‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo,’ a heartfelt, inclusive coming-of-age K-drama

·2 min read

When one perceives a main character, one automatically presumes them to be able-bodied who have to overcome some sort of difficulty. With “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” the protagonist, Woo Young Woo, is an exceptional, and well, an extraordinary lawyer on the autism spectrum. The K-drama follows her adventures as she learns more about the human condition, friendship and love through the lens of being a neurodivergent character.

Neurodiversity, the variations in which certain cognitive functions of a person affect their behavior, is underrepresented in the Southeast Asian Film and TV industry.

However, in South Korea, its diverse and inclusive original dramas like “The Good Doctor,” “It’s Okay Not To Be Okay”, “Move to Heaven” and the newly concluded “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” shed light on the nuances of autism.

In “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” Woo Young Woo is an example of a neurodiverse character. She shows passion for defending her clients with a relentless verve, though at times she falls short in understanding the urgency of human emotions tied along to the case.

Her prodigious ability to learn the facts of each case in such a short time allows her to be the best lawyer at Hanbada Firm, where she works alongside other talented lawyers: Her boss, Jung Myeong-Suk, and two other rookie lawyers, Choi Soyeon and Kwon Min-woo. She is the closest to Soyeon, whom she calls, “Spring Sunshine,” since she had always looked after Young Woo even in their law school days together. She makes sure no one bullies and makes fun of Young Woo at work and they bond like sisters.

The K-drama does a spectacular job of establishing the sensitivity behind relationships with someone who has autism, though they couldn’t control their apathy. Young Woo’s father and her love interest, Jun-Ho, are confronted by this reality.

Jun-ho likens Young Woo to a cat in regard to personal relationships. He tells Young Woo: “My feelings toward you are like unrequited love toward a cat. Cats sometimes make their owners lonely but they make them just as happy.”

Young Woo disagreed with Jun-ho and told him: “That is an inappropriate analogy since cats love their owners, too.” Young Woo indirectly tells the audience that autistic people are capable of loving, too. At times, they just don’t know how to show it.

The K-drama gives viewers a peek of the diversity of autism disorder. People who have it are not all the same. No matter where they are on the spectrum they are just humans, too—capable of making a life for themselves and forming meaningful bonds with the people surrounding them.

Catch “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” on Netflix.