Welcome to this weeks feature in my new weekly series which I decided to name the ‘Korean Drama Throwback’ series. This series features reviews about dramas that aired at least 10 years ago. I look forward to sharing some of the great dramas of the past and it’s protagonists with you. Being in love with Korean dramas for well over a decade now, it is time for some official reminiscing. Fasten your seat belts and join me on this journey down Korean drama memory lane. Previous guest spots went to ‘Boys over Flowers’ & ‘Brilliant Legacy/Shining Inheritance’. This weeks fangirling moment will be about ‘When it’s at night’, also known as ‘Night after Night’. In addition to starring the amazing Kim Sun-Ah, it is also one of my all time favourite stories.
‘When it’s at night’ revolves around a team in charge of locating and recovering Korean Cultural artifacts.
Original Release Date: June 23, 2008 to August 19, 2008
- Kim Sun-Ah as Heo Cho-Hee
- Lee Dong-Gun as Kim Bum-Sang
- Lee Joo-Hyun as Kang Shi-Wan
- Ki Joo-Bong as No Jung-Pil
Woman with a purpose
Heo Cho-Hee (Kim Sun-Ah) works as a Inspector for the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration. She is part of a team responsible for locating and recuperating lost or stolen cultural assets.
Because of her experience and skills, the team relies on Cho-Hee all the time for undercover operations. She is known to be very passionate about her job and always makes sure to be beyond reproach. For instance, anyone involved with any sort of fraud or underhanded action is bound to meet with her disapproval. One of her main goals is to find and retrieve a set of national treasures that disappeared years ago.
Unfortunate family circumstances left her to care for her younger brother, with whom she shares a close relationship. Most people ignore the fact that their father was an infamous art thief who disappeared seven years ago.
Man on the loose
Kim Bum-Sang (Lee Dong-Gun) is a art expert on a popular TV show, famous for both his expertise and his handsome good looks. Women swoon over him and many men would like to be him. In conclusion, he seems to have it all. Although Bum-Sang enjoys the attention he is getting, it is all a means to an end. He aims to be appointed as a professor at a prestigious university and with that secure his financial future.
After losing his parents at a young age, Bum-Sang’s grandparents took him in and raised him. His grandfather was the one to introduce him to the art of pottery and gave him his first lessons on how to tell the genuine from the fake. It became obvious that Bum-Sang had a natural affinity for this sort of thing and as he grows up he develops a true passion for his field. However, without the backing of a powerful sponsor, he has been unable to attain his deserved spot within the art industry. Witnessing less qualified peers getting positions because of their family connections and not their skills, has made Bum-Sang cynical.
Bum-Sang occasionally works as a freelancer helping private collectors appraise and/or obtain new artwork. Whether an art piece was stolen or obtained legally, to Bum-Sang this is a grey area. Art is art. He will appraise it and even restore it without asking questions. It is during one of his freelance jobs that Bum-Sang first meets Cho-Hee.
Bum-Sang has travelled to Japan on a secret assignment. A wealthy Korean conglomerate, who is also a private art collector, has retained his services. His client wishes to obtain a valuable Goryeo celadon dish, currently in possession of a distinguished Yakuza member (Japan Mafia). The object is considered a national treasure, which makes it illegal for any private collector to own it. Bum-Sang’s job is to discreetly obtain the object and bring it back to South Korea.
Cho-Hee is in Japan on a assignment of her own. She has volunteered to go undercover as an art dealer famous within the black market. Her team recently managed to apprehend said dealer but is trying to catch some of her clients.
Upon discovering Bum-Sangs real identity, Cho-Hee feels disgusted. How could a Korean art expert get involved in these sort of shady dealings!
Meanwhile, nothing goes as planned for neither of them. However, it is Cho-Hee who gets the last laugh. Although Bum-Sang initially manages to secure what he came for, his win is short lived. Cho-Hee has set up a trap for him upon his return to South Korea. Caught between a rock and a hard place, he ‘chooses’ to donate the celadon dish to the museum.
Consequently, Bum-Sang returns to his client empty handed attempting to explain what happened, fearing the repercussions.
Initially enraged, Bum-Sang soon discovers that not all is lost for him. His recent ‘donation’ has caught the eye of some higher ups. As a result, they assign him to a position at the Korean Cultural Heritage Administration.
Much to Cho-Hee’s dismay, Bum-Sangs new position means they will be closely working together.
Although they get off to a rocky start, both soon learn to work together as a team. After realizing that they have a lot in common, they start relying on each other.
Cho-Hee can admit that Bum-Sang certainly possesses a charming personality. However, she is immune to his charm. For years she has had eyes only for one man: Kang Shi-Wan. Shi-Wan is the Team leader of a special detectives unit that often works together with her team. Because Cho-Hee is good at hiding her emotions, he has no inkling of her infatuation with him.
Bum-Sang finds himself intrigued by Cho-Hee; this woman who does not fall for his attempts to charm her. Although he initially stays near her to annoy her, he soon develops a real interest in getting to know her better. Bum-Sang cannot help but admire her. Cho-Hee is not afraid to set him straight on his moral compass and increasingly makes him question his behaviour.
‘When it’s at night’ is a captivating story featuring a strong female character. Both the theme and the setting were different from many other dramas as well. Watching it, we are able to learn a lot about Korean art and what it takes to preserve it.
I enjoyed the twists worked into the story line and the characters. One of my favourite character twists was Cho-Hee’s boss, her Dad’s old friend and even her own little brother trying to play matchmaker. They reminded me of a group of ‘ahjumas’. While disagreeing on who they should match her up with, all three ultimately want to secure her happiness.
‘When it’s at night’ does also have a ample supply of quirky characters. Although most of them are very cliché, they are none the less entertaining and do provide plenty of comic relief.
Have a Korean Drama that you would like to feature? Leave us a comment below.
More ‘Throwback’ dramas:
- Boys Over Flowers
- Brilliant Legacy/Shining Inheritance
- You’re Beautiful
- My lovely Sam Soon
- Goong/Princess Hours
- City Hall
- My Girl
- Heading to the Ground
- Coffee Prince