Netflix continues to prove itself as a valid contender for K-dramas (one of the reasons why WarnerMedia shuttered DramaFever) with all the exclusives they are winning. Not only that, they are diversifying their exclusives quite well with political suspense (Designated Survivor: 60 Days), period rom-com (Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung), and most recently, crime suspense/thriller (Vagabond).
However, it seems Netflix is concentrating more on their slice-of-life rom-coms, proven by the fact that they produced and distributed My First First Love and Love Alarm.
Now there is a new slice-of-life K-drama to add to Netflix’s list with When the Camellia Blooms. The new series starring Gong Hyo-Jin and Kang Ha-Neul is an innocent countryside love story with the pretense of murder in the background.
A good man, a bad man, and an evil man
When the Camellia Blooms is, as mentioned earlier, a slice-of-life romantic comedy with a side storyline of a murder mystery. The story focuses on Dong Baek (Gong Hyo-Jin), the owner of Camellia, a bar in a small town. In the story, she forms relationships with three different men, including Hwang Yong-Sik (Kang Ha-Neul) and Kang Jong-Ryul (Kim Ji-Seok). There is a third man who hasn’t appeared yet or has appeared but we don’t know he is the third relationship for Dong Baek. All we know is he is a murderer known as “Joker.”
As the story progresses, we see how Dong Baek’s life has molded her into the person she is, which includes her past relationship with Kang Jong-Ryul. We also see the possibilities of a hopeful relationship in the present whenever she is around Hwang Yong-Sik. Finally, we see how Dong Baek reacts to a possible future when she is killed by the Joker.
Despite the complex intricacies in the simple story, it is still quite innocent, thus making When the Camellia Blooms a very feel-good-when-watched K-drama.
Expression of emotion in every scene
As of now, KBS has aired four episodes of When the Camellia Blooms. The series really jumps out at viewers as each character is styled to represent a personality and each scene seems to be directed to guide an emotion. For example, Dong Baek looks so innocently naive and sweet with her hair down and her simple light-colored clothing. That is an amazing feat, as the actress playing her, Gong Hyo-Jin, was known for more aggressive roles with prominent personalities in her more recent K-dramas (Producer, Jealousy Incarnate).
As for Hwang Yong-Sik, he often looks like he is “half-ready” or “dressed but incomplete,” and it shows off his free-form attitude, as well as his headstrong belief in integrity and justice. As for scenes, when there is a beautiful interaction between Dong Baek and Yong-Sik, the background or filters often match the situation.
Ultimately, viewers are finding the series to be worth watching, as the debut episode started around 6.5-percent average for both Seoul and the nation, but has since grown to double-digit viewership after the fourth episode, according to AGB Nielsen Korea.
When the Camellia Blooms is scheduled to air for 36 episodes, so it still has plenty of time to grow in popularity. With the fun and comedic story and amazing chemistry between actors, it will definitely hold viewers’ attention.
The K-drama airs on the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 p.m. KST. For international viewers, it is exclusive only on Netflix. Viewers will also need a paid subscription to the streaming service to watch the K-drama.