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An Honest Review Of 'Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo' By A K-Drama Newbie

It's the ~*perfect*~ entry to K-drama world, tbh.
PHOTO: Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo/Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation

The Long Plot, Sans Spoilers

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo starts off with a glimpse of the main characters in action—Kim Bok Joo (Lee Sung Kyung) winning a gold medal for lifting 115 kg in the clean-and-jerk category, and Jung Joon Hyung (Nam Joo Hyuk) acing the preliminaries of a national swimming competition. The two meet by accident in school and as the story progresses, we learn about their past, their insecurities, and their dreams. As the two characters get closer, Bok Joo develops a crush on obesity clinic doctor Jung Jae Yi (Lee Jae Yoon), who turns out to be Joon Hyung’s older brother-slash-cousin. Meanwhile, Joon Hyung’s ex and rhythmic gymnast Song Shi Ho (Kyung Soo Jin) is on a mission to woo him back.

The Honest Plot

This sporty, coming-of-age comedy drama will give you a peek into the life of athletes, and will take you back to that tumultous phase of growing up and finding love for the first time.

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The Actors And Where You Last Saw Them

1. Lee Sung Kyung as Kim Bok Joo

After debuting as a supermodel, 26-year-old Lee Sung Kyung became famous for her taray roles in 2016 dramas Cheese in the Trap and Doctors before landing her first major role as a weightlifter. 

2. Nam Joo Hyuk as Jung Joon Hyung

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The last time I saw Nam Joo Hyuk, he was wearing a wig and a traditional hanbok in Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo as 13th Prince Wang Baek Ah. The 22-year-old actor has also appeared with Sung Kyung in Cheese in the Trap.

3. Lee Jae Yoon as Jung Jae Yi

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This 32-year-old Oppa has been playing the supporting role for various dramas since 2004 but his rise to fame came when he played the swoon-worthy love interest in My Love By My Side and the dashing fiance in Another Miss Oh.

4. Kyung Soo Jin as Song Shi Ho

The 29-year-old actress won an award for her morning soap opera called TV Novel: Enhui. Last year, aside from WFKBJ, she also appeared in the Korean adaptation of Entourage.

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Did You Know? 

1. The famous scene that launched a thousand Facebook memes actually started in Episode 1. After their funny collision, Book Joo’s friend Nan Hee (Jo Hye Jung) asked Joon Hyung if he likes soccer player Lionel Messi to pique his interest because she says guys are attracted to girls who share the same interest in sports. But isn’t it ironic that shes asking this question when they’re LITERALLY enrolled in a sports university?! LOL

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2. The drama is loosely based on the life of Korea’s Olympic weightlifter Jan Mi Ran who broke three world records at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and is known to be the strongest woman alive.

3. Bok Chicken, the infamous fried chicken restaurant run by Bok Joo’s father, Kim Chang Gul (Ahn Gil Kang), is an actual establishment in Seoul. The real name of the restaurant is Jageun Maeul but contrary to the drama’s script, the place doesn’t actually sell fried chicken. Oh the injustice!

4. In the drama, Jae Yi is supposedly an ex-athlete who got injured which led him to opening his own weight management clinic. In real life, actor Lee Jae Yoon actually does mixed martial arts and jiu jitsu. Hawt!

5. Prior to his swimming prodigy role, Nam Joo Hyuk also acted in Who Are You: School 2015, where he also played the role of a swimmer.

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6. Lee Sung Kyung recently revealed that she did voice acting for the role of Princess Poppy in the Korean version of Trolls. Oh, you didn’t know she can sing? She totally can. She can also play piano and drums, and can dance like an idol. Here’s proof:

Bonus: Here she is singing a Disney song just because! (P.S., I think I love her already.)

What My K-Drama Addict Friend Thinks

"WFKBJ seems ordinary compared to other K-dramas because the plot is just so simple—school life and first crush. But I think it became a hit because it is so relatable. By watching the series, you'll remember how you were so young and innocent back in your school days and how it felt to have your first crush and first heartbreak. It’s a refreshing break from the heavy plotlines we see in dramas competing for ratings these days. They also changed the stereotypical lead guy. Joon Hyung is different because he’s the laid-back, supportive friend you couldn’t help but fall for. What adds to the charm of the story is the fact that Bok Joo is just a normal girl, hindi s'ya bongga. I think Nam Joo Hyuk and Lee Sung Kyung did very well. They worked together as models so they’re very comfortable with each other. Lee Sung Kyung’s performance is A+++. She usually plays the prima donna role, but when she did Kim Bok Joo, you wouldn't see any traces of her previous perfromances. And that's how you know she’s a true performer. S’ya talaga 'yung character.” - Lorena Valencia, project management senior analyst

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What I Think

I’ve been trying to fight the urge to watch K-drama since 2007 because it seemed like A LOT of work. I mean, binge watching for hours with subtitles can’t be easy, right? But curiosity got to me and one year later, here I am, still trying to catch up on all the best shows I could get my hands on. WFKBJ is one of the best dramas I’ve seen so far, though I admit I haven’t seen a lot (READ: NOOB).


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I felt offended at first that they chose a skinny ex-model for the titular role because in real life, weightlifting demands athletes to gain a lot of weight and muscle. I thought: This is not what weightlifters look like! She doesn’t even look strong. Still, I gave it a shot because I wanted to see Nam Joo Hyuk in a lead role and boy did he not disappoint. His charms showed off pretty strongly all throughout the drama that I coudn’t even tell if he was acting or not. (Fact: A lot of the cast members said that in real life he's just like his character). I’ve never seen Lee Sung Kyung act in any other drama but her ability to express emotions impressed me. She was able to portray Bok Joo’s insecurities and strengths in a manner that’s so endearing it actually, physically hurts. (Cue all the aigoos! P.S. That's the Korean equivalent of expressing frustration, i.e., "Aw, man!" or "Geez!")

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Their chemistry is TDF! It’s effortless, and definitely believable. Overall, the sweet love story mixed with all the heart-wrenching backstories provided a stark contrast to the ~*serious sporting world*~ setting. For someone who never got to finish Coffee Prince and Full House—yes, you can totes judge me now—watching WFKBJ is like sinking your teeth into a piece of crispy fried chicken leg. Sweeeg!

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I’d Recommend It To:

Those who doubt that male-female friendships don’t actually work. Okay, the ending is bit expected, but Bok Joo and Joon Hyung’s relationship will make you believe that sometimes, you don’t have to look far to find love. Granted, not all guy friends have pan de sal abs and blinding smiles. But who knows? Your soulmate might just be right under your nose!

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