When The Camellia Blooms is like a breath of fresh air. Firstly, it is set in a countryside rather than Seoul which forms the backdrop of maximum dramas. The show also has two lead protagonists with amusing personalities. The drama is airing on KBS as well as Netflix and is off to a breezy start.
The premiere week is mostly about introducing the motley of characters that fill up its screen time. Gong Hyo Jin plays Dong Baek, a single mother who runs a bar called Camellia in this small town. Kang Ha Neul plays a cop named Hwang Yong Shik. Kim Ji Suk plays a baseball player Kang Jong Ryool while Son Dam Bi plays the bar’s employee.
I love the two leads right away. She is this calm and composed woman who is bravely raising her son, in a society where the women look down upon her for being an unmarried mother running a bar and men are trying to be cheap and flirty as she is single. She makes sure to make her point without being overly aggressive and that makes her all the more strong. Gong Hyo Jin plays her with such grace and easy going manner. She also seems like an enigma at first but gradually we get to know her more.
The hero is so adorable with the juxtaposition of varying traits — he is this angry young man whenever he encounters a crime but also kind of stupid, simple minded otherwise, and also, he is a country bumpkin — awkward, bumbling person when he comes across our heroine. Kang Ha Neul is amazing here. I loved his interactions with the heroine and so glad that for a change, a hero thinks the heroine is pretty at the very first sight.
There is also a thriller element in the show, and yes, it’s the overused trope of a serial killer. But I’m not minding it here much as it goes with the hero being a policeman and kind of reminds me of Village: Secret Of Achaiara.
Among the side characters, I love Yong Shik’s mom — she is so strong and good-at-heart and formidable. Then there is his superior in police and their interactions were so funny! I’m also curious about businessman No Gyu Tae (Oh Jung Se) and his lawyer wife Hong Ja Young (Yum Hye Ran) and their relationship.
Overall, I’m liking When The Camellia Blooms with its funny and interesting characters and backdrop. The pace seemed a bit slow at times but that didn’t bother me much.