Scrolling past all the dog videos and memes on your feed, you may have come across a photo or video of a light-brown haired Korean girl staring intently ahead on your feed. That girl is Kim Bok Joo, titular character in the K-Drama Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo. The series wasn’t a commercial hit when it first aired, but it’s been gaining traction online thanks to a legion of fans who have been raving about it.
Locally, it went on our radar last week when “Messi” became the number one trending topic in the Philippines. Fans used the scene where Bok Joo (remembering her friend Nan Hee’s advice on how to get boys to like her) said the line “Do you like Messi?” to her crush, Jae Yi, as inspiration to tell their own crushes how they felt about them.
Despite all of the hype surrounding the show, many are still kind of clueless as to what (and why) the fuss is all about. So what if it’s about a weightlifter? And how is she also a fairy? To you guys, we say: Don’t worry. We’ll get you obsessed in no time. Here are some facts to get you started.
It’s a drama that centers on award-winning weightlifter (and university student) Kim Bok Joo.
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo is a coming-of-age sports drama loosely adapted from the life story of South Korean weightlifter Jang Mi-Ran. It’s an overall-lighthearted show that follows Bok Joo as she trains at Haneol Sports University on her way to becoming a national athlete. There are a bunch of other people who help her along the way, like her friends Nan Hee and Seon Ok, her dad and uncle, and her coaches. One of her key supporters is Jung Joon Hyung, a swimmer who’s plagued with numerous false starts due to childhood trauma. You’ll have to watch to see how their dynamic plays out.
Kim Bok Joo is all of us. Lee Sung-Kyung brings on all the sass and spunk to the character of Kim Bok Joo, and we love the expressions she makes when she’s angry or annoyed. Unlike many K-dramas that involve magical realism, this is grounded squarely on reality. Contrary to its title, there aren’t any fairies in this one. The main characters go to university, live in dorms, and get drunk on nights out.
It’s got a kick-ass cast of (literally) strong female leads.
K-Dramas are known to have a lot of submissive lead girls and more dominant leading men. Since Bok Joo and her friends Nan Hee and Seon Ok are weightlifters, it’s a given for them to be physically strong. While they all still chat about the regular things like makeup and boys, they aren’t afraid to threaten the people who mess with them, and debunk gender norms at the same time. Another thing that people love is that Bok Joo and her friends aren’t afraid to pig out on buffets (they even introduce a strategy to maximizing a buffet in one of the episodes). Suweg, indeed.
It shatters K-Drama stereotypes and holds on the drama.
Aside from the whole strong female character thing, we can tell you straight out that there are no deaths (and resurrections), long-lost siblings, or evil mother-in-laws. There are also plenty of scenes that reverse the stereotypes of women being fragile and needing to be protected.
The humor and light-hearted kilig just work.
Though Weightlifting Fairy does fall back on those romantic clichés at times, it manages to make them work through clever dialogue and A+ acting that doesn’t make any of it look forced (see: the scene where Bok Joo and Joon Hyung get all kilig while texting each other). It’s also awesome how both of their characters had room to grow before the romance angle even started kicking in.
The fashion is amazing.
You can spend the entire episode just looking at all the coats, hoodies, and shirts that Bok Joo and Joon Hyung wear. They’re often color-coordinated. Like us, you’ll find yourself saying “I want that hoodie!” loads of times.