After working with Jun-ho and Min-woo, it’s now time for Young-woo to work with her law school classmate and Spring Sunshine Soo-yeon. Thankfully, things are a lot more friendly and collaborative as the two attorneys work together on their case. However, Young-woo and Soo-yeon are still pretty young and passionate in their respective careers and there are still plenty of challenges to overcome and lessons to learn through the process.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo Episode 6: Case 6 – If I Were a Whale
The episode starts off with a mother rocking her young daughter in her arms as she converses with an employee at an orphanage. The mother warns that they not try to adopt her daughter as she will one day return. A North Korean defector, the woman shares that she will come back once she returns from the correctional labor camps or as they call it in South Korea — prison. With that, she bids farewell with her crying daughter who runs outside after her. The mother bows to her daughter and walks away.
Young-woo briefly chats with Attorney Jung outside of the meeting room and is assigned to a new case along with Soo-yeon. It’s a case related to the mother who we saw earlier in the episode: she’s a North Korean defector who was charged with injury resulting from robbery. Soo-yeon is a little too passionate about the case after meeting with the defendant so Attorney Jung wants to loop Young-woo in to bring in a much more neutral perspective. As Attorney Jung puts it, Young-woo can help cool down Soo-yeon and “whoa, whoa” her so that she’s not as emotionally invested in the case.
So Young-woo visits Soo-yeon at her office and it’s obvious that Soo-yeon has been quite busy with work (work-life balance? don’t know her). Young-woo explains that she’s also been assigned to the case along with Soo-yeon which Soo-yeon seems quite excited about. Now that they’re working on the case together, they can go visit the defendant, Gye Hyang-sim, at the detention center.
So our two attorneys make a visit to the detention center. It’s Young-woo’s first time meeting Hyang-sim and introductions are exchanged. Compared to labor camps, Hyang-sim prefers the detention center. It’s also been a while since she’s been living in South Korea so she clarifies to Young-woo that she doesn’t speak with a dialect. They then transition to going over the timeline again for Hyang-sim’s story. It turns out that five years ago, Hyang-sim’s foster mother borrowed money from Hyang-sim. However, her mother mentioned that she could get her money back from the victim in this case, Lee Sun-yeong, since Sun-yeong needed to pay foster mother back some money anyways.
So Hyang-sim and her accomplice, Kim Jeong-hui, showed up to Sun-yeong’s house in demand for their money. They would split the money between them once they received it. The two women broke their way inside and physically assaulted Sun-yeong by beating her up inside of her house when Sun-yeong refused to give them money. She pleaded that she needed the money, but Hyang-sim and Jeong-hui were also desperate for it. Overhearing all the commotion and chaos, the landlord living downstairs called the police. However, it was not her first time doing so and it seems as if it’s something that she’s done often in her time living there.
Unlike Jeong-hui who received a 4 year sentence after the incident, Hyang-sim ran away with her daughter who was three years old at the time. She needed to take care of her daughter, Ha-yun, and they didn’t have anyone who they could go to for support. But now that Ha-yun is a little bit older and remembers her mother, Hyang-sim feels as if the timing is a bit better in terms of imprisonment. Her only request is that Young-woo and Soo-yeon visit her in prison with Ha-yun if she was to also receive a 4-year sentence like Jeong-hui.
But Young-woo is passionate and she slams her hands on the table. There will be no such thing as a 4-year sentence in her book! Young-woo elaborates on her plan in a conversation with Attorney Jung in his office. Probation is the only way. But Attorney Jung argues that it won’t be easy. It doesn’t help that Hyang-sim ran away after the incident and that Jeong-hui already had a trial with end results that will most likely also be the same for Hyang-sim. Soo-yeon and Young-woo conclude the brief check-in by sharing their next steps. They’ll look into the injuries that the victim was seen with on the night of the incident. They look a little too severe to be caused by two women during a short time span. Before leaving, Attorney Jung also suggests for Soo-yeon to be the one to cool Young-woo down. Haha. Oh how the tables have turned. I love my passionate Young-woo.
Jun-ho and Min-woo practice some work-life balance by drinking and eating together back at their apartment. A little intoxicated, Jun-ho spills out something that’s been on his mind: there’s someone who he likes but he’s afraid that he’s making it seem like he doesn’t like them when really he does. Min-woo plays a guessing game and attempts to narrow down who the person is. It can’t be Young-woo, right? But Min-woo’s statement only upsets Jun-ho and he abruptly ends the conversation. While Min-woo drunkenly rambles, Jun-ho lays down on the sofa and thinks about his crush (AKA Young-woo).
Soo-yeon and Young-woo make a surprise visit outside of the courtroom to briefly chat with the public defender who represented Jeong-hui during her trial five years ago. The public defender doesn’t remember too much about it, but he does agree with the two Hanbada attorneys about their theory related to Sun-yeong’s injuries. It does seem a little too severe for two women to cause in such a short time span. But the public defender also shares one of the biggest challenges he faced during the trial: the diagnosis written by the medical doctor for Sun-yeong. Though questionable during certain parts, it was difficult to refute. Before leaving, the public defender mentions the article that the medical doctor wrote shortly after Jeong-hui’s trial. In his article, the doctor seemed to be biased against North Korean defectors. This grabs both Soo-yeon and Young-woo’s attention and they receive access to the article itself.
Jun-ho joins Young-woo and Soo-yeon on a trip to Sun-yeong’s house in hopes of speaking to her about the upcoming trial. Just seconds into finding the house, commotion ensues as Sun-yeong is seen being physically abused outside by her husband before heading back inside her house. Both Soo-yeon and Jun-ho protect Young-woo who is frightened by the sudden noise and Soo-yeon can’t help but notice how her hand slightly brushed with Jun-ho’s as they placed their arms out in front of Young-woo. While Young-woo and Soo-yeon attempt to get in contact with Sun-yeong, Jun-ho briefly chats with the landlord downstairs. She shares that she’s called the police multiple times over Sun-yeong and her husband, but it’s now just a regular occurrence and the police doesn’t seem to care to do much about it.
But if the landlord has called the police multiple times over the span of the past five years, then maybe they can look into records of reports that were made to the police prior to the incident too. With that, our Hanbada team has another lead to work on. While exiting the neighborhood, Young-woo and Jun-ho awkwardly exchange eye contact with each other. Jun-ho comes close to checking in with Young-woo and asking if she’s okay, but Young-woo quickly leaves without saying anything after being called by Soo-yeon (nooooo! i’m gonna cry).
Back at the office, Min-woo teases Soo-yeon by telling her about Jun-ho. He assumes it’s Soo-yeon who Jun-ho has a crush on so he shares the news with Soo-yeon. Although Soo-yeon pretends as if she’s not interested, she listens to every word spoken by Min-woo (she is definitely interested). Eventually, Soo-yeon and Young-woo meet in the courtroom with the presiding judge as well as the prosecutor. They request to summon Sun-yeong as a witness during the upcoming trial for Hyang-sim. A few seconds into the meeting, the judge warns Young-woo not to interrupt someone after she is seen cutting off the prosecutor while he was talking.
They then dive into a conversation about family origins and the prosecutor tries to get on the judge’s good side by speaking positively about the judge’s family. But it’s Soo-yeon who wins the judge over once she shares that her father is the presiding judge’s beloved hoobae (junior). Thanks to that fun fact, the presiding judge permits the summoning of Sun-yeong as a witness to the trial. In addition, any attorneys who wish to speak must raise their hand before doing so. Oh, Young-woo, I love you.
Min-woo continues to stir the pot as he observes Jun-ho and Soo-yeon chatting it up in the office. He points it out to Young-woo as she’s walking by and it seems as if he’s their biggest fan. Young-woo on the other hand? She can’t help but notice how cheerful Jun-ho looks talking to Soo-yeon. She looks conflicted by the whole thing (and even a bit jealous I might add).
Eventually, the trial for Hyang-sim begins and Sun-yeong is brought in as a witness. To appeal to the jury, Attorney Jung advises that Soo-yeon question Sun-yeong instead of Young-woo and act gentle to appeal to their emotions. So Soo-yeon questions Sun-yeong about her injuries and whether she recalls the police being called to her house two days before the incident with Hyang-sim. Soo-yeon even shows Sun-yeong the police records as evidence, but being that it was five years ago, Sun-yeong claims that she doesn’t remember. In response to the answer, Hyang-sim explodes in court and voices her disappointment. She claims that she’s being framed by Sun-yeong who’s trying to pin all the injuries suffered at the hands of her husband onto her.
Eventually, Young-woo has to “whoa whoa” Hyang-sim to calm down and she informs Attorney Jung to raise his hand first before he is to speak. So Attorney Jung does as he is advised and he raises his hand to apologize. A recess is permitted by the presiding judge and Sun-yeong is allowed to go home. The two ladies shall never be in the same courtroom again as decided by the presiding judge.
Our Hanbada team have a little pep talk with Hyang-sim during the break and they ask that she remain patient. They have a strategy and they need her to stay calm. But Hyang-sim is frustrated and it’s not until Young-woo “whoa whoa” her again that she calms down. Attorney Jung contemplates on their next move and decides that Young-woo will be the one to question the medical doctor during his witness testimony. They can emphasize that the doctor is biased against North Korean defectors to discredit him. Young-woo will go out there to show what she’s got (I love this little pep talk! Attorney Jung is hyping Young-woo up and I’m all here for it!).
And so Young-woo does. The medical doctor wasn’t aware that police was reported to Sun-yeong’s house two nights before the incident, but he’s not so sure that changes anything. He’s still certain that the injuries were caused by Hyang-sim. So Young-woo then pushes the medical doctor into a corner and presents to him the article he wrote directly related to the incident. The presiding judge refuses the doctor’s request to not speak about the article so he has no choice but to talk about it. It’s quite obvious that the doctor is biased against North Korean defectors; he doesn’t view Hyang-sim as a South Korean citizen and, therefore, doesn’t feel as if she should be protected. The medical doctor’s outrageous comments proves his biased standpoint and the presiding judge comments that North Korean defectors are citizens as well before concluding the hearing. It seems as if things are going their way for our Hanbada team.
But just when things seem to be shaping up, something else pops up along the way. Attorney Jang is outraged when he learns that he’s lost a group of medical doctors as clients as a result of Hyang-sim’s court case. He blames it on Attorney Jung, Young-woo, and Soo-yeon and their questioning of the medical doctor’s testimony. Attorney Jang confronts Attorney Jung in the cafeteria in front of everyone and grows angry at the thought of losing tons of money over a “mere public interest case.” The yelling eventually stops once Attorney Jang finally exits and Attorney Jung sits back down to talk things over with frightened Young-woo and Soo-yeon. They are not at fault for anything nor should they treat this case any less compared to others. With that, Attorney Jung leaves in embarrassment, but Young-woo and Soo-yeon feel otherwise. They think he’s so cool (and I agree).
Soo-yeon and Young-woo bring Hyang-sim’s daughter, Ha-yun, to visit Hyang-sim at the detention center and the mother is reunited with her daughter. They give each other a warm hug upon seeing each other and it causes Young-woo to reflect on her own life. She’s reminded of a memory back during her childhood when it was Family Sports Day with Dad. She watched as many of the other kids were surrounded by both their mothers and fathers while she was the only one with just her dad. It prompted her to ask Dad about her mom and why she doesn’t have a mother figure in her life. Dad is uncertain as to how to respond to young Young-woo’s unexpected question.
After visiting Hyang-sim, Young-woo and Soo-yeon drive back to the office. They ponder what else they can do to defend Hyang-sim. Just when it seems like all hope is lost, Young-woo senses a mini-eureka moment and she shares that there is something they could try. So during the next court hearing, Young-woo presents about North Korean law to the presiding judge and compares North Korean laws to South Korean laws. She argues that Hyang-sim is more knowledgeable and accustomed to North Korean laws so she had no intentions of robbing Sun-yeong’s money. If she was aware of the punishment she would receive under South Korean law for committing such an act, she wouldn’t have done so. In North Korea, her actions are not enough to establish the crime of robbery which she’s being accused of in this case.
But all of this information is futile when the presiding judge questions Hyang-sim on the spot. Team Hanbada secretly and slyly try to get her not to talk or say anything, buut Hyang-sim reveals the truth. She shares that she’s not all that familiar with North Korean law and she went to the house to get her back money back at all costs. Even though Hyang-sim didn’t have to answer and testify, she still chose to do so in an honest way. The hearing concludes and it’s time for the jury to reconvene. Before leaving, Attorney Jung praises Young-woo and Soo-yeon on their hard work and the two attorneys stay behind with Hyang-sim. Hyang-sim doesn’t think too much about it as it seems like she’s already accepted the reality that she might have to face imprisonment. While she’s taken away by security, Young-woo catches another eureka moment and a clip of a whale pops up on the screen. There’s a claim they haven’t tried just yet: adjudication on the constitutionality of the law.
Soo-yeon trails after Young-woo who rushes over to the presiding judge’s office. Even though the jury is already meeting, a verdict hasn’t been decided yet so they can still put in a request to resume the hearing. But, not just anyone is allowed inside the judge’s chamber so Soo-yeon uses her dad’s name to get them access inside the building where the presiding judge is located. Our two attorneys full of passion make it inside the presiding judge’s office and he attempts to get them to go away.
However, Young-woo runs through a few thoughts and comments with the presiding judge first before leaving. She gives background information on Hyang-sim’s reasoning for running away five years ago. She’s a great mother who deeply cared for her daughter and didn’t want to abandon her young daughter in fear that her daughter wouldn’t remember her. It’s important to take these circumstances into consideration when deciding on a verdict. Although the presiding judge brushes the two attorneys off again, it seems as if the information was effective and impactful.
After visiting the presiding judge, Young-woo and Soo-yeon take a break outside on the bench. Young-woo educates Soo-yeon on whale hunting and how hunters usually aim for the baby whale first before going after the mother whale. The mother whale never abandons her baby even if she knows herself that she too will die at the hands of the hunters. This causes Young-woo to once again reflect on her own life. If she were a whale, would her mom not have abandoned her?
Eventually, a verdict is reached and everyone reunites in the court room to listen in. The presiding judge starts off by reading out loud the jury’s decision to sentence Hyang-sim to 4 years of imprisonment. The jury found her guilty of all charges. So it’s time for the presiding judge to read out loud the verdict and our Hanbada team hopelessly await the results. But to their surprise, the presiding judge has decided that Hyang-sim be placed on probation and fulfill community service time instead. There were a variety of special factors that were taken into consideration towards this decision and Hyang-sim’s honesty in confessing the truth played a role in that. The court feels as if this is the most fitting punishment for Hyang-sim. Our two attorneys are relieved with the decision and they’re reminded of how clever these senior veterans in the court can be. They focused on so many other things that they forgot about Hyang-sm’s confession as well. With that, the trial ends and Hyang-sim expresses her gratitude to both Young-woo and Soo-yeon.
With the success of the court case, Soo-yeon and Young-woo go out to celebrate. They go out shopping at a shopping mall, but they’re not the only ones there. CEO Tae of Taesan Law Firm is also at the same shopping mall and she’s engages in a conversation with an employee at one of the shops. The clothes at that shop have been particularly popular with moms and daughters, but CEO Tae shares that she only has a son (for some reason, this definitely raised my eyebrows and grabbed my attention. A son?? Who could it be? Is this detail important to the overall story??).
Coincidentally, Young-woo and CEO Tae end up nearby each other in the same shop. However, no interactions take place between the two as CEO Tae is seen walking out of the store. Young-woo and Soo-yeon do the same a few seconds later and they resume with the shopping by visiting other shops in the shopping mall. It’s all fun and good for now.
Hmm, hmm, hmm. This episode was so interesting for so many reasons and I’ll dive a little bit deeper later as to why this episode didn’t quite move the needle for me. It’s not as if the episode did anything different in terms of presenting a case that 1) raised questions and statements about societal issues and 2) caused some kind of impact and effect on Young-woo. But I think the part where I had questions and concerns was rather everything else that happened outside of the court case which, to put it bluntly, wasn’t a whole lot.
The drama has been great in bringing up a variety of societal issues through each of the cases. In this episode, we learn more about North Korean defectors and the stigma that can be more commonly associated with them, the concept of nepotism and how it can affect professional settings and positions that involve complex levels of power and authority such as the courtroom and judges, and the importance of senior-junior (sunbae-hoobae) relationships through Attorney Jung who didn’t blame Young-woo and Soo-yeon as their senior after facing public humiliation. These are just some of the important lessons and messages that the episode brought up. Again, the drama continues to shed light on different societal issues and situations and focuses on something new with each episode. It’s refreshing, it’s impactful, it makes you think long and hard about any personal pre-conceived notions that you might have, and it educates you along the way. ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo’ has been extraordinary at that.
However, in all honesty, I didn’t find this episode as intriguing as the previous episodes and it came up a bit short and empty for me for a few reasons. Outside of the case related to Hyang-sim, I found that the rest of the episode didn’t have a whole lot going on. It wasn’t Hyang-sim’s case itself that I had an issue with; it was the fact that there was nothing else going on outside of it. The drama has shown us that it can wonderfully handle and tackle multiple sub-plots within an episode. That’s why I greatly and immensely enjoyed episode 5 because there were so many layers to that episode that the show kept on revealing and peeling. Episode 6 felt a bit empty because outside of Hyang-sim’s case, you didn’t see much of our other characters. Min-woo, Dad, and Jun-ho was pretty much nonexistent and thankfully, Attorney Jung’s appearances were brief but definitely impactful.
I noted in my last recap that episode 5 was my favorite episode so far and it displayed its strengths in being able to handle multiple things going on at the same time: the case itself, Young-woo’s complex and challenging dynamic with Min-woo where they’re in a competition with each other (which Min-woo brought up first; Young-woo didn’t necessarily view it this way until Min-woo said something about it), Young-woo and Jun-ho’s blossoming relationship, and Young-woo’s internal battles and conflicts with herself and her overwhelming drive to win that it lead her to lose herself for a moment and ultimately taught her to be a stronger attorney. However, episode 6 felt like the opposite in that its biggest emphasis and focus was really only Hyang-sim’s case.
The episode also felt disconnected and random in terms of the remaining scenes. Outside of anything related to Hyang-sim’s case, the only other big thing that went on in the episode was the whole crush mystery thing between Soo-yeon and Jun-ho that Min-woo was hyping up and Young-woo was involved in. Between the two sub-plots, it didn’t feel the most connected. I get that the drama has been procedural so each episode has focused on a side character. Episode 5 was Min-woo’s time to shine and episode 6 was Soo-yeon’s. But given that the drama has demonstrated its wonderful ability to do multiple things in an episode, I was expecting episode 6 to continue with that strength.
It didn’t take long for you to understand where the episode was going when it presented about Hyang-sim’s case: a mother who ran away because she didn’t want to abandon her young daughter and be forgotten by her child. This case obviously had some kind of impact on Young-woo as it got her to think about her own life and how she doesn’t have a mother figure in her life. Again, I like the connections that each case has had on Young-woo as it causes her to pause and think about her own life. But episode 6 felt empty to me because it didn’t offer much in terms of the connection. It didn’t really amount to anything. Young-woo reflected on her life without a mother figure, but the episode never showed us anything beyond that. What does Young-woo do with the information? What other memories does she have where she realized that she doesn’t have her mother in her life? What other moments made her reflect on this? Young-woo realized these things while working on the case, but there wasn’t any moment where she acted upon these realizations.
If the episode dedicated an entire episode to heavily focusing on a case centered around a character who’s a mother, I wished it showed us more in terms of how it impacted Young-woo. The Family Sports Day childhood memory and the whale hunting bench conversation with Soo-yeon were really the only moments in the episode where Young-woo had these reflections. The rest of the episode was heavily focused on the case. This episode was evidence of how the writing struggled to balance its storytelling with its characters. When you focus on one aspect more than the other, you’re taking away from the other piece when really, what has made this drama so magical is its amazing ability to be able to balance both.
I think balance is one of the harder and tricker things to accomplish with procedural and episodic dramas like ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo.’ There are a variety of factors that you have to take into consideration in order to accomplish effective storytelling. You have to be able to tell the story about the case in a way where it’s cohesive and then you also have to tie it back to your characters. The drama has for the most part done a good job in balancing out both, but there are episodes like this one (or episode 2) where you feel as if it leans too heavily towards one way. It’s not so much about the case itself and the way that it’s utilized, but more so about the way that the case is presented or executed. There needs to be more balance in doing both.
I felt conflicted watching episode 6 because the episode was heavily focused on Hyang-sim and the conflicting decisions she had to make as a mother protecting her young child. This got Young-woo to start thinking about her own life and her assumption that her mother abandoned her. However, by the end of the episode, the wheels in my head started spinning and it made me pause and think: was this episode more about Hyang-sim as a mother and the difficult circumstances that played a role in the verdict that she received or was this episode supposed to be about Young-woo facing her reality that she doesn’t have a mother figure in her life? And after watching the entire episode, I think my answer lies with the former which is why I lean more towards the side of how this episode was the most filler yet.
It’s such a shame because episode 6 had the potential to do so much more. It sort of reminds me of episode 2 in a way where the episode focused more on the case itself rather than our characters and the case caused Young-woo to reflect on her life. But unlike episode 6, episode 2 showed us Young-woo’s thoughts and actions that came into fruition as a result of the case. Young-woo had an honest and raw conversation with Dad about marriage and independency. She also brought home food for Dad after Dad nagged at her for not cooking him any food despite being old enough to do so. Young-woo learns multiple lessons about herself through each case that she handles and Hyang-sim’s case reminded her of her mother, but there wasn’t much beyond that. Yes, the case got Young-woo to think about her mom, but was there anything else beyond this? Did it teach her anything in that moment?
Another reason as to why I felt like this episode seemed a bit more filler-ish was the fact that there was really only one thing it was attempting to do which was contribute to this theory where CEO Tae is Young-woo’s mother. The episode told a story about a mother protecting and taking care of her daughter and then concluded the episode by showing scenes of CEO Tae and Young-woo exhibiting similar behaviors (neatly organizing the clothes and shoes at the shops) and nearly bumping into each other in the same physical space. Was it completely necessary to dedicate an entire episode on this case just to lead us on on a theory that we already were 1) introduced to and 2) hinted at in the ending to episode 5? What were the intentions behind this episode? What was episode 6 trying to achieve?
The ending for episode 6 felt disappointing because it was repetitive and redundant. Any moment so far in the drama that CEO Tae has appeared in has lead us to assume that she is somehow connected to Young-woo — whether as her biological mother or something else. Whether that’s true or not is yet to be seen, but the drama did something that it had already shown before which is build this mystery around CEO Tae. I already know that she has something to do with Young-woo, why make me sit through another hour just to remind me again of this connection with how episode 6 ended?
Just because I didn’t enjoy episode 6 as much doesn’t mean that I don’t like the drama anymore. If you’ve been reading my recaps, you know just how much I’ve been enjoying this drama and how much I love it. There are so many great components and strengths about the drama. But as a viewer and a fan, I can still also be honest and admit when a certain episode doesn’t do much for me and episode 6 was that episode for me. As a fan, you can still love the overall product or group, but still also be critical of certain moments or components. You don’t have to love everything that is thrown or shown to you. It’s okay to be critical about something you love.
I’ve seen just how great ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo’ is so to not feel the same impact from episode 6 like I did with all the previous episodes was disappointing. But it also serves as a reminder that 1) it’s common for dramas to have at least one filler episode and 2) some episodes might just be better than others and that’s okay. We all have our own opinions and some people might have enjoyed episode 6 much more than I did and that’s okay. I also would just like to clarify that I am in no way criticizing the characters itself with this commentary. Rather, I’m being critical of the drama and its overall framework in terms of the execution, writing, and storytelling.
It pains me to write all of this as I know this commentary made me seem like I dislike the drama which couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m glad that ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo’ exists and it seems like many other people are also enjoying it as it hit 9% ratings in Korea (9%!! woo hoo!! definitely well-deserved!). I care for this drama and it’s been so good and I just want it to continue to be good. And don’t get me wrong, the drama is still good. Just because I might not have enjoyed episode 6 as much doesn’t mean that it was a complete failure. I’m probably the only one out of the millions who watched the episode who felt this way about it! Lol. But I hold onto the hope that this episode remains the only one of its kind and I have complete faith that the remaining 11 episodes will continue to unleash its potential. ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo’ shall remain extraordinary.
Shameless plug, but I created another video edit of Young-woo and Jun-ho (I know I know. I can’t help myself, I just love these 2 way too much). Feel free to subscribe to my Youtube channel where I’ll (probably and hopefully) be uploading more edits. In fact, I already have another one lined up and ready to be posted soon (not for ‘EAW’ but for ‘Alchemy of Souls’ instead). Enjoy :]