If there is one thing that the incredibly positive reception of Extraordinary Attorney Woo has proven, it’s that there is a real need (and a strong demand!) for more neurodivergent characters in K-Dramas.
Representation of neurodivergent people not only gives a voice to those concerned, but also helps to create a much more empathetic environment for them in a society that still remains mostly ignorant of their lived experiences. But the most important thing about it is that it gives people who identify as neurodivergent an equal chance to be the heroes of the story.
As Extraordinary Attorney Woo continues to grow in popularity across the globe, we will hopefully see neurodivergent representation increase across all levels of production, including neurodivergent actors and writers who can bring in a more authentic and empathetic approach to representing neurodivergent people. Here are 5 characters from K-Dramas that have portrayed neurodivergent characters so far!
1. Woo Young Woo — Extraordinary Attorney Woo
Korea’s first autistic attorney, Woo Young Woo, pursues a career at one of the country’s most prestigious law firms, often facing discrimination along the way. That doesn’t stop the show from having a feel-good vibe, however, as Woo Young Woo navigates her job with competence and with the support of her friends and colleagues.
2. Moon Sang Tae — It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
Moon Sang Tae in 2020’s hit show It’s Okay To Not Be Okay is the autistic older brother of male lead Moon Gaeng Tae. When circumstances bring the brothers together with female lead Ko Moon Young, the three of them begin a healing journey together as they discover how their pasts are linked.
3. Ko Moon Young — It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
Female lead Ko Moon Young has antisocial personality disorder. She develops an obsession with Moon Gaeng Tae, who works as a caretaker at psychiatric wards, but they ultimately bring comfort to each other as they explore their shared past.
4. Lee Young Hui — Our Blues
One of the supporting characters in the 2022 K-Drama Our Blues, Lee Young Hui is the twin sister of one of the main characters, Lee Young Ok. Lee Young Hui has Down Syndrome, and the show received praise for casting actress Jung Eun Hye, who lives with the condition herself, to play the character. Jung Eun Hye now shares the cutest friendship with costar Han Ji Min!
5. Park Si On — The Good Doctor
This 2013 medical drama received an American remake in 2017. It follows pediatric surgeon Park Si On, who, like Woo Young Woo in Extraordinary Attorney Woo, is a savant on the autism spectrum.