First Impression: Record of Youth

I couldn’t explain it. But deep down in my heart, I felt something rising up. I figured out what it was. You and I shine in our own way.

-Ahn Jeong-ha, Record of Youth Episode 2

Drama Profile

Title: Record of Youth (English title) / Youth Record (literal title)
Main Cast: Park Bo-gum, Park So-dam, Byeon Woo-seok
Writer: Ha Myung-hee (Temperature of Love, Doctors, High Society)
PD: Ahn Gil-ho (Watcher, Memories of Alhambra, Stranger Season 1)
Timeslot: Monday and Tuesday / 21:00H
Network: tvN
Episodes: 16
Genre: Youth Romance

Plot Synopsis:

Record of Youth’s story revolves around underdogs who are struggling to achieve their dreams and success in their chosen fields.

Major trope: Underdog Never Lose

Maknae’s Impression:

An Jeong-ha (Park So-dam) had a line that summed up what I felt while watching Record of Youth’s premiere week: “It was exciting. It was unfair. It was surprising. It was touching. And it got real.”

It was exciting.

Record of Youth opened with an intense scene featuring Sa Hye-jun (Park Bo-gum). It turns out it was an audition for a movie, which was used later on as his character arc’s turning point in this introductory episode. He is a very principled man who doesn’t want to compensate any of his beliefs just so he could get what he wants. He is a struggling wannabe actor. This is harsh but it is his reality. And he is perfectly aware of it. He doesn’t accept sponsorship because even though it was “how it goes” in his industry, he firmly believes in fighting for his dreams in a fair and just manner. The only support he would have wanted to have was from his family. But they don’t believe in him. Which is unfair.

It was unfair.

It was really unfair to watch hardworking people like An Jeong-ha get humiliated because of someone’s inferiority complex (and it happened in front of her celebrity crush!). Good thing, Jeong-ha isn’t a pushover. She knows when to back down and when to speak for herself. Her mindset about life is a bit more grounded that Hye-jun. And this is what I like about her the most. She seems to have that balance of dreaming big and knowing her reality. Her #lifegoal of wanting stability in her life resonated with me. And so far, my favorite line from her is this: “If you don’t like me, then don’t like me. Everyone has a bitchy side. You’re not the only one with that.” Actually, I like most of her lines. It was probably because Record of Youth is trying to capture the growing pains of young adults and that’s like my Achilles heel for K-dramas.

It was surprising.

I have never seen Byeon Woo-seok in a drama before. A clean slate always has pros and cons for me. But surprisingly, Woo-seok’s portrayal as Won Hae-hyo has more pros (I couldn’t even think of one single con though). Hae-hyo is a privileged rich kid. There’s no other way to describe it. He isn’t an annoying spoiled brat though. He is very supportive of his childhood friend Hye-jun. He is even sensitive enough to mull over how he would tell Hye-jun he got the role in the movie they both auditioned in. Thanks to their other friend Kim Jin-u (Kwon Soo-hyun), he said it in a not-so-good timing. Hae-hyo is well on his way to celebrity status because of the support of his mother. He didn’t know it of course, because like Hye-jun, he wants to achieve his dream on his own. The problem is that our society has always been kind to rich people (be it in dramas or reality). And for someone as kind as Hae-hyo, I really couldn’t blame him or hate him for having such privileges. It is just really saddening to watch Hye-jun struggle even if he is giving his 200% effort in life.

It was touching.

The first two episodes have also introduced us to the main characters’ relationship with their families. To be honest, there were times when I felt like I was watching a weekend family drama, especially with Hye-jun’s family conflict. I needed few more scenes before I understood what the scriptwriter was aiming for. Introducing us to their family dynamics is a way to build up the confrontation at the end of episode two. Giving emphasis to the “turning point” in the lives of our main characters. I hope though to see more of Jeong-ha’s personal/family life in the next episodes. She is living on her own but I feel like there’s more to her story than what was initially shown.

And it got real.

Record of Youth tries its hardest not to be too dramatic with its approach in the ‘heavier’ scenes. But it definitely has its poignant moments. I’m probably speaking with personal biases/preferences involved, but both Hye-jun and Jeong-ha’s woes felt so real. Despite the bright and glittery world, they are in, I find their traits and approach in life really relatable. It isn’t tagged as a slice-of-life drama but it somehow felt like that.


Afterthoughts:

-Hye-jun’s declaration – “I’m joining the military” – was a hurtful reminder that this is Bogummy’s parting gift for us.

-I can’t believe this is directed by the same PD as Stranger Season 1 (grumpyahjumma had to point it out to me!). The two series have totally different vibes.

-Doctor Go is here!!! My Prison Playbook avengers are busy. Jailbird is in Do You Like Brahms, Lee Kyu-hyung is in Stranger Season 2 (of course he is!) while Kang Seung-yoon will be in Kairos.

-I feel like Jjampong Agency founder and CEO (yes, I’m declaring her as that) Lee Min-jae (Shin Dong-mi) will soon be my favorite K-drama unnie.

-Protect Sa Min-ki halboji at all costs!

-Kim Hye-yoon made a cameo!

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