K-drama Extraordinary Attorney Woo breaks ratings records

Final episode of Extraordinary Attorney Woo in Seoul
Extraordinary Attorney Woo lead actress Park Eun-bin (third from right) with cast members and director Yoo In-sik (centre) before watching the final episode of the series with fans at a theatre in Seoul. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Extraordinary Attorney Woo  is centred on genius female protagonist Woo Young-woo, the first lawyer with autism in South Korea. PHOTO: NETFLIX

SINGAPORE - Hit courtroom K-drama Extraordinary Attorney Woo broke its own ratings record with its final episode, which aired in South Korea on Thursday (Aug 18).

According to Nielsen Korea, the 16-part series' finale had an average nationwide rating of 17.5 per cent, which is also the highest in broadcaster ENA's programme history.

ENA, a relatively new pay television channel in the country, came to prominence due to the success of Extraordinary Attorney Woo.

The fictional drama is centred on genius female protagonist Woo Young-woo (played by Park Eun-bin), the first lawyer with autism in South Korea. Structured around the cases that she handles, the series tracks her growth as a capable rookie lawyer, her workplace struggles as an autistic person and her relationships with her colleagues, including a budding romance.

Its record ratings places the series in proximity with other top-performing K-dramas in South Korea's cable television history, such as Goblin (2016 to 2017), which had an 18.7 per cent rating for its final episode.

Other top-scoring South Korean series in recent years include the massively popular romance Crash Landing On You (2019 to 2020), whose finale garnered an average nationwide rating of 21.7 per cent , and infidelity drama The World Of The Married (2020), which recorded 28.4 per cent per cent for its last episode.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo, hailed by many for its heartwarming story, also performed well outside of South Korea, where it is available on streaming platform Netflix.

It is the most-watched non-English language series globally from July 4 to Aug 14 - aside from a dip to the second spot in the week of July 18. As of Aug 14, it has been viewed for more than 69 million hours globally.

In Singapore, the series has been on Netflix's top 10 television charts for seven weeks, with five of those at the number one spot.

It is also the most-watched television series on Netflix for other South-east Asian nations such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam.

The main cast have expressed their affection for the recently wrapped series too. 

In an interview with Malaysian newspaper The Star, leading lady Park says she loves her character’s brave and courageous personality. 

On Thursday (Aug 18), actor Kang Ki-young, who plays Woo’s mentor Jung Myung-seok, also posted a photo of the cast on his Instagram account and captioned it: “Unforgettable memories.”

Loyal Singapore viewers say it was a well-written story with a talented cast, although it could have been tied up in a more satisfactory manner.

Madam Clara Chan, a 59-year-old housewife who has followed the series closely as it aired, tells The Straits Times: “I think the characterisation of the relationship between Woo (and her family members) could have been developed better. As it stands, it feels a bit rushed and some of the characters’ choices feel like a sudden personality change.

“But overall, it was a nice way of introducing viewers to what autism is about, and made the point of showing people from differing ends of the autism spectrum.”

Remote video URL

Housewife Ms Mia Su, 30, adds: “It was a warm, hopeful ending where Woo has gained the courage to face the world as her unique self. Overall, it was a positive story that avoided being treacly.”

According to entertainment site Soompi, a source from ENA reportedly shared that production for Season 2 is “currently in talks.” 

But on Aug 17, Mr Lee Sang Baek - the CEO of ASTORY, the production company behind the show - was quoted as saying they “will produce Season 2” and “the goal” is to air it in 2024.

He added there will be no replacement of the cast, director, writer or production team “as long as there are no unexpected changes”.

In the meantime, they will offer up various content using the drama’s intellectual property, such as a webtoon which is already serialised, a musical and merchandise, until Season 2 airs.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.