Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo – Finale

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Everyone spends their youthful years. It’s a time more beautiful because we’re immature, and a time that sparkles brightly. We’re not afraid, because we have nothing to lose, and our hearts flutter because we can have anything. A 24 year-old youth – I’m not complete yet, but I’m more than perfect already. – Kim Bok Joo

I came into WFKBJ late, mostly after reading many recommendations of it in dramabeans, with many singing praises of Bok Joo and Joon Hyung and also how cute the show was.

What Bok Joo says above about youth being a ‘time that sparkles brightly’ applies to the show as well – while it wasn’t necessarily the most creative shows out there, it had an undeniable sparkle that charmed you each week, that made you smile and laugh, that kept you coming back each week for more. Indeed, the show did a great job, exploring the beautiful time of life which is youth, with all its pain, angst and challenges, but also with the accompanying joy, exuberance and warmth.

While the show is cute, charming and funny, it’s also very well-plotted and paced. Even after the confession of love between Bok Joo and Joon Hyung came out, the show has never flagged in its pace and keeps bringing their relationships to new areas, to test it but also to draw them closer together. These new areas are not sudden events thrown in out of nowhere, but emerge naturally out of the events that have been unfolded. Since getting together, they have had to handle issues like Bok Joo’s jealousy over Shi Ho and Joon Hyung running away when his mum returns.

The finale takes their relationship to a deeper level as Joon Hyung grows closer to Dae Ho and Bok Joo’s dad, and they work together to keep his surgery a secret from Bok Joo to allow her to focus on her competition. While the jealously plotline seemed a little like a rethread of what happened previously, it was no less meaningful because it is now intensified as she’s far away from Joon Hyung. Joon Hyung’s actions don’t help as well, as he lies and goes all out of the way to distract Bok Joo while Dae Ho and her dad make their way back from the hospital. Nonetheless, we also see growth for Bok Joo – when coping with her jealously with Shi Ho, she hid it and refused to say anything to Joon Hyung; whereas in this instance, she’s so open in expressing her anger and frustration.

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Joon Hyung continue to comes off well as he chooses not to reveal the truth to her, even at the expense of her misunderstanding him, because he wants to put her and her family’s needs first. Of course, Bok Joo eventually finds out and I loved how mature her response was – she did not get angry with Dae Ho or her dad for finding out, but instead blames herself for not realising that something was amiss with her dad. She has grown so much from the Bok Joo who allowed her feelings to overwhelm her after winning the championship earlier. She’s now able to compartmentalise and focus on her international competition, channeling her emotions positively instead to drive her towards victory. It certainly helps now too that she has Joon Hyung as her pillar to keep her standing tall and cheer her on and we get plenty of heartwarming, sweet moments between them as Joon Hyung cheers her on

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Besides Bok Joo and Joon Hyung’s relationship that’s always a joy to watch, there were so many other cute and funny moments in this episode. Loved Tae Kwon, Seon Ok and Nan Hee’s new trio and how they tailed Joon Hyung in such an obvious and cute manner! Seon Ok and Tae Kwon’s budding romance was unbelievably adorable and funny – I especially laughed so much when Nan Hee barged in on their movie date and Seon Ok pushed Tae Kwon away. The scene of them holding hands in the popcorn container was also fun to watch.

Joon Hyung and Dae Ho’s new friendship was so charming and hilarious too! Was so cute to see Dae Ho ask Joon Hyung for two hours, so that he could go dating and the scene with Dae Ho whispering sweet nothings to his girlfriend on the phone while chasing Joon Hyung away just had me laughing non stop.

Besides the fun stuff, there were many other heartwarming moments. Jae Yi’s persistence pays off and both him and Ah Young get a heartfelt scene where he confesses so genuinely that Seoul is so lonely without him and that he wants to always eat with her. There’s no need for grand confessions of love, because his simple desire to eat dinner with her everyday and research new restaurants is touching enough. Shi Ho and Joon Hyung also have a nice moment of friendship as she shares with him about her therapy, though I did hope we also got to see more of what eventually happened with her family. Joon Hyung and Bok Joo’s dad share a beautiful moment, where Joon Hyung confesses to her dad what he likes about her, which ends with both of them smiling at each other.

One might argue that everything is tied together in too neat of a narrative bow with happy endings for everyone, but perhaps that also captures the idealism and hope that the show has been trying to convey. Sometimes all we want is a show that allows us to sit back, relax and appreciate how charming life itself can be, even with all its pains and difficulties. I can foresee myself rewatching this show when I need a perk-me up or a laugh after a long day. Amongst the shows I’m following now, it’s already become the one I rewatch the most frequently – the scene of Bok Joo confessing her liking of Joon Hyung has been replayed more than 10 times without ever losing its magic and sparkle. Kudos to the production team and cast for putting together such a great drama that will definitely be missed!

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo Episode 15: That’s How You Become an Adult

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There was so much important stuff going on in this episode that I felt that it would have been more adequately explored across the span of two episodes. The major plotlines of Joon Hyung’s mum returning, Bok Joo getting a place in Taeryung and Joon Hyung aiming for Taeryung by overcoming his trauma were all plotlines with such great scope for development. It felt a little rushed to squeeze all of them into one episode, which also had to cover Jae Yi and Ah Young’s relationship as well as Dae-ho’s love interest.

This is not to say I didn’t enjoy the episode. Nam Joo Hyuk really put up an excellent performance, capturing perfectly the range of emotions experienced by Joon Hyung when as his mum returns. From the over-brimming joy at seeing her outside the swimming pool, to the awkwardness during their first conversation and the overwhelming pain when he realises she didn’t come back to her – every emotion was so completely embodied and so realistically portrayed.

This episode also illustrates why Bok Joo and Joon Hyung are so perfect for each other. I’m a firmly believer that relationships should bring growth to those involved. While Bok Joo has mostly been on the receiving end of Joon Hyung’s tenderness and care, she helps Joon Hyung to grow by not coddling him and taking a more hard-handed approach to him. This contrasts with Joon Hyung’s uncle, aunt and Jaeyi, who are so gentle and protective of him. Bok Joo screams at him over the phone, scolding him for being completely self-centred by hiding away from everyone and making everyone worry for him. When Joon Hyung hears it, he smiles – because it’s touching to hear how much she cares, but also because he hasn’t had anyone talk to him so directly before. Bok Joo pushes him to reconcile with his aunt and even buys chestnuts for him to give to her. Regarding his mum, Bok Joo acknowledges Joon Hyung’s disappointment, but also tells him she can see things from her mum’s perspective.

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While I enjoyed what we saw, I felt we could have understood Joon Hyung’s mum a bit better, since we’ve seen so much of how much their separation hurt him from a young age. We still don’t know why she left him. I felt we could have had more conversations between Joon Hyung and his mum, not even necessarily for reconciliation, but just to catch up on each other’s lives. We could have heard a little more about her daughter. There was just so much scope for heartfelt, beautiful scenes from his mum’s return that I felt a bit like a wasted opportunity.

I felt the same way about Bok Joo’s entry into Taeryung and Joon Hyung’s preparation for it. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy what we got, but I felt we could have gotten more out of that whole storyline with several more conversations between Bok Joo and her friends, her dad and even between her and Joon Hyung.

Nonetheless, what we had was really fun too, especially Coach Yoon dressing up in a suit and everyone else in the team hamming it up for the camera.

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Of course, the opportunity to see more of Bok Joo and Joon Hyung cheering each other on, teasing each other and acting all sweet with each other is always welcome and that storyline provides plenty of opportunities.

I do admire this show for continually pushing the story of their lives ahead, even after both Bok Joo and Joon Hyung have gotten together. Bok Joo moving to Taeryung will certainly provide more growth for her and more opportunity for interesting storytelling. Nonetheless, I do hope our two lovebirds aren’t apart for too long and that we get a a finale filled with tonnes of feel-good fun, humour and sweetness – all the qualities that we’ve come to love from this show.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo Episode 14

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How can a show this imperfect feel so perfect?

Weightlifting Kim Bok Joo is far from a perfect show and there are several points of weakness in its writing in this episode. First of all, I did not enjoy the red herring of an ending from last week’s episode regarding Bok Joo’s dad, which turned out to be nothing significant because her dad actually didn’t recognise them. In fact, we don’t see Bok Joo’s dad at all in this episode, which kind of felt like we were given the false impression at the end of last week’s episode just for the sake of having a shocking ending.

Second of all, the plot relies on way too many coincidences in order to move ahead. It happened previously with Joon Hyung somehow finding Bok Joo’s bucket list after he confessed his love to Bok Joo. In this episode, we have Tae Kwon just somehow pulling Joon Hyung away at the exact time as he was supposed to be meeting Bok Joo to go for a blind date. Then, we have Dae Ho being there just at the exact time when Coach Choi wants to confess her feelings to Coach Yoon. And finally, we have Bok Joo somehow being the one, amongst possibly thousands of students, to lead Joon Hyung’s mum to him.

Finally, I’m found the adult storylines slightly draggy and less interesting in this episode, particularly Jae Yi and Ah-Young relationship which currently seems rather out of place from all the other storylines. My personal view is that Jae Yi became less interesting as a character after he stopped being a love interest for Bok Joo.

However, in spite of all the points above, I thoroughly and completely enjoyed this episode! The episode made me smile and laugh so much throughout. It touched my heart and made me feel deeply for these characters. It was so energetic, fun and exuberant and made me long for the days of youth, where things seemed simpler. This show may not be perfect, but it’s definitely hitting all the right notes in its own, quirky way.

As much as I enjoyed seeing Bok Joo and Joon Hyung hide their relationship, I’m so glad it’s out in the open as well. I loved the scene in the cafeteria when Bok Joo pulls her hands away so strongly under the table that Joon Hyung falls over. The scene with Bok Joo seething in anger while watching Joon Hyung cower in fear during the blind date was so much fun and the directing choices certainly helped, especially the shot of Bok Joo towering over Joon Hyung. However, it was even more fun watching Seon Ok, Nan Hee and Tae Kwon interrogate them at the cafe, then seeing them enjoy meat at Joon Hyung’s expense with Tae Kwon also joining in. I really liked their post-karaoke discussions in the rooms where Nan Hee and Seon Ok get all giggly and bubbly over Bok Joo’s kissing Joon Hyung, which is contrasted with Tae Kwon warning Joon Hyung about dating Bok Joo. It was so sweet yet hilarious to see Joon Hyung call Bok Joo sexy, much to Tae Kwon’s dismay. Even just recalling those scenes makes me laugh right now. It’s going to be so much fun seeing the five of them hang out together!

Bok Joo and Joon Hyung continue to be so adorable and sweet together yet unafraid to tease and poke fun at each other. Loved the scene at the start where Bok Joo tries to act cute with Joon Hyung, and then reels back immediately when he tries to ask for more. Joon Hyung’s genuine concern for her when she feigns sickness to hide her pimple is touching. There’s just such worry in his eyes when he speaks to her on the phone. Knowing that Bok Joo has this worry that her participation in weightlifting makes her less of a girl, Joon Hyung affirms her and proudly declares to others that she’s beautiful and sexy. The growing friendship between Bok Joo and Shi Ho makes the whole relationship even more heartwarming as Joon Hyung and Bok Joo become Shi Ho’s only friends on campus and even make time to go support her. The both of them are definitely one of the most charming and delightful on-screen couples ever.

In spite of the ongoing romance, I liked that the show hasn’t forgotten that it’s a show about competitive athletes and their journey. This was shown most evidently through Shi Ho’s journey in this episode, which I felt came to a very meaningful end. We’ve been seeing her struggling with her routine for a while and she finally manages to ace it just before her final competition. However, during the competition itself, she realises that her coach is pulling strings with the judges, and the other competitors are aware of this too. Upon reflecting on how much of herself she’s poured into the sport, she decides boldly to make a critical mistake which will ultimately cause her to pull out of the sport, rather than win an unglorious victory which will continue to entrap her and cause her pain. For someone who’s been so absorbed in her performance, pushing herself to extreme standards, that’s such a courageous step to take.

What I particularly appreciated was that both Bok Joo and Joon Hyung could see what Shi Ho was doing and admired her for her courage, which also led to a very heartfelt conversation where Bok Joo reflects on what she would do when her journey as an athlete ended. Joon Hyung’s response may be cheesy, but it’s so true – “Let’s work hard and get through the day. Let’s work hard to lift weights, swim and… date”. Sometimes the best thing to do is not to think too far ahead, but just work hard to make the most of each day. This will certainly be an important lesson for Joon Hyung as he handles the return of his mum in the next episode, and while we’ll be in for some angst and deeply-rooted pain, we know it will bring both Bok Joo and Joon Hyung even closer than before.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo Episode 13

Once again, the show provides an uplifting episode that is thoroughly enjoyable from start to end because every moment is so lovable and meaningful. In fact, we could just watch Bok Joo and Joon Hyung for the whole episode and not be bored because there’s just such explosive and playful energy between them that you cannot anticipate what antics they will come up with next.

That’s not to say that the other characters in the show are not as engaging. In fact, the writer manages to flesh every character and relationship to the right extent, so that we care enough about them to smile along with their joys and cry along with their pains. While the romance between Joon Hyung and Bok Joo is extremely well done, I’d say the friendships fare very well too. The sister-hood between Bok Joo, Nan Hee and Seon Ok is so tight and heartwarming and seeing Seon Ok come back really brought a smile to my face. It’s so refreshing to see such youthful energy and lack of restraint in how they express their love and concern for each other. On a similar note, I really love the brotherhood shared between Joon Hyung and Jae Yi too – they tease each other about their weaknesses, understand each other so well and are genuinely happy for each other.

While Jae Yi doesn’t get much screen time in this episode, I liked the scenes with him. Joon Hyung was able to predict how Dr Go would react to Jae Yi, which pushes him find Dr Go and ask to date her. His proposition to her to date is almost exactly the same proposition that Joon Hyung earlier made to Bok Joo, but what Jae Yi lacks is that sincerity and sensitivity. He phrases it to her like he’s returning a favour for her, because he knows she likes him and has been there for him. It’s just like what Joon Hyung told him about being overly nice, which makes others feel even worse. What I like too about this show is that every character has some growing up to do, even the adults. Jae Yi is a charming guy with a great heart, yet he isn’t fully aware of the impact of his words on others – just like how he wasn’t aware that Bok Joo’s questions revealed she had a crush on him. When it comes to matters of the heart, he’s also too passive and meek – not taking action fast enough or being clear in expressing his feelings and affections. Nonetheless, we know that Dr Go and him will end up together just because that’s what happens in shows like this, so there will certainly be good things happening.

Beyond the friendships, the camaraderie within the weightlifting team was also extremely moving and I teared when Coach Choi returned and when they had their celebration dinner at Bok Joo’s dad’s restaurant. It was almost a foregone conclusion that both Coach Yoon and Coach Choi would come back because of the team’s determination, but that didn’t stop it from being so heartwarming and touching.

Coming back to Bok Joo and Joon Hyung, they enter into a phase of jealousy in this episode as Joon Hyung tells Bok Joo to throw away the hair pin she bought when having a crush on Jae Yi and Bok Joo gets jealous over Joon Hyung’s interactions with Si Ho. Bok Joo does all the things that she tells others she can’t stand, like being petty and jealous and also putting aside her friends to go dating. They can’t keep their hands off each other and get all physical and touchy, which is exactly how young love is like. Joon Hyung continues to be charming and while he can’t talk her into telling her why she’s angry, he softens her heart simply through his actions. The scene of him putting feet warmers for her and then covering her with his coat and scarf is so touching, because of the wordless glances they exchange and how he’s meticulously thought of everything possible to keep her warm, from head to toe. I really appreciate how this show portrays such their romance in such a mature manner, without being cheesy at all.  Thus far, we’ve seen quite a lot of Joon Hyung being there for Bok Joo and supporting her through her difficult times – I do hope we get to see more of Bok Joo also supporting Joon Hyung as we know his psychological issues have not been fully overcome.

With only three episodes left to go, one can’t help but feel that this series is ending too soon. We will certainly see both Bok Joo and Joon Hyung dealing with their family issues in the upcoming episodes and that can only draw both of them closer as they both understand how it feels like growing up without a mum. Si Ho’s story is definitely not over, as she takes significant steps ahead in this episode – she’ll mostly end up being paired with Joon Hyung’s senior, Ki-seok, but what’s more interesting to watch is her emerging from her shell and making friends as she’s spent most of this series being isolated and also her handling her family issues. There are also several pairings which are emerging that will certainly be more fully fleshed out like Coach Choi & Dae Ho and Seon Ok & Tae Kwon. I hope we haven’t seen the end of Woon Ki’s storyline too as the show shouldn’t introduce a teenage pregnancy storyline without exploring it further.

So much to look forward to and only three episodes left – I’m sure it’s going to be a fun, heartwarming ride till the end!

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo Episodes 6 – 9: My favourite OTP ever!

I’ve now caught up on episodes 6 to 9 of Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo and I must say this is a seriously good show! Bok Joo and Joon Hyung may just be my favourite OTP ever and I’m enjoying every scene with them and all their interactions. Instead of doing a usual review, I thought I’d share about the four episodes episodes by listing 3 reasons why Bok Joo and Joon H yung are my favourite OTP:

1. They are each other’s best friends.

The foundation of a strong romance is always a strong friendship. This is true even of a marriage and it’s so heartwarming to see the show take so much time and effort to develop their friendship. Even in the early stages where Joon Hyung’s excessive teasing gets on Bok Joo’s nerves, we can see there’s a deep connection being formed as they cheer each other on and help each other see the best in each other.

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One of my favourite scenes is the one at the end of episode 6, where they express their common angst about their fate as athletes to be ranked and Bok Joo tells Joon Hyung that she’s a good judge of character and she knows he’ll succeed because she sees something intense in his eyes. At his lowest point, she helps him move past his failure to believe in his own success.

Another favourite scene is the one on the rooftop, where Joon Hyung apologises for what Si Ho has done.

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While they are hugging, Bok Joo tells him that his nose bridge is high and whereas hers is low. Joon Hyung gently encourages her and tells her that she’s not so bad looking and that she’s pretty, which she says nobody has ever told her except her dad. What’s lovely about Bok Joo is that while she’s confident and proud of her achievements as a weightlifter, she sees that as clashing with her identity as a woman and that the weightlifting side of her is something she wants to hide from the man she loves (as she says in episode 9). However, Joon Hyung affirms her, helping her accept that her weightlifting self is very beautiful as well.

2. They have so much fun together. 

Besides them being sweet together, their bantering and teasing is so fun to watch and it’s evident that they enjoy each other’s company a lot.

Unlike how Bok Joo has to pretend to be another person with Jae Yi, she’s completely comfortable with Joon Hyung and is unafraid to show her true, energetic, self and there’s such a raw energy in their interactions. Joon Hyung keeps teasing her and in response, she glares at him, hits him and pins him down. When confronting Bok Joo, Si Ho tells her that Bok Joo makes Joo Hyung let his guard down and it’s so true.

One of my favourite fun scenes between them is the one in episode 6 when Joon Hyung meets Bok Joo after she finishes her date with Jae Yi. I’ve rewatched it several times, but it still keeps making me laugh – the first LOL moment is when Joon Hyung pulls Bok Joo in front of him to protect him from a huge splash from the puddle!

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The next LOL moment is when Bok Joo grabs Joon Hyung and pulls him to her face, and then just sneezes into his face! Haha!

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3. Joon Hyung is so sensitive and attentive to Bok Joo’s needs.

While Bok Joo spends most of the time in episodes 6-9 coping with her crush over Jae Yi, Joon Hyung stays by her side, protecting her and ensuring that she doesn’t get hurt any further.

He enlists the support of Tae Kwon, Nan Hee and Seon Ok to ensure that Jae Yi doesn’t bump into Bok Joo. When Jae Yi sees Bok Joo in her training attire, Joon Hyung steps in immediately to defend her. After she confesses the truth, he speaks to Jae Yi to defend her.

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When Jae Yi and Dr. Go invite Bok Joo and Joon Hyung to lunch, Joon Hyung is so attuned to how Jae Yi and Dr Go’s interactions with affect her and he keeps watching out for her, doing little gestures in an attempt to make her feel better.

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I even dare say that Joon Hyung is one of the more mature male leads I’ve seen so far when it comes to romance, because he always seems to be ahead of the game when it comes to understanding Bok Joo’s emotions and always takes proactive steps to help her feel better. At the end of episode 9 when he sees Jae Yi seated in the audience, he already knows how Bok Joo will feel and has a look of gloom in his eyes. It’s so touching to watch him stand up for her, stand by her and ultimately help her to stand again.

In closing, I’d like to add that I really appreciate how much intentional effort the show takes to build a genuine connection between its leads. While doing so, the focus is not on pushing them towards a romance, but on showing how they are ultimately good for each other and help each other to grow. Both Bok Joo and Joon Hyung may be champions in their own fields, but with each other, they are completely vulnerable and open, allowing each other into the deepest secrets and struggles of their lives. It’s been heartwarming to watch the both of them grow as individuals, just as their friendship grows.

Lee Sung Kyung and Nam Joo Hyuk have done an amazing job by completely taking on their characters and making them their own. Big props to them for bringing the writing to life!

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo – Eps 11 & 12

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After the intensity of episode 10, things start to lighten up and then sweeten up tremendously as Joon Hyung confesses his love for Bok Joo at the end of episode 11 and Bok Joo also admits to liking him at the end of episode 12. I couldn’t stop smiling when watching these two episodes as the two of them are such lovable characters on their own, and even more adorable together.

I am pleasantly surprised at how convincingly Bok Joo and Joon Hyung’s relationship has been developed. Unlike many shows where the romantic connection may sometimes seem forced or something we grow to accept as part of the show’s premise, we truly see Bok Joo and Joon Hyung’s relationship growing as the series progresses. It starts from bickering and merciless teasing, where Bok Joo just cannot stand Joon Hyung, to them slowly starting to relate to each other more closely and building a genuine friendship. Even though Joon Hyung doesn’t realise his feelings for her in episode 10, it’s evident that he cares so much for her, and she feels completely comfortable with him to open herself up and share her pain and sorrows with him. In this episode, Joon Hyung’s care for her is so obvious and so warm – he cheers her on, checks in on her, walks her home. They have such a charming camaraderie and you can see they are already best friends, which is a great foundation to start building a romance.

What’s impressive as well is how mature Joon Hyung is about the whole matter. Even when he’s rejected by Bok Joo after confessing his love for her, he tells her to give him a month to “test it out”. Of course, it’s a little too convenient that he somehow discovers her “bucket list” after that, but it’s when he deviates from the bucket list and decides to dump the 100 roses for a bag of tissue papers and other necessities at the hospital that he truly proves that he cares for her and is sensitive to her immediate needs. Realising that she’s going through a lot with her dad, he also takes a step back and doesn’t pester her about the relationship until she calls him and asks to meet him.

Besides the romance, it’s also heartwarming to witness Bok Joo’s journey of growth over the past two episodes. I can completely relate to her need to step back from something she’s been so wholeheartedly engaged in, so as to do other things and find her purpose again. It takes courage to do that, against peer pressure and also from her dad. However, it’s when she realises how much her dad has given up for her and watches out for her that she’s reminded of the genuine joy in weightlifting. Lee Sung Kyung really does an amazing job portraying Bok Joo in such a real and raw manner, particularly in the scene where she goes through her dad’s stuff and finds his insurance documents and clothes with holes in them. She just breaks down completely as the discovery of his great love and sacrifice for her also brings her so much pain because he’s in hospital now. In response to that, she then does what she can as a daughter not to disappoint him, which is to get back to weightlifting.

Bok Joo and Joon Hyung’s relationship is so well handled in this show that it’s inevitable that all the other love stories seem rather lacking in comparison. Jae Yi seems less compelling of a character now that he’s no longer Bok Joo’s crush and I find it harder to get into the current story-line with him and Dr. Go. In a show like this, there seems to be a tendency to get every character paired up when that might not necessarily be the main story for them. Take for example Coach Choi – besides exploring Dae Ho, her and Coach Yoon’s love-triangle, I was hoping that the show would explore more of the fallout of her being fired and how that’s affecting her in light of her attachment to the team. Nonetheless, given that there are so many characters and relationships, the show is already doing a sufficiently good job in making them all compelling in their own ways without being repetitive. That in itself is not an easy feat and that’s what makes this show such an excellent show.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo: Episodes 1-5

I wasn’t intending to watch this drama since I was already following Legend of the Blue Sea on Wednesdays, but there was so much hype about it on dramabeans that I decided to give it a go.

I started with episode 10, which was the episode where Bok Joo won the title, but still felt so down throughout the episode because of Jae Ho’s gentle rejection of her (which made her feel even worse) and also Coach Choi’s departure. Even though it was my first viewing of the show, I could feel Bok Joo’s emotions so deeply and could connect so easily with her character. I was drawn to how the show took much effort to portray its characters mental and emotional states so convincingly and powerfully and also how the show had built a tightly knit world of characters who genuinely cared for each other and whose actions had an effect on each other. I was captivated already and decided to watch it from the start.

After finishing the first five episodes, I have to say I am remarkably surprised by this series. It’s fallen on the way side in the rankings game because it’s up against Legend of the Blue Sea but I have to say it’s certainly a very strong series that deserves as much attention as LOBS.

For one thing, every character in this drama is so lovingly crafted and engaging, such that there’s never a dull scene throughout. The key protagonists – Bok Joo, Joon Hyung and Shi Ho – all excel in their sports but face their respective challenges too, highlighting the different pressures faced by young athletes as well as their tumultuous love lives. All of them are doing silly things because of love, and are so completely relateable because we were all there once before. Besides them, the entire ensemble is a hilarious bunch and I enjoy Joon Hyung’s interactions with Tae Kwon as much as Bok Joo’s interactions with Sun Ok and Nan Hee. Shi Ho’s character is a more serious than the others, but that’s ok because she does provide a nice counterbalance to the other storylines.

Bok Joo’s story is so compelling because while we are rooting for her and her affection for Jae Yi is so sweet and adorable, we can also see it cannot end well because of the age difference and the doctor-patient relationship. Yet Bok Joo’s web of lies and deception just keeps growing and it gets so difficult to watch as it starts to affect those around her and ultimately herself too. Episode 5 was painful to watch, when she’s so determined for Joon Hyung not to spread any rumours about her crush that she stands in for him to carry the rice sacks, which results in the swimming team becoming first and the weightlifting team losing the championships for the first time. This is yet another defeat for the team that has already met many setbacks since the cutting of funding.

Joon Hyung is an equally fascinating character who obviously likes Bok Joo, which manifests itself in his incessant teasing of her to rile her up. He defends her when the men at the restaurant put her and her friends down and he even gives her a ticket to a concert so she gets to spend time with Jae Yi. He does care for her and Shi Ho can see that, which leads her to go on the offensive and even elicit Bok Joo’s help when she tries to get Joon Hyung back.

Shi Ho’s attempts to get Joon Hyung back are also equally difficult to watch, as we can see that she’s at a stage in her life where she’s grasping at straws to gain any shred of happiness she can get. She’s back at the university and reached a plateau in her sporting performance, yet she does not want her family to send her overseas because she knows they cannot afford it. She doesn’t seem to have any friends at all and seems estranged from her family. In her desperation, she reaches out to the one person who may not give her what she want, but will at least respond to her and talk to her.

It’s such a lovingly crafted show that’s such a joy to watch. It manages to build so many convincing characters that are so easy to connect with. I’ve tried not to be spoiled, but I know that good stuff happens in ep11 and 12, and I can’t wait to get there!