Record of Youth: Episode 2
Behind the glitz and glamour of the entertainment business lies a dark and broken industry filled with the corrupt and misguided. For our aspiring actor, holding onto his moral code proves to be a challenge as he questions his own virtues and tries to find his place in the world. With every step forward, his naysayers push him back, but fortunately for our hero, there’s still good people around him who see his worth.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
After being humiliated by her colleague, Jung-ha cries by herself and curses under her breath since positivity is crap. Like a true fangirl, she turns to her bias for comfort, but a familiar voice calls from behind, “You were my fan?”
Hye-joon’s appearance flusters Jung-ha for a moment, but she quickly puts on a smile and denies it. He doesn’t believe her since he saw her phone wallpaper, but she lies about being Hae-hyo’s fan instead. Showing him the photo, she points out Hae-hyo in the background.
Though it’s a pretty unconvincing lie, Hye-joon’s face falls, and his demeanor turns cold. Jung-ha brushes it off as a plausible misunderstanding, and he loosens up, feeling less embarrassed about his mistake.
Hae-hyo drops by a café to visit his mom, Yi-young, when a gaggle of fangirls bombard him for pictures. Yi-young stops the impromptu fan meeting and drags him away to tell him that he got the movie role. To her disappointment, Hae-hyo is more concerned about Hye-joon.
Back at the venue, Hye-joon sits with Jung-ha and asks if she was nervous seeing her star. She tells him that she was anxious since last night, and Hye-joon compliments her choice of bias, firmly believing her lie. When he learns that they’re the same age, they decide to become friends and speak casually.
Jung-ha asks if he came to find her, and he tells her that he understands what it feels like to be treated unfairly. Before he leaves, Hye-joon asks why she uses that confusing photo, and Jung-ha watches him go, telling the audience why she likes him: he has a special ability to connect with anyone.
The fashion show begins with a cacophony of flashes, and among them is Jin-woo who diligently snaps photos of his two friends. After the successful show, Jin-woo runs backstage to brag about the pictures, and the three friends bicker like schoolkids.
Jung-ha’s colleague Jin Joo calls the models over to remove their makeup, and Hye-joon uses this moment to introduce his buddies to his new friend, Jung-ha. The others warm up to her instantly, making silly puns about each other’s names, and Jin Joo looks peeved as they invite Jung-ha out for drinks.
Hae-hyo offers to treat everyone with today’s earnings, and his words remind Hye-joon of an issue he needs to fix. He gets up to find the show producer, and Jung-ha watches him leave with a look of concern.
He spots the producer talking with Designer Jung and asks for a quick word. Designer Jung gives the two some space, and Hye-joon asks to be paid directly since he split from his agency. After settling things, Hye-joon turns to leave, but Designer Jung calls out to him, asking if he has anything else to say.
Sometime in the past, Hye-joon geeked out over Designer Jung’s sports car and absolutely beamed when he got a chance to drive it. In the evening, they arrived at a fancy establishment where an impressive spread of Hye-joon’s favorite foods was prepared for them.
Innocent Hye-joon asked when the rest of the party guests were to arrive, but Designer Jung told him that it was just the two of them. He explained how everyone in this field starts off with sponsors, but Hye-joon rejected his advances. Stopping him from leaving, Designer Jung professed his love, but his words only pushed Hye-joon away.
In the present, Designer Jung notes Hye-joon’s cold behavior and chides him for rebuffing his proposal five years ago to live like this. He tells him that his offer still stands, and despite Hye-joon’s refusal, the designer gives him a week to decide.
At a construction site, Young-nam winces in pain, and his best friend Jang-man worries about his bad shoulder. Young-nam tells him that he’s stressed about Hye-joon lately since he got his draft notice, and at Jang-man’s insistence, he agrees to take the day off.
Ae-sook hears about her husband’s condition from Kyung-mi who heard it from her husband. Kyung-mi also mentions Hye-joon’s draft notice and bemoans the poor boy’s fate for not having any support for his career unlike Hae-hyo. Ae-sook believes her son needs to achieve success by himself, and Kyung-mi sighs at her naivety.
Gramps eats alone at home—complimenting Ae-sook’s cooking and calling her too good for his son—when Young-nam comes back early. Noticing his son in pain, Gramps tells him to go to the hospital, but Young-nam stubbornly refuses to waste money on his health.
While taking out the trash, Ae-sook digs through the clothing recycling bins and finds some jackets for her husband and father-in-law. Though Gramps would accept the gift gratefully, Ae-sook sighs since her husband will refuse to wear secondhand clothes.
At home, Gramps puts patches on his son’s shoulder and tells him to wait until he wins the lottery. Young-nam yells at him for having futile dreams, and their bickering turns into an argument about Young-nam’s treatment of Hye-joon. Gramps storms out of the room, but not soon after, he returns.
He advises his son to learn how to be repentant, but Young-nam belittles his father, arguing that only the successful should teach life lessons. Gramps slaps on a patch, but when he sees Young-nam yelp in pain, his anger turns to concern.
Hye-joon goes backstage but only finds Jung-ha there cleaning up. She won’t be joining them for drinks and tells Hye-joon that she couldn’t refuse earlier since a nobody like her shouldn’t ruin the mood. She already has plans for “makeup busking,” and Hye-joon marvels at her diligent lifestyle.
Their conversation turns to fandoms, and Jung-ha wonders how Hye-joon remained friends with Hae-hyo all these years. Hye-joon is surprised to hear Jung-ha know so much about him, especially since he’s a nobody. She shouts at him for demeaning himself, and Hye-joon points out that he was merely borrowing her words.
Yi-young checks Hae-hyo’s Instagram follower count and buys a couple of thousand more for her son. When she sees her daughter Hae-na waltz into the kitchen, she scolds her for snacking and asks if she wants to go on a blind date. Hae-na says that she’ll take care of her love life, but Yi-young warns her daughter that marriage is between families.
Hae-na complains about her mom causing stress, but Yi-young knows exactly how to relieve it: shopping. She tells Hae-na that she’s next after she finishes securing her brother’s future and gets ready for their outing.
Noticing Hae-hyo shaking his leg, Jin-woo asks what’s bothering him, so Hae-hyo informs him about the movie casting. Jin-woo advises him to tell Hye-joon when he’s in a good mood, so Hae-hyo decides to break the news to him if their soccer team beats Japan today.
While his friends wait for him outside, Hye-joon helps Jung-ha with her bags, and though he offers to carry them to the bus stop, she refuses. He comments on her strong sense of independence, and she explains it as a result of having no one to lean on. He finds this surprising since he assumed that she was like Hae-hyo.
As goodbye, Hye-joon tells her that he’ll see her later, but Jung-ha calls him out on his empty formalities. Rectifying his mistake, he exchanges numbers with her, and asks why she isn’t jumping at the chance to hang out with her star.
Jung-ha tells him that she needs a stable life first, and they exchange childish barbs with each other. She thinks to herself that he’s different from what she imagined, and as Hye-joon walks away, Jung-ha wonders why it feels like she’s talking to a doll.
Elsewhere, Hye-joon’s ex-agent Tae-soo meets with a potential talent, but none of his scare tactics work on the model who walks away from the unfavorable contract. Thus, he’s in a foul mood when Min-jae arrives, but she gets straight to the point and asks if he paid Hye-joon. The agent gives a roundabout answer and then gloats about how he rejected a job offer for Hye-joon by claiming he retired.
Gramps waits for Ae-sook to come home, and she greets him outside with a smile. He hears about the jackets she found and volunteers to play the scapegoat to get Young-nam to wear the clothes. He promises to buy Ae-sook a house once he wins the lottery, and unlike his son, she laughs good-naturedly at his offer.
Once inside, Ae-sook sighs at the sight of Young-nam, and it’s the same repertoire: she tells him to go to the hospital, and he refuses. She scolds him for telling his friend about their son’s draft notice, but Young-nam is set on making his son enlist, sure that he failed his audition once again.
At the bar, Hye-joon and his friends drink and cheer as they watch the soccer match, and on the streets of Hongdae, Jung-ha is just one of the many buskers performing through the night. After the match, the friends talk about exemption from service, and Jin-woo accidentally mentions Hye-joon’s upcoming enlistment.
The others grow quiet until Hae-hyo speaks up and confesses that he got the role. Hye-joon frowns at his friends and angrily asks if it had to be right now. He storms away, but they chase after him and treat him to karaoke.
Hye-joon keeps singing long after the others are winded and finally stops to tell them that they ruined one of his rare happy moments. Hae-hyo throws Jin-woo under the bus for the blunder, and Jin-woo imitates Kim Rae-won’s famous scene from Sunflower. That gets a chuckle out of Hye-joon, and the mood lifts.
After her busking, Jung-ha edits her recordings and smiles to herself as she watches her clip. The guest asked if she was dating anyone, and Jung-ha told her that she doesn’t date but fangirl.
Walking home, Jin-woo comforts Hye-joon, but as soon as he receives a text from Hae-na, he scampers off to see her. All alone, Hye-joon thinks back to his conversation with Designer Jung, who berated him for having no ambitions. Though Hye-joon walked away without a word then, in the present, he tells the designer to screw it.
Yi-young waits for her son to celebrate his casting, but when he comes home, he asks if she knows anyone at the movie studio to get a part for Hye-joon. Yi-young pouts at the request, but Hae-hyo just teases her and escapes to his room.
Complaining to her husband, Yi-young blames him for sending Hae-hyo to a public elementary school which led him to become friends with the housekeeper’s son. Her husband argues for the importance of a wide perspective, but Yi-young is a firm believer of homophily.
He doesn’t understand why she’s so worked up over a hobby, but Yi-young tells him that being a star is Hae-hyo’s future. As their bickering progresses, he gets offended by her casual speak—scolding her for being vulgar—and Yi-young scowls at her uncommunicative husband.
After showering, Hae-hyo calls his manager to ask if Hye-joon can join him for his next photoshoot. The manager is against the idea, but Hae-hyo is set on having his friend, even if he has to pay for the expenses. Changing to a happier topic, his manager congratulates him on his Instagram follower count, and Hae-hyo is happy to see his numbers increase, unaware of his mom’s meddling.
Still working well into the night, Jung-ha uploads her video on YouTube and records a log of today’s events. As she recalls her encounters with Hye-joon, the memories appear on screen like an Instagram grid, and she describes the day as exciting, unfair, surprising, touching, and a splash of cold water. All in all, she thinks it was a perfect day.
Young-nam replaces Kyung-joon’s door even though his shoulder hurts, and Kyung-joon promises to buy his parents gifts after he earns his first paycheck. While the family laughs, they hear a disturbance outside and notice Hye-joon stumbling home.
As soon as his son enters, Young-nam berates him for drinking, but Hye-joon tells him to stop because life is already hard enough. Young-nam doesn’t understand what could be so tough and asks his son what’s bothering him so much.
Hye-joon tells him that he lost the role, but instead of comforting him, Young-nam calls it a good thing. He thinks his son is wasting away his life chasing after his silly dream, and Kyung-joon agrees that even after seven years, Hye-joon has nothing to show for his work.
Hye-joon finally bursts and yells at them for criticizing his life. He never once asked his dad for help, so he refuses to listen to them belittle his life. Kyung-joon asks if he has a victim mentality, but Hye-joon accuses him for being a psychopath, then. He asks how a person could celebrate when he failed his audition, and Young-nam screams at his son for being ungrateful.
Gramps intervenes, defending Hye-joon, but Kyung-joon looks down on his grandpa for interfering. Having heard enough, Hye-joon drags Gramps into their room, but before he retreats, Gramps points to their old door and scolds his son for showing favoritism. He slams the door to express his disapproval, but the old hinges finally cave as the door comes tumbling down.
Hye-joon puts up a makeshift door for the night, and Gramps sighs, feeling like a burden. He asks Hye-joon to look for some work for him, but his grandson laughs it off, commenting on how Gramps never made a living before.
Gramps sadly comments on how Hye-joon is acting no better than Young-nam, and Hye-joon apologizes for unintentionally looking down on him. Gramps tells him that he wants to earn money to send his son to the hospital and breaks down sobbing. Hye-joon tears up as well and hugs his grandpa.
Later that night, Hye-joon sits awake and alone—though he’s not truly alone. Never in his life did he have a space to himself and belatedly realizes the importance of having a room to cry. Escaping to the roof, Hye-joon thinks back on his dream of owning a house while doing the things he loved, but now… he’s decided to reject the things he can’t have.
The next morning, Min-jae waits for Hye-joon to tell him some good news. Flashing back to earlier, she called the fashion show producer on Hye-joon’s behalf, and in the spur of the moment, she told him that she started a new agency, Jjamppong (aka, spicy seafood noodles). Hahaha!
Hye-joon laughs at her story but apologizes since he can’t go. He’s enlisting soon, and Min-jae fails to convince him otherwise. Afterwards, he visits Designer Jung and declines his offer once again. The designer accepts it and offers to buy lunch, instead. Hye-joon makes up plans to avoid the meal, but the designer sees through his lies.
He gets angry at Hye-joon for complicating matters and criticizes him for being so dense. He says that there’s a reason why Hye-joon failed while Hae-hyo succeeded, and predicts Hye-joon will end up wasting away at a construction site like his dad. Keeping his composure to the bitter end, Hye-joon tells the designer to remember how he remained professional and marches out with his head held high.
To Hye-joon’s surprise, Min-jae was waiting for him this entire time, and relocating to a café, she shows him the plane ticket she booked. She already set everything up and won’t take no for an answer: Jjamppong is happening whether Hye-joon wants it or not.
At the salon, Jin Joo asks about their inventory and Jung-ha lists what they need off the top of her head. Instead of being impressed by her abilities, Jin Joo lets her jealousy control her and lashes out at Jung-ha for being unfriendly.
Revealing what’s really bothering her, Jin Joo asks how Jung-ha could saunter off with the models without her, but Jung-ha corrects her—she never went. More importantly, though, she asks if Jin Joo even has a right to be angry after humiliating her in front of everyone, and leaves the jealous colleague speechless.
In the backroom, Soo-bin takes Jung-ha’s side and asks how her meeting with Hye-joon went. She notes Jung-ha’s friendly use of the models’ names and assumes she’s exaggerating until Jung-ha explains how they’ve actually become friends.
On their flight to Milan, Min-jae is excited about all the little things since it’s her first time on a plane. Hye-joon chuckles at her unbridled excitement and teases her for acting like the star. When they arrive at the show, it’s hectic backstage as staff and models mingle around getting prepared. Once the show starts, Hye-joon does what he does best, and Min-jae watches from the sidelines like a proud mama duck.
Afterwards, they share beers in their lodging, and Min-jae describes how it feels like a month has passed even though it’s only been two days. She calls everything a dream and describes her inexplicable feelings of wanting to see him succeed. He jokes that those sound like someone in love, and she admits to being in love… with the process, not him.
She asks if he’s really quitting, and he tells her that it’s the logical choice because he lost the movie role. When she hears that Hae-hyo got it instead, she balks since Hye-joon has a special something his friend doesn’t have.
When they arrive back home, Hae-hyo picks up his friend to go to the salon, and they arrive at Jung-ha’s workplace. Hye-joon introduces the two friends again, but this time he tells Hae-hyo that Jung-ha is his fan. She accuses him of having loose lips, and Hye-joon is offended by her words.
Jung-ha freezes, worried that she crossed the line, but Hae-hyo tells him to lighten up since he was obviously joking. Hye-joon laughs, asking if his acting improved, and Jin Joo comes over, wanting to join in on the fun.
Hye-joon steers Jin Joo away so Jung-ha can be with her star, and once they’re alone, Hae-hyo tells her to act comfortably around him. She clears up the misunderstanding, clarifying that she’s actually Hye-joon’s fan, and asks him to keep it a secret since he’s a nice guy. Though he doesn’t look pleased, Hae-hyo agrees.
As Jung-ha goes to pick up some stuff, she bumps into Hye-joon who teases her about hanging out with Hae-hyo alone. He asks if she can cut hair, and she tells him that she can for soldiers and toddlers. He invites her to their upcoming photoshoot and encourages her to win against Jin Joo: if she can’t win even after all his support, then she’s a dummy.
He flashes her a smile before turning around, and Jung-ha tells herself that she’ll win this time. With a pep in her step, she walks to her station, glowing with confidence.
During their photoshoot, Hye-joon realizes that everyone—including him and Hae-hyo —shines in their own way. He learned from Min-jae that he lost the role to Hae-hyo not because of a lack of skill but because his friend had more followers on Instagram.
Hye-joon looks up at a billboard playing Hae-hyo’s commercial and narrates, “I fooled myself that not comparing myself and competing against him was virtuous. Now, I feel relieved.”
He stops by Jung-ha’s salon where she’s cleaning up at the end of the day and asks for a haircut. She wonders if he wants to look like a toddler, so he announces, “I’m joining the military.”
It’s easy to judge the characters superficially, but there’s something between the lines—the passing facial expressions, the words spoken through silences—that suggest something deeper and hidden within these individuals. At first glance, Hye-joon acts like the typical male Candy who works hard and is morally upright despite the challenges in his life. As for Hae-hyo, he’s the rich best friend with a warm heart who’s always looking out for his friends. For the most part, I don’t think these interpretations of the characters are wrong, but there’s a tension in the show that’s hard to place, making it feel like everyone is skating on thin ice. Despite the moments of hope and brightness, there’s a slight melancholic tone to the drama that highlights both the youthfulness of its story as well as the bitter struggles of youth, itself.
Though it’s only been two episodes, I feel like I know Hye-joon, but at the same time, understand nothing about him. It’s a paradoxical feeling that Jung-ha aptly describes when she wonders why it feels like she’s talking to a doll when she’s with him. There are times when Hye-joon feels like an open-book with his earnest puppy eyes and boyish charms, which is amplified by Park Bo-gum’s portrayal. However, at other times, he comes across as standoffish, as if he’s using his handsome mask to maintain a ruse and closely guard his true feelings. Is he really the man everyone thinks he is—kind to a fault and innocent—or is that the man he wants people to see him as?
After years of working in a cruel and unforgiving business, Hye-joon has learned to keep his emotions bottled-up and doesn’t share his struggles with anyone, not even his friends. He has no family to turn to for support—emotional or financial—and even when he tries to open up, he’s met with backlash. It seems everyone is in the dark about what the designer did to Hye-joon, and it was difficult to watch him be courteous to such a deplorable human being who only deserved his ire. What makes Designer Jung so terrible is that he disguises his obsession as love and tries to gaslight Hye-joon into accepting his proposal. He’s manipulative and egotistical, barraging Hye-joon with unsolicited criticisms that were uncalled for and meanspirited. Hye-joon is clearly struggling in his career, but luckily, there are still some good people around him who are willing to help. Hopefully, by surrounding himself with positive influences, his special talent to connect with others will flourish.
Besides Hye-joon, Hae-hyo and Jung-ha are both still questions marks in my book. On multiple occasions, Hae-hyo has been shown caring for Hye-joon, but I wonder if his kindness will still extend to his friend when he feels like he’s on the losing end. A part of me wonders if Hae-hyo might unconsciously see his friend as beneath him, which is why he treats Hye-joon so well. To Yi-young, it seems like her son is more concerned for his friend than his own accomplishments, but I doubt this is really the case. When Jung-ha told him that she was Hye-joon’s fan, his response was tepid at best, and when he saw his follower count increase, Hae-hyo was proud of his achievement, showing that he does care about his celebrity status. Learning of his mom’s meddling will likely put a damper on his mood, but will Hae-hyo right Yi-young’s wrongs or choose to feign ignorance to reap the benefits? Though their friendship seems genuine, the show emphasizes the complexity of their relationship as both childhood friends and potential rivals.
However, of the three main protagonists, Jung-ha is the biggest enigma. She’s hardworking, capable, and friendly, but I don’t understand her motivation or goal. She doesn’t want to date because of the emotional and social labor that goes into romantic relationships, which is why she fangirls instead to experience the emotions without the work. Yet, she wants a connection to her star while keeping her identity a secret. I don’t understand what Jung-ha’s end goal is (Friendship? Love? Support?) and why she keeps Hye-joon in the dark. Granted, it’s only been two episodes, and the show has barely scratched the surface with her character so there’s definitely plenty of time for answers. As of now, I like Jung-ha the fangirl and Jung-ha the makeup artist, even if I don’t quite understand her completely.
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