Netflix show, “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” raises awareness for autism in Asia


Andrea Huete, Copy Editor

The Netflix series called “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” aired in 2022. Its creators Yoo In-sik and Moon Jo-won drove the drama, and helped spread awareness through the lens of race, gender and class.

The drama revolves mainly around an attorney named Woo Young-woo. She tackles different challenges in the courtroom. Not only is she a newbie at the top law firm in Seoul, she is a woman on the autism spectrum.

The autism spectrum is like an umbrella that characterizes people by their social cue recognition, hyper or hypo sensitivity to sensory imports and repetitive behaviors and thoughts.

According to Nancy Hartenhoff-Crooks, assistant director for disability services, April is National Autism Awareness Month, and April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day.

Hartenhoff-Crooks works with all SDSU students who self-identify as having a disability. 

“It’s estimated nationally that approximately 1 – 2% of college students have autism and that it would be fair to assume that SDSU’s enrollment is consistent with that number,” Hartenhoff-Crooks said.“[In regards to majors], we have had students with this diagnosis pursue a wide range of majors across our colleges.”

 There are different people who surround Woo Young-woo, and they all have different personalities and characteristics that come to light for the audience. Just like Attorney Woo, we have people who surround us, and they may have either good or bad intentions towards us. 

The character that plays Kwon Min-woo is someone who doesn’t do anything when he sees her struggling. Even though Woo Young-Woo has autism, he believes that she is given the upper hand, and this may be due to her ability for recalling information, connecting resources and thinking outside of the box.

Similar to Kwon Min-woo, Choi Su-yeon tries to avoid Woo Young-woo whenever she struggles, and this may be due to the fact that they studied together and Woo Young-woo always came out on top. It’s hard for Kwon Min-woo to avoid Woo Young-woo and not help her out, but because of her conscience, she eventually turns around and tries her best to help her out. Kwon Min-Woo even stands up to the injustice that Woo Young-woo faces by supporting and diverting Woo Young-woo’s attention.

Lee Jun-ho surprisingly falls in love with Woo Young-woo. It’s nice to know that there is a character that doesn’t mind her talking about whales. He provides acceptance of it when they are both together. While others don’t want her to talk about whales in a professional setting due to her obsessing over it, he doesn’t seem to judge her actions even when she struggles, he doesn’t pity her and grows quite fond of her.

Similar to Lee Jun-ho, we have Dong Geu Rami who is Woo Young-woo’s best friend. I love how they presented their friendship. By creating meaningful relationships, children can grow and develop confidence, socially and emotionally.

When Woo Young-woo was in school, she was bullied and criticized by teachers because of her bluntness and ease of being fooled. Woo Young-woo stuck to Dong Geu Rami because of her aura. She mentioned that she provided her a safety net from others. I suppose Dong Geu Rami enjoyed being looked up to even though she was a huge trouble maker. They became friends and were able to socialize and grow emotionally.

According to Alila Medical Media, people with autism are often stigmatized, bullied and have troubles developing relationships and landing a job.

When Woo Young-woo was just a child, she was capable of reading a full law textbook and memorizing and recalling criminal law. Her father, Woo Gwang-ho, notices this because she was always silent and only spoke when it related to law.

It’s interesting to see how her father tries to build a relationship with her, he even pointed out in the series that raising an autistic child is kind of lonely. I’m sure it was because it might have been a one sided relationship, in terms of expressing emotions. 

According to the Asperger/Autism network website, Aria Sky mentions that life for a parent is exhausting, as children have different demands. In terms of autistic people, they have moments where they lack consistent feelings.

Sky said that parents aren’t able to really plan and go to places because their child may have a meltdown. It’s important to break down a cycle and look for different parenting styles to prevent harm to the child. It’s also important to find a community to help provide support in both parent and child disconnection.

We see Woo Young-woo’s father study law to help make connections between them and bring out Woo Young-woo’s character as she becomes more interactive.

According to Alila Medical Media, an autistic brain seems to have more connections than usual and observes all information or most information. In some cases, they fixate on a different object or subject.

Alila Medical Media also said that autistic people may notice details that others do not, but have difficulty following a topic of a conversation or seeing other people’s point of view.

In terms of law, Woo young-woo loves whales, and she seems to have an ah-ha moment when she is experiencing a problem. I like how she is able to bring whales into her daily life. She makes connections and is able to draw out information that others can’t due to her sharp memory.

In the end, the Netflix series, “Extraordinary Attorney Woo,” is a splendid drama to watch. It not only informs you of autistic people’s lives, it helps bring awareness to professionals and women on the spectrum.