ICYMI, Park Bo-Gum (Moonlight Drawn By The Clouds) and Park So-Dam’s (Parasite) latest K-drama Record Of Youth is already on Netflix. The story revolves around Sa Hye-Jun (Park Bo-Gum), a popular model who dreams to become an actor. But things don’t turn his way as much as they do for his fellow model and childhood friend, Won Hae-Hyo (Byeon Woo-Seok). This causes a lot of conflicting feelings for him. One day, Hye-Jun crosses paths with makeup artist An Jeong-Ha (Park So Dam) — who is secretly a fan of his — and they develop an interesting friendship.
While the series has aired only two episodes as of writing, the K-drama already took the top spot in its timeslot with high ratings. But, thankfully, it’s not just the headlining cast that’s to be merited for the drama’s success. Here are more reasons why you need to tune in to Record Of Youth, stat.
It explores a lot of heavy but relatable themes
Consider yourself warned: this isn’t a rom-com. The first two episodes already lay it thick on the drama — in a good way — as it zooms in on the struggles of people in their 20s who are finding their place in the world. This kind of narrative is all but exhausted at this point, but Record Of Youth still succeeds in making it feel fresh but still relatable to the audience.
One of the biggest issues the plot explored is family dynamics, wherein one character is being doted on — almost unhealthily — by their parent to pursue a career they only see as temporary. Meanwhile, another character is being shunned by his family for taking his dream career too seriously. And sure, a career in entertainment may not be something we’re all interested in, but the scenes portraying feelings of being trapped and unsupported, especially when you’re feeling lost and defeated in life, will surely have you reaching for tissues while watching.
The drama shows a very different side of Park Bo-Gum
It’s no secret that Bogummy is a good actor. But given his soft and ‘flower boy’ appearance, he’s often given roles that don’t tap into the strongest points of his acting chops. Record Of Youth changes that by giving us a sharper and grittier Park Bo-Gum. It’s not a complete 180-degree turn from the good boy roles we’ve previously seen him in, but now he plays a struggling adult who deals with an inner turmoil that’s bigger than himself. We see him get angry, frustrated, hurt and even hear him curse and look livid in this drama, showing that he can play characters with interesting layers.
It offers an interesting take on the entertainment industry
Art is often used to mirror and critique reality and Record Of Youth does exactly that. We’re only two episodes in but issues on harassment, bribery, buying fake followers to gain popularity, conning budding artists into contract-traps and more are already discussed quite glaringly. It also portrayed the power-play that happens behind-the-scenes which often makes it hard for people with actual talent to break through the barrier and ‘make it’.
Park So-Dam’s An Jeong-Ha is not your typical K-drama heroine
Oftentimes, when it comes to young adult K-dramas, the heroine is portrayed as spunky, overly confident, and fierce — to sum, ‘the girl we want to be’ but not ‘the girl we are’. However, Park So-Dam’s An Jeong-Ha overturns that narrative. She’s smart and interesting and talented but she still feels human who has insecurities, struggles, and even little winning moments. Most importantly, she doesn’t look like your flighty, overly stunning female lead pretending to believe they look plain when they’re obviously not (Park So-Dam is very pretty, don’t get us wrong) but rather feels just raw and real and normal, which makes you want to root for her.
Despite the emotional narrative, it’s still easy to watch
Some dramas can feel emotionally taxing, especially when introspective themes come into play. But Record Of Youth does well in balancing dramatic scenes with bits of lighthearted — sometimes, comedic but still realistic — moments. We wouldn’t want to spoil the details, but the new Park-Park couple’s first meeting in the pilot is one great example of this.
Every interaction Bogummy’s Hye-Jun has with his character’s grandfather is also very heartwarming and adds another layer to this engrossing plot. You’ll end up crying here and there, sure, but at the end of every episode, the drama still allows for feelings of hopefulness that make you anticipate the succeeding episodes with a light heart.
Looking for other dramas to add to your watchlist this month? We've got a good queue right here.
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