Screenwriter Moon Ji-won (left) and director Yoo In-sik pose for photos before a press conference at Stanford Hotel Seoul in Mapo-gu, Seoul on Tuesday. (ENA)
With half of its series released as of July 21, television channel ENA’s legal drama “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” a story about a gifted, autistic attorney, has been writing history.
It topped global streaming platform Netflix’s weekly viewership chart of non-English TV shows at the second week of July. It made ENA the most-watched channel during Wednesday-Thursday’s prime time with viewership rating of 13.1 percent, the highest number in the channel’s history.
While showing their excitement for the drama’s extraordinary success, director Yoo In-sik and screenwriter Moon Ji-won said the reactions from local and global audiences were unexpected.
“I was uncertain whether the viewers could empathize with the stories and thoughts of Woo Young-woo. I was a little worried, because the series was scheduled to be released in a lesser known channel as well,” Yoo said during a press conference held at Stanford Hotel Seoul in Mapo-gu, western Seoul on Tuesday.
Comparing his series with Pyongyang-style cold noodle, an iconic food with the mild flavors, the director never thought the series would go viral without provocative stories and villains.
“I am always surprised to see the people watching the show on a bus or debate about the drama at coffee shops. I am grateful for their love and support,” Moon said.
Moon, who made her small screen debut with “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” shared how the audience-grabbing stories of the series were selected.
“As the staff decided to feature different legal cases in every episode, I tried to find in-depth stories by reading the essays written by attorneys. I did not want the scenes to be limited to the courtroom and office, so I looked up for the cases with on-the-spot inspections as well,” the writer said.
After writing mystery thriller “Innocent Witness” (2019), a film led by an autistic girl who is the only witness to the death of a man who either committed suicide or was murdered, Moon was able to understand more about people with autism.
“Autistic people have extremely broad knowledge about a specific field or their particular interest, a strong sense of justice, and straightforwardness. These are some of the features that can be strengthened by autism. The medical experts, who advised the series, also welcomed how the series tried to introduce many bright sides of autism,” Moon said.
Director Yoo In-sik (left) and actor Park Eun-bin monitor the scene in “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” (ENA)
But the director addressed that the series certainly has its limit.
“It would be nice to produce a series that represents all about autism. But that’s very difficult in our 16-part series. I think it would be meaningful if ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo’ can raise public awareness and understanding about autistic people and promote the inclusion of actors with disabilities,” Yoo said.
The series airs every Wednesday and Thursday at 9 p.m. on ENA and is also available on local streaming platform Seezn and Netflix.
By Lee Si-jin (firstname.lastname@example.org