Sunday, January 22, 2017

'Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju' Is Sweet, Adorable, Funny, and - Most Importantly - SWAAAG!

I started following Koreanovelas regularly because I wanted to replicate my experience with I Hear Your Voice. But never did I expect that it would finally come in the form of a K-drama about weightlifting.  Seriously, weightlifting? It’s a sport or a topic I’ve never been fascinated with.  But indeed Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju (also spelled as Bok-joo) manages to become a close second to I Hear Your Voice as my all-time favorite Koreanovela.

This is an extremely feel-good series.  Its 16 episodes seem so short.  Lesser dramas have received 20-episode orders (*cough* Doctors *cough*), Weightlifting Fairy is more than deserving.  Nevertheless, its run has been perfect.  It started fantastically and ended fantastically.
It’s hard to write a synopsis that would give it justice without spoiling anything – because this show is really worth checking out without prior knowledge what it’s going to be about.  But here’s an attempt: Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju revolves around Kim Bok-ju (Lee Sung-kyung), a promising collegiate athlete training to become a professional weightlifter.  She loves the sport as much as she loves hanging out and eating (there’s a significant amount of eating done in this show) with her bestfriends, Jung Nan-hee (Cho Hye-jung) and Lee Sun-ok (Lee Joo-young).  But her whole world turns upside down after bumping into collegiate swimmer Jung Joon-hyung (Nam Joo-hyuk).

If the previous paragraph makes it appear that this series is simply another “girl meets boy” rom com, I guarantee you, it’s not.  Yes, right off the bat, this series is about Bok-ju and Joon-hyung falling in love with each other.  Yes, everything is cute and sweet.  But it really, really works.  I found it fresh, as if it was the first time I encountered a cute-and-sweet rom com.  And it genuinely has a “swoon” factor.  The romance takes its time to develop (in fact – SPOILER warning – Joon-hyung isn’t the initial love interest of Bok-ju), and the storytelling builds romantic anticipation and executes payoffs impeccably well.  Moreover, the two lead actors do a fantastic job in convincingly portraying two characters who utterly adore each other, and  I can’t stress enough how adorable they are.
Lee Sung-kyung, in her first leading role, is terrific.  I first saw her in Doctors, and she never made an impression.  But as Bok-ju, she brought a lot of charisma and range to her quirky character.  She’s extremely funny, lovable, and engaging.  Nam Joo-hyuk is also as great.  These two emphatically proved with this series that they are very talented actors, and deserve to headline more series in the future.  Their supporting cast is praiseworthy, too, as this show is packed with entertaining characters and wonderful acting.

In addition to having a perfect romantic storyline, this is a romantic comedy that puts as much emphasis on comedy as much as romance.    This is a hilarious show.  It has tons of well-directed, well-edited comedic sequences.  I chuckled and laughed a lot with this series – the most I’ve ever had from a K-drama.
However, though this show is mostly light-hearted and amusing, it never neglects to also deliver heartfelt drama and explore grounded, relatable themes.

Aside from having genuine substance, it also has the “fad” factor going for it, with the expressions “Do you like Messi?” and “Swag” (pronounced as “Su-weeg” and alternatively translated in English as “Awesome!”) deserving of the viral popularity it gained.
I can’t find anything bad to write about this series, save for maybe its lack of memorable soundtrack, and that it has some subplots that I didn’t care much for.   But they’re not really a big deal.  It’s not as if the music is boring or terrible.  And even if I wasn’t much interested with some of the arcs among supporting characters, episodes never felt cluttered and have no frustrating or dull moments.  It’s because the writing and direction of this series amazingly sustains the quality of its narrative all throughout.  As to what it was intending to be, this series is flawless (or, if not, close to one), and I’ll definitely re-watch it in the near future.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju is SWAAAG!!!

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