This is weight/lightness of living lifting fairydust in potent purest form. I started this in 2017, ie short few days ago and needless to say I am at the rewatching, MVs hording stage where containing manic addiction, longing, already bracing that bittersweet unbearable breakup at its last sweet epi, is futile.
Occasion was our family tradition: basement mahjong tournament. I did my usual checking out an epi fresh out and it did not bug, nor hook me, I fear all the expected body image judgmental stereotype tropes and lazy contrivances, noble idiocy just to insert time filler histronics in what reads like every flimsy coming of age shoujos.
When my bbcousins were all fighting NOT to sit in that seat with back to screen their turn to pick a show…I jumped in to be the cunning adult without the urge to watch, an ear to their gossips and the other picking up some cute Hey, Tong(Chubby)~! on screen. I ended up losing money, but gained intelligence, but not one to ask more when I heard lots of 男朋友/namja chingus to be exact, thrown about… some perfect perhaps Korean boyfriends pwning all boyfriends forever.
My dinosaur moment came yesterday when I finally asked about the perfect 男朋友/namja chingus spazzed too often, are they ALL getting settled soonish coz I am entitled to meet (and touch ㅋㅋㅋ) them no?! And I need a year if I could plan trips to weddings, no better time to ask for vacays the new year. It was when they explained, 男朋友(I did not notice was written 南朋友 at times)/Boyfriend/Namja Chingu, singular, proper noun is Nam JooHyuk and NJH only. I did not know. NOW I KNOW. lol
This wartless nothing but charming fluffiest cute, surprise me every turn. When I am all ready to gladly tolerate some expected misunderstandings dragged out, characters having understandable moments slipping to sprout some coerced angst, fabricated dramatics…never happens once. These characters are never petty, always as sensible as common sense and priority dictates, and when not, fully aware of their lapses of judgment, even our Girl2 at her shenanigans man up to her crap. They will admit fault, apologize, with a very levelheaded weight of self-worth…being in competitive sports give them the aware their limited place in the grand scheme. What hits me handsomely is the background fluid humming of ebb and flow under the surface of all the cute cotton candy romance, poignant, realistic, with such shocking depth on trials and tribulations facing young athletes they are all bravely making do with clinched teeth but very little sulk as just how life is, I am sure authentic, assuming that extra drive and mental strength required to excel in sports…all weaved in so delicately. And just how my mind is wired weirdly, watching WF gave me flashback to how a novel+movie stroke a chord in my coming of age, lost in life’s inbetweens.
To quote Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being: “The heaviest of burdens is simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the more real and truthful lives become.” Being young, at the brink of adulthood, is most daunting as we have all been or going through. We have to make our stumbles and pick ourselves up in what is growing up, and knowing well it gets heavier a burden as life rolls on to murkier stages. It might not necessarily be harder as we earn our notches arm with the clarity of what we want, what we do not, what we can do, and the pragmatism of what is beyond or unworthy of effort or feelings. Our skin thickens jaded, equipped with how to protect our vulnerability, caving into necessary compromises learned from experience. We give some for living, we take some from living. It is brilliant to delve deeper into youth with this extra helping of younglings dedicating these fairydust years to sports here. While I enjoyed the bliss of ignorance with just studies to focus on and fair share of silly pinings, young athletes have already carved out a steeper narrower curve of growth at my same bumbling idiot time point, that require an additional set of physical and emotional sweat, blood and tears. What wins my heart the most in Weightlifting Fairy is every character is full-fletched, making sense in their exact construct at their point in life and growth. The higher emotional demands of young top athletes, could yield higher emotional quotients, navigating, juggling additional roles in life and each of them striking a functioning balance. Our cutiepies here, not just the OTP, are making me so intolerant of thousand year old manchild dieties being clueless babies no matter the glossy packages.
In other words, Kim BokJoo and Jung JunHyung own my heart, along with many of their significant dear ones. They will for a while, being my all time favorite Kromcom OTP darlings. What rewards me this splendid result of a perfectly executed coming of age romance is its extraordinary focus, unfolding every tiniest simple mundane cohesive moment worthy to build these characters steadily, development is worked in without any lapse in thought, precision with weight allotted to each minutiae. The characters and their woes, be it a chronically sick father who was an ex-weightlifter with his set of unfulfilled dreams, the incomprehensible abandonment from birth mother, a broken family failing in financing hopes in the cutthroat hyperbolic fishbowl of competitive sports, weight obsession, body dysmorphia, being an unexpected father in college bringing the stakes of sports even higher, mental illness, simple wishes of being a normal girl, however silly she is aware… whenever rearing in drama, I was so trained to brace the dramatics coming with territory, cliched contrivances, as if one can not consume sweetness until after filler sides of tiresome bitter.
WF never settles in angsty confines of Kromcoms, sharing that tenacious will of steels required in top athletes too aware a moment of stagnancy could break it all, writer deals with every predictable plot point with the simpliest cool. We all understand it is almost impossible to move plot along just on sweet and cute, it is hard to up the sweetness incessantly, but watch WF and believe. This little underdog drama pushes simple threads of sense and yields a most whimsical fantastical heartfelt tale no megabudget and big name stars can come close.
The watching experience is lift to the fullest, most empowering because of two winning main characters. I could enjoy a sports youth drama of each of them alone and it would still be charming. BokJoo is sucha delight, gone are the days we have to pretend a normal weight model-esque actress as ugly yet LSK puts on some obvious weight to be just convincing enough as chubby, especially per Asian nutso standard where I have been called Chubs by aunties meaning no harm any time over 100pounds. From the get go, writer cleared up she is considered too lanky, with limbs too long too skinny for weightlifting when she started out as a young girl. But when LSK really lifts some weights as BokJoo, that bang of metal on floor on release, her distorted face putting in her all…I could buy it.
Gone is also the trope of physically strong heroine perceived as unattractive often have to overcompensate with rude brashness. She is still insecure about her looks caving into social norms but who is not, never does she uses her inferiority as an excuse, nor let it define her entirely. What attracts her longtime secret admirer is how warm and friendly she is sociable. She has no pettiness and an understanding big lenient heart, enabling her to see the positive in people and situation. On a day of heartbreak, with a good friend cheering her up, she picks herself up, “The good thing harboring a crush is, I can call an end to it on my terms. I will take back my heart I left at him without his permission, and start fresh. You have worked hard, my thumping heart, thank you for burning brightly! ”
And it is in this positive strength the OTP is such a dream. The only perhaps nondisputed fact in Kdramaland atvm is the reigning most perfect model of a college namja chingu ever, JJH, is perfect with very little to do with sparkling superficial, but how he works patiently on his setbacks, how he must be pragmatically overcoming his traumatic childhood event into a passion of swimming, diverting the abandonment he could not understand by being embraced by water and the serenity of solitude to just focusing on tangible units of seconds, on reaching the end of the pool one lap at a time. His strength of being observant and protective to feelings of others is instilled from the kindness bestowed upon him by the parents and brother, loving him with their everything every moment he has been a part of their nuclear family. Being a promising star swimmer with all the spotlight, unable to overcome his panic attacks, he still could stay focus and keep pushing himself to train on. That is the foundation of the awesome normal boy overcoming adversity not magically but in steady managable strides. Smittened over a girl, he pursues her with his dedication but still able to mind his own business to a degree never imposing his every want to possess her. He respects her, and with his every action puts it as clear across he is genuinely caring about her as a dear friend. She eases into their comfortable friendly banter, with him aware of his place amidst all the harmless pranking. He is straightforward, tactful in alleviating any misunderstanding, easy going and best of all, switching around negatives into positives is his forte. He observes BJ every chance so assiduously and plans out how he cares about her every moment, every little action catering to her feelings like real genuine bffs before he is aware he is in full on love between a boy and a girl.
Her well being is always on his mind, even when teasing how tacky she looks in a dress to impress her crush, this laser focus on her once he has so timely sorted out his own romantic feelings, leaves little room for him to wallow in his own little heart bumps and bruises caused by BJ along the way. I watch along feeling every bit bumped for him, but seeing he is almost unaffected, even gleeful in being just a doting friendzoned puppy, I stop being the worry mommy. Of course this makes watching along even more a nothing but joyeous giggling painless ride. And that is what kickass: finally we have love in its fantastic ideal most innocent form, where a boy could love a girl with all his heart, no ego, gladly losing self, but still functioning at all his other responsibities, without a fuss of self-preservation. It is so refreshing we have no silly angst, whenever a misunderstanding is budding, it’s snapped by them talking it out, or diverting it to a higher priority sensibly.
He was begging her to take care of herself protesting in the frigid because he was eaten alive worried sick of her instead of brooding why she has been difficult and obviously mad at him over something he was clueless about. This frankness with each other, this direct, ceaseless expression of little sweet concern and love for the other above self, nothing earth shattering, all the while attuned to their own inner feelings when prompted, gives solid ground work for how they communicate so impossibly perfect, every scene of BJ within JH’s sight, she has his undivided at times silly attention since day1 as a long lost friend. He looks at her most ardently, attentive to her every whim, even before she returns the affection, he is absolutely cool and contented doting on her as friends as she pleases…not until another boy (that hug JiSoo, you cuties just have to showoff your bromance huh) becomes fast friend with her does he accelerate his game, pragmatism at play to avoid any possibility of losing to a nonplayer, seizing chance speaking all his heart along with action. He never steps down from wearing his heart hopelessly but never overboard to overstepping her say. And the massive explosion of cuteness follows seamlessly stemming from 12 episodes of meticulously grounded growth of friendly affection so lovingly built drop by drop, I have never seen any romance this satisfying every moment I would allow these babies all the most ridiculous public display of cheesiest affection because they make so much sense.
I could not pick one moment I love the most, because I am almost impossible to impress by one note unbelievable grandiose fantasy, it is always these littlest scenes hitting me relentlessly, persistently, drips of sweetness poking millions inconspicious holes into my heart. I love there is just one wristgrab when he could not contain himself in some raging concern over her, but every chance she is at arm’s reach, he would lean in an affectionate, clingy harmless arm grab BJ at times just flings him a few feet off. I am delusional, I insist JH is strong enough to have his way with her wrist, arm, hand and be the possessive annoying idiotic Kdrama men, but he takes the impeccable care to be tenderest around BJ. He never patronizes, never disrespects who she is, even will correct and defend her misconstrued perception of herself for her, never lazily cooing her by putting her into any stereotypical confines, never a word untrue, nor imposing himself as some hoovering dominating male. Just on how he handles the messy knots with the ex, we have seen too many grownass Kdrama hero failing and be the ignorant noble idiot. Never a moment I doubt the hopelessly smittened boy sees BJ as a league + above him, even when he is more the looker for most dictate by society.
I sigh so many awws of relief BJ is genuinely regarded as good looking too by other characters because LSK just is, saving me the frustration what infurioratingly unforgiving standard we r putting Kdrama heroines through always. WF gives me a true equal partner in the OTP blurring most gender stereotypes, he/she will protect the other like the shining knight, he/she will pout their OppaPoutWiggle cutely to get spoiled by his/her love.
If I must pick a favorite arc, it is when BJ was in a slump. She visits her bff, prompting her to self-reflect, how blessed she is, remembering a happiest moment a year ago, that fulfillment of able to lift a target weight, on her ride home, and all the while her Dad’s sacrifices, projecting his dreams on her being supportive and understanding hits her…all the while JH is at his impossibly dreamiest plan of impressing her. It did not cross BJ’s mind, and it did not even cross my mind to indulge in their cute romance. Then when she was told Dad was in hospital, this perfect boy in love with her, a million roses in hand is invisible and should be, even when he jumps in with his cooler head, opening the door for her to dash into Dad’s room, and repeats the gesture with Uncle. JH face saddens, and I could understand if he is engrossed in being bumped his grand romantic gesture goes in vain, but he has none of it for himself, it is all worried for BJ and her Dad. And NJH is so spot on that tiniest flicker, showing JH’s sensibility and how exact much he loves BJ. Common sense is sooo delightful. What followed, I thought a passing scene of BJ gathering clothes for Dad’s longer hospital stay, fluidly evolves into a daughter and Dad heart to heart, pulling her out of the slump, clearing her funk, moving me to sobs, and it is until her getting over her own higher priority obstacle does she has the leisure to gather her thoughts on the boy… this is how drama writing should be, simple yet most effectively poignant.
She rescued her lost and found ‘baby’ when he needs rescuing, while it is sweet a peck on her hand, it swells my heart more knowing he must be afraid he has caught a cold and spreading it to her if he kisses her on the lips, which his eyes are so stuck there. Going back full circle…and in a lesser writer ie me, I thought he could be a silly man of his words as her promised to kiss her back germs.
Friends to lovers is my favorite romance trope, hardest to give equal weights developing the genuine friendship along with a usually overpowering romance. So often I got impatient shouting at the OTP to see the frustrating obvious and stop being idiots slow in the uptake of feelings, other times my gut is at an unease whether they are a great match of characters and should fare better staying friends. WF flows long so smoothly I have nothing going against my every wish, more often it exceeds my want, and nails it effortless. They grow a genuine caring friendship with some overlap of heart swaying towards romance. They are equally endearing to watch as friends and/or lovers, I have so much confidence in these solid kids to overcome every obstacle, nursing broken heart and pick themselves up over and over again. Even if BJ did not decide on loving JH back, they would be fine alone and could stay friends. I think they are aware, I hope they are, so when hard times hit, they have the safety net comfort of knowing the worst case scenario is having a friend in JH, in BJ…And there really is a world of worst horrors.
I must have bookmarked several dozens of these cutest MVs I have no selfcontrol: