K-Drama Extraordinary Attorney Woo has taken the world by storm. Yet, it’s not safe from some inaccuracies in its plot, which experts recently weighed in on.
Produced by ENA, Extraordinary Attorney Woo initially was not expected to be this big. Once it began airing, however, word-of-mouth turned it into an overnight sensation. Since then, it has seen its ratings consistently go up, reaching rather impressive heights and plenty of praise from viewers.
The plot follows Woo Young Woo (South Korea’s first autistic attorney) as she pursues a career at one of the country’s most prestigious law firms. The show weaves an honest narrative about the discrimination and ignorance that surrounds people with autism, no matter where they fall on the spectrum.
Many have praised Extraordinary Attorney Woo for getting many things right about the lived experience of people with autism. For example, Florida’s first practicing autistic lawyer, Haley Moss, praised it for allowing Woo Young Woo to be a real human rather than a one-dimensional figure whose sole purpose is to teach the audience about autism.
In the drama, Woo messes up, learns and grows along with others. What usually happens in media is that we focus on autistic people who don’t seem like humans with full personality and interests. We don‘t get the same opportunity.
— Haley Moss
But that is not to say the show doesn’t have its detractors. One concern that has recently been raised is the unrealistic standard that some feel the show is imposing on autistic people.
Given that Woo Young Woo is a high-functioning genius who graduated from a prestigious school (and is played by Park Eun Bin, a conventionally attractive actress) there are concerns that Extraordinary Attorney Woo might lead to unrealistic expectations of people with autism from Korean society. Attorney Kim Yong Jik, who is also the president of the Autism Society of Korea, feels that while Woo Young Woo does not represent the majority of people on the spectrum, the show is still a good step toward shedding light on the subject.
It is realistically unlikely for an autistic person to have a high IQ and actually become a lawyer, but I still think this is a helpful approach to make people more interested in understanding autism.
— Kim Yong Jik
Yet, the most unrealistic thing about the show, according to Dr. Kim Hyo Won (pediatric psychiatrist and associate professor at Seoul Asan Medical Center), is actually the cast of characters who support Woo Young Woo. Her colleagues at Hanbada are always willing to help her navigate social situations while also respecting her as a fellow lawyer.
Even in the show, Woo would not have been able to fully show her excellence if people around her did not understand her and complement what she relatively lacks.
— Dr. Kim Hyo Won
At the same time, Woo Young Woo’s supportive colleagues are key to demonstrating that a supportive environment helps autistic people thrive, something that Dr. Kim Hyo Won hopes society at large will one day reflect.
Like her fellow lawyers in the show, we need to see more supportive people who make it possible for autistic people to thrive as independent individuals. This support network also has to make into a system in society as a whole.
— Dr. Kim Hyo Won
Pop culture critics Jeong Deok Hyun and Kim Sung Soo echo this belief.
There is no villain among the people around her. It tells us that in order for Woo to overcome inconveniences caused by her disability, unprejudiced support from people around her is key.
— Jeong Deok Hyun
Sure, Woo’s surroundings look like fantasy, but it sparks hope that it can one day become a reality.
— Kim Sung Soo
As the show’s success continues, it will hopefully continue to shed light on the subject and inspire others to continue to build on the conversation it has started.