K-Drama Review: ‘Scholar Who Walks the Night’ Tells a Story of Vampires in the Joseon Era

Scholar Who Walks the Night
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Scholar Who Walks the Night: General Information

Scholar Who Walks the Night is a 2015 South Korean television series that aired every Wednesday and Thursday from July 8th to September 10th, 2016 on MBC at 21:55 KST for 20 episodes. The series is based on a manhwa with the same title. The genres comprising this show are historical, fantasy, and romance. It reached 9.3% at its highest viewership rating.

The series features stars, such as Lee Joon-gi, Shim Chang-min, Lee Soo-hyuk, Lee Yu-bi, and Kim So-eun. Lee Soo-hyuk received an award in the Best New Actor in a Miniseries category at the 2015 MBC Drama Awards. Lee Yu-bi also received an award in Best New Actress in Miniseries category at the same awards ceremony. The series also won the Best Historical Drama award at the 2016 4th Annual DramaFever Awards.

Scholar Who Walks the Night: The Vampires in Joseon Era

The series begins by recounting events that happened 120 years ago. Kim Sung-yeol was initially a normal human being who was close to Crown Prince Junghyun and about to get married to his lover, Lee Myung-hee. Due to an accident that happened in the palace, Crown Prince Junghyun tells him about an evil vampire named Gwi, who controls the palace like a puppet. Crown Prince Junghyun also reveals that he has been working on a secret plan to defeat Gwi and the plan is written down in his private diary.

Scholar Who Walks the Night
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Due to Gwi’s evil scheme, Crown Prince Junghyun is being accused of conspiracy and gets executed. Sung-yeol’s father also shares the same fate as the Crown Prince. The night before, Sung-yeol was bitten by a vampire hunter named Hae-seo who was a guardian vampire that punished other vampires who broke the rules. He bit Sung-yeol in order to endow him with some of his power before he turns to ashes. Sung-yeol angers Gwi by saying that all people around him are trying to eliminate him. Gwi shoves Sung-yeol aside and knocks him out.

Sung-yeol who has just become a vampire becomes weak because he hasn’t drunk any blood yet. By the time Sung-yeol wakes up, Gwi already has his knife near Myung-hee’s throat. Gwi says that Sung-yeol would die if he doesn’t drink her blood. Myung-hee then runs into the daggers. She urges and begs him to drink her blood so that he could keep on living and accomplish his mission. With a sob, Sung-yeol bit into her neck and drank her blood.

Scholar Who Walks the Night
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Time jumps to 120 years later, where a young bookseller named Jo Yang-sun hides her identity by dressing as a male. She meets Sung-yeol who asks her to find the late Crown Prince Junghyun’s private diary. Through some encounters, Sung-yeol finds out that Yang-sun is a woman. Yang-sun also has several encounters with Crown Prince Lee Yoon who pretends to be a playboy scholar. After staring at her intently, he says to her that she reminds him of a very good friend he has lost ten years ago.

Scholar Who Walks the Night
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The research of the late Crown Prince Junghyun’s private diary leads to an author named Eumlan Seosaeng. The same pen name that Crown Prince Junghyun used to write under. It turns out that the writing of Eumlan Seosaeng was coming from the diary of the late Crown Prince Sadong (Crown Prince Yoon’s father). Ten years ago, Gwi killed Crown Prince Sadong because he stole the late Crown Prince Junghyun’s diary from Gwi and tried to get rid of it. From a distance, Sung-yeol witnessed the encounter and exchanged a few words with the Crown Prince after Gwi left.

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The mysterious Eumlan Seosaeng’s true identity is actually Crown Prince Yoon. Back when he was a child, Crown Prince Sadong shared the full story of Gwi and showed him Eumlan Seosaeng’s 120-year-old novel. He said that he had found a way to destroy Gwi and instructed Prince Yoon to get the late Crown Prince Junghyun’s secret diary from a certain man if anything happened to him. Three days later, Crown Prince Sadong was accused of treason and executed along with his faithful teacher and advisor. The young Prince Yoon confirmed that their corpses had bite marks, just as the Vampire Tale novel had said. However, the diary was nowhere to be found.

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It is revealed that Yang-sun’s father has had the Crown Prince’s secret diary all along. Ten years ago, Yang-sun’s biological father, who was Crown Prince Sadong’s advisor, asked Yang-sun’s adoptive father, who was Crown Prince Sadong’s private bookseller, to take care of Yang-sun and asked him to carry out the rest of Crown Prince Sadong’s plan. He handed him a bundle that contained the secret diary and Yang-sun’s half of Crown Prince Sadong’s brush case given by Prince Yoon.

Due to increasingly dangerous conditions, Yang-sun’s adoptive father hid the secret diary in the temple. Before dying to save Yang-sun, her adoptive father instructs her to tell Sung-yeol the location of the secret diary. After Yang-sun was released, the poison that her adoptive father drank started to kick in and eventually kills him. Yang-sun startled at the sight of her adoptive father’s corpse sobs over his body.

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Sung-yeol finally gets his hands on Crown Prince Junghyun’s diary. Af first glance, the diary doesn’t offer much clarification on how to kill Gwi. After researching the diary and combining the information with other clues, it has been identified that to kill Gwi three conditions must be met, namely: the king’s will, a guardian vampire (Sung-yeol), and a woman descended from the matrilineal tree recorded in the diary.

After further research, it is revealed that Yang-sun’s biological mother is the direct descendant of Gwi from his mother’s relations. Yang-sun’s biological mother raised her as a boy in order to protect her, because she was aware that her daughter is needed to be sacrificed as a weapon to kill Gwi. This makes sense because, in some previous episodes, Gwi himself has said that a child born between a human and a vampire will kill vampires.

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Everyone thinks that Gwi will die when he drinks Yang-sun’s blood. Even Yang-sun voluntarily sacrifices herself in order to kill Gwi. However, she finds out that her blood won’t kill Gwi because Gwi has killed everyone in the lineage. Just before Gwi leans in towards Yang-sun’s neck, not a moment later, Sung-yeol comes before them.

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Sung-yeol faces Gwi and they engage in a fight. Gwi says that Sung-yeol is not as powerful as he was last time because of the lack of feeding and the human love that have made him weaker. After hearing that, Yang-sun gives her own blood to Sung-yeol. Sung-yeol then has a rather violent convulsion and his eyes flare blue. He seems energized and fights Gwi again. This time, Gwi is the one struggling. The fight keeps raging on until Sung-yeol comes out looking dangerous and wild. Gwi struggles to stand on his feet and is too injured to go after him. He now understands the relationship between the matrilineal blood and the guardian vampire.

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