Jo-saeng (played by Jung Kyu-soo) is Yang-seon's adoptive father, though he pretends to be her father by birth. He's also the main reason why the plot regarding the book hasn't gone anywhere. Jo-saeng has spent most of the runtime acting unhelpful because he's seen what vampires can do and is completely terrified at the prospect of getting involved at the storyline at all.
It's noble idiocy, although the context makes this come off better than usual. Jo-saeng is just an ordinary, albeit skilled bookseller. He has no way of knowing or navigating the elaborate political games that make up the real plot of "Scholar Who Walks the Night", and his behavior is understandable. Understandable, but wrong. Jo-saeng ends up learning the hard way that it's the sneaky vampires you have to do watch out for. Gwi doesn't waste any time when he wants to kill.
I find the contrast between murdering Gwi and political Gwi to be a fascinating one, because political Gwi really is totally clueless. Gwi's still trying to get his allies to hunt down Seong-yeol with that ridiculous-looking sketch, and the vampire still hasn't caught on to the fact that nobody likes him all that much, and thus, they consequently have very little interest in capturing the one guy who might know how to finally kill Gwi off once and for all. Except to the extent Seong-yeol might give them helpful how-to-kill-Gwi tips.
That's part of what makes the political struggle funny. Jo-saeng's refusing to talk to anyone about the book, as well as his flirtation with destroying it, is terribly shortsighted. Even the bad guys getting hold of the book isn't that bad, because it's not like they're going to hand it over to Gwi without even looking at it. They're still bad guys, of course, since they keep harassing anyone who wants to enact a more permanent solution to the vampire problem. Even so, Jo-saeng represents exactly the wrong way to react in this overall situation.
I like that the story of "Scholar Who Walks the Night" is finally getting into high gear- this is the first cliffhanger that's had any kind of serious dramatic tension. It's a bit of a pity that all of this has to come with the exploration of Jo-saeng's character. Everyone else is pretty much statically defined the same way that they were in the beginning- the occassional moment of vampire cuteness, while quite welcome, only serves to underline that "Scholar Who Walks the Night" is a more a production that embraces tropes than challenges them.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Scholar Who Walks the Night" Episode 8"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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