Recently, one of the Kdrama blogs I follow, The Fangirl Verdict, posted something about re-watching Kdramas (read it here: What Makes Drama Crack Stay Fresh / Turn Stale). Coincidentally it was also when I was in the middle of my When It’s At Night re-watch.
I’ve been wanting to re-watch this old Kim Sun Ah drama for ages. I’ve seen it live and I have paused-rewind-play-rewind-pause-played it hundred of times while we were subbing it. And probably have watched it once with my mom. God knows how many times I’ve attempted a good re-watch for the past few years but was only able to manage to watch until Episode 2 or 3 the most. Could be lack of time or lack of motivation. Or both.
If I were to rank all of Kim Sun Ah’s post-My Name Kim Sam Soon dramas, When It’s At Night would fall on the last spot. Although some Kim Sun Ah fans (and non Kim Sun Ah fans as well) would think otherwise, most of her fans would share the same opinion as mine.
I used to think that this drama lacks on many things. It is not as engaging as many other K-dramas. The chemistry was awesome but it lacks
the over-the-top romance. The main topic of cultural properties is quite boring. The beginning was promising but it wasn’t able to sustain its charm. Cho Hee was not as feisty as I thought she’ll be. Etc, etc, etc.
Those things may still hold true even if I rewatch it 10, 20, a hundred times more. But for some reasons, my feelings towards it have changed.
I’m thinking maybe I had very high expectations for this drama before. It was, after all, Kim Sun Ah’s comeback from a 3-year hiatus. It was her comeback project after her phenomenal My Name Is Kim Sam Soon. It was a struggle for her (and the staff too, perhaps) to sustain THE Kim Sam Soon’s charm and at the same time veer away from it. It was also a struggle for me not to compare it with Kim Sam Soon and not to expect it to be something as awesome as Kim Sam Soon. So when When It’s At Night didn’t reach the phenomenal level that Kim Sam Soon reached, I was disappointed. I also think that the marketing strategy didn’t match what the drama is really all about. I was on the look out at every news and whatever bits of information that came out that time because I was so excited to finally see Kim Sun Ah active on television once again. It was marketed as something sexy and feisty at the beginning so I was waiting for something sexy and feisty. When it didn’t come, surely I was disappointed. And now that there are no more marketing hype clouding my head, I was able to take a look at, and appreciate When It’s At Night’s beauty as it is and was able to see something precious about it.
I used to dislike Cho Hee. Again, with the image of Kim Sam Soon overshadowing her, I was looking for a feisty character. But I get to appreciate Cho Hee more this time. She is not meant to be as funny as Kim Sam Soon, nor as cute as Shin Mi Rae (City Hall), nor as powerful as Hwang Ji Ahn (I Do I Do). She is meant to be her. A hurt daughter hoping to find her father while raising a younger brother. A dedicated worker. A woman falling in love and being loved in return. That’s her. She is not meant to be somebody’s hero. And I now appreciate her character.
Of course I love Kim Bum Sang and Chief Kang. And Gyoon! These three characters, I think, are the drama’s strength.
I also find the love story satisfactory this time. I used to complain the lack of romantic moments between the leads after reading the final episode’s original script. But I guess what was shown in the drama is good enough. I’m actually glad the director didn’t push it too much because it may not match the ‘feel’ of the drama anymore. Romance was not the focus of the drama after all. But I still find it heart-fluttering-worthy many times. I like the mature approach on romance. And I love the sensible attack on one-sided love and love-triangle – a far cry from the cringe-worthy approach of Gentleman’s Dignity.
Also, I am more interested now in Korean cultural properties than I was 5 years ago. Before, everything were just babbles of different kinds of celadon vases, incense burners, old painting and ancient books that doesn’t mean anything to me. Knowing a little bit more about Korean history and culture and having visited a number of museums in Korea myself, it’s now more engaging for me to watch a drama dealing with issues concerning cultural properties than, let’s say, uhm… stilettos (*ehem*).
Well, yes, to be honest this drama may still find itself at the bottom of my Kim Sun Ah’s drama list. But it is no longer because I don’t like it. But simply because I like her other drama’s a little bit more.When Is At Night is no longer my “obligatory” Kim Sun Ah drama. I used to say “When It’s At Night is not THAT bad” but now I can confidently say “When It’s At Night is NOT bad. In fact it is good.” Yes, yes. There are many loopholes. It has many shortcomings. But it is a simple heart-warming drama I can enjoy. I’m glad I did a re-watch and was able to find something precious about it. I’m looking forward to more re-watch in the years to come.🙂