We’ve been able to witness Hye-jun’s tremendous growth and journey from a successful model to a successful model-turned-actor. It sure wasn’t easy and there were many challenges and concerns along the way, but just like how we got to watch Hye-jun during the beginning stages, we finally get to watch how things wrap up for our wonderful character. Through it all, one thing remains constant and it’s the fact that Hye-jun hasn’t changed. He will never change. He will always stay true to himself.
Note: *CRIES* First and foremost, I would like to apologize for this late recap. I know the final episode aired back on Tuesday so this recap is a few days late, but I hope you’ll enjoy reading it. I definitely had a fun time watching this last episode and recapping it. What was a drama that I initially didn’t feel so strongly about transformed into a drama that I enjoyed watching along the way and will feel sad bidding farewell with. With the drama now finished, it has only made me miss Park Bo-gum even more and I will patiently wait for his return. With that being said, thanks to all who joined me in my recaps for ‘Record of Youth.’ It definitely was an interesting drama and it wasn’t the most entertaining, but it had some lovely lessons about life, love, family, and relationships sprinkled throughout. I’m currently not recapping any other show at the moment, but if persuaded, I might take up on another one soon. Until then, take care everyone and make sure to stay safe!
Record of Youth: Episode 16 & Final Recap
Jin-woo and Hye-jun meet up at the playground in the neighborhood late at night and Hae-hyo joins them not too long afterwards. Jin-woo grows uncomfortable around Hae-hyo and he quickly excuses himself after Hae-hyo’s arrival. He’s already received an earful from Mama Hae-hyo and he doesn’t want to hear more from Hae-hyo. So with Jin-woo gone, Hae-hyo and Hye-jun stay behind to chat. Hye-jun still has a difficult time processing his break-up with Jeong-ha and he even grows concerned about how others think about him. If he couldn’t protect Jeong-ha who he loved, what makes him think he can protect everyone else who feels the same way about him?
Hye-jun drives Jeong-ha home after picking her up from her salon. The car drive is awkward and silent and no words are exchanged between the two. They make a stop to talk things out and Hye-jun pleads for another chance with Jeong-ha. He’ll do better in their relationship and he’ll try harder. Plus, he has a hard time understanding what he did wrong in wanting to protect Jeong-ha in their relationship. Jeong-ha argues that she doesn’t want to become reliant on Hye-jun in their relationship. That’s a lesson she learned growing up given her situation with her mom. She also adds that their timing is off. Hye-jun’s been able to be successful and achieve many great accomplishments while Jeong-ha is barely starting her dreams. She needs some time to think things over especially since she’s changed because of their relationship. She appreciates Hye-jun and is grateful for everything, but she leaves it at that. Jeong-ha wants Hye-jun to merely remember her as a good memory and all the times they’ve spent together.
Grandpa has a photoshoot with Jin-woo’s boss photographer and Dad is also there on set. The photographer at first doesn’t think much of Grandpa, but his demeanor and attitude changes when he learns from Jin-woo about Grandpa and Dad’s familial connection to Hye-jun. The photographer tries to win Dad over and even requests to work with Hye-jun in the future, but Dad makes no promises. Instead, he stays loyal to Jin-woo and Grandpa vows to only work with Jin-woo when he opens up his own studio. Ha, I love it!
Min-jae meets with Gyeong-jun to update him on his lawsuit. After handing Gyeong-jun some candy, Min-jae informs him about how the complainant has dropped the charges against him. The two decide to grab some lunch together afterwards (.. is this a couple in the making?!). Hye-jun reminisces over his relationship with Jeong-ha while putting away the couple shoes that he got them. He also takes a brief glance at his contract with Jjampong before receiving a visit from Mom. Although things should be great since Mom’s made Hye-jun his favorite snack (gimbap!), Hye-jun isn’t all that happy. He updates Mom on his break-up with Jeong-ha. It’s another busy day for CEO Lee who has to take care of an incident that involves Do-ha and a girl who works at the hostess bar that he frequents. The girl threatens to reveal photos of the two together, but CEO Lee threatens the girl before she can take any further action. With that, CEO Lee gets himself and Do-ha out of trouble once again.
Hye-jun has a talk with his mom in the kitchen about her job. He requests for her to stop working as Hae-hyo’s housekeeper. Although Mom doesn’t want to rely on Hye-jun financially, Hye-jun worries for Mom’s health and reassures her that he’ll take good care of her. Jeong-ha closes her Youtube channel and uploads one last video for all of her subscribers. After watching the video, Hae-hyo uses the coupon that he got for Jeong-ha’s salon and stops by to visit her. He doesn’t have any schedules, but just merely wanted to stop by to see her. Hae-hyo also mentions how he plans on enlisting in the military soon. He then receives a bunch of texts in his group chat with Jin-woo and Hye-jun and the three friends agree to meet up for basketball that night. So our three musketeers have some fun shooting hoops and playing outside. After basketball, they chat for a bit and Jin-woo can’t help but grow curious about Hye-jun’s financial status. Hae-hyo admits that he’s been thinking about enlistment while Hye-jun isn’t so sure what he wants to do next in his career. He’s also thinking about enlistment.
Hye-jun leaves to go back home so Jin-woo and Hae-hyo stick together. Hye-jun reflects on his career and is grateful for being able to achieve his dreams. However, he still has one last homework he needs to finish before he can go on even further. That night, he requests Mom and Dad to schedule a family meeting. He has an important announcement to make. Jin-woo and Hae-hyo go out to eat some food and Hae-hyo voices his support for Jin-woo regardless of whatever decision he makes. He’s also still upset with Jin-woo’s comments earlier about his military enlistment and how it’s okay for Jin-woo to enlist and not Hye-jun. Jin-woo teases Hae-hyo for being upset, but it’s obvious he loves his two friends the same.
Hae-hyo has an honest conversation with his mom when he gets home that night. She’s in disbelief upon finding him tipsy when he gets home and questions whether he’s even serious about his career. Hae-hyo admits that he was embarrassed and shameful especially around Hye-jun, but things have changed. He’s matured and he’s grown and he likes how Hye-jun is successful. He too believes his time to shine will arrive as well. After hearing Hae-hyo voice his opinions and thoughts on everything, Mama Hae-hyo is delighted at how optimistic and truthful her son is. She’s proud of herself for raising him to be such a good-natured son and she even comes up with the idea of forming her own agency to manage him once his current contract concludes. Hae-hyo relays the same message he had for Jin-woo to Hae-na regarding their relationship. He’ll support her regardless of whatever decision she makes.
With that, Jin-woo makes his final decision and it’s not what the either of them wanted. He suggests that they break up for now. Neither of them are in any position to go against their parents or their environment in order to protect their relationship. Maybe there might still be a chance when they get older and are more established in their careers, but the timing just isn’t right at the moment. Hae-na sheds a few tears after hearing Jin-woo’s words. Hye-jun attends a ceremony the next morning to celebrate his appointment as an honorary ambassador. He has an interview right afterwards and comments that he has no plans set for the future. He wants to focus on the present at the moment. Jin-woo’s Mom drops off some side dishes at Hae-hyo’s house and informs Mom on how she’s planning to quit. Jin-woo’s Mom relays the same news to Mama Hae-hyo who assumes she’s quitting because of Jin-woo. Unlike what she thought, Jin-woo’s Mom is quitting because Jin-woo was worried about his mom’s health, not because he was upset over his break-up with Hae-na.
Mama Hae-hyo is delivered with another round of bad news when Mom shares the same update. She too plans on quitting her job since Hye-jun is making much more money now. Mama Hae-hyo can’t afford to let Mom go and she pleads for her to stay. Dad meets up with Jin-woo’s Dad after work and gifts him with a box of health drinks thanks to Grandpa’s endorsement. Gyeong-jun catches up to both dads shortly afterwards and they make their ways home, respectively. When Gyeong-jun finds out about the family meeting, he visits Hye-jun in his bedroom and tries to get some type of hint or answer out of Hye-jun prior to the meeting. Hye-jun doesn’t reveal much and waits until the meeting starts to make his announcement.
Hye-jun’s announcement definitely comes as a surprise to everyone. Hye-jun plans on enlisting in the military. Gyeong-jun and Mom isn’t so sure if the decision is the right one for him, especially since he’s on a roll right now with his career. Enlisting would kill any momentum that he has at the moment and things might be hard for him when he returns. Dad and Grandpa doesn’t say much and Dad even seems kind of okay with it. The family goes on to talk about who resembles who and Hye-jun refuses to believe that he takes after Dad. Dad too feels the same way about Hye-jun and the conversation comes to an end. Dad retreats to his bedroom and he pretends as if he’s not bothered by Hye-jun’s comment. He knows that he wasn’t the best to Hye-jun so he feels much better admitting that Hye-jun takes after Mom and Grandpa. Hye-jun and Gyeong-jun have a conversation about Dad while cleaning the dishes. Gyeong-jun admits that it wasn’t always the best being Dad’s favorite. He envied Hye-jun for all the freedom he got. Hye-jun, on the other hand, envies Gyeong-jun for being able to have such an intimate connection with Dad. It’s not something that can be built overnight.
When Hye-jun goes back into his bedroom, he gives the contract with Jjampong another thought. Min-jae’s busy watching a livestream about Hye-jun in her office that night when she receives a visit from Chi-yeong. He’s stopped by to grab a cake that he left at her place and voices no interest in becoming an actor. Min-jae should be extra careful given that Hye-jun hasn’t renewed his contract with her just yet. Jeong-ha’s client arrives a bit early for her appointment at the make-up salon so Jeong-ha is busy with work right when she opens. The client was recommended by Hye-jun’s co-star, Seo-woo, thanks to Hye-jun who mentioned about Jeong-ha to Seo-woo. The client even assumes Hye-jun and Jeong-ha were in a relationship, but Jeong-ha denies the accusations. They were not dating. Hye-jun eventually meets with Min-jae to go over the contract. Before deciding on whether he wants to renew or not, Hye-jun brings up his enlistment. He wants to enlist even if he’s the hottest actor at the moment. He feels more comfortable knowing that he’s put his name on the map. That’s good enough for him.
With that, he’s willing to renew his contract with Jjampong for three more years including the years of his enlistment. Min-jae is happy with the offer, but she also wants more. She pitches forth the idea of four years with a 70:30 split which Hye-jun agrees to as long as she takes care of all the expenses. A deal is made between the two and we will see many more Manager Min-jae moments with Hye-jun. Yay! CEO Lee and Do-ha get into yet another round of trouble when Reporter Kim writes up an article about Do-ha’s dad’s debt scandal. CEO Lee meets with Reporter Kim to talk things out. He can care less about protecting Do-ha, but he warns Reporter Kim that her actions are bound to come with consequences if she keeps things up. Jeong-ha meets up with Hae-hyo at the same library that she and Hye-jun visited during one of their earlier dates. She recalls that specific memory and grows a bit sad just thinking about it.
The two leave the library shortly after her arrival and they walk to the bus station together. Hae-hyo reiterates to Jeong-ha once more about his enlistment, but what she doesn’t know is how he’ll be leaving the next day. He can’t bring himself to tell Jeong-ha the details and she gets on the bus to go back home. When Jeong-ha relaxes at home, she watches Hye-jun’s latest interview and can’t stop thinking about him. She pulls out the pair of couple shoes that he got her and sports it on. Jeong-ha seems to miss Hye-jun a lot more that night. When Hae-hyo arrives home that night, he leaves a letter on his bed for his mom. The next morning, he wakes up bright and early to prepare for his enlistment. He gives his mom one last hug and tells he loves her before going. Of course, Mama Hae-hyo is unaware of Hae-hyo’s decision to enlist and assumes he’s heading out for a shoot. However, as she will soon find out later on that day, her son has gone for his enlistment. She tears up as she reads the letter he wrote for her.
Hae-hyo updates Jin-woo and Hye-jun as well in their group text about his enlistment in the marine corps. Hye-jun too prepares for his enlistment and hands Jin-woo some cash for equipment that he’ll need once he opens up his studio. Jin-woo is grateful for the gift and together, the two join their families for one last gathering before Hye-jun’s enlistment. Dad still pretends as if his shoulder is fine and it’s then that he learns how everyone in the family (except for Gyeong-jun) was aware of his shoulder injury, lol (poor Gyeong-jun always being the last one to find out things). Hye-jun updates his SNS account with a photo informing followers about a livestream that he has coming up. He has an important announcement he needs to make.
CEO Lee and Do-ha meet up in his office and CEO Lee is feeling confident about Hye-jun’s enlistment. With him gone, Do-ha won’t have much to worry about any longer. When Hye-jun returns, it’ll be Do-ha’s time to leave since, well, he probably won’t be as popular anymore by that time. Lol. Hye-jun spends one last time at the library that he frequents and once visited with Jeong-ha. Just like Jeong-ha, he recalls the moment they met up at the library on their first date. Hye-jun is then interrupted by the custodian who asks for an autograph. Hye-jun happily signs an autograph for the man before taking one last good look at the library and walking away. It’ll be a while until he can return to the library, but it won’t be forever. And so Hye-jun starts his livestream and announces about his enlistment to all his fans (poor Park Bo-gum looks so tired). Everyone’s shocked and surprised by the news, but Hye-jun makes sure to express his gratitude and appreciation. He’ll come back healthy and safe and everything shall be like the old times when he returns.
And so the next two years fly by. Su-bin is now working with Jeong-ha at her salon and Jeong-ha is now a successful make-up artist. After meeting with a writer for an upcoming drama, Hye-jun attends an award ceremony where Grandpa is selected as one of the winners. In his speech, Grandpa dedicates the award to Dad and expresses how he wishes to make things up to Dad. He wasn’t the greatest father when they were younger, but he won’t waste his time or life away and will do all that he can to repay Dad back. So with that, Grandpa accepts his award and Dad tears up when he gets back home. Grandpa’s speech was so touching that he can’t stop crying. Mom reassures Dad that he’s been a good son to Grandpa lately so he shouldn’t be so sad.
Dad passes on the good deed and he meets with Hye-jun later on that night. The father-son pair have an honest conversation with each other about their rough and complicated relationship. Dad apologizes for not being there for Hye-jun when he was going through a rough patch. He was insecure and he disliked how there was nothing he could do for Hye-jun because Hye-jun was already so competent and independent at such a young age. Dad apologizes and regrets the moment when he hit Hye-jun the most out of everything. Dad feels so guilty he doesn’t even budge when Hye-jun mentions how he resented Dad. Dad is well aware of his mistakes and past actions and he’s okay with Hye-jun resenting him. It was all his fault so he sees nothing wrong with it. However, now that Dad and Hye-jun has opened up their mind and hearts to one another, Hye-jun no longer harbors that resentment for Dad. He feels much better now that Dad approves of him — something he’s always wanted and craved his entire life (omg I’m literally tearing up right now). Hye-jun and Dad are still very much awkward with each other so no hugs are exchanged, but Hye-jun is more than happy with the way that things have turned out. He smiles while shedding more tears of relief and joy. He feels much more at peace now.
Hae-hyo also returns from his military enlistment and he bids farewell with his mom before heading out to hang out with Jin-woo and Hye-jun at the playground. On the walk to the playground, Hye-jun notes how they’re all now entering their 30’s — an age where they must take responsibility for themselves and can no longer blame others for their actions. Our trio reunite once again at their usual hangout spot and it’s obvious that nothing’s changed between them. Hye-jun and Hae-hyo volunteer to take photos at Jin-woo’s studio for him and they joke around like old times. Two years have passed, but nothing has changed.
Hye-jun is still the superstar that he is which means more dramas and filming sets. He reunites with Jeong-ha on set for his drama and the two go on a casual stroll after encountering each other. Jeong-ha is still sporting the couple shoes that Hye-jun got for her, but she has her own reasons for doing so. She hopes he doesn’t assume that she’s not over him just because she’s wearing them, lol. Jeong-ha is also quite busy with her successful salon so she hasn’t been the most caught up with all the recent news regarding celebrities like Hye-jun. However, it’s quite obvious she’s happy that he’s back and that they can talk to each other again. They use the walk as a way to catch up with each other and to just simply chat. Just like with everyone else, it’s as if Jeong-ha and Hye-jun have also returned to old times. It’s as if nothing has changed.
Someone please explain to me why I feel a bit sad after watching this final episode. It’s strange because I never really felt a sense of attachment to this drama despite me recapping it, but I’m somehow feeling a bit sad and heartbroken that it’s over. A part of it could me just being emo over Park Bo-gum and how he’s actually enlisted in real life, but the other part of me also was satisfied with the way that the show wrapped things up. The drama never really had a lot going on in the first place and it was a drama less based on plot and more focused on our characters. There wasn’t a whole lot that went on in the drama, but it was our characters and their special relationships with one another that made the show what it was. I appreciate just how honest and vulnerable the drama was about family and love and friendships and relationships and everything else in between. It was never afraid to show us the bad, the dirty, the good, and the messy through our characters. Our characters weren’t perfect by any means and the relationships – whether familial, romantic, or platonic – in this drama weren’t either, but they were real, raw, and vulnerable. There was a sense of honesty and intimacy in all of them, but they were all so different from one another as well. I did enjoy watching the different dynamics shown in each relationship in this drama and there were definitely a few that stood out to me.
You know, I really enjoyed watching Hye-jun’s complicated relationship with his parents. It was always so interesting to watch the difference in the way that he was treated by Mom and Dad. Obviously, Dad came around to apologizing to Hye-jun and to admitting to his mistakes and faults and shortcomings, but it was always Mom who believed in Hye-jun. Things definitely weren’t easy, but Mom always kept her faith in Hye-jun and wanted to respect him even when he did become successful. Even when Hye-jun was big and successful and raking in lots of money, she was still worried about him. She was unsure about relying on him financially because she didn’t want to become a burden to him (even though for Hye-jun, she never was and will never be a burden). Mom was Hye-jun’s number one fan from the beginning and she will always be his number one fan. As some people will say, she was literally there from day one. Grandpa too was someone who was with Hye-jun from the very beginning and their relationship is another one in this drama that I loved. I’m glad that Hye-jun wasn’t alone in his uphill battle to stardom and that he had both Grandpa and Mom there to support him. Even though it was still undeniably difficult for Hye-jun in the beginning stages, he was also less lonely because he had Mom and Grandpa there with him supporting him every single step of the way.
I know Dad and Hye-jun didn’t have the greatest of all relationships and they definitely were off to a bumpy start at first, but out of all the relationships in this drama, I think their relationship definitely has to be my favorite. For the majority of the drama, Hye-jun resented Dad and Dad doubted Hye-jun and constantly put him down. It was frustrating to watch, but it was also SO worth it when they made up in this episode. I mean, I literally shed tears watching Dad apologize to Hye-jun and watching Hye-jun do the same to Dad because you could tell just how much they loved each other. You could tell just how badly the two wanted to make up with each other but hesitated to because of their messy and past history. You could feel that sense of awkwardness and reluctance between the two because of the misunderstandings that they had about each other, but they were able to eventually get past through it all and forgive each other in the end. Hye-jun and Dad aren’t perfect by any means and they will still argue and bicker and fight in the future, but they can also let go of their traumatizing past that has affected the both of them for so long.
It absolutely broke my heart watching Dad not blame Hye-jun for resenting him because he felt as if he was the one who did everything wrong. He felt as if he was the problem in their relationship and I think that speaks volume about what life as a parent is like. As Hye-jun’s father, Dad didn’t want his son to think that he had done anything wrong. He wanted to protect his son and that required admitting to his mistakes and pushing his pride aside. Hye-jun too had his own struggles in his relationship with Dad, but Dad wanted to take all the blame because he wanted to be a father that Hye-jun doesn’t resent and would be proud of. Hye-jun always wanted Dad’s attention and love that he never received growing up; Dad wanted Hye-jun to be able to rely on him so that he could be that father figure for his son. Gosh, it was just so heartwarming to watch the two make up at the end of this episode and even if the progress barely came in this final episode, it was still so touching and moving to watch. Just like Hye-jun mentioned in his conversation with Dad, I too felt at peace after watching that scene of them together knowing fully well they can let go of whatever happened in the past, leave it behind for what it was, and enjoy their future moments together. They can look forward to a much brighter and positive future together. Kudos to the drama for pulling off such an emotional and vulnerable scene. It definitely got me thinking about my relationship with my parents as well and maybe that’s why this scene in particular hit me so hard. I can see hints and bits of myself in Hye-jun.
Although there were some moments that were redundant in this drama (like Do-ha whose cameo turned out to be a lot longer than expected and whose character really had nothing else to do other than complain to CEO Lee every single time) or characters who didn’t do all that much (like Ji-Ah who was just sort of there and didn’t really have an impact), I like that the drama didn’t completely rush everything at the end. The drama was never really one to rush in the first place since it literally gave you insight and details into how everything came about through its interesting (and sometimes frustrating) storytelling technique. The drama had a way of backtracking to show you all the moments leading up to a huge scene or moment (such as Hye-jun’s award ceremony that he hosted and won an award at) so while I wasn’t the biggest fan of the storytelling per se, I do appreciate how we got to watch everything unfold. I didn’t really care as much about side characters like Do-ha or Ji-Ah (whose ending was a bit odd and rushed in my opinion.. she went from being a cheating girlfriend to somehow redeeming herself and somehow suddenly getting over Hye-jun.. like.. her feelings just completely disappeared into thin air). I figured those type of characters and scenes were used just more for filler instead of providing some kind of insight and contribution to the story overall. Heck, even CEO Lee was an intriguing character as annoying and irritating of a villain as he was so even I can’t put him down too much there.
Unlike what I expected, Manager Min-jae’s actions the last few episodes did have me scratching my head a bit. She sort of went through this phase where she felt this pressure to protect Hye-jun and to prove people wrong, but in the process of doing so, she did the opposite of what Hye-jun wanted. She basically asked for forgiveness later from Hye-jun after doing what she thought she should do to protect him and it was sort of interesting to watch her transition into such a character. The Min-jae that we saw towards the end of the drama was not the same Min-jae we saw at the beginning and it sort of confused me on how she changed so much (and it always wasn’t for the better).
I get that she felt the need to protect Hye-jun because so many people were doubting her abilities to take care of him and the situation, but I don’t really get why she would panic if Hye-jun himself wasn’t afraid. It wasn’t fun being caught up in all the mess and controversy, but it was never really something that fazed Hye-jun. He never pulled a Do-ha on Min-jae and demanded that she clean everything up. In fact, he was the opposite in that he was quite confident in Min-jae and remained patient even with everything that was going on and all the doubts towards Min-jae. Even when he was at risk of losing his career and his public image had shifted, Hye-jun didn’t let it affect him too much. On the other hand, I think Min-jae let all the pressure and talk from outsiders get to her which could explain as to why she made some moves that went against what Hye-jun wanted. Min-jae’s always been one to respect Hye-jun’s wishes and wants and to listen to him so that’s why I was a bit confused with some of her actions at the end of this drama and just how desperate she was to clean everything up (such as revealing Charlie Jung’s last text messages with Hye-jun even though Hye-jun refused to do it at first). It’s a good thing that Hye-jun loves Min-jae and that he’s a loyal one until the end, but there were definitely some things that she did at the end that raised my eyebrows and caused some concerns. Thankfully, all of this is in the past and the two can hopefully move on to a future with less controversy and more success.
I definitely was not expecting the drama to pull the ending that it did on us in regards to Hye-jun and Jeong-ha’s relationship. I don’t necessarily have a specific or strong feeling on their break-up or how things ended up for them, but I am glad that the drama didn’t rush them into getting back together after the time jump. We’ve seen plenty of dramas where our main couple suddenly fall in love with each other again after some time has passed so it’s a good thing the drama stayed true to itself and didn’t rush Hye-jun and Jeong-ha into becoming a thing in this episode. Things were left rather open-ended between them and while I have an inkling that maybe that spark between them will be revived sometime in the future, I’m also okay that we didn’t get a definite answer. The two were at two different stages and phases in their lives. Like Jeong-ha pointed out, Hye-jun was already a successful actor who was able to achieve his dreams. She, however, was barely starting her dreams of becoming a successful make-up artist with her own salon and the two just weren’t on the same level or page. As much as the two love each other, sometimes love just isn’t enough. There’s more to a relationship than just love and they both learned that during their break-up. But as we will see, breaking up doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to immediately move on. Jeong-ha and Hye-jun still missed each other and were reminded of each other even in the small, little moments. Fast forward to the present and there’s a chance that the two will rekindle the love and relationship that they once had. Now that they’re at a good chapter in their respective lives that they want to be at, they can maybe meet each other halfway and start all over.
I know Hae-hyo was never going to have a chance with Jeong-ha, but I did find their relationship to be quite interesting itself. The last few episodes when Jeong-ha and Hye-jun were going through a rough patch in their relationship and Jeong-ha was leaning more on Hae-hyo for support was pretty intriguing to watch. It’s not like anything was going to blossom between them (they wouldn’t dare to pull such a move on Hye-jun and they have enough respect for themselves to not do such a thing), but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t suffering from Second Lead Syndrome at certain points in this drama.
I did enjoy watching our Hye-jun, Jin-woo, and Hae-hyo trio and how close they were despite the differences between them in background, education, and financial status. They never let any of those details take away from the friendship that they had together and that’s something that the drama did a wonderful job in highlighting. I do have to admit though — a part of me is curious as to how things would have been like had Hae-hyo turned a little bit darker. It would have definitely made for a much more interesting watch if say, his mom’s words really got to him and he became more competitive. It would have been a much more compelling watch if Hae-hyo had pushed aside his friendship with Hye-jun and put his career first so that he too could be successful.
However, now that the drama has ended and we’ve seen the direction that the drama has taken in terms of this storyline, I can see why the drama didn’t transform Hae-hyo to be an evil and jealous character. There were times when he was jealous of Hye-jun and yearned to be at the same level of success and fame as him, but it was more so a battle between him and his mom than him and Hye-jun. He never let his internal conflicts and feelings affect his friendship with Hye-jun and the feelings of competition and embarrassment was more so a battle that he was dealing within himself as well as with his mom. When you think about it from this perspective, I can appreciate that the drama took the whole Hae-hyo vs. Hye-jun friendly competition in a whole other direction. Sure, I’m certain that Hae-hyo would have been redeemed at the end if the drama decided to go all out, but with the way that the drama progressed, I liked how the friendly competition resulted in life-learning lessons for Hae-hyo and his mom. The rivalry with Hye-jun taught the both of them many things about their mother-son relationship so something good came out of all the intensity and rivalry. I would even argue that Hae-hyo and his mom’s relationship improved as a result of everything that was built up within themselves and the two are at peace with how things turned out.
There’s a sense of bittersweetness watching this drama for a variety of reasons. One being that Hye-jun’s enlistment sort of mirrored Park Bo-gum’s enlistment in that he’s actually serving time at the moment so it’s sad that he’ll be gone for almost two years. The other being that the drama did such a wonderful job in highlighting the beauty and pain of relationships. ‘Record of Youth’ is something that I only came around to enjoying and appreciating after finishing the entire show; I couldn’t see it for what it was as it was airing and especially during the beginning of the drama. To be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the drama during the first few episodes and had such a hard time watching it and recapping it. I couldn’t get with the flow; I was having a difficult time trying to understand the little details that the drama was throwing at us and all the bland conversations that our characters were engaging in. The drama was a little too dry and stale for me at times. However, now that I’ve finished the drama, I have to admit that there’s a certain charm to this drama. There’s not a lot going on and this drama was never one of substance, but yet, it felt realistic, relatable, and wholesome of sorts. It was never afraid to go there; it was never afraid to be vulnerable and honest with us and to showcase the struggles that each of our characters were going through. It just was what it was and never pretended to be something that it wasn’t.
Sure, there were aspects to this drama that sure was questionable or that I didn’t like (the Charlie Jung incident and using his name and character to tank Hye-jun’s career), but there were also things that this drama did great. Before we knew it, we got to witness Hye-jun’s trajectory to stardom and I have to admit that it was something I barely even noticed because things were happening so quickly and I was so engrossed in it. It was pretty fun watching Hye-jun go from being a nameless actor to suddenly hitting it big with tons of projects and endorsements under him. It certainly didn’t happen over night and I liked that we got to watch him succeed. I liked that we got to watch Hye-jun and his beginning struggles to his rise as an actor to his success as a star. I liked that we got to watch him even when he was successful and just how consistent he was as a character even through the rough times. Even when he did make a name for himself, he was still going through problems and challenges and I liked that we got to witness this part of his journey. Hye-jun fought for so long just to put himself on the map and even when he did, things didn’t end there. He was still facing challenges and difficulties in life and life was still so unpredictable for him. Just because he hit it big didn’t mean that everything was going to go well forever. It just goes to show that you never know what awaits you in the future, and I liked that we got to watch him not only fight to achieve his dreams but also overcome these uncertainties and bumps on his successful journey. Things don’t stop once you’re among the top and you still have to keep fighting. Hye-jun was a perfect example of that.
Our Sa family of five is not a perfect family. Hae-hyo and his family is definitely not the picture perfect family that they paint themselves out to be. However, as our characters will learn, the people who you know you can rely on to be there for you at the very end of the day is none other than your family. They will always be there for you no matter what happens and this is a beautiful lesson that ‘Record of Youth’ emphasized on. You have your family members who you live in the same house with and fight with and make up with, but you also have your close friends who are also like your second family. Whether familial, romantic, or friendly, every relationship isn’t perfect and things aren’t always going to be smooth sailing, but there will also come a time when the waves won’t come crashing down on you every time. There will come a time when you will survive and thrive and things will stay afloat for a very long time. There were many strengths that the drama tended to with the primary one being the way that it highlighted and showcased the nuances and complexities of relationships. Relationships take time to grow and to evolve. Be gentle with yourself and be patient with others. Everything will eventually pan out as they were meant to.