K-Drama Reaction: Record of Youth | Episodes 5-6

Amor fati. Does loving one’s fate really the answer to human greatness?

Girl with a Pearl Earring

“It was not a house where secrets could be kept easily.” ― Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier

I’m slowly getting attached to Sa Hye-jun’s (Park Bo-gum) family. It’s a change of heart from my initial reaction during the premiere week. I thought they’re using his family background too much in the story. But now, I found myself feeling too involved with their individual issues.

I like how Han Ae-suk (Han Hee-ra) views her job and her relationship with Kim I-yeong (Shin Ae-ra). Both of them claim they are drawing the line in their relationship and know their own places. But I somehow feel like there’s an unlikely (unlabeled) friendship going on between them. Some might call it frenemies but I think they’ve unknowingly grew attached to each other through the years. They’re so different but Ae-suk enjoys her job in the Won Household while I-yeong really relies on Ae-suk, whether she wants to admit it or not.

Hye-jun and Won Hae-hyo’s (Byeon Woo-seok) families both held a meeting in the fifth episode and it was a good way to show how different and similar their families are. Hye-jun’s brother Sa Gyeong-jun (Lee Jae-won) and Hae-hyo’s sister Won Hae-na (Jo Yoo-jung) are doing things most traditional families take proud off. While Hye-jun and Hae-hyo both choose a path with a slim chance of survival. Hae-hyo, though, has his mother’s backing despite his father’s belittling side comments on what he does for a living. Hye-jun, meanwhile, only has his halboji Sa Min-ki (Han Jin-hee) to lean on. His father, Sa Yeong-nam (Park Soo-young), is being incredulously unfair to his youngest child. Would it kill him to show some affection to Hye-jun? Fortunately, as Ae-suk pointed out, Hye-jun has a great amount of self-respect to stand up on his own.

The Formula for Human Greatness

German philosopher and cultural critic Friedrich Nietzsche believes that human greatness can be achieved by loving one’s fate – Amor Fati.

“That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it….but love it.”

It was a fitting perspective for someone like Hye-jun. Because harsh as it may seem, fate/life has not been so good to him. He makes the best out of anything that happens to him. Getting delegated on a smaller/villain role affected him for a while but he stood up quickly. Before the shoot, Hye-jun even admitted to Hae-hyo that he’s a bit anxious about his role. But he was able to embrace the challenge. I think he got this kind of mentality from Ae-suk. He seems to have a good relationship with his mother; something that Ahn Jeong-ha didn’t have.

We only, once again, learned more about Ahn Jeong-ha’s past through her conversations with Hye-jun. There wasn’t even a flashback this time. She just mentioned it nonchalantly. Like it was totally non-issue for her. I’m not sure if I’m overreacting because she seems fine on the surface but I think Jeong-ha still has some unresolved things from her past. Hye-jun really needs to dig deeper because I’m already dying to know what it is. It’d be such a disappointment if there’s nothing to learn more about Jeong-ha. Or maybe this is just an excuse to see more of their undeniable chemistry on screen.

I was wondering last week what makes this tandem so good. Now, I know one reason why. Their banters are gold. Watching them felt like I’m reading a good romance novel with witty banter and a backdrop filled with subtle romantic tensions. It’s hard to write these kinds of dialogues and it’s also much harder to pull off. But Bo-gum and So-dam are acting it out effortlessly. Their exchanges sounded so natural that a rain confession didn’t seem as cliché as it may sound.

Zorba The Greek

“I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else.” – Zorba The Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis

We’re only in the third week but our upfront hero confessed already! When he realized that he was ready to get rained on with Jeong-ha (literally and figuratively), he confessed his feelings without any ado. And the suddenness of it, I think achieved what the ROY team has been aiming for in this part of the story – young love. It was impulsive, thrilling, and pure. Despite Jeong-ha wanting to be as rational as possible, she couldn’t stop herself from accepting Hye-jun’s confession. They settled their status in a simple conversation at Jeong-ha’s foyer. There weren’t fireworks nor candles and flowers but my heart threatened to pummel out of my chest when Hye-jun dropped the ‘D’ word. And again, I really think it’s because of how Bo-gum and So-dam make these simple scenarios as romantic as possible.

What I’m worried about though is how Hye-jun’s personal woes would affect his new relationship with Jeong-ha.  The voice-over narrations of Hye-jun sounded regretful that I’m nervous about what horrendous things they might experience in the next episodes.

On top of Hye-jun struggling with his dreams, there’s also an external threat that could come in between Hye-jun and Jeong-ha.  Hae-hyo’s amusement to Jeong-ha is slowly turning into attraction the more they spent time together. This trio’s friendship is fun to watch but we all know that love will get in the way. If only they could actually stay that way until the end. Oh well, as Hae-hyo said we all love to watch this kind of mess.

Sense and Sensibility

“If I could but know his heart, everything would become easy.” ― Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Let’s talk about their first kiss, shall we?

The kiss felt sad and comforting at the same time. Hye-jun was at his low when he met Jeong-ha at that park. They again went to a place where he usually spends time alone when depressed. He said it so himself. But I think Jeong-ha is now becoming Hye-jun’s safe place; replacing these physical places he usually goes to during these moments.

All these previous scenes culminated in how I viewed Hye-jun during the kiss scene. The first kiss was tentative. And when he pulled away and then came back again for a second (and more confident) one, I felt like both of them gave in to the moment. Just like how the confession went, their feelings were definitely that of young love. Spontaneous but confident; confusing but ardent. It’s definitely a turning point.

Maknae’s Week 3 Verdict

I’m not sure if it’s on their PR articles but I think this series will definitely be presented in two parts. I could feel the inevitable change hovering on our main characters. I wonder what big thing would happen that would ruin their current status. They’re definitely building up the tension with all these huge signs of progress in the relationship between Hye-jun and Jeong-ha. One thing I hope though is that they’ll maintain the existing balance of angst and lightheartedness in the story.


-These chodings

-Ahn Jeong-ha’s famous last words

-I hate this trash. Lee Min-jae (Shin Dong-mi) unnie it’s not your fault.

-Lesson learned: don’t remove your seatbelt if you’re not with Park Bo-gum. But seriously, I didn’t even notice Jeong-ha removed her seatbelt. Hye-jun notices every detail about her eh?

-Reference for the Nietzsche quote.

-All these hand holding!

-These signages

-Park Bogum Gif dump just because

-This week’s entry for Ahn Jeong-ha’s Wise Words

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