Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo aired in 2016 and yet it still remains one of the most popular gateway K-dramas today. It stars Lee Sung-Kyung as the titular character and Nam Joo-Hyuk as Bok Joo’s male lead, Jung Joon-Hyung. The actors, dubbed the NamLee couple, were confirmed to be dating after the series wrapped up. This caused much delight to fans, especially given their undeniable chemistry in the drama. It’s also known that the two have been good friends even prior to their partnership in Weightlifting Fairy; they were often paired in modelling gigs before and during their careers on TV and film.
After months of dating in 2017, the two reportedly broke up due to their busy schedules. Still, both camps claimed that the two remained good friends, even keeping photos together from the drama’s behind-the-scenes still visible on their Instagram feeds.
Recently, NamLee couple fans got their hopes up of a possible reunion when rumours — complete with photo evidence — suggest that the two are hanging out again. Whether or not they’re dating again is up for debate, but it got us in the mood to look back at the NamLee couple’s best Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo moments. Do our picks match yours?
Their first meeting
Just a recap, Bok Joo and Joon-Hyung are students at Haneol Sports University. Bok Joo majors in weightlifting and Joon-Hyung is a swimmer. Just like other rom-com leads, the two have a meet-cute; theirs involve Joon-Hyung running over Bok Joo and her friend Nan Hee (Cho Hye Jung) while riding his bike. Bok Joo and Nan Hee were eating sausages prior to the incident, so when they fell over, Bok Joo’s sausage fell to the ground. In Joon-Hyung’s panic, he thought his recklessness caused Bok Joo to lose a finger, leading to a very comedic first encounter.
It’s also where Nan Hee pulls her “Do you like Messi?” pickup line (referencing Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi) towards Joon-Hyung, following the logic that guys like girls who love football. This line became one of the most famous lines from the K-drama, as Bok Joo also uses this later in the story when she interacts with her crush.
Despite the funny nature of the chaotic sequence, this scene was when Joon-Hyung realised that Bok Joo looks familiar. We later learn that they know each other from childhood and that Joon-Hyung hasliked Bok-Joo since they were young. Sweet, right? Plus, who doesn’t love a good meet-cute? Doesn’t it make you wonder about the NamLee couple’s first actual meeting, too?
When Joon-Hyung used Bok-Joo as a shield against being splashed
One of the biggest charms of Weightlifting Fairy is that it took its time in developing Bok Joo and Joon-Hyung’s friendship. This scene is proof. It’s meant to show that Joon-Hyung wasn’t gentlemanly towards Bok-Joo at first and he takes every possible opportunity to tease her. However, it also showed the audience why they make a great couple even before they realised it themselves. Despite being a prankster, Joon-Hyung has always appreciated Bok Joo’s tomboyish and expressive personality and has never asked Bok-Joo to act ‘more girly’ or ‘to eat less’ unlike how others treat the girls in the weightlifting team.
When Joon-Hyung and Bok-Joo had their first major fight
The main conflict in the first half of the drama Bok Joo going to a weight loss clinic owned by Joon-Hyung’s brother Jung Jae-Yi (Lee Jae-Yoon). She developed a crush on Jae-Yi and lied that she’s a music major when she joined his weight loss program. As a competitive weightlifter, this was against the rules. Bok Joo was reprimanded by both her father and her coaches when she was discovered and forbid her to go back to the clinic.
Feeling like she wasn’t “allowed to be a normal teenage girl”, Bok Joo fell into a slump, brokenhearted. Joon-Hyung was disappointed at how Bok Joo was dismissing her own talents and individuality, which ended in them having a fiery confrontation. After their fight, Bok Joo failed to show up at an interview she was supposed to be in, causing her teammates to search for her. Joon-Hyung, angry at Bok Joo, initially ignored the news. But after realising how much he’s worried about her, he starts looking for her too and eventually finds her. Upon seeing Joon-Hyung, Bok Joo breaks down in front of him and he comforts her.
On the same night, Joon-Hyung realised that he actually cares for Bok Joo more than a friend. It was also when it occurred to him that maybe he loved her romantically even before he realised it, maybe even ever since they were kids. Swoon-worthy? We think so, too!
How they became a couple
Even if Joon-Hyung finally realised his feelings for Bok Joo, he didn’t confess while she was still healing from her lost love and her weightlifting slump. He never took advantage of her emotional vulnerability and remained a trusted friend when she needed her the most. When he did confess, he tried his hardest to woo her and — to some extent — her best friends who are important to Bok Joo. But out of all the heart-fluttering moments that led to them finally being a couple, the moment when Joon-Hyung helped Bok Joo when her father got hospitalised was probably the sweetest one.
It’s when Bok Joo realised that beyond the flowers, the boyfriend-material attempts, and the flattering words, Joon-Hyung was first and foremost a friend that understands and supports the things that are important to her. Talk about a beautiful start to a relationship.
How everyone found out that they were dating
Can we really pick out the NamLee couple’s best moments from this series without mentioning the iconic relationship reveal? Bok Joo was hesitant to tell her friends about her relationship with Joon-Hyung since they know she just recovered from her crush from Jae-Yi. She also told Joon-Hyung that she’s not the jealous type because it’s childish and immature.
However, when she heard that Joon-Hyung was dragged into a blind date by his teammate thinking he was single, Bok Joo was outraged. After seeing how the girls on the date were flirting with Joon-Hyung, Bok Joo walked up to them and announced that she was Joon-Hyung’s girlfriend. This caused quite a shock to Bok Joo and Joon-Hyung’s friends, causing yet another comical confrontation in the story.
What’s cute about this scene is it showed just how much Joon-Hyung was smitten with Bok Joo. He even defended himself when his friend asked why Bok Joo out of all the girls on campus. Joon-Hyung also did his best to be accepted by Bok Joo’s best friends as her boyfriend, knowing that they come as a package. It is one of the many times Joon-Hyung expressed how much he adores Bok Joo for who she is and admires her as a person and as a fellow athlete.
From reel-to-real moments, let's move on to a different kind of relationship. Find out what it means to be attached to someone parasocially here.