First Impression: Youth of May

Drama Profile

Title: Youth of May
Main Cast: Lee Do-hyun, Go Min-si, Lee Sang-yi, Geum Sae-rok
Writer: Lee Kang (Spy)
PD: Song Min-yeop (Doctor Prisoner)
Timeslot: Monday and Tuesday / 2130H
Network: KBS
Episodes: 12
Genre: Melodrama, Period Drama

Plot Synopsis:

Set in May of 1980 during the Gwangju Uprising, two young people found each other and fall in love. Medical student Hwang Hee-tae and nurse Kim Myung-hee traverse the uncertain times in their young lives armed with their idealism and dreams.

Major trope: Star-crossed lovers

Maknae’s Impression:

I don’t know why I keep on choosing melodramas as my Monday-Tuesday watch but if it’s as good as Youth of May, I won’t mind shedding some K-drama tears.

In its premiere week, we met our four main characters and caught glimpses of the people that surround them. The series mischievously trick us with Hwang Hee-tae’s (Lee Do-hyun) character introduction. His entrance with that fancy car and haughty side smile, Hee-tae can be easily dismissed as an easy-going rich kid. But then they showed the real Hee-tae – the one who can beg down on his knees and let go of his pride just to save someone’s life.

Kim Myung-hee (Go Min-si) is an interesting character to watch. She’s obviously a toughened-by-time person but whenever she’s with Lee Soo-ryeon (Geum Sae-rok) and Hee-tae, she looks more like her age; someone who would enjoy a blind date under normal circumstances. But nothing’s normal in her life. She has a family to help and a dream to fulfill. That’s why it’s easy to be attached to her character, love the people she does, and hate those she doesn’t.

Unlike Myung-hee, Lee Soo-ryeon had it better growing up. His father reaps and enjoys the fruits of capitalism – as she put it in one scene. Soo-ryeon is an ally though of those unfairly treated and dismissed by the society that puts importance on money than care for its hungry people. But still, Soo-ryeon can’t deny that she’s not from the working class, which makes her a walking paradox. From what I’ve seen in the first two episodes, her individual arc will likely be about her struggles in knowing who she really is. And I’m already all-in to see her growth.

Her brother Lee Soo-chan (Lee Sang-yi), on the other hand, knows his role to play. He’s the eldest son of the family and he seems like the kind of person who’ll do anything to protect it. Compared to the three, we got little of him in the first two episodes, but hopefully, his character wouldn’t add more complications to the already complicated story of Myung-hee and Hee-tae. 

All of these I already expected. What I didn’t expect though is how romantic their meet-cute would be! As a lover of great romances, meet-cute can make or break an OTP for me. And Hee-tae and Myung-hee’s bantering during their blind date is similar to that of classic romance movies and books I repeatedly watch and read. It’s wasn’t over-the-top nor borderline-boring. They gave us the right amount of sweetness. I’ll enjoy and devour all of these moments because this is a melodrama and things would most probably turn 180-degree as the story progresses. But I’m already prepared for my heart to get broken by them.

Speaking of my heart breaking into pieces, I just wanted to highlight the marathon scene in episode 2. It wasn’t supposed to be a tearjerker but my emotional-self cried as I watched Kim Myeong-soo (Jo Yi-hun) ran a race with old shoes. It felt so unfair and yet I love how, in that short scene, they portrayed the gap between classes that was so evident at that time and still exists up to this day. What’s frustrating is that the rich of that time (or even now) are still unwilling to acknowledge they are in a better position partly because of the privileges they have. In this fictional drama, I think only Soo-ryeon and Hee-tae are aware of it. And I wouldn’t mind if they will tackle this topic more in the next episodes.

I’m excited about this drama but this is just a first impression. And it’s still up to the remaining 10 episodes if I’ll be disappointed in the end (hopefully not) or they can indeed be a good melo-romance. Let’s wait and see. 

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