For those who love coming-of-age romcom dramas, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo is perfect for you. It follows the life of Kim Bok Joo, whose character is based on South Korean Olympic gold-medalist Jang Mi Ran. The plot almost meanders lazily as it navigates through Bok Joo's first love, friendships, rivalries and the strenuous training of an athlete. Yet, the pace doesn't make you want to drop the episode halfway through; it carries you along from the beginning till the end and leaves you craving for the next episode. Rarely have I seen a drama set at such a pace, yet still makes you stick with it till the end.For now, the pace of the drama feels perfect because I want to share these moment of Bok Joo's life with her.
The story-telling chooses to focus more on the personal lives of the characters, rather than the sports themselves which I am content with (although some people may not find that satisfying). As audiences of a particular sport, we are only exposed to the athletes' performances on the fields, courts or pools during tournaments. By choosing to focus on the personal lives, the drama reveals the physical and psychological struggle that they have to go through to attain their accomplishments.
Kim Bok Joo - the one who fumbles and bumbles adorably through her life
Let me put this out right here - I LOVE Kim Bok Joo. I love her strength, her awkwardness, her discomfort with anything that's pretentious, her naivety. And I love Lee Sung Kyung for taking up this particular character as her first lead. Rarely will a budding actress have the courage to play such a character as her first lead character but Lee Sung Kyung makes it work wonderfully.
Kim Bok Joo's life centres around her training, her friends and her father, until she develops a crush on an obesity doctor. The best part is that she develops the crush not merely because he is good-looking but because he is so kind and gentle. As she fumbles through her first love, she makes the audience want to hug her while also cringe a bit at her awkwardness; it's truly like watching a beloved sister or friend fall in love for the first time. Lee Sung Kyung, despite her exaggerated facial expressions, plays Kim Bok Joo to perfection and manages to bring in a delightful blend of humour and winsomeness to the character. You cannot help but fall in love with her.
Jung Joon-Hyung - the one who tries to act cool but is a marshmallow inside
He is a star swimmer, but only during training. A traumatic event has left him unable to compete in tournaments as he keeps getting disqualified.
Joon-Hyung is not your quintessential dumb jock; he's intelligent, wise but when it comes to Bok Joo, he's like an elementary school kid trying to get his crush to like back. At this stage, of course, he is not even aware that he possibly likes Bok Joo. He just sees her as a childhood friend, who is adorable and greatly entertaining. Although he started off as an annoying presence in Bok Joo's life (and of course, a potential love interest), he is slowly developing into the only person with whom she can share her deepest secrets and fears as conflicts in her personal and professional life develop. And Joon-Hyung is incredibly supportive of her; instead of imposing his opinions on her, he actually listens to her and that is just so refreshing to see in a male lead in a Kdrama.
Of course, Joon-Hyung comes with his own baggage that he is trying to deal with - his trauma, his family life and his obsessive ex-girlfriend. It will be interesting to see how Bok Joo supports him back, and how their friendships develops into a romance!
The supporting characters - the ones who add warmth and conflict to the drama
Jung Jae-yi (Lee Jae Yoon) is Joon-Hyung's cousin (and incredibly supportive of him) and also Bok Joo's first love. He is the typical second lead who is caring regarding the female lead, but really, I do not think he is going to develop any feelings for Bok Joo. In his eyes, she is a client and a friend of his younger cousin. The drama is yet to establish his arc yet, apart from his relations to Bok Joo and Joon-Hyung.
Song Shi-Ho (Kyung Soo Jin)is rhythm gymnast, but under incredible pressure as she tries to crawl her way back to the top. Although she has a lovely disposition, pressure in regards to her profession, from her family and a developing eating disorder seems to be pushing her into a corner and she is channelling all that frustration into developing an unhealthy obsession with Joon-Hyung, who is her ex-boyfriend. I was really hoping that she wouldn't go over to the dark side and following developments in episode 6, I really do not know how I feel about her.
The 'swag' friends of Kim Bok Joo - Jung Nan-Hee (Jo Hye Jung) and Lee Sun-ok (Lee Joo Young) - are one of the best things in the drama; they warm my heart through their love and support for each other. I wish dramas would focus more on female friendships.
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo warms your heart and all it makes you want to do is hug it. It is Bok Joo's story, but it is also all of the viewers' stories of friendships and first loves.
What are your thoughts on Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo? Are you loving it?