I was contemplating writing this article for a while now, but after last week’s episodes, I felt comfortable enough to talk about this drama.
Judging from the title you’re probably confused especially if you haven’t seen it yet, I have seen all of “When The Camellia Blooms” episodes so far, 16 episodes, and I’d like to discuss my thoughts on this drama.
As the title suggests, this is a subjective article. I will discuss my own opinion, feel free to disagree. If you can’t take opinions, please don’t bother reading this.
NOTE: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.
“When The Camellia Blooms” is a tricky kdrama. Sometimes, I just love it and sometimes, I dislike it. It’s been a while since I have felt this way about a Kdrama. To make it easier for you to understand the title of this article, I will be discussing my issues with the script and the editing in details.
Personally speaking, I found the acting of everyone to be top-notch and have no complaints about it; the same goes for the directing.
Let’s discuss the script first:
“When The Camellia Blooms” is written by Im Sang Choon who previously wrote “Fight for My Way,” one of my personal favorite kdramas in recent years. He also has other kdramas to his name as well.
The biggest issue with “When The Camellia Blooms” is that it has 20 episodes. That’s my issue with it. This is why I am writing this article.
In a sense, we can consider Im Sang Choon to be experienced [judging by the credits to his name]. He’s been writing since 2014 according to various news sources.
As an aspiring writer, I think Im Sang Choon is very talented and admirable. I personally believe he chose the drama to be 20 episodes because he wanted to showcase the growth of the main and supporting characters throughout the drama runtime. At least, this is the conclusion I’d like to believe because of the way he wrote it.
Actress Gong Hyo Jin said she’d like to showcase the character growth as the drama progresses, she is a weak character who finds strength through various challenges she encounters. This also enforces the idea in my head, that the writer would like you to grow and learn with those characters.
Of course, there is the money factor, if the drama is successful, running more episodes means generating more profit. There is also that, but I highly doubt it’s the only reason.
“When The Camellia Blooms” wouldn’t have become this big without the serial killer side-plot. These days, a simple rom-com is not enough to generate profit; people are tired of seeing the same scenarios over and over again. Adding that serial killer who haunts the town enriches the drama and keeps you tuned in.
Despite what I believe to be the writer’s intentions, I still don’t think “When The Camellia Blooms” deserves 20 episodes. There are many filler scenes and unnecessary scenes that wouldn’t affect the plot much if subtracted.
When I reviewed episode 1-4, I talked about how strange the editing was, I think it’s due to the script format. The drama keeps teasing that a corpse has been found in a lake, they repeat the same scene adding 2 seconds each time for the first couple of episodes and just when you forgot about it, they remind you again that such a thing happened.
They did that with almost all of the episodes. Traveling back and forth between the present, past and the future is done in a sloppy manner [we’ll get into that in more details later]. Sometimes, it felt like they just added it there to keep things spicy while characters went about their way.
It also took Yong Sik and Dong Baek an eternity to actually start ‘dating’ and for their romance to blossom. She kept rejecting him over and over again so much so that it became rather annoying, I understand the drama is meant to showcase real-life and characters’ growth but being rejected 10 times becomes annoying to watch.
Also, Yong Sik goes from barely kissing her a couple of times to wanting to marry her instantly. I find that also difficult to comprehend given the circumstances. It took them an eternity to get started and when they did their romance took a dramatic upgrade all of a sudden.
My biggest issue is with Hyang Mi’s death which has been dragged since episode 1 and we only finally got to see the scene we’ve been teased with in episode 1 play out in episode 16. It took them 16 episodes to explain to us why it happened. 16 EPISODES.
This tells me the writer doesn’t have enough material to keep the drama going for so long, so instead, we get necessary and unnecessary episodes. It ends up compromising the plot because there is no consistency. The plot is not crafted well.
The ideas are interesting and the characters also are, but I feel that the writer is struggling to fill 60 minutes with content. There is so much going on back and forth about certain characters and it feels out of place sometimes, inserting scenes from the future or scenes from the past just suddenly there throws me off guard.
What I mean by that is that there are certain scenes about characters’ past that don’t fit the overall vibe of the said episode. It feels all over the place, the writer has a lot to talk about it but doesn’t know how to craft it well. It feels the writer knows how he wants to end this drama and has ideas about how to craft characters but throws things here and there as he recalls or find necessary.
It took them an eternity to explain why characters behave a certain way and it seems that it took them so long because they started running out of content so they started going back to characters past to connect them together.
For example, Jong Ryeol wife is idle in the first half but only becomes useful in the second half. We get to learn about her life and what led her to become like that much later on. The same goes for Yong Sik and Dong Baek moms.
Added to that, characters repeat themselves over and over again. Dong Baek continues to undermine herself and deprecate her accomplishments, whenever she says that you have Yong Sik who continues to pamper her, he’ll usually deliver a speech about how much of an amazing woman she is.
Seeing it for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th time is fine, but it’s been repeated so often that I no longer feel sorry for Dong Baek or want to salute Yong Sik for his kind words. In real life, this actually happens and it’s a cycle that repeats itself, however, it doesn’t mean that dramas should repeat such scenes over and over again so many times.
Each episode has certain repeated scenes. Each episode has Jong Ryeol hanging out with his son causing discomfort to everyone involved and so on. Dong Baek beating herself down and looked down upon and Yong Sik coming to the rescue every single time, and little bits of Yong Sik mom beating his ass or talking about how much he mistreats her.
There are great episodes in this drama and there are many many boring episodes as well. The drama stalls in every Wednesday episode and picks up with each Thursday episode. This gets people to come back next week because they wanna see what happened.
Episodes 7 to 11 almost made me want to stop watching, they were difficult to get through, I can’t remember much of what I saw of them because they really didn’t add much.
I think the editing is so jarring and weird because of the plot.
Editing isn’t usually an issue for me even with kdramas that I dislike, it has to be so bad for me to notice it and in “When The Camellia Blooms” it’s that bad.
As I said, they keep adding Hyang Mi’s death scene adding 2 second each time every single time at the beginning or the end of the episode, oftentimes, it wasn’t even necessary because nothing that happened warrants bringing up her death 20 times already.
There are also issues with scenes that took place in the past. They’re placed weirdly in each episode and could be used better if they’re placed in other episodes.
Usually, kdramas are written as each episode is produced. Writers would usually have the first couple of episodes written in advance for filming requirements but would write as each episode airs.
This is a flawed writing method because you don’t have enough time to proof-read your plot and make sure everything is exactly how it is supposed to be. This is why so many kdramas start out beautifully, they become boring by episode 6 to 10 and pick up from episode 11 or 12 and usually, the ending is rushed. The writer doesn’t cover everything the way they should.
“When The Camellia Blooms” has its ups and downs. Sometimes, it’s an amazing episode and sometimes I can’t stop looking at my watching waiting for the episode to end because nothing is happening.
“When The Camellia Blooms” would’ve been just as impactful and beautiful if it was 16 episodes long. The writer would still be able to deliver the message he wants in 16 episodes without sounding like he has no material to fill the episodes.
This doesn’t mean “When The Camellia Blooms” was flat out bad or awful but not as concise and consistent as I would’ve loved it to be, sometimes, it felt like they were wasting my time.
What do you guys think? Do you like “When The Camellia Blooms”? Do you agree or disagree with me?