There are tons of legal dramas premiering every year in K-dramaland. A series can get easily be forgotten if it would only stick to the tried-and-tested courtroom drama clichés. This year, Channel ENA added a series to the already long list of legal K-dramas.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo is a legal drama in every aspect. It follows a lawyer heroine that has her own way of handling cases and serving justice as much as she could. The series has a character-driven story that used an episodic approach in developing its central character. The cases for each episode varied from controversial issues to tales that can warm or crash the audience’s heart. Almost everything presented in Extraordinary Attorney Woo can also be found in other legal dramas. It could have been an ordinary series that was enjoyable to watch while it was airing but could be easily forgotten afterward. BUT there are some aspects in the series that stood out and help transform its ordinary structure into an “extraordinary” saga.
The Hanbada Team
For a series with a story heavily anchored in one character, Extraordinary Attorney Woo still have interesting and colorful side characters. The series’ main plot started with Woo Young-woo (Park Eun-bin) entering the “world” of real lawyers in Hanbada and meeting new people there who eventually became her dependable colleagues. Through them, we got to know Young-woo’s habits that “normal” people don’t usually show. And even though they were written to put a spotlight on our main lead, the series also gave these characters time to tell their stories.
Kang Ki-young, who has always been a scene stealer in his previous dramas, wonderfully played the role of Atty. Jung Myeong-seok. He was a non-believer at the start but Young-woo eventually won him over. It was heart-warming how Jung Myeong-seok became Young-woo’s mentor and in return, Young-woo pushed Myeong-seok to have some realization about his work and his personal life.
And if Young-woo has supporters, she also has some detractors in the form of Kwon Min-woo (Joo Jung-hyuk) and Jang Seung-jun (Choi Dae-hoon). The audience hated the guts of these two lawyers but they were written to evoke such reaction and they were effective in their roles.
Miss Sunshine and Dong-to-the-Geu-to-the-rami
What makes Young-woo’s journey more interesting were her two besties – one at work and the other is her after-work buddy. Choi Su-yeon (Ha Yoon-kyung) is nicknamed sunshine by Young-woo herself but I think, she is more of her compass, the one that calms her down when she feels a bit lost in the cases they handle. Dong Geurami (Joo Hyun-young) is an equally quirky buddy Young-woo needed whenever she needed someone to listen to her work woes and accomplishments. These two make Young-woo more relatable.
A Non-Whale Male Lead
Young-woo is fascinated with whales but even though she wished for whales as life-long partner, fate would give her Lee Jun-ho (Kang Tae-oh) instead. Some might argue that a loveline wasn’t important in this series but the romantic subplot was written for the heroine to understand her emotions better.
Although as much as I find the romance here cute, I didn’t find myself attached to them. So when things got tough for their romance, it didn’t feel as painful as other breakup scenes. Or maybe, at the back of my mind, I was thinking there was no way they won’t end up together because of how they build her relationship with Jun-ho as part of her character development. And it was obvious it would stay that way. Anyway, Kang Tae-oh’s character in this series is a nice guy – a character archetype I’ve been campaigning for so long. And I love how K-drama viewers finally see they can be an interesting male lead too.
Attorney Woo Young-woo
Honestly, there were moments in this series where I struggled to continue watching it but I stayed because of Park Eun-bin. There are plot points – such as Young-woo’s birth secret – in this series that are just mostly cliché staples in K-dramas. And there were even cases, especially in the latter episodes, which were supposed to be helpful plot devices but instead interfered with the continuity of the main plot. I wasn’t sure if it was because the showrunners decided to give it a second season that affected the story’s progress but nonetheless, I think it wasn’t only me who believes season 1’s ending could have been better.
But what makes up for it is Park Eun-bin’s portrayal of her titular character. She is brilliant in that role. She was able to show how a legal drama can be told from the perspective of a person on the spectrum. I’ve watched her from her Age of Youth days to her recent series like Do You Like Brahms and The Kings’ Affection, and she never fails to amaze me with how she can transform from one character to another. She could win even the most skeptical of viewers.