A Woman’s Blooming Confidence

Yong-sik, you really should be careful. What if I really end up liking you? — Dong-baek

Hi, friends! I have sad news for you today. When the Camellia Blooms finally ended last week, and my mom must be so happy. We watched the first few episodes together, and she often criticized the female protagonist for being so pathetic. Hahaha. Still, I think that she’ll like how the show wrapped up.

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This K-drama tells the story of a single mother named Dong-baek (Kong Hyo-jin). When she moves to a remote town called Ongsan to open a bar and make ends meet, she inadvertently evokes the pity and jealousy of nearly everyone around her. Yong-sik (Kang Ha-neul), the male lead, is a beloved policeman and one of the very few people who admire Dong-baek. Regardless of her penchant for self-deprecation, he eventually falls in love with her. Unfortunately, Yong-sik isn’t the only man interested in Dong-baek. A mysterious serial killer is on the loose, and Dong-baek is his primary target.

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When the Camellia Blooms was a bit reminiscent of Strong Girl Bongsoon in that it was equally thrilling in romantic. Personally, I was more invested in the killer mystery than the romance because Dong-baek quickly got on my nerves. She was humble to a fault, continually looking down on herself and tolerating her antagonistic neighbors. The women of Ongsan were correct when they said that Dong-baek’s damsel-in-distress complex made them want to bully her more. For the most part, Dong-baek was the antithesis of female empowerment. I wasn’t surprised when the killer told her to “stop being a joke.”

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On the other hand, Yong-sik was practically a perfect love interest. I really didn’t have any problem with him because he was extraordinarily kind, loyal, smart, and honorable. Perhaps his only flaw was his inexistence in real life; he’s too good to be true. LOL. Also, his whisper-like verbal tic could be quite annoying. My big brothers also watched the drama with me, and they kept on asking me why Yong-sik spoke in such an exaggerated manner. Nonetheless, without Yong-sik, Dong-beak would have been pathetic throughout the drama.

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Other significant characters include Kang Jong-ryeol (Dong-baek’s ex-boyfriend), Kwak Deok-Sun (Yong-sik’s mom), and Pil-gu (Dong-baek’s son). They gave the protagonists a lot of undue stress, but at least they enriched the show’s family dynamics. Familial interference was an integral part of the plot. For instance, Mrs. Kwak resented Dong-baek for endangering her son, while Pil-gu disliked Yong-sik for hoarding his mom’s attention. If you also have overprotective or possessive family members, you might be able to empathize with the main characters’ dilemma.

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For me, the most evocative part of the drama was Dong-baek’s complicated relationship with her estranged mother, Jo Jeong-suk (Lee Jung-eun). Dong-baek’s bitterness was understandable. If my mother gave me away to an orphanage, I would probably have self-esteem issues like Dong-baek. Many things happened between the two women, and I was thankful that it resulted in forgiveness and reconciliation.

All in all, When the Camellia Blooms deserves 4/5 stars because of its enlightening representation of single motherhood. Raising a child is already a difficult journey, more so when you do it alone in a town full of judgemental people. I highly recommend watching this K-drama with your mother. Hopefully, she won’t dislike Dong-baek as much as Mama does.

Watch the trailer below: