Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 9 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 10 -| Review Score – 5/5
Episode 11 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 12 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 13 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 14 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 15 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 16 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Extraordinary Attorney Woo is an extraordinary K-drama with an ordinary ending and cliched moving parts. Boasting exemplary acting, some solid cases and a lovable group of characters, this K-drama exploded in popularity over the weeks that it aired. Starting with a measly 0.9% share of nationwide watchers, Attorney Woo ended its final episode with a 17.5% share, not to mention staggering numbers of people watching around the world thanks to Netflix.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t bring this up but it’s important to note for Attorney Woo because in many ways, this widespread appeal is both a positive and negative for this drama. On the one hand, more eyeballs on a project is never a bad thing. On the other hand, that added pressure and expectation to deliver, especially during the latter episodes of filming after such a good reception, can sometimes make or break a series. And unfortunately, that feels like the case for this one.
Don’t get me wrong, Attorney Woo is a fun watch but the bubbling subplots, working alongside the different cases each week, eventually peter out and collapse with some unresolved conflicts and a rather rushed final few chapters to try and wrap everything up in a neat little bow.
Brought to life by the fantastic performance of Park Eun-Bin, the show centers on 27 year old Woo Young-Woo, who graduated top of her class at both college and law school. Her impressive memory and thought process are only held back by one thing – she’s diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Struggling in social interactions, Young-Woo tries to navigate the highs and lows of law through her work at Hanbada Law Firm.
Spread across 16 episodes, the series essentially juggles episodic cases with a longer running plot-line, with several different subplots sprouting across the run-time from that. The main focus here is, largely, on the different cases and there’s a good deal of accurate law drama put into this. The main subplot that then blossoms from this is a will they/won’t they romance with office heartthrob Jun-Ho.
Around that is a long-running saga involving Young-Woo’s parentage. It’s rumoured that she could well be the daughter to Tae Su-Mi, the prospective candidate about to take a big role in front of the public.
Coinciding with this is drama involving Min-Woo, a lawyer who doesn’t take kindly to the perceived preferential treatment Young-Woo is receiving at the firm. There’s another subplot involving Myeong-Seok’s health and wife, while Su-Yeon is desperate for romance.
All of these issues essentially bubble up across the episodes, with some even teased as big bouts of drama at the end of each chapter. Unfortunately, they’re sprung out for so long that by the time the final week of episodes crop up, Extraordinary Attorney Woo throws in a couple of longer run-times to try and hurriedly tie everything together with a neat little bow. And personally, I don’t think it quite works.
The other problem with this show, and perhaps it’s more of a personal gripe than anything else, is the way the series relies so heavily on “lightbulb” moments to resolve its tougher cases. Young-Woo is a woman absolutely obsessed with whales and this crops up in humorous ways across each episode. However, Young-Woo has a tendency to suddenly make a breakthrough, complete with seeing dolphins or whales, before coming to a conclusion that wins the day. While I do appreciate the show is directly about her, it sometimes feels like a cheap “get out of jail free” card to use.
Thankfully the series gets around that by including some morally ambiguous cases and some subjective endings. Sometimes Young-Woo finds herself on the wrong side of the moral compass, defending some rather shady characters. Other times the actual resolution – like a young man kidnapping a bus full of kids to let them have a good time away from the stresses of a draconian school – is likely to spark fierce debate on both sides of the argument.
Take nothing away from the characters and acting here though, because both these elements are fantastic. I mentioned Eun-Bin earlier but everything from her mannerisms to general demeanour is absolutely on the money. She’s so good in her role that it’s hard not to be impressed. This woman is 100% in line for some Baeksang Awards next year!
With all that said, Extraordinary Attorney Woo isn’t the best law drama out there and in many ways, its ending is disappointingly perfunctory. However, the show does manage to elevate its material with a great ensemble of likable characters and a solid premise. This is certainly a thought provoking drama all the same and easily one of the better K-dramas released this year.
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Verdict - 8/10
9 thoughts on “Extraordinary Attorney Woo Season 1 Review – An extraordinary K-drama with ordinary moving parts”
As a parent of a similar aged autistic adult I’m smiling every episode to know this issue is being immortalized on the big screen. Autism numbers are steadily growing :: as the brilliant Robin Williams once remarked “this is the next generation brain”. Sharing the behavioral tendencies of this population is so helpful in educating neurotypical folks into what the future holds : welcome to the person next you in a restaurant, on an airplane, in a grocery. No more hiding away this population because of their social quirks which can be very humorous and harmless. It’s a big tent, people ✌🏼
I actually thought that this was an excellent series. I noted that the reviewer commented about the “cliche” aha moments, but I actually found that as realistic. I can’t even begin to count the times that I had that Aha moment. Whether it was while driving home, or to work, or whatever. But I would have those moments where I would all of a sudden see how all the pieces fit. I personally think that is realistic and easily relatable in these stories.
We give “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” a BIG THUMBS UP!! We were so sorry to see it end…it’s one of the BEST shows on TV (along with “The King’s Affection”). This show deserves a 10/10 for every episode and the lead actress and actor, as well as the show itself, deserve Oscars. Hope we don’t have to wait until 2024 for Season 2. We LOVE this show! American television writers/directors/producers should take some lessons from Korean shows…beautiful stories without vulgarity and nudity.
I love, love, loved this show. Can’t wait for Season 2. I felt many emotions watching Attorney Woo. The show touched my heart. You can critique it all you want, but the bottom line for me was it’s a feel good show and I will recommend to all my friends. All the characters played their roles very well. Foreign film have so much to offer. I will never limit myself. Foreign film opens your world to understand that life and relationships are the same for us all.
I believe the Extraordinary Attorney Woo is one of the best TV series ever. The writing and acting are incredible. I am such a fan I’ve watched Season 1 three times. But I was so disappointed that someone decided to alter the original translation from the first time it aired on Netflix to the current showing (09/23/2022). The result was the loss of some of the brilliant nuances that made the series so special for American audiences. Someone thought that we Americans needed more detailed translations so we wouldn’t “miss” the meaning of the dialogue. Why mess with perfection?
I loved the show! Great acting and directing. I also loved the stories and subplots and of course the blossoming relationship between Attorney Woo and Jun Ho! Watching the show gave me warm feelings because the characters are like a family. Looking forward to seeing season 2! 💗
Me too don’t think this show is that great as said, though the film director (I definitely love Dr Romantic) and the actors are my favourite ones. The show is beautifully directed with top quality visuals that’s for sure, however I don’t really fancy the story lines, it is too predictable with the fact that every court cases with be solved in the end because a brilliant idea will always hit Lawyer Woo. (that’s when the wales appear)
I understand that it’s not a thriller hence the story line doesn’t need to be suspenseful however it’s just too wayyyyy predictable (ahh I know in the end she will get an idea to solve it), it feels like a same formula for every episodes. Same level of shyness (romance) between female and male lead, same restaurant that’s always doesn’t have any customers, different court cases but always with the same way to succeed (Woo will solve it and definitely not any other lawyer colleagues, errr the rest are probably admin staffs who accompany Woo to the court)
Overall I feel like this show tries to lay out as many different stories aka court cases as it can, however lack of character development and diversity.
It’s a good show that nicely filmed but not the best from the same director.
Critics tend to go over the top to try and find something wrong with a show. I’m sure you can dig out flaws in the show but to me its all about how it made me feel and Extraordinary Attorney Woo made me feel wonderful! I loved it plain and simple
I would like to leave a comment concerning the korean drama, ‘Attorney Woo’ I loved it! And looking forward for the next seasons. I’ve worked with individuals with intellectual disabilities , and I can tell you they can do some extraordinary things , all positive! Keep doing what you’re doing!