Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo is a 2016–2017 South Korean television series starring Lee Sung-kyung in the title role, with Nam Joo-hyuk. It is a coming-of-age sports drama, inspired by the life of Olympic gold-medalist Jang Mi-ran. It aired on MBC every Wednesday and Thursday at 22:00 (KST) from November 16, 2016, to January 11, 2017.
The series resonated with the young demographic; although it averaged 4.6% in audience share and received the lowest viewership ratings in its time-slot throughout its run, it gained a cult following amongst young viewers and received mostly favorable reviews. The series also received popularity overseas, particularly in the Philippines.
Kim Bok joo (Lee Sung-Kyung), a young woman chasing her dream of weightlifting on an athlete college campus, develops a crush on her friend Jung Joon-Hyung’s (Nam Joo-Hyuk) older brother, Jung Jae-Yi (Lee Jae-Yoon). At first, Joon Hyung teases her and goes along with her act, even helping her, but soon finds himself falling in love with her. This series is a coming-of-age story about a group of college athletes who are fighting for their dreams, experiencing and finding love in the process, and growing every step of the way.
Review: by gysruthi (link)
Long time lurker, first time poster. This is my first review so I’m sorry if there’s any formatting mistakes or anything!
I know I’m very late to watching this show, and honestly, I have no idea why I put it off for so long. This show is a MUST WATCH! It is funny, touching, heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time and made me feel so many emotions.
To start, the cast was absolutely incredible. Lee Sung Kyung and Nam Joo Hyuk had incredible chemistry with each other as the leads, and it helped that they are both swoon-worthy 😛 Not only were the lead actors amazing, however, but every single one of the supporting characters had my entire heart. I don’t think I disliked a single character’s portrayal throughout the entire show, from the adorable chemistry between Tae Gwon, Nan Hee and Soon Ok, to the rivalry turned friendship between Si Ho and Bok Joo, to the budding romances between Jae Yi and Ah Yeong as well as Coach Choi and the Professor. All of the characters had incredible chemistry, and there wasn’t an unpleasant moment to watch.
The show also did a phenomenal job with its interspersing of comedic moments with serious scenes and romantic shots. The subplots, though not extremely complex, helped flesh out the overall plot of the show, and I liked how there were several small plots that weren’t super long and drawn out but still had enough substance to contribute to the show, such as Joon Yeong’s relationship with his birth mother, Bok Joo’s father’s kidney disease, Si Ho’s eating disorder, and Soon Ok’s parents not supporting her weightlifting career. These little subplots were scattered at the right intervals to keep the viewer’s interest but not distract from the main plot.
My absolute favourite part of this show, however, was how well the writers addressed issues like depression, trauma, and eating disorders. They managed to not go too much into detail and get things wrong, while also not treating the issues flippantly or insensitively. The scene where Bok Joo talks about how she feels empty and doesn’t find joy in anything anymore was so incredibly touching. The way that scene was written was so raw and realistic, and it perfectly captured the feeling of someone going through a depressive episode without her name dropping disorders like many dramas often do. I adored how they were addressed, simultaneously destigmatising them and revealing them as real problems.
The actors themselves did an incredible job portraying their characters, but I think my favourite throughout the entire show was Nam Joo Hyuk. The scenes that especially stood out to me were where you can see his playful, joking mask cracking and showing pain underneath. It takes real talent to be able to portray that subtle emotion well, and he did an absolutely incredible job. Lee Sung Kyung was also amazing in her role. In many dramas, when the female lead cries, it’s often over the top and almost painful. However, the thing that stood out to me about her performance was, in fact, her crying scenes. They were so beautifully done that I actually cried along with her in some of them; not over the top, and just heartbreaking enough to make the viewer feel all kinds of sad.
Finally, the OST and sound design of this show were phenomenal. The song choice almost always perfectly complemented the scene and amplified the emotions tenfold. Not only that, but the sound effects also weren’t too over the top, and really added to the comedic scenes.
Overall, truly an incredible show that will stick with me forever.