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Viewers debate the recurring whale symbolism in Extraordinary Attorney Woo

Official poster of the K-drama series (Image via Instagram/@theseoonnetflix)
Official poster of the K-drama series (Image via Instagram/@theseoonnetflix)

The ongoing drama Extraordinary Attorney Woo is winning hearts across the globe, but what has sparked curiosity among viewers has been the recurring appearance of a whale. This is perhaps because whales have long been viewed as mysterious beings, replete with intrigue. Unsurprisingly, they would be a favorite for someone like Woo Young-woo, a character marked by her quirkiness and out-of-the-box attitude.

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The ENA drama revolves around a lawyer, Woo Young-woo, on the autism spectrum. Played skillfully by Park Eun-bin, the character solves cases that otherwise stump the other lawyers at the firm. Thus, Woo Young-woo combines her intellect and high IQ with a surprising amount of empathy, creating a character that is as loveable as it is aspirational.

The lawyer's struggles with a neurotypical society also make the characterization and plotline meaningful.


What does the repeated appearance of the whale mean in Extraordinary Attorney Woo?

In the Extraordinary Attorney Woo, the titular character considers whales as one of her favorite animals. The sea creatures make repeated appearances in the drama, leading several netizens to question the reason behind this and wonder if it's a symbol for anything specific with the show.

'do you wanna see a whale with me?'— extraordinary attorney woo (2022) https://t.co/Ni8H9TJpAQ

Whales have long been used in literature and media to symbolize something that is out of reach and mysterious. The most recognized example would be Captain Ahab's obsession with the Sperm Whale in Herman Melville's classic Moby Dick.

In native American folklore, the whale was worshiped as Mama-cocha, or 'Mother Sea. Similarly, in China, the giant creatures are very important symbolically to the people of the Southern coastal areas- many people believe that the whales brought the millet seeds, which eventually sustained civilizations.

Whales are also often associated with compassion and solitude, and unbridled creativity. The exhalation through the blowhole symbolizes the freeing of one's creative energies.

thinking about how extensive the research moon jiwon must have done to write extraordinary attorney woo — from autism to law to whale facts. and then delicately weaving them to create the characters and story we now love. seriously, she deserves a lot of credit for eaw’s success.

Amidst so many pre-existing meanings and symbolisms of the whale, several netizens took it upon themselves to decipher the meaning in Extraordinary Attorney Woo.

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A YouTuber claimed,

"Woo Young Woo liking whales must be like how children love dinosaurs. The reason children like dinosaurs is that they are strong and big. It also reflects their desire to be big and strong like dinosaurs. Woo Young Woo liking whales must be for the same reason."
watching extraordinary attorney woo, everytime i see this whale it reminds me of bts 😭 https://t.co/FX0dk4DZ8x

He went on to show the parallels between a whale's lonely existence in the vast ocean and Extraordinary Attorney Woo's existence in a neurotypical society.

"There are scenes when she talks about her past when she went through difficulties and limitations because of being a minority with autism. However, whales are not limited and can freely swim in the vast ocean."

Incidentally, in Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Woo received protection and employment from the law firm Hanbada, which translates into "One Ocean," tying into the recurring ocean and whale symbolism.

"for whales, aquarium is a prison. its slavery where you're locked up in a tank, only eat frozen fish and have a show all year around without a rest. they must be stress because of it."#ExtraordinaryAttorneyWooEp4 #ExtraordinaryAttorneyWoohttps://t.co/JcKvqZqBnG

Meanwhile, Extraordinary Attorney Woo is currently one of the highest-ranking shows in South Korea. According to Nielsen Korea, the 5th episode broadcast on July 13 recorded 9.1% nationwide and 10.3% in the metropolitan area.

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Edited by Sayati Das
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