[Review] Scholar Who Walks the Night – 밤을 걷는 선비

[Review] Scholar Who Walks the Night – 밤을 걷는 선비

onto Scholar Who Walks the Night


Set during a fictional Joseon Dynasty, Jo Yang Sun (Lee Yoo Bi) is a cross-dressing bookseller who finds and sells books to make money for her family. She ends up meeting a mysterious scholar, Kim Sung Yeol (Lee Jun Ki), who asks for her help in finding a rare book. Sung Yeol is a vampire who aims to bring down Gwi (Lee Soo Hyuk), who has been using his supernatural powers to manipulate the King and the kingdom for centuries. However, he is haunted by the death of his first love, especially when he meets her doppelganger, Choi Hye Ryung (Kim So Eun).

As far as fusion sageuks go, I can’t imagine casting anyone else to play the hero vampire and the villain vampire other than Lee Jun Ki and Lee Soo Hyuk.

The thing that I love about Lee Jun Ki is that he is good at playing characters who is pushed to their limit and he plays flawed characters that want to fight the good fight and right wrongs. There’s something about that I always find attractive in the way he plays his characters and he always seems to hook me for the ride.

Lee Soo Hyuk is incredibly entertaining as Gwi, maybe it’s unintended. But week after week, I was amused by the bad boy vamp he played with extreme smarminess. He’s played a vampire before but his role in Vampire Idol is nowhere close to his character here. Each episode felt like a battle between who I liked better.

Unfortunately, as far as fusion sageuks, vampire dramas and webtoon dramas go, this drama does little expand the genre or tell the tale with a new spin. I didn’t have to read the original material to know how the story would unfold because if you’ve seen one of these types of dramas, you’ve seen them all. As viewers, we may sit down to watch a drama, trying to predict where the story will lead us, but you hope that the drama overthrows our expectations with a satisfying, yet new conclusion. I was utterly disappointed by the boring turn of events.

Jang Jae In – 비밀낙원 (Secret Paradise)
장재인 – 비밀낙원 (Secret Paradise)
That’s the issue with Grand Prince Lee Yoon as well. The Kingdom and its subjects have a long history at looking the other way when it comes to Gwi. That was never the issue I had with the drama’s plot, except that we spend so much of the drama’s time letting things be that it’s not terribly exciting. What’s the point of a drama if they are all sitting around waiting and seeing?

Another disappointing aspect to the drama was the characterization of the female characters. Making up half the cast in this drama, you’d hope that they would add something to story but found that they were mostly overlooked characters. Yang Sun has to deal with the ups and downs of her relationship with the men in her life, mainly her father, Grand Prince Lee Yoon (Shim Chang Min) and Kim Sung Yeol. You would think that she would play a crucial part in helping Sung Yeol bringing down Gwi. In some ways, she does have an important role to play. However, her character spends so long languishing in oblivion of her own backstory, that by the time she’s ready to help the fight, we’re already at the end of the drama. And I can’t even begin to discuss how the ending feels forced and random.

In fact, I had expected that there was something more to Gwi and Choi Hye Ryeong’s relationship. What sets Gwi apart from Sung Yeol is that Sung Yeol feels things for people. Unfortunately, the drama barely touches on the fact that Gwi is not entirely without feeling. I think delving more into their relationship would have made Hye Ryeong’s stance against Gwi much more emotionally impactful.

Scholar Who Walks the Night could have been a great trendy drama. Instead, the writing is distracted by plotlines that never seem to lead anywhere. The writers seem to miss what makes the characters unique and fails to peel back those layers. So we’re forced to just stay at the drama’s surface and revel in all that is beautiful in watching hot boys plays sexy vampires, or a kid-friendly version of True Blood. Eeeh, I guess it could have been worse.