Extraordinary Attorney Woo tells the story of Woo Young-woo, Korea’s first autistic lawyer who works at a large law firm. The story begins with Attorney Woo’s backstory, where we discover that her mother has abandoned her as a child and her father was left to take care of her. As a child, she was mute, until one day, an incident that left their neighbour arguing with her father, got her speaking as she spewed out legal jargon. We learn that Attorney Woo has eidetic memory, which is exactly what makes her a brilliant lawyer since she is able to recall laws to refute the opposing lawyer’s claims and build strong arguments to support her cases.
Many of us know that autistic individuals are sometimes labeled as geniuses because they have a certain skill that is extraordinary compared to the average individual. In the case of this story, it is her memorization skills. But, what caught my attention throughout this show is the character building of Attorney Woo and the discrimination she faces as she struggles to be a lawyer in a world that sees autism as something “bad.”
Being different from neurotypical peers, her actions and the way she communicates is initially seen as awkward, leading to her strong emotional intelligence being unrecognized. What I appreciate about this show is how they continuously try to break down commonly held misconceptions of autistic people as individuals who lack ‘social skills’ and ‘emotional intelligence.’ Each episode is typically one court case, that tests Attorney Woo or brings a misconception of autistic people to our attention.
I loved this Korean drama and kudos to the actress playing Woo Young-Woo, who honestly did an amazing job portraying an autistic individual with her hand gestures, facial expressions, and commentary. Plus, Woo Young-Woo has a huge fascination for whales, so I’ve learned a lot of whale fun facts that I would have never known if I didn’t watch this drama.
As you watch the show, you also see the character development of the supporting cast, in particular Attorney Woo’s team leader, Attorney Jung, who constantly gives her opportunities as a rookie attorney and stands by her when their clients discriminate her or questions her abilities because she is autistic.
I encourage everyone to watch this show to learn about the struggles of autistic people. After watching this show, I have a new appreciation of the challenges that autistic people might encounter. There were countless times while watching the drama when I felt upset at how other people were treating Attorney Woo as a ‘child’ with comments about babysitting and being incapable. It peeves me that society can judge someone on the basis of their actions being awkward without getting to know the individual first.
We can learn so much from Attorney Woo and let me remind you that all of us deserve to be heard, accepted, and appreciated in this world, whether or not we are diagnosed with autism. So, if you ever interact with someone who is diagnosed with autism, give them a chance because they deserve your attention, just as much as you deserve theirs.