I’m still not in favour of Kdramas that try to have too many things happening on their plates. Namely: have a romcom, a noona-romance, and then also add in OCN-ish thriller to the mix. I like Camellia‘s lighthearted take on the foot-in-mouth Yong-sik and just-as-blunt Dong Baek’s romance, and the heart twingings of Dong Baek’s single mum predicament. Imo, BOTH topics are good enough to last 16eps.
The social stigma surrounding Dong Baek as a single mum, while common, is still frighteningly real. Doesn’t help that she is a fairly young and still attractive woman, who defies “proper-ness” and opens a bar catering mainly to men. Of whom, the majority are husbands in the microscopic small town that is Ong-san.
And we are all aware of the power that comes with small towns and villages. While they may be cosy — everybody KNOWS everybody, in the almost-familial kind of way — but they are also fairly intrusive. Nobody can keep secrets for long in a town like Ong-san. And newcomers are met with suspicions and disdain. Which is what Dong Baek initially encountered when she moves in to open (what the neighbours thought) a “florist shop”. Ahjumma Park first words were “who in the right mind would set up shop as a florist in an eatery/ market lane” and followed closely by “let’s see how long this newcomer ‘survives'”.
Well, even after “surviving” 6 years, the ahjummas have never fully warmed to Dong Baek. And it probably stems from the strong matriarchal community that is Ong-san. If Dong Baek was a guy, probably they’d be more welcoming. But, no…she has to be this pretty young thing, who (in their minds) cause their husbands to turn a roving eye and amps up her “attractiveness” by playing the oh-so-pitiful damsel in distress.
It’s no wonder the henpecked husbands all flock to Camellia to unwind. While I agree that the men don’t really pull their weights in their respective family business, I also recognise that it is likely the situation that cause them to become so…listless and beaten. Their wives are of stronger characters, plus more vocal…and being of an almost-rural small town, the men aren’t educated enough to be earning big bucks. The household income rely mainly on the marinated crab business helmed by the ahjummas.
Which lead to the interesting mystery angle of Joker the serial psychopath in Ong-san. Based on my (ahem) years of watching psychothrillers, I got a strong feeling one of these henpecked husbands MIGHT be the Joker. Likely he feels himself to be a “joke” — an allusion to his loss of masculinity in the face of a stronger spouse. And maybe this caused him to spiral into “revenge” or “hate” mode, which makes him pick out anonymous young women who are like his too-strong other-half, and men who he sees as reflection of himself (i.e. the downtrodden weaker player).
But as to whether the murdered lady in the “future” scenes, with the germanium bracelet IS Dong Baek, remains to be seen.