Exploring Korean Drama: When It’s At Night

when it's at night poster 2

Thus When It’s At Night has primary conflicts into which I can really sink my teeth.  No crazy family members or vindictive co-workers that make me want to roll my eyes.  Cho Hee has a little tension with another coworker who’s also interested in Bum Sang, but I loved how it played out: the coworker only pursues him until she realizes he’s not interested.  She never gets too catty with Cho Hee, and doesn’t try to stand in the couple’s way once she realizes how they really feel about each other.

Also, Bum Sang can be a bit of a goofball, which is wonderful.

Also, Bum Sang can be a bit of a goofball, which is wonderful.

And of course, the central pairing is cute.  They bicker a lot at the beginning, which is always a classic, fun relationship development.  Sometimes characters just have that sort of relationship for the sake of it: it’s not always clear why these characters rub each other the wrong way, so it seems like they do just because the audience likes that kind of thing.  Cho Hee and Bum Sang have legitimate reasons to dislike one another at first: they have very different ideas of art ownership.  Cho Hee thinks art should belong to everyone, and Bum Sang just cares about its existence.  He’s worked in the past with some of the very people Cho Hee is trying to stop.

Even with its occasional moments of cute, the romance isn’t really a primary focus of the show, which might be a turn-off to some.  A lot of times I want to watch a kdrama specifically for fluff, and while that’s present in the show, it’s not really at the forefront most of the time.  Once Cho Hee and Bum Sang finally get together — and even that isn’t entirely clear on the first viewing — we don’t really get to see them together very much.  They’re side by side fighting crime, which is awesome, and I wish we got more scenes in kdramas of couples doing going about their daily lives together.  But I also would have loved some more cute romantic scenes toward the end as well.

That makes When It’s At Night an unusual kdrama for me to recommend, but I love it.  Maybe that’s because it reminded me of the procedural: a crime show with a cute love story between the two leads.  Because of the drama format, however, it’d be like a procedural miniseries: one overarching linear story, rather than an episodic format.  There’s one primary bad guy that the characters are trying to bring down, and each episode brings significant developments on that front.

when it's at night poster 1I’m not really sure why When It’s At Night is rated so low.  It’s only on two kdrama streaming sites rather than all of them (like most kdramas), and it’s not that popular.  I can only imagine it’s because the tropes that bother me so much are what most kdrama viewers want.  It’s also not the sort of show that sucks you in and won’t let you go.  It’s not made for weekend or 48-hour marathons like many other kdramas.

But that’s nice.  I enjoyed watching the show, and I also enjoyed being able to put it down and not be totally addicted, desperate for more.  I’ve felt that way about shows I actually liked a lot less, such as Boys Over Flowers, and then felt ashamed when I emerged from my binge.

When It’s At Night is for kdrama fans who want something a little bit different, or who want to slow down for a bit.  It’s not a boring show by any means, but it’s not crack-addictive the way that many others can be.  It’s got an interesting, unique (for kdramas anyway) premise, and while it’s not a perfect show, it’s definitely worth seeing, especially for fans of Kim Sun Ah.

Kdrama tropes to watch out for: Fake dating.


You can stream When It’s At Night from Dramafever or Crunchyroll.

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