Lessons from ‘When the Camellia Blooms’ that May Take Some Time to Understand

When the Camellia Blooms follows the story of the single mother Dong Baek (Gong Hyo Jin) who settles with her son in the fictional town of Ongsan.

It took me three months to finish ‘When the Camellia Blooms’. While I took pride in having to finish all four seasons of Haikyuu in two days, I find it difficult to do the same with this multi-awarded melodrama. Not that it’s dragging (although it feels like), but the slow pace of the drama added substance to its plot, characters, and overall feel of the series; hence the unnecessary rush to finish it.

In Summary: When the Camellia Blooms

When the Camellia Blooms follows the story of the single mother Dong Baek (Gong Hyo Jin) who settles with her son in the fictional town of Ongsan. There she puts up a bar business, named Camellia, which became the talk among her conservative neighbors. Years after she meets the local policeman, Hwang Yong Sik (Kang Ha Neul) and finds love in him, the people around her, and the circumstances that came along with her life.

When the Camellia Blooms: Unsolicited Review

I actually found it difficult to reconcile a thriller working on the melodramatic romance of When the Camellia Blooms. The excellent cinematography brings a distinctive homey vibe like of the Reply Series, making it comparably different to the usual murder series I’ve grown to. Plus, the fact that it lacked the fast-paced thrill of action. (Ah, 20 episodes long)

But well, there’s always wisdom in stories told in long narratives. I’ve learned this the hard way with Mr. Sunshine, Reply 1988, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, and Dr. Stranger to name a few. That need to slowly develop the characters to better build the foundations of the plot – such cunning way to bewitch viewers.

And while I couldn’t relate to all that Kang Ha Neul fandom, I certainly like how love is exhibited in various forms in this series: love of a mother, love of a child, love that took time to be realized, and love that forgives and heals.

My most favorite part of When the Camellia Blooms is the last episode. It has the best conclusion and credits of all endings I’ve watched. The credits really got me. And of course, the lessons it brought along with it. In here, allow me to share some lessons I’ve learned from When the Camellia Blooms.

 10 Lessons Learned from ‘When the Camellia Blooms’

LESSON FROM OH DONG-BAEK: “You don’t have to succumb to the willful demands of society.
LESSON FROM HWANG YONG-SIK: “We can always be the miracles others are praying for.”
LESSON FROM KANG JONG-RYEOL: “Some problems can only be resolved at an age when we can already handle its pressures.”
LESSON FROM NO GYU-TAE: “In the end, we just wanted some love and affection.”
LESSON FROM HONG JA-YOUNG: “Fuck standards. Go for what makes you happy.”
LESSON FROM CHOI HYANG-MI: “Families are not always bound by blood. Sometimes, we find them in the most unexpected, uncomfortable people who makes us grow.”
LESSON FROM KANG PIL-GU: “Don’t grow up so fast. You don’t have to.”
LESSON FROM KWAK DEOK-SON: “Take away everything from a woman. But a mother will always be a mother.”
LESSON FROM JO JUNG-SOOK: “That’s the thing with people. We try so hard to be happy. You don’t chase happiness. You savor it.”
LESSON FROM PARK SANG MI: “We are more than how people define us.

No wonder When the Camellia Blooms received so many awards and recognitions. It deviated from the usual romantic comedy and thriller that we have been attuned it – by offering a much different perspective of single parenthood, marriage, love, relationships, and women empowerment. Its unusual means of tackling social pressures make it worth the time spent for a 20-episode drama. A subtle way of reminding us that: the best things in life, sometimes, take time.

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