K-Drama Time Machine: The Sprightly “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo” Keeps The Youthful First Love Glow Going

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Three years ago, MBC gifted the world with one of its most memorable teen dramas, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo.

Despite its virtually anonymous young cast, the drama managed to amass legions of loyal fans. Not only that, fans created many social media accounts dedicated to the drama and its lead stars, Lee Sung Kyung and Nam Joo Hyuk.

The coming-of-age story was inspired by the real life weightlifter Jang Mi Ran. Aside from giving honor to the athlete, it also managed to reach the hearts of viewers of all ages.

The younger generation appreciated the life lessons the characters’ journeys provided. On the other hand, the drama gave its older viewers a chance to look back and reminisce on their own first loves.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo *Image via MBC*

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Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

Despite receiving mixed reviews, the drama is highly addictive and worth binging several times. The chemistry between Lee and Nam translated well onscreen.

The pair gave life to Bok Joo and Joon Hyung, an unlikely pair stemming from their childhood. Bok Joo is an awkward tomboy, unsure of herself except when she’s lifting weights. Meanwhile, Joon Hyung is the typical college heartthrob. He’s popular and friendly, but not without his own personal struggles.

Sparks don’t initially ignite between the two childhood friends. But what comes about is a memorable love story that has remained in the hearts of their fans.


Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

Kim Bok Joo is an aspiring weightlifter who’s on the path of discovering herself. Unlike most of her peers her age, she has not yet enjoyed her first love. Instead, she focused on weightlifting, which made her awkward as a woman.

Upon chancing on Jae Yi, Bok Joo goes on a journey of experiencing her first love, despite it being one-sided. She also meets Joon Hyung again, her elementary school classmate. Joon Hyung is Jae Yi’s younger brother. Bok Joo goes through several trials before finally realizing what’s most important to her, family, weight-lifting and Joon Hyung.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo


WeWeightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

Different Relationship Angles and Resolutions

Despite its seemingly light mood throughout the drama, several relationships were actually tackled within its episodes. Of course, the main highlight of the series was the closeness of Bok Joo with her two friends, Nan Hee and Sun Ok.

The support of the latter for Bok Joo was also remarkable as it did not show any competition. Rather, they inspired and encouraged each other to do their best.

The young characters were also close to their parents. At an age where teenage rebellion is common, Bok Joo was uncharacteristically close to her father and uncle.

She cared deeply about her father and although she showed a grumpy side of her, the love of a daughter for her father shone through.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

Another family that’s worth highlighting is Joon Hyung’s parents and older brother. Despite their real relationship, Joon Hyung not being their real son, they treated him like their own.

Jae Yi also cared for Joon Hyung immensely, despite their differences with Bok Joo. Jae Yi was quick to understand his younger brother.

Mental Health Issues

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

It came as a pleasant surprise that the series did not shy away from mental health issues and disorders. Because of her one-sided love and the pressure of being an athlete, Bok Joo spiraled into depression.

This caused her to temporarily leave school to recover. The way that her mental health was valued speaks volumes of how sensitive the series is to vital issues young students face today. It’s something that must not be overlooked and should even be prioritized.

Additionally, Shi Ho also faced problems of her own in the form of her bulimia. Bok Joo’s roommate went through a lot of pressure from her troubled family life and her career as a gymnast.

Shi Ho turned bulimic and eventually landed in the hospital. She eventually decided to change the course of her life which turned out for the better of her career.

Shi Ho’s storyline was handled responsibly as well. Her realistic portrayal of a young girl struggling on her own reached out to the viewers. They empathized with her struggles and cheered for her as she recovered.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

A Well Threaded Plotline

Albeit everything that went on with all the characters of the drama, it never lost its focus on Bok Joo. Instead, the various storylines tied themselves neatly together, highlighted by the characters’s development and self-realizations.

The characters continued on their journeys in finding themselves, and the drama provided just the right avenue to keep the ball rolling directly onto its self-appointed path.

The build up leading to Bok Joo and Joon Hyung’s romance landed neatly and tied up the story nicely. Fans are also provided with ample time of sweet moments between the iconic couple, even a glimpse of an adorable lovers’ quarrel.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

Memories That Left An Impact

The basis of a successful soundtrack is its capacity to immediately remind its viewers of the drama within the first few notes of the song. Weightlifting Fairy successfully incorporated a memorable soundtrack to its unforgettable scenes.

Kim Jong Wan’s “You & I”, Standing Egg’s “I’ll Pick You Up” and Kim Min Seung’s “From Now On” are just a few of the drama’s well-loved tunes. The songs successfully evoke happy memories from the drama.

Aside from its soundtrack, Bok Joo’s unique ringtone rose in popularity following the airing of the drama. Additionally, the lines “Do you like Messi?” and “SWAG!” became popular captions and hashtags on different social media platforms.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo


Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo remains as one of my most favorite dramas of all time. Admittedly, the chemistry between Lee and Nam was off the charts and kept me engrossed in the drama. I actually became instant fans of the pair and have followed both their careers since this drama.

However, the overall happy tune that the drama played all throughout keeps me coming back to this. Whenever I need a pick-me-up, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo never fails to disappoint. I would recommend this drama because it’s such a light and airy drama that’s still full of life lessons.

Image Credit: MBC