It's safe to say that I am someone who is a regular consumer of visual media whether it be in the form of movies, songs or tv shows, but the one running theme I see very often is the idealized life of youths across the globe.
Growing up and seeing such representations I naturally had a very glorified version of what my teen life would look like, but as fate would have it - life isn't a movie. However, there is a show, a K-Drama, which is my absolute favorite where I see youth as a fragile, painful and yet beautiful all at the same time.
The show Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo was inspired by the life of Korean weightlifter Jang Mi Ran, and the plot follows the life of Bok Joo, a weightlifting major at an athletes' university. With her two friends Sun Ok and Nan Hee and love interest Jun Hyung, we see Bok Joo making her way through academics, friendships, and love.
But what I love most about it is just how natural the life of a university student is portrayed along with her battles at home, her body image as a weightlifter - which is also a commentary on extreme beauty standards, and of all the very careful yet powerful display of what true loss of interest in a passion looks like. Her relationship with herself, and also with those around her is a very beautiful thing to witness. This show is very pure and wholesome, especially at a time when we too are in university and can relate to everything Bok Joo feels.
Youth here is depicted as something that is indeed an experience many look forward to but the portrayal is also very cognizant of stereotypes and from there works to be as inclusive as it can be. Of course, no media product is wholly perfect, but still this one really manages to capture the very ordinary and extraordinary struggles of our age without making it seem too extreme or too insignificant. Overall, it was a breath of fresh air to watch this show and look forward to my youth rather than fantasize about something that is far out of my reach. It made me look forward to running through the streets at night, to sneak out of my dorm room and snack at midnight, in contrast to - mostly Western - portrayals where a very small percentage of youth accomplishes that which most cannot. Of course such idealistic portrayals may serve as a motivator but they also have the tendency to do the opposite of what they intend - make the youth viewing such media very self conscious. WFKBJ on the other hand almost serves as an assurance that it is possible to enjoy life to the fullest with having small successes, little by little, and even more significantly, that it is alright to take a step back.
I won't go too into detail about the show because I don't want to spoil anything, so I will conclude by saying that out of all the K-Dramas I have ever watched, and I have watched *a lot*, no other has been able to replace it as the number one for me. If you're looking for something light and comforting to watch, you will absolutely enjoy this!