Why is Extraordinary Attorney Woo So Popular?

Extraordinary Attorney Woo popularity

Extraordinary Attorney Woo popularity

It may have just debuted last year, but Extraordinary Attorney Woo's popularity has yet to waver.

The series is a prominent addition to the ever-growing K-drama catalog in which we follow the footsteps of Woo Young-woo (Park Eun-bin), an autistic lawyer.

Despite graduating at the top of her law school class, Woo Young-woo must face the biases and stigma around people with disabilities in the industry.

So, why is the K-drama still popular nowadays? Well, this article expands more on what makes Extraordinary Attorney Woo so binge-worthy.

The K-Drama Set a Historic Record For Its Home Network

Extraordinary Attorney Woo set their ENA Channel on the map
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Credit: ENA Channel

As you may be well aware, ENA (short for Entertainment and DNA) is one of South Korea's nationwide television networks.

What's the big deal in scoring high under ENA? Well, here's the thing: South Korea has its top leasing channels, and as you might have noticed, tvN and Mnet are usually in the lead when it comes to recommending good K-dramas to watch.

In this case, ENA had yet to keep up with the aforementioned networks until Extraordinary Attorney Woo came into the picture.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo set the ENA on the map due to its final episode garnering 17.5% nationwide ratings, making it the 8th highest-rated drama in Korean cable TV history and the 7th highest-rated TV drama due to its number of viewers.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo Focused on Woo Young-woo’s Strengths, Not Weaknesses

Attorney Woo Young-woo's obsession with whales is one of her best characteristics
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Credit: ENA Channel

Legal series are usually difficult to keep up with as there is a tendency to become repetitive over time, especially since, despite the variety of cases, each episode wouldn’t be as entertaining as the earlier episodes.

However, Extraordinary Attorney Woo did things differently. See, people with disabilities are usually treated as side characters or ‘weaknesses’ of a person or family upon getting diagnosed.

Sure, the K-drama featured a couple of instances in which Attorney Woo suffered from discrimination and biases against people who feel shame towards working with Autistic people, but mostly, the K-drama unveiled just how ordinary Attorney Woo is.

Woo Young-woo has an IQ of 164, which allowed her to quickly learn about each law she found in the books her father kept in their home while raising her.

In spite of her sensory issues at times, echolalia (repeating other people’s words), and awkward gait, she is able to form bonds and relationships just fine with her family, friends, and co-workers.

Most of them treat her as they would normally treat an adult, without the necessity of dumbing down terminologies or concepts, considering that she is a lawyer, too.

Her obsession with marine animals, specifically with whales, is one of her best examples of what kind of person she aims to be. In this case, the whale is her saving grace when she needs to solve an unsolvable case.

Aside from that, her obsession with whales comes from the fact that she envies them for being able to swim freely in the vast ocean, whereas Attorney Woo has been encountering difficulties given society’s discrimination against people with disabilities.

ALSO READ: Extraordinary Attorney Woo Production Company AStory Expects Massive Popularity in Hit K-drama Series Franchise

Extraordinary Attorney Woo Debunked The Stigma Around The Autism Spectrum

Extraordinary Attorney Woo popular autism stigma
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Credit: ENA Channel

Despite South Korea having one of the most prevalent cases of birthing 1 in 38 children (2.64%) with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), many South Korean families of autistic people described the K-drama as ‘pure fantasy’.

Many insisted that autistic people would never have received the same opportunities that Attorney Woo did on the show.

In the earlier episodes of the K-drama, many of Extraordinary Attorney Woo's viewers believed that her symptoms are stereotypical and merely cover 10% of what ASD beholds.

However, the fact is that the show’s extensive research on the topic shouldn’t be simply brushed off.

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When actress Park Eun-bin was cast as the titular character, she read and studied about autism and its many symptoms, all the while series writer Moon Ji-won spent a year researching and speaking with a Korean special educator so that they could accurately depict the traits of Woo Young-woo’s autism.

Not to mention, when the backlash on the show occurred, the series director, Yoo In-shik, was quick to address that the ‘inaccuracy’ or ‘stereotypical’ autism traits Woo exhibits on the show had limits, as he explained during a press conference:

“Autism has such a diverse spectrum that Woo can’t represent all of the autistic people in the world. The character of Woo is fit best in unfolding the story rather than putting more of a focus on making it realistic, as a creator. There were limitations in incorporating other factors beyond that.”

Extraordinary Attorney Woo Tackled More Controversial Topics

Extraordinary Attorney Woo controversial topics
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Almost every episode of Extraordinary Attorney Woo handled a different controversial case, and some of these cases involved tackling taboo topics.

Some of the subjects covered included a North Korean defector and an openly lesbian woman who wanted to marry her secret lover rather than the man her father arranged for the sake of their business.

Not to mention, there was an episode where Attorney Woo had to face an autistic woman (whose mental age was said to be 13 years old) to defend the man who was allegedly sexually assaulting her.

The conflicting goal that any Attorney must face, especially when it came to getting rid of stereotypes against the ASD community, was a difficult episode to watch.

However, this is one of the interesting bits of the K-drama, challenging the ethics of the viewers on what they would think of doing if they were in Attorney Woo’s shoes.

Will There Be An Extraordinary Attorney Woo Season 2?

Why is Extraordinary Attorney Woo So Popular?
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Credit: ENA Channel

Given the overwhelming popularity Extraordinary Attorney Woo Season 1 earned, there’s no doubt that it has been renewed for a Season 2, as confirmed recently by NME.

However, given that the confirmation is quite recent, there has been no official release date planned for Extraordinary Attorney Woo Season 2 yet.

The least we can expect, though, is that the filming will not begin anytime soon, considering that series writer Moon Ji-won is currently set on her directorial debut with the upcoming film, Deaf Boys, set to begin shooting next year.

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