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By Bryan Tan
This review contains spoilers and covers episodes 15-16 of Record of Youth (ROY), which is currently available on Netflix.
It’s official; the coveted and much admired couple Hye-Jeong (or Jun-ha) has split. If you listen closely enough, you’ll hear the million little shards of my shattered heart come loose and fall tinkling to the ground.
Having invested and felt so much along with this beautiful couple so far, it was just hard to take in anything as episode 15 flashed back to the events occurring prior to the break-up. An Jeong Ha (Park So Dam) deflects the intrusive questions of reporter Kim Su Man (Bae Yoon Kyoung) in a confrontational interview about her relationship with Sa Hye Jun (Park Bo Gum). Seriously, this reporter lady needs to get a life; there are other celebrities (like that obnoxious Park Do Ha, which she does go after later) that you can smear. Leave Hye Junnie alone!
Grandpa Sa Min Gi (Han Jin Hee) starts getting a lot more work and visibility as a senior model, and appoints his own son (Park Soo Young) as his manager. It was a moment of tenderness and reconciliation, as Min Gi always felt ashamed for not being able to provide the best for his son and family.
Jeong Ha’s parasitic mother finds out she has been dating Hye Jun and asks her for money. The fledgling make-up artist is also on the receiving end of hate comments after being exposed by that nasty reporter woman. After all this, I’m just surprised that Jeong Ha has not gone ballistic and told Hye Jun exactly how she has felt.
The fact that Jeong Ha has been so languid and passive throughout their relationship is something I take issue with. Communication is important in any relationship, and although Hye Jun is busy, he makes every effort to initiate important conversations with her.
Jeong Ha so far has withheld how she truly feels about what is happening around Hye Jun, and reveals very little of her feelings or emotions; she ‘feels bad’ every time he apologises to her, because she can’t take how ‘hard it is for him’. Can’t you just be honest and say that you want to break up with him because being with him hurts you too?
As the series comes to an end, it has been a thoroughly emotional journey for everyone, especially our dashing lead actor. Hye Jun has matured, very much like the actor Bo Gum has; from a reticent Choi Taek in Reply 1988 (2015) to a fun-loving Joseon prince in Love In The Moonlight (2016), he has shown sides of himself that encompass vulnerability, humility, courage in love, and a firm resolve in the face of adversity.
Many of the other characters have matured and evolved as well. Won Hae Hyo (Byun Woo Seok) was unable to act on his unrequited love towards Jeong Ha, but was able to find peace with where he was in his career, alongside his friendship with Hye Jun. In a vulnerable moment, Hye Jun was able to be completely open and emotional with his father, who apologised for slapping him.
The whole series feels like Park Bo Gum’s story, if not a record of his own youth, to be honest. Hye Jun eventually decides to join the army, but not before putting out his last drama just like Bo Gum did, releasing Record of Youth before enlisting in the navy in August earlier this year. Whether it is real or not, perhaps only time will tell when he is released in April, 2022.
Read our other reviews of Record Of Youth: