Extraordinary Attorney Woo
이상한 변호사 우영우
ENA (2022) 16 Episodes
Legal Drama, Masterpiece, Grade: A+
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA
(Some Spoilers)

Having watched the leading actress in Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022) Park Eun Bin grow up on screen, acting as a child in favorite classic Korean dramas like Stained Glass, The Legend, My Love Patzzi, then as a young adult in great ones like Operation Proposal and Do You Like Brahms?, I knew she was capable of intelligent, intuitive performances. That's why it came as no surprise to me that she could pull off a challenging role here playing an attorney with autism, and with such brilliance, humor, and even pathos on occasion. This girl can do it all! I'm glad a whole bunch of newbies to K-dramas have discovered her recently due to this brilliant performance. Though part of me would like to ask them, "What took you so long???" ;)

The supporting cast were all great in their roles as well, including romantic leading man Kang Tae Ho; the actor playing her boss at their law firm, Kang Ki Young (superlative performance!); a fellow female attorney on staff Ha Yoon Kyung; the actress playing her best friend, Joo Hyun Young; and mature actresses Baek Ji Won and Jin Kyung as legal competitors, ladies who always turn in stellar performances in supporting roles. I was also delighted to see the funny supporting actor I had loved in Curtain Call, Choi Dae Hoon; he always makes me smile. The law cases presented in each episode were all interesting; I was never once bored. Attorney Woo didn't even win every case outright, but that's okay: experiencing some failures in life is how we learn how to succeed in the future.

Underestimating The New Autistic Attorney Hire
The Story:
A little five year old girl named Woo Young Woo (Oh Ji Yul) lives with her single father Woo Gwang Ho (Jeon Bae Su), a former attorney now a restaurant owner, and she has never spoken a word to anyone. Everyone assumes she is mute, but then one day after a violent altercation with the landlord at their apartment building, Young Woo, disturbed at seeing her father physically threatened, suddenly starts jumping up and down and loudly quoting his law books from memory about attempted murder cases. Her father is shocked and starts encouraging her to take a bigger interest in the law. The landlord backs off from his threats.

As she grows up Young Woo (Park Eun Bin) ends up going to the top law school in Korea and getting the best grades and passing the bar exam with a perfect score. She is hired as an intern at the prestigious Hanbada (One Ocean) Law Firm, with the support of Hanbada's CEO Han Seon Young (Baek Ji Won), and slowly the workers there begin to look past her awkward outward autistic qualities to the intelligent, moral person she is at her core (for instance, she is fascinated by whales and loves to talk about them out of the blue, but when told -- gently -- to shut up about them she does so instantly, never taking offense!). There is really only one attorney there who keeps giving her a hard time, Kwon Min Woo (Joo Jong Hyuk) much of it really having to do with jealousy because she keeps outshining him on cases, even though she's autistic and he is not.

She wins her first trial, which just happens to be defending the wife of her and her father's former landlord, who now has dementia and has turned violent again. The wife had hit him with an iron out of self-defense and that had put him into a coma. Young Woo tells her boss, lawyer Jung Myeong Seok (Kang Ki Young), that they shouldn't accept probation for the wife in the case because then she would lose all her husband's benefits when he dies, since she would be admitting she had chosen attempted murder to stop her husband's assault. Myeong Seok is impressed by this brilliance of thought by Young Woo, and even apologizes to her for not thinking of it first. Although he still finds it difficult working with an unpredictable autistic attorney he ends up being her biggest supporter at work! Also a lady attorney on staff, named Choi Su Yeon (Ha Yoon Kyung), whom Young Woo had gone to law school with, becomes more supportive of Young Woo pretty quickly when she notices her continued brilliance.

A legal aide worker in the litigation department, named Lee Jun Ho (Kang Tae Oh), starts to take a liking to the cute new attorney Young Woo. He helps her out whenever she appears afraid of something, like the revolving doors to the opening of the law firm building. He teaches her to waltz through them - "One two three! One two three!" - and it helps her cope. Incredibly, these two very different people start to fall in love. Jun Ho often helps her cope with life and its stresses, so that she can feel encouraged to win most of her cases, especially when they are against the rival law firm Taesan Law Firm, run by ambitious female attorney Tae Su Mi (Jin Kyung), a woman who has her own big secrets, though she is running for political office as well.

Some of the legal cases in the series were humorous, for instance Young Woo coming through to salvage a silly case where a bride lost her wedding dress walking down the aisle to the altar, revealing a huge tattoo of Buddha on her back, and the hotel was blamed for the embarrassing disaster and sued. Other cases were more serious, such as when Young Woo had to defend an autistic man accused of killing his brother when he had really been trying to save him from committing suicide; or a case where three brothers fight over a land inheritance; or when Young Woo defends a female North Korean defector; or a strange man accused of child kidnapping because he wanted schoolchildren to have some fun, not because of any nefarious reason. Some cases were more business oriented, like a suit about two ATM companies accusing each other of stealing each other's intellectual property; or another case where a married couple tragically fight over a large lottery win; yet another case where it seems residents of a small town don't want the possible construction of a major highway to ruin their village; then another where an insurance company was firing only married women. I learned something interesting regarding the law in Korea with each compelling case. At the conclusion of each one Young Woo becomes stronger in her understanding of the law, her fellow workers, her new love interest, her perpetually worried father, what happened to her biological mother ... and most importantly she learns more about herself, her strengths and weaknesses.

I definitely highly recommend this legal melodrama Extraordinary Attorney Woo, even if you aren't necessarily into law-themed shows. There's enough humanism and humor and surprising romance to interest anyone in this story. It is entertaining, informative, funny, often bittersweet and emotional. The series provides a breath of fresh air to a complicated issue such as autism, and the view that society, in general, has of it. If you know an autistic adult person in your own life definitely encourage them to watch it. They will certainly be inspired by this incredibly intelligent, delightful, compassionate, extraordinary attorney Woo Young Woo! Enjoy!