On September 7, 2020, the first episode of tvN’s new drama, 'Record of Youth' was released worldwide and it was met almost immediately with incredible success, both from Korean fans as well as international ones. Record of Youth is the first time Park Bo Gum is appearing on the small screen since 'Encounter' and this comes right after he enlisted in the military. Park So Dam of ‘Parasite’ success also appears on television for the first time since 'Cinderella with Four Knights.' Fans have been waiting patiently but eagerly for this drama to air ever since the teasers were released and now it is finally here.
'Record of Youth' is the story of young people aspiring to achieve their dreams in order to live the way they want to, on her own accord. The story features a young and handsome top model Sa Hye Jun who strives for an acting career but is unable to break through into the industry simply because the system does not allow him too. It is not as if his skill is lacking, he’s quite talented but those in authority aren’t in his favor. On the other hand, his best friend Won Hae Hyo is successful despite not having much to show for it. He comes from a rich family but his personality is not molded by his wallet. Ahn Jeong Ha is a makeup artist that is an expert at her job but her boss keeps trying to push her down. As such, these three characters form the main plot of the drama.
After the first episode of 'Record of Youth' was released, fans have reacted with an overwhelmingly positive response. Here are 5 things we liked and look forward to from the first episode of 'Record of Youth.'
The main lead of this drama Sa Hye Jun is played by Park Bo Gum. While he’s struggling to gain traction and fulfill his dreams of becoming an actor, he is not perfect by himself. The drama does not portray him as someone down on his luck. As a matter of fact, he’s semi-successful doing modeling jobs and several other part-time jobs. He is not an ideal son to the family and expresses his emotions clearly whether it be anger or hurt.
He’s filial to his grandfather who used to have the same dream as Hye Jun and is frustrated with his family’s pressure towards him enlisting for the military and getting a stable job afterwards. In essence, they want him to quit on his dreams in order to adapt better with society and live a decent life, or at least so they hope. Hye Jun is the apple of his grandfather’s eye however and he’s always supportive of every little thing Hye Jun achieves. Hye Jun is hard working but most of all, he is loyal to his own principles. It is always refreshing to see protagonists that have an unapologetic drive and are determined to get to the finish line.
Ahn Jeong Ha is constantly undermined at her job due to what looks like insecurities of her superior. She works at a makeup shop and is amazing at her job, so much so that customers of her boss turn to her for a job well done. Her boss comes off as sadistic and irresponsible as she is reprehensive towards Jeong Ha for her own mistakes. She even humiliates her in front of Hye Jun and Hae Hyo simply because she did what was asked of her. While that does upset her, it cannot bring her down.
Sa Hye Jun standing up for himself
It is not often that we see characters stand up for themselves unless their head goes underwater. Most protagonists endure and this endurance is seen as their strong suit. Hye Jun, however, never lets unfair treatment pass on by reacting to it. He stands up to his company CEO for not paying up for his gigs, to his celebrity client for acting entitled and slapping him just because he’s a bodyguard, and even to his family who forces him to give up on his dreams but referring to him as a burden. It was extremely refreshing to see this amount of confidence and determination on a protagonist where self-respect comes first and foremost.
Ahn Jeong Ha’s fangirling
Ahn Jeong Ha finds her respite and stress release at the end of the day by looking at Hye Jun’s photos and videos. Fans all over the world can easily relate to this as there is no doubt that our favorite artists bring us happiness whether they are actors, musicians, or models. It’s that little bit of healthy fangirling that gives Jeong Ha a dimension of being relatable to viewers worldwide. When Jeong Ha finally meets Hye Jun through her line of work and gets to even do his makeup for the fashion show, fans all over the world lived through this wish fulfillment.
The first episode of 'Record of Youth' sets up the foundation for the development of beautiful friendships that viewers eagerly look forward to seeing through. Hye Jun and Hae Hyo are best friends despite their varying backgrounds. Hye Jun’s mother works for Hae Hyo’s mother but no one in this dynamic is belittled. In fact, Hae Hyo refers to Hye Jun’s mother as Omoni as well. He’s a kind young man with zero sense of entitlement. He even uses his privilege to help his friend out if need be. He knows for a fact that he gets opportunities on a platter whereas his friend has to work ten times as hard for the same thing. His only aim is to prove his talent without the backing of his rich background.
Strong and independent women
The first episode portrays women in a brilliant light. In a short surprise cameo by Kim Hye Yoon who plays the Lee Bo Ra, girlfriend to a celebrity hotshot who breaks her heart, she does not hesitate to give him just what he deserves and that too, in front of other people.
Lee Min Jae (played by Shin Dong Mi) is not the least bit intimidated by her boss (now ex-employer) and stands up for Hye Jun when the CEO refuses to pay up. She’s definitely not a personality to cower down to stay mum. When the CEO keeps threatening her and Hye Jun, she warns her once and for all that if she wished, she could ruin his whole life, starting from exposing his affairs to his wife. Hye Jun eventually asks her to be his manager so it’s going to be lovely to see these two help each other out on the road to victory.
Jeong Ha has a full-time job but manages to keep time aside for her passion. She makes videos about makeup that others might find useful and even edits them herself. She knows that righteousness may not be the path to success as people that are unabashedly rude seem to do just fine. However, that doesn’t stop her from living an honest life for herself. She’s strong and independent as well as confident in her morals.
Hye Jun’s mother is sincere in the job she has and in no way does she consider herself any lesser than another. She’s also supportive of Hye Jun and respectful of his choices. While it is hard for the men in the family to accept and understand, she is always mindful of what Hye Jun might want from life and fully comprehends that his life is his to live so he should have the choice of which path he takes.
Hae Hyo’s mother is a retired Professor but she lets herself be a little child at times. She respects people’s professions and is strict about responsibilities. When Jeong Ha's boss is too late to come to do her job, she asks Jeong Ha to do it for her instead. At once, she recognizes her skill and insists on her completing the makeup since it was her who started it, and clearly she is much better at it too. Giving credit where credit is due, Hae Hyo’s mother is a strong personality and it will be really interesting to see how dynamics between the characters change and take new shapes.
You can watch 'Record of Youth' on tvN at 21:00 KST or on Netflix worldwide on Mondays and Tuesdays.