|"My name is Woo Young-woo. Whether it’s read straight or flipped, it’s still Woo Young-woo. Kayak, deed, rotator, noon, racecar. Woo Young-woo!"|
|Portrayed by||Park Eun-bin|
|Appears in||Extraordinary Attorney Woo|
|Debut||episode 1: "Extraordinary Attorney Woo"|
Woo Young-woo is the main character in the South-Korean legal series Extraordinary Attorney Woo.
Writer Moon Ji-won had previously written Innocent Witness, a drama movie centering around an autistic girl (Ji-woo) who is the only witness of a crime. Extraordinary Attorney Woo came about when production company AStory asked if Ji-woo could become a lawyer when she grew up. The "aha" moments where Young-woo reaches a breakthrough in the case and visualizes whales swimming by were only added later on during the writing process. Whales were chosen as the topic of her special interest because they are quite visually striking.
Actress Park Eun-bin felt a sense of responsibility for portraying the character in a natural way. She was hesitant about her ability to approach the character with the needed gravity and almost turned down the role because of that. She had only 2 weeks to actually prepare for role because she came right out of another project (The King's Affection). She opted to not imitate any real people or existing characters. Instead, she built the character based on the diagnostic criteria for autism. She also spoke with professors who are experts on autism. Young-woo's long, uninterrupted lines (such as when infodumping about whales or talking about law) were a particular challenge.
Young-woo is diagnosed with autism at a young age. She did not speak until she was five years old. Her first words were the legal definition of inflicting bodily injury after witnessing her landlord accost her father. Young-woo has memorised verbatim many of her father's law books. She also has an enormous interest in whales: her room is decorated with whale items, and she often relates things she sees in cases to whales. Her father warns her to not talk about whales at the law firm since it is not an appropriate topic to talk about. In addition to whales, Young-woo also has a fascination for palindromes (like her name, which is the same read forwards and backwards).
She is rather sensitive to sound. When going out, she often wears headphones, and she has a tendency to become overwhelmed by busy environments. She often self-regulates by tapping her ears.
Young-woo is very open about being autistic, including at her job.
- Lee Jun-ho: a popular and charming employee at Hanbada law firm. He quite fancies Young-woo.
- Jung Myeong-seok: Young-woo's mentor and a senior lawyer at Hanbada. He is initially apprehensive about Young-woo's presence as an autistic lawyer, but quickly comes around.
- Woo Gwang-ho: Young-woo's father. He raised her by himself, and owns a restaurant.
- Han Seon-yeong: head of Hanbada law firm and the person who made sure Young-woo got hired.
- Choi Soo-yeon: junior lawyer at Hanbada. She went to law school with Young-woo and now works with her on the same team.
- Kwon Min-woo: junior lawyer at Hanbada. He works on the same team as Young-woo. He is very competitive and often butts heads with Young-woo.
- Dong Geu-ra-mi: Young-woo's somewhat loud and chaotic friend. They've know each other since high school. She works at a small restaurant, where Young-woo sometimes comes to hang out and ask for advice. They have their own handshake.
- Kim Min-shik: owner of the restaurant where Gue-ra-mi works and Young-woo hangs out. They're friendly with each other, and he sometimes gives her advice as well.
The series was a massive success both in South Korea and internationally. It reached the highest ratings in the history of ENA (the network that aired it) and lands in the top 10 highest rated Korean television series of all time. It reached the Netflix top 10 television series in 57 countries and spent 21 weeks in the global top 10 for non-English language television series. It was likened to Squid Game in terms of international success.
A common criticism is that her disability is portrayed in a way that is harmless and cute, and that most real autistic people are not like Young-woo at all. Her savantism is another point of criticism, also because it is rare in actual autistic people.
Young-woo appears in all 16 episodes of season 1 of Extraordinary Attorney Woo. The series is renewed for a second season, set to air in 2024 without significant cast changes.
The series is set to receive a webtoon adaptation.
- Han Gue-ru, the main character from Move to Heaven, a 2020 Korean drama series with a similar vibe
- Jerry Espenson, an autistic lawyer from the 2004 American series Boston Legal
- Eunice, Kpopmap Editor (2022-08-26). Netflix's Process Of Working On The English Subtitles & Dubs Of "Extraordinary Attorney Woo". Kpopmap. Retrieved on 2023-04-10.