An absolutely phenomenal youth romance drama just came to an end marking a great change in this genre of dramas, according to me. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Ju did not have a particularly famous or glamorous cast, but this was what turned into its strength. From Lee Sung Kyung and Nam Joo Hyuk playing our lead couple, to the second leads, Lee Jae Yoon and Kyung Soo Jin, none of these actors and actresses have had very impactful roles in the past.
Nonetheless, this drama was a very light-hearted and youthful romance and possessed everything that Heartstrings was supposed to be if not for the sloppy end. Weightlifting Fairy dealt with many themes that made it something other than makjang, since it was primarily about the life of a female weightlifter, Kim Bok Ju (played by Lee Sung Kyung), in the face of a society that seems to be obsessed with ‘S lines’ and hourglass figures. Lee Sung Kyung has proven herself to be an incredibly talented actress. As I mentioned in my last post, her wild personality in Cheese in the Trap was also very well done but she needed to do this lead role to truly prove her worth. My verdict is that Lee Sung Kyung is an actress who does not shy away from all sorts of challenging roles and doesn’t mind looking ugly for the camera. Her talent of contorting her face into various expressions help her in being endearing towards the audience. Her role as Bok Ju has truly proved her acting chops, since she played the character with such sensitivity and empathy, bringing it alive with her every facial expression. From the consciousness of her weight to her passion for her sport, Lee Sung Kyung appears to have great respect for her character and hence has been able to do it immense justice.
Based in Haneol Sports University, Kim Bok Ju, a weightlifter, runs into a kindergarten friend of hers, Jung Joon Hyung (played by Nam Joo Hyuk), also enrolled at the same university and part of the swim team. Joon Hyung, who remembers Bok Ju from his childhood, tries to be friendly towards Bok Ju in the most annoying way possible; by calling her by her childhood nickname, 똥 (fat). Calling her fat is just like reiterating that Bok Ju has always been a fat kid, and now that she is part of the weightlifting team, there is not exactly any way she can lose the weight, neither does she want to since she admits to her love for food and actively pursues that love throughout the drama, eating to her heart’s content. The romance that blooms thanks to all the annoying boyish behaviour is one that has left its mark in the kdrama universe, according to me. Never have I seen such a perfect couple in a coming of age drama, so much so that my other favourite coming of age OTP: Lee Shin and Lee Gyu Won, is facing much competition with Kim Bok Ju and Jung Joon Hyung possibly winning.
Coming to Nam Joo Hyuk: where has, this handsome hunk been hiding so long? Nam Joo
Hyuk has the warmest and most loving eyes as he plays the swimmer, Jung Joon Hyung. His every expression appears to be sincere and straight from the heart. From his boyish charms, all the way to his concern for Bok Ju. It isn’t just Lee Sung Kyung, therefore, who made her own character believable, Nam Joo Hyuk reciprocated 100% and his character suits Bok Ju to the tee. Even though the show tried to make his story a little makjang by having a birth secret of sorts surrounding his background, Joon Hyung was simply a perceptive, and sensitive character. I wanted to squeal every single time he would set his eyes on Bok Ju. I have never seen any actor fit into the skin of their character so well, and make it all so believable for the audience.
Lastly, the second lead syndrome that happens in most kdramas, does not happen in Weightlifting Fairy, simply because the second leads do not get enough screen time, firstly, and also, because the male second lead was absolutely never interested in pursuing Bok Ju, and it’s made clear in the first half of the show. I mean we’re used to a second lead not getting the girl, but we’re not used to a second lead who has other more important things on his mind. As for the female second lead, Shi Ho, was a slightly more complex character. She had all the makings of a rude and insolent
competitor for the main man, but the script added some more layers to Shi Ho, in order to show the ordeals a rhythmic gymnast has to go through in order to maintain a perfect body. The script also explored the kind of financial sacrifices families must make to support children interested in practical disciplines like sports and music. Her character helped highlight all the negatives of these professions, especially stressing on the emotional toll on the individual who has to go through all the strenuous training. We see the emotional toll on Joon Hyung also, but it is dealt more cleanly with him than it is with Shi Ho.
Nonetheless, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Ju, is set to become a legend, spiralling Lee Sung Kyung and Nam Joo Hyuk towards better projects and more opportunities to showcase their talents. I secretly wonder if those two are actually possibly involved with each other… If they are, then it explains the brilliant chemistry on set, and if they’re not, I can root for them to get together. If they aren’t ever getting together, then this drama was just a lot of proof that these two are brilliant actors and I sincerely can’t wait to see their next projects.
Lastly, NAM JOO HYUK!!! Noona loves you! ❤
Note: I think I’m the only person who is not thrilled about this drama couple being a real couple 😦