ENA‘s first K-Drama, Extraordinary Attorney Woo, has an origin story that is quite extraordinary.
The drama has taken the nation by storm and is the most watched miniseries in Korea!
Considering the drama is the first ever K-Drama produced by little-known station ENA, this is a herculean feat!
The drama was originally planned to be produced by giant network SBS, but the drama was dropped.
Even more shocking to fans is the fact that the drama had waited over a year for the start of production for one reason, the drama’s heroine Park Eun Bin.
Park Eun Bin was offered the drama, but she originally declined, stating that she wasn’t sure she would be able to portray Woo Young Woo well. This is understandable as Woo Young Woo is a law-savant and attorney who is on the autism spectrum.
For an actress who had never led a mini-series on her own before, it is understandable that the task may have felt daunting. The actress respectfully declined the role and chose to star in KBS’s The King’s Affection.
The drama ended up doing really well, and the actress received praise for her acting.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo’s director Yoo In Sik was not phased by the rejection. Instead, the director convinced the station to push back production for a whole year.
This is no small task considering it has been revealed that the drama’s budget was a whopping ₩20.0 billion KRW (about $15.2 million USD).
But Yoo In Sik determined more than ever, waited for Park Eun Bin to finish filming for The King’s Affection, and approached her once more. Seeing how the director and production team had waited a whole year for her, the actress finally relented and signed on.
Later it was revealed that the actress felt like she could trust the production team and their director, seeing how they waited for her. This is almost unheard of in Korea’s incredibly fast-paced entertainment industry. Park Eun Bin stated her thoughts in a press conference.
To be honest, this drama was supposed to air at the same time as The King’s Affection, but I chose The King’s Affection instead. But thankfully, they chose to wait a whole year for me. I asked them if they hadn’t thought of working with another actor, but they told me they trusted me. I was able to muster up my courage to repay that trust.
— Park Eun Bin
This is all the more impressive, considering the show would be ENA’s first drama ever! Imagine pushing back the station’s first K-Drama for a whole year without having anything to show for it in the meantime.
The director revealed the reason why.
I couldn’t imagine another actor playing Woo Young Woo.
— Yoo In Sik
The director was then asked to state three reasons why actress Park Eun Bin is so special.
To state only three is cruel. First, she is shy and introspective in person, but in front of a camera, she flips a switch. I’ve always thought she was a well-prepared actress but she had charms well beyond that.
— Yoo In Sik
The director then chose her sense of responsibility for his second reason before giving an unexpected reason for his third.
We filmed in the middle of a pandemic, and the actor knew it would be difficult if she got sick. I understand she would only travel between her home and the filming locations. It relieved some pressure knowing she was so responsible.
Lastly, she is really funny. During filming, she would use the lights to make shadows to cheer us up. That was fun.
— Yoo In Sik.
The director finally explained how he felt when he first heard that Park Eun Bin had agreed to take the role.
It felt like I had a thousand-horse army (a Korean phrase that alludes to something powerful). To be honest, this drama was going to do as well as the actor playing Woo Young Woo. I knew ‘At least Park Eun Bin is going to do well’ and prepared everything we could to help facilitate her acting.
— Yoo In Sik
As for how long it took before Yoo In Sik knew he had made the right decision?
When I first heard her say, ‘My name is Woo Young Woo, even if you read it backward,’ I knew we had a hit.
— Yoo In Sik
It seems both actor and director were able to make the best decision in their career thanks to their belief in one another.
How do you feel about the drama after reading its origin story? Does it make you like the drama more?