choi Moo Sung of Hospital Playlist, Mr. Sunshine, Prison Playbook, and Reply 1988). I loved how much they sacrificed for the team - shelling out their own money to feed their athletes and even risking their jobs to borrow money for an athlete's bail. I loved how they were a good fit for each other - a talkative guy coach and a lady coach who summarizes his thoughts. 


This show was not perfect. In the beginning, everyone had the tendency to be over the top. There were corny moments, which sometimes felt slapstick already. 

I was also perplexed at why there were no classroom scenes, considering that they were student-athletes and the drama was set in a university. It would have been good to show this to further emphasize how difficult it is for them to balance training with their studies. 

I was not so happy with some of the characters and love storylines too. Like Joon Hyung's ex-girlfriend (Kyung Soo Jin), although I admit that her aura improved a lot towards the end. And her attempted relationship with the other swimmer. Or Joon Hyung's brother and the university doctor (Yoo Da In). Or Bok Joo's uncle and her coach. Or even the two coaches. I somehow feel that these storylines could have been done away with. 

I've talked about how I was uncomfortable with Joon Hyung's verbal (and sometimes bordering on emotional and physical too) abuse of Bok Joo and vice versa. And how I was somewhat indifferent to the comeback of Joon Hyung's mom. Yes, it probably helped with Joon Hyung's closure but the timing felt off because there were too many things happening then too. 

Despite my complaints, I thoroughly enjoyed the student-athlete storyline. It was very admirable to see how seriously they trained. And it was interesting to know their back stories. How sports was a way out of poverty for some. How there's pressure for teams to perform well because their budgets depended on it. And of course the sacrifices that these athletes have to make - being away from their families, giving up on their love life, and sometimes even their femininity because their sports require them to act tough. How some parents can be unsupportive. And the huge role coaches play in their athlete's lives such that some would opt to quit if their coaches leave. 

I liked the focus on how too much pressure and stress can cause health problems - physically and mentally - like what happened to Joon Hyung and his ex. And I super loved how the show normalized seeking help for mental health issues. And how it's okay to take a break when your love for the sport is lost like what Bok Joo did. Because that love might be rekindled when you distance yourself from it a bit. And how a strong support group is essential in pushing these athletes to do better. 

I also liked how the drama didn't just show us the good side of sports. It was sad to see the competitiveness that consume some of these athletes. Or how there are still stereotypes like how weightlifters are expected to carry heavy stuff, while athletes in more feminine sports like gymnastics are exempted from this. And how body shaming is still so rampant that even coaches engage in it by calling their athletes names like fatso, etc. 

Overall, while the show was not that perfect for me, I still enjoyed it because of the youthful vibe it exuded. It might seem superficial at first glance but in the end, you'll realize that it actually teaches you life lessons here and there. 

Oppa says...4.

Noona says...4.