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When the Camellia Blooms: Episodes 39-40 (Final)

The residents of Ongsan are known to be a meddling bunch, which can be a good or bad thing depending who you are. When things start to look bleak, we look for miracles – but the million dollar question is: do they even exist?

 
EPISODE 39: “Do Miracles Happen?”

Dong-baek arrives at the hospital and cries to see the amount of machines Jung-sook’s hooked up to for dialysis. The doctor explains that the disease is hereditary. They’ll need to examine Dong-baek’s DNA before proceeding with the transplant – Jung-sook needs a miracle at this point.

Yong-shik dismisses a call from Detective Kim and Dong-baek has no energy left as she laments, “Miracles don’t exist. Things like that don’t happen in my pathetic life.” Elsewhere, the ajummas are gathered and Chan-sook comments that Fate decides who lives and dies.

Deok-soon finds Pil-gu at the arcade, surprising him with a smack on his back. She fills him up with food at her restaurant and says she doesn’t hit just any old stranger. They share smiles and all seems to be forgiven.

Meanwhile, Jong-ryeol holds a press conference asking the public not to hurt his family with ungrounded rumors. The journalists pester him with accusations about Jessica’s lies and Jong-ryeol retorts, “Did she commit a crime or something?”

He gets riled up and pushes away the script that was prepared for him. Her marital status isn’t something that needs to be reported publicly especially if he, the husband, was aware of the situation. Jong-ryeol firmly warns that anyone who crosses the line will be sued for defamation.

At home, Jessica and her mother read an article about Jong-ryeol defending her. Touched, Jessica tears up and hugs her daughter tightly, while mom is relieved that Jessica has better taste in men than she does.

Yong-shik helps Dong-baek pack a bag, explaining that Pil-gu will stay with Joon-gi. When he ignores another call from Detective Kim, Dong-baek listlessly tells him that he should go. She appreciates his help, but needs to learn to take care of herself again without being babied.

He urges Dong-baek to depend on him at times like this, but she’s not swayed. She asks Yong-shik to leave and let her move on, so he reluctantly complies and returns the call. Apparently, Seok-yong keeps requesting Heung-shik to bring him his glasses.

At first, the detectives got some answers from Seok-yong. But the moment the yellow object was brought up, he sighed and stopped co-operating, only asking for his son and his glasses.

Yong-shik declares to the detective that if that’s what he wants, then they’ll give it to him. Seok-yong is displeased to see Yong-shik instead of Heung-shik. “Why? Do you have an order for him or something?”

Heung-shik struggles to find work with everyone on edge around a killer’s son. He understands, but wonders if he’ll starve to death as he tosses a notebook into a fire. Hmm. At the rice cake shop, Jae-young hands Heung-shik a payment that she owes. Chan-sook throws in a jab, inquiring whether he really was oblivious to his dad’s identity as the Joker.

Dong-baek, who was passing by, watches as he stands wordlessly as the new target of the ajumma squad. The things they say to Heung-shik mirror the ones Dong-baek had to listen to when she was being ostracized.

She slaps on a smile and whisks Heung-shik away with the excuse that she also has an outstanding payment to make. Instead, she serves him lunch on the house as thanks for being a regular.

Heung-shik realizes she saved him from the ajummas and Dong-baek sighs that they both suffer because of their parents – he reminds her of herself. He thanks Dong-baek for everything she’s done, but has a question for her.

Seok-yong looks exhausted as Yong-shik shares that Hyang-mi’s body was mangled, the superglue in her throat took three days to scrape out, and plankton was found in her liver. He explains that this means Hyang-mi was still alive when she was dumped into the lake. This seems to surprise Seok-yong, but he doesn’t let it show.

When asked what Hyang-mi did to deserve this, he emotionally yells that he used sawdust and glue to silence the screaming and that she died because she chose to make the delivery. There’s almost an undercurrent of regret as he asks why she had to deliver that night. Yong-shik stares him down intently.

Heung-shik asks why Dong-baek always treats him well and gives him freebies. He recalls the times Dong-baek had asked him to stay for a meal after fixing something for her. She’d even given him peanuts on the house.

We’re taken back to when Dong-baek thought someone’s shoes were covered in flour while the news reported that the Joker used a fire extinguisher at a crime scene. Sure enough, the person who left the Joker’s signature scrawl on Dong-baek’s wall in 2013 was…Heung-shik. CHILLS.

Ignorant of this fact, Dong-baek promises to make steamed eggs for Heung-shik when her ingredient delivery arrives. His demeanor shifts slightly and he notes she uses formal speech with him. Nearly choking on his food, he asks why she’d do that for him.

Dong-baek can tell that something is off. Heung-shik’s smile disappears as he begins to cough, pointedly asking if she pities him, “You’re the one who everyone pities, but am I beneath you now?” He stops eating and glares at her.

When Yong-shik inspected the glasses pouch earlier, he’d discovered 2 yellow objects and realized it’s what Hyang-mi had swallowed. He calmly tells Seok-yong now that it seems as though Heung-shik attempted to send him a message.

Yong-shik further discloses that there was no glue in Hyang-mi’s throat and she didn’t drown. Seok-yong knows the ruse is up, shakenly reaching for his glasses pouch as Yong-shik softly remarks that he’s not capable of killing people. The yellow objects roll out – they’re Heung-shik’s earplugs.

He’d angrily thrown one on the floor the day Hyang-mi died, and is wearing a pair right now. The phone at the Camellia goes off, but Dong-baek makes no move to answer. Heung-shik ominously asks if the delivery is coming soon, reaching for a hammer with a burned hand.

On the day of the incident, Seok-yong found Heung-shik’s notebook filled with angry scribbles. Bookmarked on a page that read, “The witch… If she drowns, she was human. If she lives, she’s not” was the Camellia’s flyer. Heung-shik was waiting for Dong-baek to get caught in his trap.

Seok-yong helped clean up the aftermath and dispose of Hyang-mi’s body at the lake, which explains the scratch. Heung-shik robotically commented that they should’ve pulled out her nails, prompting Seok-yong to question if he has feelings. Plus, didn’t he like Hyang-mi?

Heung-shik gave the same answer he’d once given to Yong-shik, it’s not an easy thing for a person to like someone. He’d likened Hyang-mi to a stray cat. Seok-yong asked if he’ll stop once dad dies, noting that he wears Seok-yong’s shoes when he kills.

Heung-shik drawled, “Did you throw yourself down the construction site because I killed people and pretended to be you? Did you try to die?” He tsks that dad’s “paralysis” fooled even him for five years.

Seok-yong wondered if things would be different if they could turn time back to before Heung-shik made his first kill as a child. Heung-shik: “I guess you wouldn’t know if I was raised like this or born like this.”

Breaking down, Seok-yong regrets not raising Heung-shik well enough due to working constantly. Heung-shik had no friends and began to kill cats that he brought home. Seok-yong would secretly release them; he even tried slapping Heung-shik but nothing made a difference. Heung-shik had sensitive ears and a heart of stone.

Seok-yong shares that Dong-baek got on Heung-shik’s nerves. If she’d left, this wouldn’t have happened. Heung-shik gets increasingly irritated back at the bar. He hates the way Dong-baek looks at him. She tries to excuse herself, but he grabs her arm, face twitching and ears ringing.

The Ongsan cops find Yong-shik with his crazy eyes again. They pile into the patrol car and Yong-shik recalls his prior suspicions. The Joker claimed to watch Dong-baek every day, but Seok-yong couldn’t have done that. They lead a whole line of police cars (SWAT team included!) to catch the real Joker.

Playing with a lighter, Heung-shik leaves the Camellia annoyed. He thinks back to all the moments when his previous victims triggered him. It’s exactly what Seok-yong had confessed, but now we see that each scene ends with Heung-shik glaring with murderous intent.

He walks through the alley, greeting Chan-sook and Jae-young and they’re shocked when he’s attacked unexpectedly from behind — Dong-baek’s angrily smashed his head with Hyang-mi’s beer mug.

Back at the Camellia, Heung-shik had let go of Dong-baek after her phone blew up with messages from the ajummas announcing that they were coming over to bring her food. He collected himself and paid for the food, advising her not to pity others so easily.

Now, all eyes are on Dong-baek and Heung-shik, who’s sprawled on the ground. She knows he killed Hyang-mi and threatens to kill him if he keeps joking around. HA, she yells a string of profanities that are conveniently drowned out by a honking truck.

The police arrive and witness Dong-baek confronting Heung-shik. Yong-shik narrates, “I thought I would be able to protect Dong-baek, but she will protect herself.” Dong-baek scoffs that Heung-shik’s a wuss since he can’t even do anything in a crowd.

The ajummas declare war, now armed with items like a mop, bowl, and even a radish (LOL) to attack Heung-shik with. They’re a scary bunch, latching onto Heung-shik while a dozen cops dramatically run to his rescue. A full out brawl ensues as Chief Byun’s pleads, “We have to take him alive!” I love this.

Dong-baek leaves them to their chaos and Yong-shik watches her go with more respect in his eyes than usual. Dong-baek inwardly declares that someone like the Joker isn’t scary. What’s scary is being unable to protect someone.

She later sits by Jung-sook’s bedside. Although visitation hours are over, the nurse allows Dong-baek to stay. Before leaving to take a call, she suggests that Dong-baek invite anyone who might want to see Jung-sook today, but Jung-sook has nobody else.

Deok-soon arrives with Pil-gu in hand while Yong-shik hangs back in the waiting area. Dong-baek sobs that she’s never experienced this and has no clue what to do. It’s heartbreaking for Deok-soon to watch. She assures her that Jung-sook is leaving with a warm heart thanks to Dong-baek.

After Dong-baek left to get Pil-gu from Seoul, Jung-sook sat down with Deok-soon to ask for a favor. Jung-sook took the blame for Dong-baek’s pitiful life. She confessed that she doesn’t have much longer to live and only came because she missed Dong-baek.

Jung-sook began to take a liking to Yong-shik and she trusts Deok-soon. She asked her to take Dong-baek under her wing as a mother-figure. Knowing Dong-baek, she’d never forget how gracious Deok-soon was and would probably make sure she’s never lonely.

Jung-sook smiled and finished, “I came to embrace Dong-baek, but I get to leave this world with the warmest heart,” while Deok-soon was left speechless.

Deok-soon tells Dong-baek to put herself first so her child can be happy. Sacrificing everything for Pil-gu will negatively affect him in the future. Deok-soon promises to welcome her warmly and Dong-baek smiles through tears, “Yong-shik must be warm-hearted because he took after you.”

The boys share a tub of ice cream and have a heart-to-heart of their own. Yong-shik asks if his presence annoys Pil-gu, caught off-guard when he replies, “That’s not what’s important right now. Mom’s crying.” Yong-shik gets all the blessings he needs when Pil-gu confides that he wouldn’t say this to any other guy.

As they head home, Deok-soon tells Pil-gu the best thing he can do for Jung-sook is to eat well. She’s bringing out the expensive stuff for dinner and Pil-gu cheekily asks, “Is it because I’m not someone else’s kid?” Deok-soon: “Now that you’ve become my kid, I will protect you forever.”

 
EPISODE 40

Dong-baek opts to stay in the waiting room, jumping up whenever the door opens. The nurse notices and tells Dong-baek to go back inside before rushing off to take a call. Dong-baek’s hesitant to do so, afraid that Jung-sook will leave once she gets there.

Yong-shik can’t bear to watch Dong-baek struggle from afar anymore, asking for permission to sit next to her. She reaches out for him and they embrace, both a sobbing mess. She doesn’t want to pretend to be strong anymore, the world is too cruel to her.

Even though she was the best kid in the orphanage, all she got were pencils from Santa. It’s a sad moment, but I can’t help but chuckle whenever this couple cries so earnestly together.

Dong-baek doesn’t believe in miracles and refuses to beg for one. Lights flicker around the hospital and the ICU announces a Code Green. Jung-sook is wheeled out urgently and Yong-shik pesters the nurse, Ae-ryeon, for information. They originally couldn’t do the operation, but there seems to be a chance after they ran some tests. They pile into an ambulance that Kyu-tae is in – Jung-sook’s condition can worsen so travel time is key.

Nurse Ae-ryeon’s on the phone again, updating Gwi-ryeon (her sister, also part of the ajumma squad) on the current situation. A flashback shows the end of Chan-sook’s musings on Fate deciding who lives or dies; she’d declared they’d do whatever they can before Fate makes up its mind.

The entire ajumma crew began reaching out to their networks for help. Chief Byun narrates that everyone in Korea knows each other through an acquaintance. Most things are achieved by reaching out to them.

Cue the snow and hopeful Christmas music as the residents of Ongsan work together to create a miracle for Dong-baek. The police control the traffic lights and clear the road, Kyu-tae found the best-equipped ambulance in the country, Ja-young contacts a former client (a famed nephrologist), and even Joon-gi prays.

Everyone’s sincerity helps them arrive safely at Ongsan University Hospital as Yong-shik narrates, “Miracles don’t exist. It’s just the little heroes inside us working together. It’s small acts of kindness done by kind people.”

As Dong-baek preps for surgery, the ajummas text her updates on Pil-gu and the Camellia. They even gathered money to help with the surgery costs. Yong-shik continues that you may think it’s a miracle, but it’s the result of all the good deeds you’ve done.

It’s said that before dying, you return to the moment you regret most. Jung-sook’s moment is the day she abandoned Dong-baek. In her dream, she chooses to make a different choice, running back to Dong-baek instead of leaving.

She wakes up in the hospital instead of heaven. The patient next to her gets a scolding from the nurse. HAH, it’s Dong-baek and Yong-shik, who get in trouble for sharing a hospital bed. Dong-baek happily rushes to hug Jung-sook (who’s frustrated that she did the surgery), announcing that she’s not unlucky after all.

Kyu-tae drags a drunk Ja-young home and is told to get lost. He fusses over her and she grabs his nose, telling him to follow her inside…if he has the guts. He remembers meeting her for the first time. Ja-young only agreed to the blind date because it was Kyu-tae, though he didn’t remember her.

She’d initiated dates, overnight trips, and even the proposal. Kyu-tae asked why she chose him instead of someone more successful, and Ja-young smiled that he’s comfortable and easy to read. He declared that he’ll drop honorifics and Ja-young teases him by grabbing his nose, telling him to go ahead if he has the guts.

She presently lies on her couch mumbling that Kyu-tae has no guts. Just then, he flies through the door and stands proudly in front of her (though he’s unable to say anything besides her name). She pulls him on top of her, and they’ve found their way back together.

The officers dry chillies outside the station and discuss Yong-shik’s wedding. He vows to hold the biggest wedding Ongsan has ever seen.

Chief Byun keeps probing about the bouquet, requesting that they give it to Yeong-shim.

They realize that the chief is in a relationship and poke fun at him, only for him to scuttle away, embarrassed. “I know how to love as well. I’m a bachelor too!” Aw!!

Heung-shik asks to see Yong-shik to reveal that someone framed him for the death of the delivery man. Yong-shik dismisses it as nonsense – if Heung-shik killed 5 people, he’s capable of killing more.

Heung-shik agrees, but that means whoever murdered the delivery guy can kill more people too. He gets twitchy again and confesses that he hates how Yong-shik thinks the world is so peaceful.

He laughs almost maniacally as he says that the Joker is everywhere and new ones will always appear. Yong-shik sighs that Heung-shik must want to leave some creepy vibes at the end of his case, but it’s futile. Bad guys are one in a hundred. Good guys outweigh them in numbers and will always prevail.

He calls it the law of numbers. Bad guys will get outcast while the good ones are mainstream. The ajummas strut around the alley, proudly announcing that they protected Dong-baek with their numbers.

The Camellia undergoes renovations (yay, she’s getting windows!) — Jung-sook bought the place so they no longer have to worry about rent. Her dream of doing something for Dong-baek came true.

Dong-baek also achieves her dream of hearing “thank you.” She stationed a box outside the bar where she receives packages for people who aren’t home. She glows in happiness from the number of thank you’s she gets per day when residents pick up their parcels.

Jong-ryeol makes an appearance in Ongsan, giving Dong-baek a bankbook with 5 million won (~$4,200 USD) in there. The humble amount surprises everyone, and he explains there’ll always be 5 million even if money is withdrawn.

Like a magic pot, it’ll replenish itself until Pil-gu enters the Major Leagues. Jung-sook accepts it before Dong-baek can react. Jong-ryeol warns them not to use it for their wedding since he’s not cool enough to let that happen, leaving with a smile.

Kyu-tae’s mother calls Ja-young, sounding nice for once – she’s made ox knee soup. Ja-young takes this opportunity communicate that that’s Kyu-tae’s favorite; she has different tastes!

Yong-shik runs a dumpling stall outside of the Camellia where Kyu-tae fusses that the dumplings better be good, since they’re for someone special. They go about their usual banter and Kyu-tae berates Yong-shik for speaking informally to him.

He becomes shy when Yong-shik gruffly says that he speaks informally to all his friends, “should I stop?” Yong-shik smirks and treats him to an extra serving, “since it’s for the three of you.” AW, they’re pregnant!!

One couple returned to their roots, and another tries to grow up. Jong-ryeol and Jessica are on a date, sharing a dessert. He gives Jessica time to take pictures before digging in, but she reveals that she quit social media.

She’d wanted compliments, but people just feel sorry for her. Jong-ryeol can relate – if he doesn’t play well, people tell him to cheer up. It’s difficult to speak up about jealousy, but easy to pity others.

Jessica asks if he felt lonely during that time, but he laughs it off. The family would’ve fallen apart if that were the case. He grabs his phone to snap a picture of her, but she sheds a tear. He’s shocked and cutely promises to say the words she wants to hear sometimes… like “You’re pretty,” and “I like you,” which brings her smile back.

Dong-baek worries that going on a honeymoon will affect her business, but Jung-sook tells her to enjoy it while she can.

In stories, people usually get their happy endings after suffering, which Jung-sook thinks is stupid.

She advises Dong-baek to be happy when she can instead of saving it for later. Dong-baek offers some advice of her own: “You don’t chase happiness. You savor it.” She tells Jung-sook to look around and see the flowers.

Dong-baek does some self-reflection, likening her life to an apple tree planted in the sand. She had no soil or other trees to depend on but now, she has solid roots. People have begun to sprout around her, enabling her to see her surroundings clearly. She just had to mingle her roots!

Dong-baek’s finally made herself comfortable, laughing and eating with the neighborhood ladies. She later admires her surroundings while waiting for Yong-shik on a bench. He flirts in his usual dorky way, and they’re all smiles as they embrace.

She wonders if it was a miracle that they met, then decides that she doesn’t believe in something that sounds like a lottery – she believes in herself. Yong-shik beams the brightest smile at her, “I believe in you too,” and they kiss. Too cute.

We see Pil-gu-of-the-future again, who’s on the phone with Dong-baek. He’s busy but expresses his love for her, suggesting that she turn on the TV if she misses him. He gathers himself before opening a door, stepping into a room full of journalists.

The house is filled with Pil-gu’s awards and trophies, as well as a girl’s school uniform that belongs to a Hwang Go-woon (aw, they named their daughter after Hyang-mi). Yong-shik’s been promoted and he sits hand-in-hand with Dong-baek as they watch Pil-gu’s Major League announcement on TV. We only see their backs, but they’ve aged.

As we pan over to meet our couple face-to-face one last time, they’ve reverted back to their younger-looking selves. Dong-baek finally has an answer. “Honey, now that I think about it, my life has been nothing but a miracle.”

  
COMMENTS

That was a rollercoaster of emotions – from horror and sadness, to warm-fuzzies and relief. We were lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that the criminal was locked away. Literally all the signs had us originally pointing fingers at Heung-shik, only for the show to throw us off-track and had us suspecting his dad instead. But now we learn that it was actually Heung-shik all along and…I feel like I have whiplash from all this back-and-forth. His motive to kill was nothing to write home about (I’m still unsure why Dong-baek got on his nerves…she was being nice and noticed him, so he thought she was pitying him all this time? Underwhelming). Also, if he had such impulsive murderous intent, it makes no sense that he’d stop killing for 5 years just because he couldn’t frame his dad anymore. I think the Joker storyline dragged out longer than necessary, and we could’ve spent this time exploring other characters instead.

The whole Nature vs. Nurture debate was brought up by Heung-shik himself. Was he born a monster or raised one? It’s the very thing Hyang-mi struggled with before she passed. She and Dong-baek had similar upbringings but ended up taking different paths. I’d argue that they had it worse than Heung-shik, so there’s no excuse that his upbringing caused him to go on killing sprees. It was sad to see Seok-yong take the blame, but parents will always try to protect their child.

Speaking of parents, JUNG-SOOK!!! Watching the residents of Ongsan meddling in a good way brought the waterworks. It was such a feel-good moment – it’s been drilled in our heads that Dong-baek has never has anything good happen to her. It was amazing to see the amount of effort everyone put in to help her out. All she’s ever wanted was to fit in and she’s finally found a make-shift family that will fight for her (I’m still cry-laughing at the scene with the ajummas attacking Heung-shik. Also, how badass was she when she confronted him? You go, girl!). Dong-baek shines brightest when she smiles, and I’m glad that after all the tears she’s shed during her whole life, she can finally be happy and live for herself.

I’m so happy that Pil-gu grew up surrounded by so much love. Not sure how I feel about Deok-soon suddenly doing a 180 just because Jung-sook was on her deathbed, but I love the protective mama bear side of her too much to really complain about it. I just wish we’d resolved this issue much earlier so we could see more BFF and Pil-gu interactions!

The loose ends were tied up neatly and each character felt like they were more than just an extra. I’d say that was a pretty satisfying finale, and we can move on knowing that Yong-shik and Dong-baek will always cry together, laugh together, and support one another through tough times.

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Overall this was a really good show with some interesting ideas about parenting, intergenerational trauma, and the soul-destroying effect of social exclusion (you'll notice that both serial killers mentioned here - the Joker and the soup poisoner - ostensibly did it because they felt shunned by society). I like that Dongbaek was never shamed by the writers for her life decisions, was allowed a happy ending, and that it didn't involve her losing her son or giving up her business to support her new mother-in-law (both of which would have happened in some more traditional dramas).

I particularly liked that the conclusion of the intergenerational trauma theme (or at least the idea that our parents cede to us so many thing that influence our behaviour in so many ways) was a succession of parents realising their limitations and trying to do better. The cycle breaks first by recognising it's a cycle.

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Now, having said all that...

I was quite uncomfortable with the implication that Dongbaek had somehow chosen social isolation and that her life was better now that she's "let" people in. Dongbaek never isolated herself from this community, they excluded her. And I'm afraid they only let her in when she began to behave "normally", in ways they could understand. None of the things that happened in this series, up to and including the Joker targeting her, wouldn't have happened if this community hadn't shunned her.

So the whole (weird, bizarre, insane very-special-Christmas-episode nonsense) thing where the community rallied to save her Mum seemed to me to be somewhat tone deaf. Yes, we know how awesome it is when everyone works together and has your back, what you can achieve when your community is on your side. That's why your bullying and exclusion was so damn hurtful in the first place, that was the point.

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That's interesting. I interpreted the community suddenly including her in a different way. I felt that it wasn't because she was now behaving 'normally' but because they suddenly understood an outsider was targeting 'one of them'. Like in a family, they were allowed to bully their 'sibling' but other people weren't.

Once they had started to protect her, they accepted her. But yes, I didn't really like the Christmas-special part of the drama either.

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I also agree that it was more of the community that had changed and came to realized there interest and attention in DongBaek also consisted of them caring for her as one their own.

Though, I do think it is sad that it may have taken the death of Hyang-Mi, who was also a close presence in that town, and the news of DongBaek being targeted and endangered by the Joker for many of the main towns people to come to that realization to change and wanting to protect her.

But I do feel the show has been very cleared about how many of the people of Ongsan were the ones to outcasted DongBaek for the long while and not because she was not so assertive about letting people in. I mean even Pilgu was well aware of how his mom is outcasted by their neighbors, so to me that was always well defined about DongBaek’s situation.

To me DongBaek also remained true to how she always was. Yes she did turn up the volume to her level of confidence and she did grow to be more bold and brave about standing up for herself and for those she care about. But the core of her character which I think YongShik also most admired was her gentleness and kindness and diligence that she always offer to her life and to the world and the people around her despite how they may treat or think of her. She is someone who is able to forgive and also to accept of others without conditions. Those qualities are what I love most about her character. And in watching this show, I also appreciate the progression of how the more petty and rough mannered people (like the Ahjummas) also changed to begin to realize their appreciation of DongBaek’s qualities too. They may have seen her gentleness as a weakness and been irritated by her soft manners at the beginning of the show...but when they started to also see the impact of her more gentle manner of strength (which is very different from the hard, brute and outspoken strength of many of the women) they also began to respect her for it too.

Once they started to warm up and began to let DongBaek in, DongBaek is the type to be accepting and appreciative, so for sure she would accept them too. And she did become more comfortable to mingle with them compare to when she was less comfortable before, but isn’t that just a natural process of people growing closer to each other for all sides and parties involved?

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I think I understand where you came from. There is no reasonable explanation for bullying others, and having their back later on cannot make up for what you have wrongly done earlier. This is what I don’t like in this show; and I also don’t think that siblings can bully one another, I mean I cannot make any sense of bullying. I was bullied in the past, and it gave me so much pain for years. Nothing you did was ever good enough, and that could detrimentally and negatively affect the bullied person’s self esteem a great deal for a very long time.

I also think that it’s great that all people in Ongsan had her back when it came to Dongbaek’s mother, I just think that it would have been nice if they hadn’t unreasonably shunned her from the very beginning. Men liked her because she was nice, period. People really should be able to deal with their own jealousy. 😠

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Although the show integrated a variety of genres, the relationships between mothers and their children were highlighted and that was definitely what made it so relatable. It felt like I was watching one of those family dramas with 50+ episodes, but only in 20. The best drama of the year, and one of the best of all time.

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same here, there were so many great dramas this year but this one takes the cake for me. I laughed, I cried, and I fell in love with the characters. The writing and acting was fresh and unexpected and I was never once bored while watching it. Most dramas tend to lose steam by it's second half (hence I have a batch of uncompleted dramas to finish soon) but this one never felt like it reached that 'second half', the story just moved the way it was supposed to. I'm officially a huge HUGE fan of this writer, the stories she writes are so different from the typical drama and has so much heart to it.

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I liked this drama but I didn't connected with it like a lot of Beanies, maybe it's cultural differences but I couldn't get over how terrible bullying by ahjummas was, and it lasted for freaking 8 years, to have it resolved and forgotten so fast. The actress playing them were great and it was great setting but the bullying was too much. And honestly I think DongBaek character was weakest link, she just wasn't written very good but that on the writer because GHJ was splendid and done stellar job with what was given to her. But I'm glad it has great ratings, because it was a good drama with great cast, and let's hope it will encourage more budget for slice of life drama over flashy nonsense.

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The drama was not perfect, but I can hardly remember some of it's flaws, that's how big the power of a satistying finale is. But even objectively thinking the issues the drama had were minor and it was an overall good show. The characters could at times be frustrating, but in the same way real friends can be, they seemed real and complex enough. Even really minor side characters like Jessica's mom got an arc and satisfying resolution. The drama really was good at showcasing a variety of very different women and I apreciate that. I just found out the writer also wrote Fight My Way, another good drama about ordinary people, so now I'm looking forward to their future work.

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I want to add that maybe I would've liked to see Pil-gu bonding with both Young shik and Jong-Ryul but I can imagine that happening in the time before we meet grown up Pil-gu.
As for the Joker, the murder mystery was never that compelling but I feel it was necessary for Hyang-Mi's arc to have the impact it did and for Young Shik to be more than just Dongbaek's love interest. Joker's motives were lame but is there really a good motive for murder anyway? He's a psychopath who showed signs from childhood, I'd say that's just his nature.

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Joker's motives were lame but is there really a good motive for murder anyway?

That's so true and makes me feel at least a little better at how the Joker plot was concluded.

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As for Joker I think they're refering to a true case. I remember someone was talking about a serial killer who wasn't active for 5 years. I don't remember which one it was. (Selective memory works sometimes.) Anyway as it was pointed out people kill for less, look at shooting cases in US. In war soldiers have to kill even if they don't want to because it's an order. The mind of a killer must work similar to a soldier's one. You're on a killing mode and nothing else matters.

But all the bullying ajummas were killing inner spirit of anyone they decided to outcast. It's a unhappy thing because people would still thinking it's normal to do it like any other form of bullying if people think they have their reasons and after some little changes it can be happily ever after. We need to start with very little kids to show them and repeat ourselves that bullying and killing isn't good because children are copying unconsciously adults unless their are reminded every day of that this kind of behaviour is very wrong.

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...is very wrong one.

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Ah... Camellia. This show has always been special to me because it reminded me so much of the place I grew up in, minus Joker of course. Ongsan is a place full of people of all kinds, but they are all good people, just like my own little town.

Watching this show made me felt nostalgic. In that little town I grew up in, everyone knows everyone else and their entire family tree. Everyone is an aunt or an uncle to me. While watching, I often went "ooh, I can see Aunt Mary in Chan Sook, or hey, Kyu Tae is totally Uncle George". I had plenty of aunties in that neighborhood who would always tell me that I am too fat and need to loose weight or else no man would marry me. Yet, they are also the ones who would stand by me and chase away those naughty neighborhood oppas who called me fat and sang their mockery song.

Most of all, I see Deok Soon in my mom and I totally get where she's coming from, although it is extremely hard to explain. She spent her whole life protecting her sons, especially Yong Sik, and trying to remove every single stone in his path much like what my mom did for my brother. I had no doubt that Deok Soon will eventually come to her senses. She is really a sensible and good person inside and I am glad she did at the end.

This show is filled with characters that feels real to me. There are plenty of times when I thought Camellia and People with Flaws should really switch title. I am glad that the show ends with a positive note and with the message that everyone could be that little hero who work with other heroes in the neighborhood, and together their little act of kindness makes a miracle... or to be more realistic, make life just a little better.

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A remarkable drama for me. Not earthshaking, but a warm, fuzzy feeling envelopes you at the end. Characters added the much needed spice to sustain each episode, although the Joker was a bit played out a lot and then was trivialized in the end. Overall, the drama made us aware of the importance of family and relationships that we may neglect along the way because of the daily grind. Much praise to the cast and the entire production group.

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I saw from a comment here that the writer also wrote Fight for My Way and I totally understand why I got this warm, cozy and relaxing vibe from this show. This is not an exciting show, and the show somehow revolves around the same stories, again and again, yet it doesn't feel boring. I give the credit to the director and people involved in making this show the way it is. It is a charming show; it has its own way of telling us its story, and it managed to bring us along all the episodes without boring us.

I, however, still feel a bit off when it comes to the issue of bullying. There hasn't been anything wrong with Dongbaek from the very beginning; hence, as much as I like the fact that all people in Ongsan helped Dongbaek with her mother's condition and surgery, I think it is a bit out of place.

Having said that, one of the things I like the most in this show is the message it conveys through and through: when you love someone enough, you will protect/ try to protect that person the best you can. Apart from all the relationships between mothers and their children, we got this message from seeing how Jung Reol protected Jessica, and how Hyang-mi protected and looked after her younger brother. And I think that is what makes me like this show very much.

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Thanks for the analysis everyone, I would just like to say: We want MORE PILGU!!

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Little Pil Gu or adult Pil Gu or both?

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Little Pil Gu definitely! But the adult one is such an eye candy I wouldn't mind him either.

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Hehehe. Same here. Although with more Little Pil Gu, we would get more Kang Haneul and Gong Hyo Jin, so that is a plus. 😉

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ahhh yes..bonus! or even his bestie grandma :)

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Apparently there are going to be 2 special episodes with extra scenes next week. But they probably won't be shown on Netflix.

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ooohhh really? those will prolly be all the bts and NGs, i hope it does air.

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In the first half of Camellia I was obsessed with this show. I would rewatch scenes and even entire episodes because I loved it do much. Eventually the episodes stopped having this effect on me and I was satisfied with one or two nice scenes. So it's not my favorite of the year because my interest eventually fizzled out, but it's still a great drama (my favorite thus far is One Spring Night, btw).

I really dislike everything involving the Joker plot. It just feels dumb to me, even so because the Joker turned out to be Heung-shik whom was the main and only suspect until his father was introduced much later in the story.

I enjoy the ending of our characters but I wish the drama had explored more the journey to get here. Everything was delayed to be resolved on the finale and it felt a little rushed. It doesn't make this a bad drama but I can't help but be disappointed that it didn't fulfill all its potential.

Still, I'll remember fondly of this little community and the bonds they share. Farewell, Ongsan.

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Also, I feel this would've have been much more concise with a 16 episodes run. The pacing dragged a little bit.

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You have perfectly summarised my thoughts on this show. I loved it at first and then it lost momentum and I had to almost force myself to watch the last few episodes. Although I’m glad I did, because the final few scenes of the finale were worth it.

I wish we’d seen more of the relationship between Pil-gu and his two father figures. I wish we’d seen more of Dong-baek and Yong-shik’s relationship outside of Joker angst... and I’ll admit Dong-Baek did infuriate me at points. But I love the message that the drama was trying to send, and Yong-shik was so pure 🥺

So yeah... mixed feelings on this show, but I’m glad to have watched it. (Also ‘One Spring Night’ was also by far my favourite drama of last year. So many emotions!)

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(Some of this I already said on the fan wall, but):

The final week went unexpectedly better than I thought.
It was still quite enjoyable and a had a nice (albeit, convenient) farewell vibe to it, and I liked the final sentiment of miracles just being the total sum of luck that's owed to you.

Some issues about the second half of the show that I have a bone to pick with were offhandedly resolved, but not satisfyingly enough for me.
(1) The most annoying thing was Yong-shik's mother's disapproval of Dongbaek. She had her own (ridiculous) reasons, but her arguments were unconvincing and her persistence to maintain her position became increasingly grating and eventually unbearable.
(2) The Joker plot was rather anti-climatic towards the end, and I bet the final twist surprised no one
(3) The usual noble idiocy i.e break-up before the finale week. Although I have to say, this was one that was rather handled "well," because (imo) the show didn't indulge in the resulting pain or make it the focus for the final episodes. But still.
(4) Jong-ryeol’s ambiguous role as Pil-gu’s father. I feel like it’s such a shame that Dong-baek made Pil-gu choose between both of them, that she never properly discussed how to co-parent Pil-gu with him, which eventually robbed him of the chance of having a father (even though Yong-shik probably was a father figure).

But all in all, I liked this show in general and I'd give it an 8/10 for all the things it DID do right.
At its core, this was an exploration of human relationships; and this show portrayed it with apt intensity, compassion and grace.

I can’t wait to see what this writer does next, because I think s/he improves with each project.

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4- yes, Jong-ryeol’s role in Pil-gu's life could have been handled much much better and that was one of the things that was consistently disappointing throughout the course of the show, especially for a how that focused so much on motherhood and how our parents shape us. We got a glimpse that now DB accepts his financial support for the kid, but it would've been nice to see him playing more than the role of a credit card in Pil-gu's life. I chose to believe those things happened offscreen

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I was really surprised by these last two episodes. At the end of the previous episode, the way that YS and Chief Byun were hanging their heads and apologizing for being too late, I was sure Mom had died. And the writer, and HS's dad, and HS himself had tried so hard to convince us that HS's dad was Joker (the shoes, the poison, the mutterings about witches, locking him in, and the five years since his accident), that I believed it. What a shock to find that he was covering for his son. Did it make any sense to leave his son to keep killing?

I loved this show, and the main reason I loved it was YS. He's the kind of character who could brighten anyone's day. I can't help but contrast Kang Ha-neul's comeback project with Ji Chang-wook's. KHN's will forever be on my best list, while I wouldn't even watch JCW's, which many people have nominated for worst drama ever. Sad for JCW, but so impressed with KHN. I hope he continues to do this kind of impressive work.

I'm glad that DS made up with Pil-gu and became his grandma/protector. It gives them both a reason to be happy about DB and YS's relationship. I'm also happy that JR stood up for Jessica, and that they're working on becoming a family. Even more, I'm happy that Kyu-tae and Ja-young reset their relationship. Goodbye, Ongsan, I'll miss you.

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I had to drop "Melting Me Softly". That show was so bad. But I don't think JCW would have been cast for "When the Camellia Blooms". He's a flashier looking guy so I don't he would be as believable as a aw-shucks small-town kind of guy.

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Camellia Finale ~ where do I start with you?

Positively, this was a lovely live watching experience. My mom and sister were watching, and we had conference phone calls to discuss the latest episodes, argue about spoilers, and swoon over Yong Shik (my mom does not usually swoon over actors, but her love for Kang Ha Neul now rivals my sister’s, for whom he is an ultimate bias, Can biases be genetic?). The last episode for us read like a hallmark Christmas movie, with Yuletide music, a miracle, and little boys praying for their grandma. My mom, sister, and I have a tradition of watching those cheesy movies together, so it both tickled and delighted us to no end. (My sister usually only watches horror and angsty Melos, my mom Murder mysteries, so the combination of genres in Camellia was utterly up our alley for a family watch).

The residents of Ongsan were so compelling in their completeness, we met them and saw their flaws, but as the show continued it showed us the caring, still petty, ultimately human person that each person was (except for Heung Shik, who started out a nice handyman and turned out to have no compassion underneath). The Ongsan ahjummas remind me of my mother’s matriarchal family, proud, petty, with many hurtful words, but if I was left alone with them as a child they would braid my hair and tell me that I was pretty just like my mom.

Negatively, as I understand it, the show had a four episode extension and it showed. The last few weeks I annoyed my family with my mantra of “the writer is spinning the plot wheels because they are trying to stretch out the ending” and I feel like i was proved right ~ DB had to cry and not act, not even after her elevator declaration, so that Hyang Mi’s beer glass smashed into Joker’s Head could be that epic climatic moment as I believe it had been planned since the beginning. The last lines were always meant to be her realization about life being a miracle, cheesy as that is. If we hadn’t had the plot spinning wheels before those satisfying ending moments it would have dragged on after them instead. I’m not saying that it excuses the crying (my mom sarcastically doing an impression of the director telling DB to cry more is a highlight of this watch), but it makes me understand the writer more.
I also think some of the last couple of weeks were filmed after the first half of the drama. Anyone else notice Pil Gu’s growth spurt? He had already filled out from growing a head taller, which is usually a tell tale sign of scenes added after the main shooting is done. Also the adult Pil Gu’s interview on the tv had him in different clothes than his strut down the hallway, which makes me think the cliff hanger of his annoyed call with DB was added after the interview scene, which DB and YS were always meant to be watching in their final scene.

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Overall, for me endings have always been the most important part of stories ~ it decides whether you walk away with a good or bad aftertaste. This show started well and ended well, going to the place promised in the beginning, and if it got lost along the way, well, so many stories do without giving us any good resolution that I can only minorly fault it for those episodes. (There are several dramas from this year I stopped halfway through and never finished, and hearing other people’s opinions on their endings has not made me even want to skim the last episode, as I unashamedly admit to doing).

Camellia, it’s multi faceted characters, and overall it’s big heart were sweet to experience. As I told my mom, the show felt like a love letter by the writer to the small communities they undoubtedly grew up in. (That final compilation of pictures of everyday heroes who do the actual jobs depicted in Camellia sealed that for me).

PS biggest complaint is actually that my prediction that there would be an episode about fatherhood didn’t happen. Sigh.

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Whoa good observations!

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..."the show felt like a love letter by the writer to the small communities they undoubtedly grew up in"...

For me, this show took off the rose tinted glasses we so often get of "small communities". It wasn't judgmental or sentimental - it was warmly honest. The drama never shied away from the negatives that come with the positives of small town life. That warmth of belonging so often idealised also naturally creates the flip side - a world of insiders and outsiders.

I love that this drama was never afraid of what is in the shadows and how actually acknowledging what we often don't want to help us see people more whole and complex.

Its a love letter for something loved warts and all.

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“Warmly honest” I really like that descriptor of the writing ~ yes, characters were bullies to outsiders, yes DB was timid, but it showed us how each person was also “more” than that ~ not perfect, not necessarily consistent, but I think that’s part of being human too ^_^

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“not perfect, not necessarily consistent” ~ I agree that is part of being human :)

And actually, I’m thankful that we can have the ability to change and adapt. Molded forms and rigid consistency, I can’t fully imagine but those do not seem like pleasant or agile qualities to me.

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Your words ...”the show felt like a love letter by the writer to the small communities they undoubtedly grew up in...” also really grabbed my attention.
And I think @SadKDramaLama spoke some of the thoughts that were also in my mind in response!!! Both of your comments really resonated for me about this show.

It is in this intimate style of a letter that the show was able to be “warmly honest” too and to display its big heart, which has been sweet to experience.

I very much agree with the comment that the show also did not shy away portraying and showing us the shadow side of things.

I don’t think this show ever really points rigidly out that “this is wrong” or “that is right” about any of the personalities or relational issues or dynamics...but it presents them as the situations and conditions as they are and how there are and can be different ways of responding or reacting to similar conditions/pressures from the different characters’ perspectives, natures and habits. I love that their was no black or white with the world of Camellia, but a progressing realization that the world is very colorful and with many hues, and requires both the light and shadow to be observed and acknowledged before we can know the hidden warmth or coldness that may lie at core of a character or situation.

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I agree with your thoughts too ~ I like that idea that we need to see the light and the shadow to appreciate the colors of the world and the people in it ^_^

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Okay, thank you! I was confused by what I perceived as an incongruity, when the production team really has been meticulous ~

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AWWWW

this was such a warm wrap up. i loved how the show stays true to its underlying theme of ongsan, it's residents, it's family and how the ahjumma have dongbaek's back.

teared up like a baby when everyone was trying to hustle and save dongbaek's mom and praying for a miracle. and that scene at the end. "my life has been nothing but a miracle" *UGLY SOB

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i enjoyed the show but couldn't find the dongbaek character fully believable - her weakness vs her moments courage & strength seemed incongruous.
also, the casting of gong hyojin seemed off too. i don't think she is objectively beautiful although she has cute & attractive characteristics. GJH doesn't have the beauty that dongbaek is portrayed to have, head turning and jaw dropping.
other than that there was some amazing acting & story telling and messages being communicated.

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It didn't seem like there were that many younger women in the town other than Hyang Mi so maybe that's why?

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I was really surprised and pleased with how much I loved the conclusion of this show. I enjoyed Camellia throughout, but it was not ever going to be a "top 10" show for me. I loved the final 2 (or 4) episodes, though. They weren't perfect, but they did such a great job of wrapping up so many side plots and giving me all the warm fuzzy feelings. In a world where way too many great dramas disappoint with bad/mediocre endings, it was so nice to walk away from a show that I felt had an ending that was better than anticipated. Here's hoping for more of these in the future!

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Yes! Too many shows fail to give even a mildly satisfying ending, that I’m happy enough with their tying up of loose strings and giving everyone a happy ending ^_^

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Having a preference for the quiet moments rather than the over the top Hallmark Christmas Special moments, I was especially fond of the few seconds spent showing a girl’s school uniform with Hyang-mi’s true name on it. It was a lovely way to remember her, as she wanted.

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I totally didn’t catch the name on the school uniform, but it’s such a lovely detail. It really is more heartwarming than the amped up Christmas moments ~

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I found the Joker storyline resolution anti-climatic, but atleast they resolved it well and didn't just leave it at Heung-shik's dad. I just loved that scene of Dong-baek and the ajummas attacking him. I'm a little hazy about how they depicted the earlier scenes where they made it seem that his father was Joker, and even the DNA scenes. Must pay attention to these if I rewatch the show.
I had hoped that they would come up with a proper co-parenting arrangement, but since Pil-gu went on to play baseball, we can assume he did re-connect with Jong-ryeol over baseball and saw more of him right? I think it would have been great if it in the last scene they would have put a shot of Jong-ryeol watching him on TV too just to symbolize that.
I totally missed their daughter's uniform, yayyy for adding that detail.
I totally agree with everybody's views on this shows depiction of parenting issues as well as different kinds of women.
I think the finale could have gone a number of ways, but its really nice that they ended it on a perfect, although unrealistic note. But with the theme of miracles and the ode to ordinary people who face very similar such obstacles in life, it totally worked and really left me feeling warm and happy too! Inspite of some reservations I have, I feel totally satisfied, and yeah its true very few shows give that result.
I really enjoyed live watching it, and for the beautiful characterization and acting, this show has made it to my favourites.
I'll be looking out for more shows of the actor who played Pil-gu.

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I agree, I felt that it would have been nice to have a scene of a bunch of older people watching Pil Gu from different homes, or a group watch by the neighborhood.

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I never thought the murder mystery added to the overall story. If the Joker plot was missing, there would have been more time to explore the actual character interactions and personalities like how the market women became so powerful while their husbands became weak losers. Or why the market women kept DB at bay for so long.

I know that highly rated shows like to give sweet happy endings for fans, but the last two episodes seemed to be rushed and to miraculous. Overall it was a good drama, but it could have been better.

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@welh
If you look at the Joker creating a straight murder mystery, then sure it was problematic. However, if the Joker was a MacGuffin, then it actually was the catalyst for characters. I had previously described this as the "Terminal Illness" genre and I still think that is a better fit for this show. I have learnt to always take the show descriptions that they put out with a grain of salt. I suspect these are marketing driven to fit into audiences simplified knowledge...as an example how many Melos are nothing of the type (Just Between Lovers - I'm looking at you).

P.S. For those unfamiliar with MacGuffin think Rosebud in "Citizen Kane" or the Ring in "Lord of the Rings", and nearly every war movie is basically this - the unseen drives and reveals the characters.

Sure all we can do is discuss what the drama actually was, but for me post HM's death this drama felt affected by the extension. The drama just didn't feel as tightly in control of all its elements and after that it began to re-write what it had told us earlier. Personally, this show has give me a whole new suite of actors I will watch out for and Son Dam-Bi as HM will stick with me.

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“ Son Dam-Bi as HM will stick with me “

Same for me, too.

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“ Son Dam-Bi as HM will stick with me “

I also would second that!
And thanks, I learn something new - the term MacGuffin. :)

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The Joker punchline was around social exclusion so I disagree that he was a MacGuffin. Sure he provided an impetus to the behaviour of certain characters' but at his core he was the ultimate exampler of many of the destructive behaviours examined by the text: misoygnism, masculinity issues, poor parenting, and feelings of social isolation and exclusion.

The Joker problem was not a MacGuffin problem, it was a pacing problem. It was dragged out to the final episode and so it took long to get to the point.

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I want to send a THANK YOU to you all, this fabulous Beanies community!

I was lead and introduced to dramabeans through the curiosity and thoughts that were provoke while watching Camellia; for once while watching a drama I actually felt a desire to have an outlet to perhaps discuss more and to see what others are thinking about the ideas presented in the show.

I have enjoyed ten-folds more the experience of watching the Camellia story bloom while also reading the recaps here and perusing so many of the comments that have been shared per the episodes. I have learned more and thought more about many of the ideas and themes shared in this drama thanks to the simply amazing qualities of comments that can be found here. Seriously, the level of thoughtfulness and interest, analysis and insight that can be gathered here is awesome!

Comments have added some more laughter, new ideas and amusements for me and also can rile up some different feelings of their own about the drama storylines and characters and story lessons. :)

So for me Camellia, will also be special as the drama that shared this opportunity to connect with you wonderful Beanies! This drama really has provided me a kind of warmth and enjoyment, I think is quite unique in the portfolio of dramas I have made time to watch. And the time here, I think was also well worth it to up the entertainment and enjoyment factor.

For those in the US, happy thanksgiving ahead, and happy times ahead to all of you!

Peace.

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☺️ Happy Thanksgiving to you!

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Thanks! And happy holidays too! And again I really enjoy your detailed observations shared and the very sweet thought from the finale about Camellia being like a “love letter”.

I’ve borrowed your thought and that will identify this show for me now. In the manner that this show have moved me and allowed me to connect with the characters, it is as interesting and moving like a heart warming love letter ;) ....and I also think back to the letter of love from DB’s mom to her, and of course we have all the love journeys between the various couples.
.....maybe that is why it just exudes a heart warming sweetness, as that was the intention all along.

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Thank you too for (even temporarily) joining this community. Your comment made me remember the first time I accidentally came to this page. It was so heartwarming to see many lovely beanies warmly welcomed me to be part of their community, I mean that moment it was very touching, I can always remember its feeling now.

Dramabeans is a lovely community full of interesting Beanies and their ideas. What it was in the past is what it is nowadays. Beanies are just super cool.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, well, even though I don't have that in the country where I live.

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Thank you!

** “Beanies are just super cool.” **

Yes, I think you guys totally are!

The super cool vibe was very apparent to me even from my first visit to this site for a Camellia recap.

When I started reading the comments and responses to comments, I also felt encouraged to comment and shared my thoughts freely too. And especially the welcome from other Beanies was much appreciated.

I find it very interesting too as I’m typically quite reserve about sharing my thoughts in online/social media/forums, but I never had a sense of hesitation to peruse comments or to maybe add my own comments here. I also look forward to reading Beanies’ comments whenever a recap becomes available, knowing I’ll most likely get to read many interesting thoughts that can spark more ideas.

The welcoming and thoughtful community vibe here at Dramabeans is strong....thanks for making it feel so easy and comfortable to join in on discussions, and making the drama-watching experience more meaningful because of it.

I definitely know where to go now when I start on a new drama that draws my interest.
Thanks again! :)

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Thanks @selena I'm glad I watched this show. It started out rather dark and suspenseful with the discovered body of Hyangmi, but became a much warmer and healing show. I think I'll re-watch the parts where the community finally came together to help Dongbaek, when I want to get some warm feels.

I like the different takes on parenting and the parent-child relationship theme, and the reconciliation of estranged couples theme, which is kind of rare nowadays. There's hope in patience, forgiveness and second chances. 😄

It's going to be hard watching Kang Haneul as a different character after this. Kudos to KHN and Gong Hyojin for selling the romance and kudos to the whole production team for making this fun to watch and quite believable.

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Thank you for this idea!
....”I think I'll re-watch the parts where the community finally came together to help Dongbaek, when I want to get some warm feels.”
I read this and thought that is probably what I could and would do too. :) this show has some strong warm and feel good scenes that can easily stand alone to re-watch and enjoy again and again and provide their happy feelings.

I also like the thought - “There's hope in patience, forgiveness and second chances.” I think the theme of forgiveness and the possibility for redemption is also very important in this story, especially in the case of Jung-sook’s character. Her dream at the end of going back to her regretful moment and making a different decision to not leave DongBaek. Waking up to the chance to be alive and to get to continue to live along side her daughter, is a beautiful second chance.

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Kang Ha Neul is uber talented, one of the best actors in his generation/line-up rn!! Very versatile actor! His character seemed tailor made for him, and I really can't see anyone else doing the character justice like he did tbh. He and Gong Hyo Jin had such wonderful sweet chemistry with one another, what an unexpected pairing at first but it worked out amazing in the end!

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..."Kang Ha Neul is uber talented"...

His comic timing is such a surprise. I think this is what allowed him to carry a role that could have been so cringe...I'm sure on paper, most actors would have run a mile from taking on this character.

Every episode KHN made the character richer without ever giving up what was sold as a bumbling man-child in the first eps.

He just had this way of making me see his energy as endearing and then - BAM! He revealed how clearly he saw the world.

I would love to know what his take was on the character - for me, it was like Kang Ha Neul used that puppy honesty like sonar...some how it allowed him to see the truth people try to keep hidden behind their public mask. When he called out JR the first time it totally stripped him naked of pretence - it was so insightful and brutally calm - I really wasn't prepared for it.

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“He just had this way of making me see his energy as endearing and then - BAM! He revealed how clearly he saw the world.”

Perfectly described!!! You worded so precisely what has also been my impression and greatest respect about KHN’s character. His “sonar” abilities was the best and most honest! :)

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I'm sorta heart eyes about him haha. His comic timing is gold, and he is also really expressive. I was quite taken back by how into the role he is with how he uses his body to show comedic scenes!

Same here! In the hands of another lead, it could've gone south and come across as juvenile but he gives the role heart which I appreciated <3

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You are so spot on about his physicality. It's even more remarkable in that it is so uncommon in KDrama male leads currently. For some reason it doesn't seem to fit with KDrama shooting style and camera framing. Jang Hyuk is the only other male lead I can currently think of who has that level of physicality in his acting...I swear in some scenes it looks like he is physically trying to restrain himself to tone it down.

If that is his natural physicality and comedic timing, then I suspect it will make Kang Ha Neul fantastic and surprising in a number of roles - Particularly when the drama or script needs to be shot wider. (it was where HDL fell down for me neither of the leads had the physicality to work with the wide camera necessitated by the CGI).

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I completely agree. Kang Ha Neul is outstanding here. He's YS from the top of his head to tge tip of his toe. KHN has a musical theater background which I think make his acting strong when it comes to full body expression.

Other actor that I think also excel.for that type of acting, beside Jang Hyuk as pointed out by dramalama, is Jo Jung Suk. Check him out in Jealousy Incarnate. He also has musical theatre background and actually a close hyung to KHN. They were in Youth over flowers Iceland and hilarious together.

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Aww I'm really going to miss this sweet show </3

It was fun watching it in real time, and waiting for the next episodes to air. I loved the characters and the small town vibe so much. In the middle, it dragged with the Joker subplot (I guess that's the only minor quibble I've regarding the show). Other than that, it reminded me of Pushing Daisies/Amelie with the fairy tale small quirky town vibes.

The message of kindness was beautiful and the last few episodes were AMAZING, that whatever issues I had were gone. Refreshing at times, and heartwarming as well. Definitely going to be one of those K-dramas, that people will look back on fondly 5-10 years and more down the line, and that to me is a true marker of a great K-drama. Future classic :)?

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I thought it was a satire-irony, no? Like, Yong-Shik went to Seoul to find an uptown girl who owns the world - working or owns a famous law firm, yet he found his true-love in his village - owning a club. All the makjang; you get all the makjang when everyone on your city/village hates/dislike your girl/boyfriend. Not only your mother/father/inner family, but the whole village plus one serial killer.

Yet, when trouble really happened, they became solid and united. From one person who thought her life was a joke, but has one of the prettiest smile (because it came from the heart) to a heroine who held a miracle. And almost all the characters have one or more good personal development, what's not to love?

This drama has so many layers and what's not revealed didn't mean it wasn't there. You just haven't found it, yet. But, it showed in different pace and place, might be boring to some. For me, it intertwined beautifully. Even the serial killer. Having a grandiose of oneself to the extend that you just want everyone else vanishes, with unreasonable motive to kill someone is truly one of the psychopath's traits. Who would hate you just because you can wake up and be smiley every day when nothing is good happening around you? Oh, but there will always be a joker in the world, around the world, every era.

I thought I would hate this drama with all these plus 40 episodes to watch. I hated it with passion that I binged watch it within 2 weeks (waiting for the last 4 episodes to air), :))))))
So satisfying. The irony for me, yes, it should be a thriller with a serial killer on the move, but why I felt so warm inside watching this with a big smile on my face?

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I really loved this show!

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I am going to miss these characters, even though at times I was yelling at the TV. I am glad how everything turned out, especially with Pil-gu. Though I think so much could have been avoided, if just they sat down and talked with him, but we are in K-drama land. Two characters that I found charming were the lawyer and her husband - I am glad they got to work things out. The dumpling scene in the last episode brought tears to my eyes. Seems they are going have a child- cool. YS's mom came around thank goodness. I was so happy when DB's mom bought the place for her- I adored that place. Yippee. I want to live there. I knew Joker was the son- the bottle scene was cool and it was about time! Baseball dad redeemed himself and good that he and Jessica are on some road to try. I can see there is Love there. YS and DB- probably the cutest couple in K-drama land. She cried, He cried- it really worked. The one little thing that I thought was so meaningful was how the towns lady's really wanted DB to include them in her life, from the get-go, even though they gave very mixed signals, I actually understood what they meant. The scene of them all eating on the street touched my heart and I don't know what was on DB mom's head but I loved it- probably she had set her hair and it was in curlers. It showed her recovery on so many levels. Still quite shaken up about our girl that got killed.... wished it were otherwise as I found her to be very interesting and quite likeable, even with her bad choices. She died loved and an important person to at lest DB and that is something. I don't know what happened to her brother but it kinda doesn't make any sense as he seemed to adore her as a child, so the writers messed up a bit with that arc. I would have liked to have seen their daughter or at the very least a family photo on the wall of YS, DB, Pil-gu and Hwang-Go-woon. Really a cool show.

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Very much like reading your comment.

Showing the school uniform of their daughter was very sweet..but I agree, I would have really appreciate if we could have been shown a full family photo :) ...though maybe that would be sweetness overload for that ending scene (?) lol

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I wouldn't have minded that sweetness overload. I am a sucker for it. At first, I had no idea what the uniform was about- I can be dense that way. I was too excited as I was trying to see what the house looked like and if it was a new one or the old one fixed up a bit.

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I liked this drama very much and have no major complaints at all.
I don't love the bullying, but it makes sense. It's a small, insular, Korean town where everybody has known everybody else their whole lives. Beautiful young single mom comes and opens a bar. All the men hang out there. They don't explain why to their wives. She isn't overly friendly (she does not go to the neighbourhood meetings), and from their point of view, she acts guilty when the women interact. She's not guilty, she's painfully shy and intimidated, but they don't know that- she's beautiful and her smile, as the feisty lawyer lady said, is intimidating. They feel threatened by her and nothing she does makes them feel less threatened. She hires Hyang-Mi, who is *obviously* 'no better than she should be,' (poor girl). Her son gets in fights at school and he's never the one who loses. She's the witness of a serial killer who killed her only friend in town, and who the papers say only goes after prostitutes, so their fears that she is a loose woman who could threaten their marriages are inflamed. the only women who are her friends have no husbands to worry about.

None of it is okay and it's not DB's *fault,* but it is true if she'd pushed back, if she'd asked for help with Pil-gu, if she'd gone to the neighbourhood meetings, if she'd realized what they were afraid of, that would have helped. She couldn't do those things because she was insecure. It's also true that if they had gone to her bar, if they had tried to be friendlier and ask some questions and find out more about her that would have helped. They couldn't do that because they felt insecure about her. The bullying and ostracizing was wrong. But it wasn't not only because she's not one of them. It's based in totally misunderstanding each other. It only starts to get better when they realize they were wrong about her.
I don't blame DS, either. I am an American and so my culture's understanding of family ties is much looser and more inclusive than a Korean Ajumma of DS's age, and I still wouldn't have wanted my kids to fall in love with a guy with a kid. That's so much harder adn more complicated than the life I want for them. I wouldn't have pitched a fit like DS, but that's because as an American, I have much less say in who my kids marry anyway. She was always going to come around, I think even she knew it.

I loved the 'It's a Wonderful Life" style Christmas ending, too. Cheesy, unrealistic, only in drama-land, but still heartwarming and sweet and celebratory of the theme- that normal people matter, normal, every day people in any neighbourhood can be and are heroes.

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@DHMRS
I actually gave a happy sigh after reading this comment!...perfectly said in every word about the insights as to where many of the characters may be coming from.

How you lay out the description of the relationship and perception between DB and the female neighbors (that could have established throughout the years prior to the present time setting we see in the story) and how “It's based in totally misunderstanding each other. It only starts to get better when they realize they were wrong about her.” It all makes so much more sense to me, especially how Dongbaek is “painfully shy and intimidated” and How the other women were also very intimidated by DongBaek - Ja Young our smartest and most respected lady in town is a great example cited about the intimidation the other ladies would feel toward DongBaek.

And I actually feel the neighborhood ladies may have been more intimidated by DongBaek then she was of them...so it was even harder for them to approach her nicely all this time. When she had decided to move away, they finally realized how sad they would be and their initial attempts to be nice to her then was sweet even if awkward. :)

Those ladies have some sharp edges in their personalities, but they also remind me of some of my aunts :) so I also do get them in a way and how it can be hard for them to simply “act nice” as they may have intentions to be. I’m just happy that they did realized where they were wrong and so can finally warm up to and show that they care and stop giving the “very mixed signals” as @Corman mentioned. Of course the story shows us that their sharp edges still remain - as we see in the comments they jab at HuengShik (though he deserves it! Unlike Dong Baek) - but that sharpness is natural to their character, even when they care about you. To me it also affirms the comment in the show about the neighborhood of Ongsan - that they may not seem very nice but they give you a warm feeling. I think that would be why DongBaek has said she actually enjoyed living in Ongsan. I remember a past scene where she shared about how the Ahjummas would “yell” at her to come get the kimchi they made and wanted to give to her.

I also thought of “It’s a Wonderful Life” from this finale ...”Cheesy, unrealistic, only in drama-land” - lol, yes totally agree with you there, but I also loved it for the take away message you mentioned the story is trying to share.

There are very good reminders that the show expresses - how it is important to be a little more generous and kind and caring towards our neighbors, close ones or strangers. And I also think the show presses the message for us to not be so judgmental towards others when we really may not know their story and that there is detriment to forming and holding prejudices.

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If Beanies are starting to think about End Of Year nominations...can I put in a plug for categories.

Ensemble shows should be a writing award not an acting award. Camellia is a clear example where the script sets the non-lead characters to carry so much of the story. How many of them continued to influence events and persist in our minds even when they were not included in scenes directly.

I loved so many of the cast, but in reality that was because the script gave the actors so much to work with.

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Agree! I would also second “a writing award”. Wonderful script and development of all the characters and giving them all such presence and purpose.

This is one of the few dramas I’ve watch where I can appreciate all the cast...from our main couple to even the lady nurse who is the sister of one of our Ahjummas and is the contact to keep them in the loop about the medical situation in this episode.

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@LorNgn

It was more that typically when DB does Ensemble Cast- its about the cast...and the conversations are overwhelmingly actor dominated.

I was trying to say that, sure we may connect with the actors but Ensemble Dramas are about the writing. Forest of Secrets, My Mister, and the “Reply" series are all grounded by the scriptwriter. In these dramas, even sundry characters are so fleshed out and you don't hit a generic background player until you get to the extras.

I am starting to see that it is the script that flips the entire drama structure. In traditional dramas, the cast is there as a vehicle for the leads - where as in Ensemble dramas the script uses the leads to reveal the ensemble.

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“...the script uses the leads to reveal the ensemble...“ - very nice....thanks for for sharing and clarifying more about the Ensemble Cast concept. I wasn’t so familiar with it. It is good to know.

Your reference of My Mister also allows for me to have an additional comparison to relate. That was another drama I fully loved and was very much immersed by the world and characters and interrelationships.

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Finally finished the drama. Unfortunately i really didnt connected to the dramas like you guys. Only thing interesting was to me was Kim Ji Suk- the son relationship. How it would be much better given he didnt know he had a son. I blame Dongbaek a lil bit for this.
I actually watched Camellia Blooms, flower crew: joseon marriage agency and Tale of Nokdu. But disappointed by each one. Then I tried A little thing called first love. I am in love with this drama. Never seen such good chinese drama for a while now.

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@urnaa

..."I blame Dongbaek a lil bit for this"...

I wish you didn't pull your punch on this comment. You open up a whole can of worms that have been bubbling under the surface in the comments.

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For the first several episodes I was pretty furious about DB not telling Jong-Reul he had a son so that he could make a choice. I can't absolve her entirely, but there are some points that made me understand her and sympathize more, and sympathize less with JR.
He knew she had a pregnancy scare. He never saw the results, he just took her word for it but made it super clear to her he did *not* want there to be a baby. And then she disappears almost immediately. Anybody who had two minutes to think of somebody besides himself would have wondered- and I think deep down, he knew, since the first thing he says when he finds out is "You said you weren't pregnant that time!"

He always talked about Ongsang, and that's why she went there so that if he wanted to find her, he could. But he never really looked for her at all.

Pil-gu told him there's a bigger penalty for not knowing- and JR acknowledges that's fair. Isn't that interesting? Why do you think he agrees that he should have known? I think it's because he knew that he really recognizes that he closed his eyes to the facts around him and that is half the reason he did not 'know.' He's a man who knows the facts of life, knows he's been spreading seed, knows the person he spread that seed with went and got a pregnancy test and then when he made it clear he didn't want the baby told him there wasn't one - and she moves out. IMO, he probably suspected and was trying not to know. He only believed what he *wanted* to believe.

In my area several years ago there was some controversy about a new law being passed requiring adoption agencies to track down potential birth fathers and get their permission. We were in the process of adopting at the time and I thought that sounded reasonable. Our case worker said it wasn't for most cases. she said they were adults who knew what they'd been doing and who with and how to count nine or ten months, so responsible men would check up later to see if they had helped make a baby or not, and irresponsible men shouldn't have a say in the baby's future. I'm not saying she was completely correct, but it does make me think that JR really did make a lot of selfish choices that were all about him making sure he didn't have to experience anything uncomfortable. Even when he learns about Pil-Gu and wants to have him around, he's irresponsible and won't own him as his child, but makes him call him uncle.

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So many interesting thoughts in this comment. Thanks @DHMRS for sharing and also for the information related to the Adoption law and the experience of the case worker regarding what they observed with “responsible men” compare to “irresponsible men”.

And I agree with your assessment of JR’s character. There were many instances in the story where JR had left me we the impression that he certainly tends to “believed what he *wanted* to believe.” And in that manner, he often reacted in situation and made many rude/demanding remarks based on what he wanted to believe or thinks he knows and often did not really try to find out what was the other person’s story or feelings. Even when he does find out the other’s feelings (because they share with him) he didn’t always seem to fully listen or care or know how to handle it without still injecting what he wants.

I think that not having things go his way with DB and with Pilgu and the discomforts he experienced in wanting to enter their lives was the very important catalyst for him to start seeing his flaws and learning or at least come to the realization of how selfish he has been. That opened the way for him to be able to start improving his ways.

Borrowing from your idea, I think he was an irresponsible man towards the women he supposedly love, but he also wanted to be a responsible man...and he came to find out that he can’t properly take care of others while being selfish and wanting things to follow his way. His story was more interesting to me once it made sure to have some sense knocked into him.

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It took me almost a week to finally find the time when I won’t be interrupted while watching the finale. I love the whole drama so much that I want to enjoy my last moments with all the characters thoroughly.
Aside from thinking that this show would be better at 16 episodes, I love everything else. If the killer is indeed the father instead of Heung Shik, that would be fine as well. I just thought that the twist of making Heung Shik the killer was just another plot to drag the story (or maybe it was Heung Shik all along and they make the dad the killer to drag the story. Who knows. 🤷🏼‍♀️)
Aside from that, I love everything else. Kang Ha Neul and Gong Hyo Jin are such a good actors. They even cried beautifully. Everyone else has their closure. Love the Ongsan community, love Pil Gu and his future, even Jong Ryeol and Jessica.

Thank you When Camellia Blooms for the past 3 months. You’re definitely gonna get a bulk of my beans from this year beanies count! 😍😋

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Beanies, there are still a find spots that I do not quite understand...

1. Why did HS still put out cat food?
2. Why did HS still sent DB's mom to hospital when he knew that she had seen him at the scene? Red herring??
3. Why did HS lock his dad inside the house?

Hope you can share your thoughts.

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@amaebi

I think you have hit on what for me has been the subtlest bomb the writer laid in the script. Most viewers will happily accept the bow put on it and move on...so this is for the few viewers to ponder over.

I agree, to me, HS and his father were never really resolved (as it was shown). I think you will find your own answer if you follow the your questions back.

This is basically making a decision tree and you will notice that each question will have multiple answers - start by picking the most logical - then see where it leads. Then go back and pick up the interesting answers you didn't follow earlier in the decisions tree and see what that becomes.

You will probably end up at a group that includes:
- HS was the murderer
- HS's father was actually the murderer
- HS and his father were a team
- The show was affected by the extension and push for ratings and this just wasn't as tightly resolved...(doesn't hold together)

This show never told us what to think- instead. it gave us options for us to decided - think of every story arc about DB Phil-Gu and YS/JR this is basically the case...lots of info no right answer. So why not the murderer?

HS locking his father in has a number of obvious possibilities
- if HS was the Joker - He couldn't allow is father's walking to be discovered
- If his father was the Joker, he was scared of letting him out
- If this was HS mentally brutalising his father and creating false beliefs, then keeping him isolated is a basic requirement (this is a current and well know topic in SK with religious cults)
- If they were a team, HS's father hated the outside world and it was his father keeping people out - never about stopping others coming in....Think about it. The whole community must have known he was in there...locked away for 5 years.

Just a heads up, if this leads you to a very dark place...its OK.

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This is interesting -- https://www.soompi.com/article/1368466wpp/kim-kang-hoon-picks-between-kang-ha-neul-and-kim-ji-suk-gives-jun-hyun-moo-relationship-advice Here, the actor who plays Pil-gu says that in reality he would pick Kim Ji Suk over Kang Ha Neul for Pil-gu's father because Kim Ji Suk played with him and took care of him like a real father on the set of When the Camellia Blooms. Always a fan of Kim Ji Suk, I was happy to read that.

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I am a big fan of Kim Ji Suk too especially in I need romance 2 & Vineyard man. He slays second lead character.

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A melhor série coreana...me fez chorar...me fez rir...não deveria acabar nunca....amo de paixão!
Hoje assisti o último capítulo no Brasil.
Vou sentir saudades! ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

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So what really happened to Hyang Mi? What about the plankton in her liver? And her not being dead before getting thrown in the lake? Did she purposefully eat the ear thing Heung Sik owns?

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