By Bryan Tan
This review contains spoilers and covers episodes 7-8 of Record Of Youth, which is currently available on Netflix.
Record of Youth (ROY) has been one of the best dramas in 2020; anyone who’s watched it will definitely agree. As if the audiences haven’t yet recovered from being blown away by the intense and emotional kissing scene which ended episode six, we are all treated to how it all got there.
Manager Lee Min Jae (Shin Dong Mi), knowing that Sa Hye Jun (Park Bo Gum) was devastated after failing to get a role in a mini-series, begs Ahn Jeong Ha (Park So Dam) to cheer Hye Jun up. Jeong Ha pretends to be oblivious to the red-eyed Hye Jun and cutely offers him chocolate, soup and a book she bought for him in his family van, and then casually mentions that she would only do this for her boyfriend. The Ha-Jun couple is officially shipped on its maiden voyage!
What ROY does amazingly well is to create scenes that are playfully casual yet impactful with acts that would normally be played up with swelling music and painfully powerful emotions in other dramas. The tender kisses that Hye Jun and Jeong Ha shared behind a piano in front of the Han River was a powerful scene, simply because it came from a place of absolute vulnerability; two people sharing a moment of profound intimacy created from baring their souls completely to each other.
Another character also gets some welcome progression as Hye Jun’s arrogant older brother Sa Gyeong Jun (Lee Jae Won) gets his pride taken down a notch after being scammed trying to rent an apartment. Gyeong Jun petulantly confesses to Hye Jun that even though he has a good job as a banker, he will never be rich and the apartment was his only way of being free of his stifling duties to the family as the eldest son.
Director Ahn Gil Ho has an amazing talent for creating villains in ROY that people love to hate, but become likeable after some character development. Well, not for all. Ahn Jeong Ha’s supervisor Jin Ju (Jo Ji Seung) in the salon continues to bully her at every turn, spreading malicious gossip and even calling in a friend to be a customer and making a scene to smear Jeong Ha. Also, Hye Jun’s ex-girlfriend makes a Darth Vader-like appearance; we can expect things to get complicated when this sadistic-looking chick realises that Hae Hyo has a crush on his best friend Hye Jun’s girlfriend. Oh snap!
My predictions for Won Hae Hyo (Byun Woo Seok) also came true! The leggy actor chases after Jeong Ha in a rather dramatic bridge scene, but stops short of confessing his own feelings to her. Perhaps it was his guilt, knowing that she already belonged to Hye Jun, or perhaps he didn’t want to ruin his relationship with his best friend, or both? Will he continue to pursue her despite his misgivings? Only time will tell in the episodes to come.
I worry that because of the multiple plotlines, ROY might be spreading itself too thin trying to fully flesh out all the growing relationships and introduction of new characters. But director Gil Ho has proven himself extremely adept so far, juggling everything without letting even one ball fall. If you haven’t caught ROY yet you need to watch it!
Read our other reviews of Record Of Youth: