5 things to know before watching 'Weightlifting Fairy'

Milliscent Ong and Abigail Reduble

Posted at Jul 10 2017 01:37 PM

Here are five things to know before watching “Weightlifting Fairy,” arguably one of the most popular K-drama shows to come out of Seoul last year, which premieres on ABS-CBN on Monday night after “A Love to Last.” 

1. ‘Do You Like Messi?’ 

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Football star Lionel Messi found himself frequently mentioned in the series “Weightlifting Fairy.” FC Barcelona Instagram

Were you also baffled by the sudden interest in FC Barcelona legend Lionel Messi while the show was airing on Korean television? Moreso, when crazed fans began tagging their crushes on social media and asking them whether they’re familiar with the football star. As it turned out, as explained by one the lead character’s best friends, the question “Do you like Messi?” is the perfect conversation starter as it suggests that you’re familiar with football — a popular sport among Korean men (think the level of love Filipinos have for basketball). Messi, as many know, is an Argentinian footballer who has won just about every club trophy available during his time with FC Barcelona, and has been named the world’s best a record four times. Did the trick work for Kim Bok Joo, herself? Tune in to find out. 

2. “Sweeg”

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Jo Hye-jung, Lee Joo-young, and Lee Sung Kyung play best friends in “Weightlifting Fairy.” MBC

You will hear this a lot as the episodes of “Weightlifting Fairy” unfold. It is, of course, the favorite catchphrase of the show’s crazy yet loveable trio led by Kim Bok Joo. “Sweeg,” or swag before the inflection, simply means awesome. Bok Joo and her friends blurt it out (with an adorable hand gesture to boot) whenever they’re feeling ecstatic over weightlifting, after they finish stuffing themselves with Korean BBQ, and every time they just feel like goofing around. 

3. The ‘BFN (barbecue, fried rice, naengmyeon) eating routine’ 

Because of the demands of being a weightlifter, Kim Bok Joo is required to eat a lot. So it should come as no surprise that she’s a pro at it. She and her friends are credited for inventing what they dubbed as the “BFN basic (barbecue, fried rice, naengmyeon) eating routine,” which they claim will help one make the most out of one’s Korean BBQ place experience. In this video (see above) uploaded on the YouTube channel of Korean TV network MBC, you can see Bok Joo demonstrate the technique for us Korean BBQ newbies. In a nutshell, they suggest that one start with the grilled meat first, then fried rice, before wrapping up the night with naengmyeon —a cold, Korean noodle dish. You’ll get to know this routine more as you watch it with the Tagalog dub on ABS-CBN. 

4. Loosely inspired by a South Korean weightlifting legend

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Lee Sung Kyung as the spritely weightlifter Kim Bok Joo in “Weightlifting Fairy”. MBC

The drama is said to be loosely inspired by Jang Mi-ran, a legendary South Korean weightlifter who won gold at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. The four-time world champion went on to become a national hero and an inspiration for young Korean women. The show courted criticism for casting a model in the lead role to portray the unglamorous life of a weightlifter, newspaper Korean Herald reported prior to the show airing. 

5. The “sweeg” couple

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Lee Sung Kyung and Nam Joo Hyuk are the lead stars of “Weightlifting Fairy”. MBC

Much of the success of “Weightlifting Fairy” can be credited to the remarkable chemistry between its lead stars Lee Sung Kyung and Nam Joo Hyuk, who later on became a real-life couple after shooting for the series wrapped up. Both went on to take home the top acting honors from the 35th MBC Drama Awards for their respective roles in the show. Sung Kyung portrays the sensitive yet headstrong Kim Bok Joo, while Joo Hyuk plays a promising but troubled swimmer, who struggles to shake off the trauma of being abandoned by his mother. The two, who are both under YG Entertainment, first worked together in the drama “Cheese in the Trap,” although they were not paired with each other at the time.