Nobody wants to watch a cheesy K-drama about first love, unless you’re feeling reminiscent and/or have the time. What’s not important is why you watched Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo, but rather what you felt for each character, which tells you a lot about yourself in the most unexpected way.
In the first episode, the most important characters are introduced, as well as the conflicts. Kim Bok-Joo is the university’s weightlifting ace, and has her mind set on nothing but weightlifting to make her dad proud. Jung Joon-Hyeong should parallel her in swimming, but his anxiety before matches causes him to have false starts and get disqualified. Right after this, an important conflict between the rhythmic gymnastics and the weightlifting teams is presented. Because of rivalries in the past and appearances, the delicate, popular rhythmic gymnasts often look down upon the heavily built weightlifting girls. However, Song Si-Ho, a rhythmic gymnast, returns to the university after being rejected from the national team and becomes Kim Bok-Joo’s roommate. Almost instantly, the viewer knows that Song Si-Ho is going to be an important character.
Later in the first episode, Kim Bok-Joo and Joon-Hyeong find out that they were classmates in elementary school, but all Joon-Hyeong decides to reveal is that he remembers Kim Bok-Joo’s nickname back then, “Chubs.” Bok-Joo was not like every other kid from the time she was in elementary school, and was still somewhat looked down upon because of her weight, which is something some viewers can relate to.
On the other hand, Song Si-Ho was in a happy relationship with Joon-Hyeong until he broke up with her. After that, she can’t seem to let go even though he has moved on. She makes every attempt to get him back, and her performance in rhythmic gymnastics begins to decline. Later, her coach asks her to train in Russia to improve, but it is revealed that Song Si-Ho’s parents gave up their home for an apartment just so they could pay her tuition and still can’t pay rent. Not knowing what to do, she keeps running back to her ex-boyfriend. However, after this, I didn’t know whether I felt sorry for her, or irritated that she kept trying to run back. If I felt annoyed by her, I felt like a monster because of what she was going through. But if I felt sorry for her, I felt like I was too soft of a person. What each viewer feels for Si-Ho at this point is crucial, as she is going through a hard time but also must learn to let go of Joon-Hyeong. Again, a deeper insight of a character is revealed, and viewers can relate to Si-Ho as well.
When I first started watching the series, I had the misconception that it would just be a standard boy-meets-girl story with a happy ending, presenting each one’s hardships before their relationship, then one conflict that gets resolved, leading to a happy, lasting relationship. However, I was mistaken. The story was so well-written that the audience not only witnessed the protagonists’ difficulties, but the “side” characters’ as well. Normally, if a series were to follow so many characters closely, I would lose interest or become confused. Nevertheless, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo followed the lives of at least ten characters in a span of just 16 episodes and each character had at least one trait or challenge that any viewer could simply relate to or hate.
I came to realize that with so many things going on with so many varying characters, my pick of characters that I related to told me lots about myself. For example, Bok-Joo weightlifts both because she loves it and to make her dad proud because he’s given everything so that she can pursue her passion. I feel that there are many people, especially college students, who can relate to Bok-Joo, while older viewers may relate to what Bok-Joo’s dad is going through, or her uncle.
Overall, while Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo did deliver a love story. It was done so in a beautiful, highly engaging way rather than being a sappy, excessively sweet fairy-tale like romance.
Viri Garcia is a freshman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org