Extraordinary Attorney Woo, the new Netflix series about a young attorney with autism spectrum disorder who cracks cases in brilliant and unique ways, is a hit with viewers worldwide. Debuting in late June, this show has been the #1 series in Netflix’s Global Top 10 Non-English TV charts for two consecutive weeks. It also leaped to the same spot in the Top 10 charts in South Korea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, and featured in 14 other countries’ Top 10 lists.
So what’s making audiences all over the world fall for the show? Here are three things you may not know about this newly minted crowd-pleaser.
1: Lead actress Park Eun-bin took a year to say ‘yes’ to the show
The title character Woo Young-woo is the heart and soul of this series. As someone with autism spectrum disorder, she faces various prejudices but wins over her colleagues at a top law firm by spotting details and legal loopholes that nobody else can see. As the show’s screenwriter Moon Ji-won puts it: “Once she takes on a case, it takes a turn that viewers could not have seen before anywhere else.”
Making the character come alive is award-winning actress Park Eun-bin. You’ve seen her as a cross-dressing heroine in the historical drama The King’s Affection, and as a quirky college student in Hello, My Twenties! In Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Park transforms yet again into the loveable Woo.
The actress was initially hesitant to take on this role, as she wasn’t sure if she could do it justice. It took a year for the director and writer to persuade her. And once she said yes, she threw herself into the character and met with expert professors specializing in the study of autism spectrum disorder as part of her detailed research.
“I focused on her sincere heart,” says Park about playing Woo. “I didn’t want to limit this character, so I was open to all possible options in expressing her heart freely. She is such a spirited and courageous person, and I was able to learn a lot from this character.”
2: Some of the best lines were ad-libs
Actor Kang Ki-young plays senior lawyer Jung Myeong-Seok, a reluctant mentor-turned-ally for Woo. “I was most worried about whether I could be convincing in the part of a seasoned attorney,” he reveals, acknowledging that he found it challenging to get comfortable with the show’s legal jargon.
Ultimately, he managed to inhabit his character so well that he even ad-libbed some of his lines. Fans love his improvisations, commenting on YouTube clips: “I can’t believe that the scenes that made me laugh the hardest were all ad-libs. It shows how much character study he has done.”
Meanwhile, actor Kang Tae-oh faced a challenge of his own in portraying the kind-hearted Lee Jun-ho working alongside Woo.
“My character is more reactive and expresses a lot of his emotions through his eyes and facial expressions. I wanted to convey his emotions appropriately – not too much nor too little – and I think this took a lot of discussions with the director on set,” he says.
3: It’s a drama that dares to be different — and fans have noticed
Like its title character, Extraordinary Attorney Woo isn’t afraid to think out of the box.
Many legal dramas lean on competitive tensions and extreme situations, but this show focuses on the characters’ rapport and the intriguing details of each case to drive the series.
Its respectful depiction of a protagonist with autism spectrum disorder is also refreshing. One fan from the Philippines who is on the autism spectrum praised realistic details such as Woo wearing headphones in the subway to cancel out external stimuli and commented:
“There were no exaggerated or sensationalized scenes”. Instead of tugging at the heartstrings through melodrama, the show puts the spotlight on Woo’s ability and evolution. Fans shared on different social media platforms: “The best part is when everyone around the main character is supportive of her growth.”
The cast members are thrilled that the series is resonating with audiences throughout the world. Says leading lady Park: “I am truly grateful for the global viewers are exploring Young-woo’s world with us. Please remember to stay tuned until the very end!”
Two new episodes of Extraordinary Attorney Woo are exclusively released on Netflix every Wednesday and Thursday.