Scholar Who Walks the Night – Review
Hello again! Okay, this is honestly a review that I’ve had SUCH a hard time writing. This Scholar Who Walks the Night review should have been published weeeeeks ago but unfortunately, nothing quite felt right. I think it’s because I have envisioned in my mind to make this review as perfect in my eyes as possible. I’ve got so much good things to say to counter the negatives this drama received. I want to give my review and the drama justice – letting you guys feel how much I enjoyed this drama in the hopes that you feel even just a bit of what I felt back then.
But I guess, like with other reviews, I just have to write.
Finally, I’m starting my long overdue Scholar Who Walks the Night review.
This drama has received quite a high anticipation before it aired as it was based off of a popular webtoon of the same title. It was when I was still new to Korean drama/KPOP dedicated websites that I remembered noticing this because of the hype. There was a lot of articles about it. To give you a bit of a background, my sister ironically, was the one who started watching this first. I feel like we’ve swapped places. I am now the one so engrossed in K-entertainment when it was me back then who was indifferent to it.
Scholar Who Walks the Night – The Plot
This drama is set in the Joseon era. We’re introduced to line of kings revealed to be over ruled by someone reigning terror over the kingdom – the vampire Gwi. Ridden with fear and no power over him, the then Crown Prince wrote a memorandum – a powerful book containing the secret plan to get rid of Gwi. Sung Yeol, then Crown Prince’s friend, turned into a vampire having been bitten by another powerful vampire – one to rival Gwi. With it, he received a black cloak allowing him to go out into the sun without getting burnt.
Years later, he met a bookseller, Yang Sun, pretending to be a guy, in his bid to find the memorandum. Yang Sun was forced to hide her real identity – after her father had been killed by Gwi. She fell in love with Sung Yeol, who she thought was a Night Scholar. They carried on meeting – not knowing Yang Sun was part of the secret plan to get rid of Gwi. Nor her blood being like that of a special kind – one that vampires desire.
And as Sung Yeol finds himself drawn more to Yang Sun than he’d like, he does everything in his power to protect her from Gwi. Everything becomes more complicated when they find out Yang Sun would most likely have to sacrifice herself to defeat Gwi.
Scholar Who Walks the Night – First Thoughts
Scholar Who Walks the Night is a vampire drama based off the manhwa of the same name. The premise sounded a bit too much at first. Historical and vampires together? How? But I must not have seen enough of supernatural Kdramas.
I was also one of those people that once something is so hyped up, I tend to get away from it and ignore it. I feel like a lot of people will be able to relate. So imagine when I actually started watching this. More than my sister, it was me who really fell in love and enjoyed this drama. For her, the 1st episode was so-so when I absolutely loved it. Lee Yu Bi’s portrayal was on point. She nailed that boyish character with that childish hint still with her. A perfect contrast to when I saw Lee Joon Gi’s torture character Sung Yeol for the first time. I really felt their chemistry then – I loved it already.
I started this three years ago whilst it was still airing. Two episodes a week and then another week long of waiting that felt like forever. So I lurked more and more on those news sites and sadly, midway, the drama was met with criticisms. As it was based on the webtoon that was still ongoing – a lot of people really paid close attention to every detail, thus resulting in those less than favourable comments. I’ve seen articles about it and was also swayed, eventually forgetting about the drama.
…three years later
But you need to know that the romantic scenes on this drama are one of the best and one of my favourites. They made me feel giddy and felt things only a good romantic chemistry and portrayal on screen can do. You’ll probably see this statement more times throughout this review but they were truly well done. If nothing else was done right (which isn’t true), this would be the one that’s like the saving point for me.
There’s so many things this drama did right for me that it overpowered the negatives it has. Ofcourse it’s not a perfect drama plot wise but oh did I enjoy the journey! If you’re looking for something to convince you to watch this drama – I didn’t even care how long it was – each episode felt so short. I was completely engrossed in it I didn’t notice the length of the drama. I felt like I was just constantly pressing the next episode after next episode. That’s when I know I’m loving the drama.
I now completely understand why there’s so many fans really devoted to Lee Joon Gi. When he acts, he gives it his all. And he truly carried the show along – he was perfect for the role. Lee Yu Bi pleasantly contrasted and therefore – complemented his character. They made for a lovely pairing.
Scholar Who Walks the Night was such a lovely drama to carry me away into another world. Like reading books, watching has the same effect to me that transports me into a different life altogether. Yes, it wasn’t perfect but I loved the journey. I enjoyed watching and seeing them through their journey of falling in love, the acceptance and the sacrifice.
It’s really nothing grand or too fantastical, but it somehow managed to create its own spot in my top dramas. This is a drama I can see myself re-watching again in the future. Nowadays, no matter how good some dramas are, dramas with a good re-watch value are harder to come by. This one did it.
With such a vast array of characters, this is one vampire drama you won’t want to miss. It’s one of those hidden gems I’m glad to have rediscovered. From Sung Yeol and ofcourse we can’t forget to mention our ‘bad’ vampire counterpart, Gwi down to Ho Jin, Sung Yeol’s trusted right hand man – they all delivered a strong team of people that made me love and hate some of them at the same time.
A Vampire Drama with a Heart
When I say I loved the romantic scenes of this drama – I REALLY do. Below are the FMVs I watched back then – and also because of these, I found this drama again and decided to carry on watching after three years. Yup.
And after running out of Kdramas to watch, I was really just in to an older drama. With so many airing dramas this year, nothing really stood out enough for me to watch.
I loved the romance buildup. It was sweet and at the same time it had its depth especially on vampire Sung Yeol’s side.
The episodes that really highlighted this for me are from 1-10.
The romance buildup in these episodes were so sweet and the writer/director truly hit it right on this. I also found out that they added another writer to the team. And that really was noticeable towards the later episodes. Where it was all sweet and painful for the characters lovewise, it would later on almost take a sidestep and focus on the main reason why our vampire Sung Yeol is tormented.
The plot to kill Gwi
From the beginning – we were told of Sung Yeol’s goal – to find the memorandum that would tell him how to get rid of Gwi who was living in the palace and reigning fear over the people and the royals. I felt that this was where they had a bit of a setback. The problem of locating the memorandum became increasingly drawn out – put in the background by the consequences the Crown Prince’s actions of trying to get rid of Gwi himself.
Although there was good reason for this, it didn’t exactly benefit the drama for the good. As the search for it became the centre of attention, it gave me the impression that there was this big, grand plan to execute. It would’ve been worth amazing had it not been for the less than overwhelming execution of the plan. There was so much emphasis on the memorandum being the only way – and Yang Sun constantly being forced to sacrifice/arrested to be sacrificed.
That actual drama honestly felt more exciting? than the actual execution of the plan itself. The idea was there but sadly, it didn’t materialise. When they said Yang Sun was one of the key – I didn’t expect that Sung Yeol only needed a bit of her blood to be able to transform to someone more powerful and sleeker than Gwi.
After all that – it was just Gwi being exposed to the sun from his lair that killed him? I know you’ll probably say, “But, they wouldn’t have known that had it not been for the memorandum!” or “That happened because of the memorandum.” Yes Yes.
That’s my point. It could’ve been something more satisfying but no – I felt it lacked creativity, sadly.
YES! I feel like you won’t be able to do this drama justice if you leave out the costume bit. Man they did so well in that! Along with the romantic side, this is one thing they’ve done. From Sung Yeol’s cloak and his usual attire and GWI. Gwi’s robe. Vampire really is Gwi!! And that’s a lot to owe to his costume. Or his hairstyle. And that open robe.
Everyone – Hyeoryeong especially Soo Hyang. Wow, Soo Hyang is like elegance personified. She’s one of the most beautiful and well poised gisaengs to ever grace the screen. Their costumes are sooo nice to look at, they were just EXQUISITE.
I love how well thought out they were and it really just added something to the drama. SO much hardwork had been put onto that and I actually admire and am grateful for the people behind it.
Lee Joon Gi
Can I just leave it as is? LOL
Seriously, if there was another person to play Sung Yeol’s character, I probably wouldn’t have finished this drama, EVER. We owe so much of this to Joon Gi being able to make the most out of his character. And I don’t mean anything bad about the rest of the actors in this drama.
It’s just that, most of this was so focused on Sung Yeol’s character that they really needed someone with Lee Joon Gi’s skills and capabilities to be able to portray even just a bit of what they want to show. He must have had such heavy burden with this.He really held this drama together.
I’ve a bit of a criticism though. As passionate as he is with his acting, I feel like there were times when he overacted a bit. One example was when he had those hallucinations of seeing himself as his vampire side and his human side. That was a little bit hard to watch. I’ve read a comment about his tendency to overact at times too and I agree that it’s not entirely his doing.
The director was partly because of it too. It’s been said that an actor could be good/bad based on how the director choose to draw out his strengths/weaknesses. Like dancing, depending on what type of dance you’re doing, dancing all out at all times, no matter how flexible, doesn’t always mean you’re a good dancer. It takes control, timing and the ability to match the mood to show a powerful choreo. Do you get me?
That’s not meant to bring him down. Just one thing I noticed. I really loved him here.
Lee Yu Bi’s good and bad
I loved her portrayal as the more innocent and naive girl who fell in love with our scholar. They were perfectly matched and she offset the dreariness that would’ve been more evident coming from the loneliness and anger that Sung Yeol felt.
However, as much as I hate to say it. Later on, when the seriousness came, I felt that this isn’t on of her strengths. At times when we needed to see more emotions – something more powerful that would make me sympathise with her plight, sadly she failed to deliver. Like when she and her father were being tortured – to when it seemed that Sung Yeol died along with Gwi. It highlighted what she was lacking especially beside Soo Hyang. I felt in that scene – I managed to feel Soo Hyang’s desperate anguish more than hers.
I understood Yang Sun’s feeling but I wasn’t able to feel them from her. There were tears but it’s the emotions at those crucial times that I felt were lacking.
Regardless of that – I still am wishing to see her work with Lee Joon Gi once again, now that a few years have passed and she’d done more projects. I just really wish to see her reach her potential.
Vampire… and the rest
GWI – Lee Soo Hyuk was amazing in this. He perfectly embodied just how a greedy but deeply lonely vampire would have been. WIth THAT voice, wow – a perfect match – would’ve been, to Hyeoryeong.
Hyeoryeong – Kim So Eun was also amazing in this. She portrayed a coldhearted young lady on the surface but one that was actually shaken, fearful and scared. One of my favourite moments was when she tricked Sung Yeol into believing it was his dead lover. How quickly she managed to be like a different person – deeply affected by Sung Yeol’s love, showing us that beneath that well crafted facade was still a lady who could’ve been the perfect noble woman.
Soo Hyang – Jang Hee Jin as Sung Yeol was only Lee Joon Gi so is Jang Hee Jin only Soo Hyang. At the hands of other actresses – Soo Hyang’s character had a tendency to be wrongly portrayed as just your typical secondary female with an unrequited love to motivate ill intentions. I’m so happy it proved to be different for Soo Hyang. Despite her unrequited love – her goodness truly shone through. What a nice break from all others self-destroying their life to destroy other people’s.
Scholar Who Walks the Night – My Final Comments
So this is getting really long again. Honestly, I would like to touch on a lot more stuff than I did. I feel like when I start to comment on one thing, I then remember another thing that happened. Then it’s never ending haha.
My point in this drama is that it’s such a good drama on it’s own. The way it went about its plot isn’t particularly what I expected or really liked? Rather, it took me on a journey I enjoyed seeing. I know others have been really critical with their review of this and commented their dislike about the plot not making logical sense or going into a mess. I wouldn’t have noticed or even thought about that if I didn’t read those reviews/comments.
I loved watching this drama. Though it seemed to have a difficulty finding its footing transitioning from the romantic side being the focus then to the action part. That was evident with the addition of the new writer. It did lose a bit of what made it feel so good to me – the main female lead especially have faded into the background once all the action really started. I felt like at those times she didn’t really have any purpose to serve. Which I found to be a shame. Her character was really interesting in the first half. It is to be mentioned that it’s picked up later on though.
Overall, as with any drama I would recommend, go in it with an open mind and less of others’ opinions. I really just went into this again watching it for what it is. And then I was able to enjoy it again and pick up the good points this drama did really have. As opposed to some, I actually found the ending to be very obvious with what it wanted to say. He was alive in the end, all clues and hints pointed to that. I love how he came and took her away – finally, it’s just the two of them, peacefully together.
The drama overall might not be the first thing that pops up in a lot of people’s minds when they think of the best drama but it certainly has to be one of Lee Joon Gi’s best performances. As this was my first drama of him, I am really impressed.
This is certainly one of those dramas I could watch again and again.
And I’ll always remember Sung Yeol as THAT vampire. I fell in love with him along with Yang Sun.
In everyone of my reviews I can’t seem to miss out on the OSTs. This is no exception. I loved quite a few of the osts in this and they really help elevate the mood in the drama. I loved them!!
My favourite ones:
Loving You – BTOB Yook SungJae
Sad Wind – Eun Ga Eun
Don’t Cry – G.Na
So happy to find out that BTOB’s SungJae sang one of the OSTs. I wasn’t so familiar with Kpop groups back then so now that I am, it’s always nice to see their names in OSTs.