Extraordinary Attorney woo – Serial Review

This extraordinarily insightful and brilliant drama with a heart is a must-watch Korean serial with English subtitles, that is winning audiences everywhere. The serial centers around twenty seven year old attorney Woo Young-Woo who graduated at the top of her class and lands as an attorney in a top law firm. At one point, she says, ”I am like a Narwhal lost in a pod of belugas”. She says she is unusual and peculiar and yet her life is valuable and beautiful. There are two peculiar aspects about her. One, she has an impressive photographic memory, something that is extraordinarily rare and enables the individual to have superior autobiographical memory where they can remember almost all of their life experiences in vivid detail. Attorney Woo is also diagnosed at an early age with autism spectrum disorder and she struggles in social interactions.

What brings this serial to life and makes it one of the most memorable and deeply enjoyable is masterful performance by Park Eun-Bin in the role of Woo Young-Woo. For an actor to put life into a complex character like the one she plays and bring to life their journey with opportunities, challenges, hopes and frustrations is incredibly challenging and Eun-Bin has delivered an unrivaled performance that is sure to keep the audience glued to their screens.. 

This is also a very thought-provoking series, written by Moon Ji-Won and directed by Yoo In-Shik. Incredibly well written dialogs, bring heart to a series of challenges that humans deal with ongoingly, for instance, “if you want to communicate, make an effort” and “different doesn’t mean inferior”. Or when young Woo with autism spectrum disorder wants to experience life in its entirety and tells her father, “I would like to get discouraged, I do not want you to intervene, when I am going to get discouraged”. Her concerned father once says he wants to see the young man his daughter likes, in order to ensure he can make her happy, to which Woo insightfully says, “He is nice, he can make me happy. The problem is me. Can I make him happy or make him lonely”? 

Yoo In-Shik’s direction is flawless. Big credit goes to In-Shik for creating the vision and getting the best performance from the entire cast. Kang Tae-Oh as attorney Woo’s colleague then an intrigued friend and later a caring lover, delivers equally riveting performance, at times perplexed as he navigates through the challenging world of autism and at other times just someone who feels on top of the world, in love. Kang Ki-Young in the role of Woo’s boss navigates through similar challenges, in how best to communicate when all communication happens literally and how to get the best out of an employee who is superior in every way and yet may be perceived as inferior. Yoon Kyeong-Ha and Joo Hyun-Young offer their friendship and collegiality as they struggle to keep Woo focused and not veer off on a tangent. 

A final shoutout to Hyun-Soo Cho for amazing subtitle translation from Korean to English. A person with autism often interacts with communication in a literal way and that is challenging enough to show in one language but to then translate it into another one? And indeed the serial also got into a bit of trouble initially when the literal translation of the title from Korean to English appeared as Weird Lawyer Woo Young-Woo. In the drama, Woo uses palindromes or words that can be read the same forward and backwards. But these can’t be translated literally so English palindromes like Kayak, Deed etc. are creatively inserted.  One of Woo’s friends is into telling jokes and riddles like why is the police questioning the thread, because needle sewed the thread. In place of Korean jokes and riddles, creative and funny English riddles are inserted.

This is an incredibly well made and beautiful drama with a heart. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I rate it a 5. It’s a not-to-miss show, currently streaming on Netflix. Review is written after Season 1.

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