Record of Youth: Episode 3
Wallowing in disappointment, our aspiring actor braces himself to pause his dreams and enlist in the army. This decision is met with a mix of relief, desperation, and concern by those around him, and he refuses to reconsider his decision to take a break from his dreams. But those who believe in him start to persuade him that his stubborn approach could use some reconsideration and a fresh perspective.
During their photoshoot, Hye-joon learns that their interview was originally intended to be Hae-hyo’s solo interview, but Hae-hyo requested that they add Hye-joon. After they wrap up, Hae-hyo prepares for his meeting with the movie director and casually invites Hye-joon to the meeting. He reminds Hye-joon of their dinner plans with a friend, but Hye-joon declines the invite and doesn’t want to share why.
Hae-hyo notes his friend’s moodiness, and Hye-joon admits that he’s having a hard time swallowing Hae-hyo’s support today because of his low self-esteem. Hae-hyo asks if it’s because of his invite to the meeting with the director or the photoshoot. Hye-joon says that it’s because of both, plus his dad.
Yi-young comes back from golfing and complains that she’s sick of golf. Ae-sook snidely thinks to herself that fickle Yi-young once claimed golf was so fun, and when Yi-young asks for a reaction, Ae-sook shares her honest thoughts aloud. Ae-sook says that it must be nice to get sick of something fun and that she would be thankful for that luxury.
Elitist Yi-young notes that that they’re not the same nor are they friends just because their sons are friends. Ae-sook takes the deprecation in stride by responding that she’s younger so they cannot be friends. Trying to ease the tension, Yi-young takes Ae-sook to her closet and offers her clothes that she’s sick of. Ae-sook doesn’t mind accepting secondhand clothes, and Yi-young appreciates this about Ae-sook.
Yi-young then comments on how disappointed Ae-sook must be with Hye-joon’s audition outcome and notes that enlisting will likely end his career. Ae-sook seems bothered by Yi-young bringing up Hye-joon and says that she trusts her son to figure out his acting career. Yi-young claims to understand Ae-sook’s internal conflicts, but Ae-sook denies that Yi-young has such empathy.
An irate bride lashes out at Jung-ha in disapproval of her make-up, and Jung-ha ultimately accepts blame and offers to re-do the make-up. As Jung-ha cleans her brushes, she receives a message from Soo-bin with photos of Hye-joon from the shoot. She recalls Hye-joon’s encouragement to beat Jin Joo, but she sighs in defeat.
While promoting Hye-joon and introducing herself as his manager, Min-jae learns that Hye-joon lost to Hae-hyo in the audition because of social media followers, not his acting skills. Min-jae immediately rushes to share this news with Hye-joon, but he’s already decided to enlist in the army and says that popularity is also a skill — one that he lacks.
Begging Hye-joon to reconsider, Min-jae says that she found her passion as his manager and shows him her business card for her agency, Jjamppong, which she finds perfectly captures her messy life. LOL. Hye-joon still rejects Min-jae’s proposal and walks off to Min-jae yelling at him that he’s making a mistake.
Hye-joon receives a message from Jung-ha saying that she lost even with his encouragement, and he responds with Grandpa’s wisdom that losing can be winning. They meet up at a bookstore, and Jung-ha looks at Hye-joon in awe as he walks toward him. When he gets too close, Jung-ha jumps back in alarm, and Hye-joon eyes narrow in suspicion of her imagination.
As they walk through the bookstore, Hye-joon shares that he comes here when he’s feeling depressed, and Jung-ha says that she’s also feeling down. Hye-joon thanks her for not asking why he’s depressed, and she cheekily responds by asking why he’s feeling depressed.
Outside, Hye-joon wonders why she didn’t want to go inside the café, and Jung-ha says that she’s firmly against wasting money, whether it’s her money or his. She pours herself a cup of coffee from her tumbler, and Hye-joon notes that she’s strict with money and not afraid to talk about it.
Jung-ha likens money to poop and says, “It’s unfavorable to talk about, but if there’s a problem with it, you can die.” Ha, true. Hye-joon senses that her perspective is rooted in experience, and Jung-ha thinks back to her corporate job. She once called an employee for a corporate card receipt, and a higher up ordered her to let it go and proceeded to lecture her on how it was back in his day.
Jung-ha says that once someone brings up “back in my day…” they just want you to be quiet and listen. Hye-joon agrees and shares examples of “back in my day” lectures from his industry (“Back in my day, we walked plenty of shows and didn’t get paid.”), and they both agree not to become “back in my day” lecturing seniors in their later years.
Hye-joon notices to similarity of “back in my day” (na ddae) to “latte” and successfully convinces Jung-ha to head inside the café for a latte. They both adorably get the latte foam on their lips, and Hye-joon answers a video call from Gramps, who immediately hangs up because he’s trying to save money (aww). Hye-joon calls him back, and Gramps asks about finding work.
As Hye-joon complains about Gramps’ impatience, Jung-ha watches their precious interaction. Hye-joon turns the camera to include her, and Gramps calls her pretty. He starts to talk about how pretty his late wife was, and Hye-joon warns him that this conversation could take a while. Gramps catches himself and abruptly hangs up, which amuses both youngsters.
Jung-ha says that Gramps is handsome, and Hye-joon offers to show her pictures of young Gramps. When they lean in to look at his phone, they bump heads, and Jung-ha shyly looks at him up close. Hye-joon says that she’s too close this time, and she timidly makes more space between them.
As they look through the photos, Jung-ha says that Gramps could have been an actor. Hye-joon shares that Gramps never got the chance because he was too trusting and got scammed a few times. She asks what Gramps was asking about, and Hye-joon responds that Gramps is looking for a job. He doubts that he can find something for him, but Jung-ha says that he won’t find anything with that attitude.
Hae-hyo meets up with his rich boy friends to celebrate an army discharge. One friend notes that Hae-hyo didn’t bring Hye-joon along and says that now they can talk in peace. Hae-hyo seems bothered by this comment but he doesn’t make much of it as he blends into this friend group.
Hae-na eats happily ramen on a date with Jin-woo, and she regrets not dating him sooner. She blames him for dating other girls, and Jin-woo says that she was too young then. He says that she’s his first, and Hae-na says that he’s also her first… boyfriend she’s dated knowing that they’ll break up. Jin-woo warns her not to cry in regret when they break up, and Hae-na confidently says that she won’t.
As Ae-sook leaves work, Yi-young rushes to the door to brag about the great script for Hae-hyo’s movie. She anticipates her busy schedule to help Hae-hyo prepare, and Ae-sook says that their kids can make it on their own. Yi-young disagrees and claims that Hae-hyo only got this far with her investment. She thinks that parents determine their children’s fate, but Ae-sook disagrees.
Yi-young seems offended that Ae-sook would call her wrong, but Ae-sook can’t bear accepting that her sons will end up living a life like hers. Ae-sook calmly explains that she’s merely sharing a different opinion and adds that they don’t know if this casting will ultimately be advantageous or disadvantageous for either of their sons. She claims that her opinion is not wrong — simply different — and Yi-young seems surprised at Ae-sook’s intelligence.
Ae-sook was always smart enough to bite her tongue because Yi-young could never understand her. In a flashback, we see Ae-sook when she first started working for Yi-young. Teenage Hae-hyo had recognized her at home, and both mothers looked slightly uncomfortable with their relationship.
Ae-sook brought home used clothes from Yi-young, and we see teenage Hye-joon wearing a secondhand jacket as he excitedly accepted Ae-sook’s offer to buy him new shoes. Then, she shared that she works at Hae-hyo’s house, and this news shocked Hye-joon. Although Mom found that this job fit her, she offered to quit if it made Hye-joon uncomfortable. Mom also clarified, “My life and your life are different. You have no reason to feel diffident because of me.”
Hye-joon asked for some time to think about Mom’s job, and he ultimately concluded that Mom makes decisions for her own life. Ae-sook thanked Hye-joon for respecting her decision and complimented him for being thoughtful in his response. Hye-joon promised to make lots of money to support Mom, and Ae-sook promised the same.
Back in the present, Ae-sook walks home with bags of secondhand clothes and chides herself for making false promises. Even after ten years, their financial situation hasn’t changed, and Ae-sook wishes that her father was a wealthy man. Then, she scolds herself for blaming her parents and tears up over missing her mother. She finds that she’s talking to herself and cries that she’s becoming more like her mother as she gets older.
At home, Young-nam fixes the door to Gramps/Hye-joon’s room, and Gramps excessively compliments him, saying that his skills allowed him to thrive without his parents’ support. Young-nam doesn’t take the flattery well, and Gramps complains that Young-nam could have fixed the door earlier. Young-nam counters that he’s busy with work, and Gramps quickly switches his complaints to gratitude.
When Ae-sook arrives home, Young-nam criticizes her for coming home late, and she’s not in the mood to accept his scolding. She glares at him and warns him not to talk to her, and Gramps scolds Young-nam for not appreciating Ae-sook. Young-nam accuses Gramps of not treating him with the same affection, and Gramps claims that Young-nam always finds a reason to be cross with him. Ha, this dysfunction!
Young-nam storms in the room and demands to know why Ae-sook is in a bad mood, but Ae-sook says that if she starts talking, she’ll destroy him. That threat tames Young-nam’s anger, and he asks if he should stay or leave. Ae-sook glares at him, and he decides to do whatever. When Ae-sook stands to leave the room, Young-nam asks where she’s going, and she glares at him again. Young-nam steps back and takes a deep breath of patience.
As Hye-joon and Jung-ha walk outside, it starts to rain. Jung-ha mentions that she doesn’t like rain, so Hye-joon runs off to buy an umbrella. They walk together under the small umbrella, but both of them are getting wet because they’re not close enough. Hye-joon pulls her closer and says that he bought the umbrella so that Jung-ha doesn’t get wet.
Noting the sweet gesture, Jung-ha presumes that Hye-joon must have lots of dating experience, but Hye-joon denies this. He shares that he’s only dated the same person twice, and he asks if Jung-ha has ever dated. She defensively responds that she’s dated a lot of people, and Hye-joon teases her for her forceful response. She admits that she’s only dated people in short spurts, and Hye-joon acutely asks if it’s because she’s scared to get hurt.
Jung-ha can’t deny his read, and she sheepishly notes that she’s oversharing. Hye-joon says that he’s also comfortable with her because they’ve let their guards down by sharing their internal thoughts. He asks why she doesn’t like rain, and Jung-ha says that she feels alone on rainy days. Hye-joon says that “oppa” will call her on a rainy day to make her feel less lonely, and Jung-ha runs away at that cheesy comment.
Finding shelter at the bus stop, Jung-ha notices that Hye-joon still covered himself with the umbrella as he followed her. Hye-joon claims that he’s rational in every moment, and Jung-ha quips that he won’t make it because an actor has to be more emotional. Hye-joon’s expression hardens, and Jung-ha thinks that she struck a nerve. She starts to apologize, but Hye-joon takes off his scarf and puts it on her.
As Hye-joon ties the scarf, Jung-ha looks surprised, and time seems to stop. They freeze momentarily, and Hye-joon relieves the tension by telling Jung-ha to tie the scarf herself. Hye-joon’s bus arrives, and he sends Jung-ha off first before he boards. Jung-ha watches Hye-joon leave and thinks back to all the rainy days when she would be alone while other around her would rush to share umbrellas.
In a flashback, we see younger Jung-ha waiting at a bus stop on a rainy day and eagerly answering a call from her mom. She was quickly disappointed when Mom only asked about money, and she hung up angrily. As current-day Jung-ha boards her bus, she reaches for the scarf and thinks, “Being alone but feeling like someone is with me — this is nice.”
Hye-joon wakes up the next morning to a bank deposit notification and calls the fashion show producer to ask about the large sum of money. The producer says that Designer Jung offered to pay more for Hye-joon’s stellar modeling, and Hye-joon looks conflicted.
An elderly model compliments Jung-ha on her make-up skills, and she thanks him, saying that the encouragement helps validate her late start into this career. The model offers more encouragement by sharing his late start at age 65 in the modeling industry and continuing on the path 13 years later. Jin Joo notices their friendly conversation and butts in to hoard the client, but Jung-ha smiles to herself, connecting the elderly model’s encouragement to Gramps’ eagerness to find work.
Hye-joon eats breakfast with Gramps and comments that Mom made labor-intensive kimbap now that he’s planning to head off to army. Gramps sighs that Hye-joon’s 18 months will feel like 18 years, and Hye-joon reminds them of their motto to smile through hard times.
Worried about Gramps’ loneliness with him gone, Hye-joon suggests that Gramps date someone, but Gramps throws that suggestion back at Hye-joon and asks for an update on the job search. Hye-joon says that he has a promising lead.
Hye-hyo arrives at the salon to get his make-up done for his drama shoot and insists that Jung-ha do his make-up instead of Jin Joo. When Jung-ha refuses, Hye-hyo confronts the director and questions whether their rules take priority over client satisfaction. Against their rules and hierarchy, the director agrees to let Jung-ha take on Hye-hyo as her client and tells Jin Joo to reflect on why the client was dissatisfied with her services.
As Jung-ha silently does Hye-hyo’s make-up, he looks at her with interest. After Hae-hyo jokes around, Jung-ha finally starts talking to him, and Hae-hyo says that she must over the moon after meeting Hye-joon. Jung-ha confirms this and says that she’s trying her best not to really fall for him, and Hae-hyo seems confused.
Jung-ha explains that the beauty of being a fan is that it’s not reality. She says, “When fantasy and reality meet, things get messy.” Hae-hyo anticipates some entertainment if things get messy.
Hye-joon arrives at the salon looking for Jung-ha and finds her chatting with the director and Hae-hyo. He greets his friend, and the director asks how long they’ve known each other. Hae-hyo responds that they’ve been friends since elementary school, and the director assumes that Hye-joon is from a well-off family in the same rich neighborhood of Hannamdong. Hye-joon says that not everyone in the neighborhood is rich, and the director thinks he’s just trying to be humble.
The director leaves the youngsters to chat, but Jung-ha also runs off to tend to work. Hye-joon overhears Hae-hyo talking on the phone about his upcoming movie and looks discouraged by their discrepancy. To further the comparison, Hae-hyo’s manager arrives to retrieve him and asks why Hye-joon is at the salon if he doesn’t have work.
Hye-joon sits down with Jung-ha to hear about a potential job for Gramps, and she accidently opens up videos of Hye-joon as she tries to find the right file. She finally gets to the correct video of a senior model show, and Hye-joon gets close and personal to watch from her laptop. Jung-ha notes that he’s too close, and he playfully responds, “So what?”
Hye-joon makes adequate space between them as Jung-ha explains that the senior model job can make Gramps’ dream to become a celebrity come true. Hye-joon rejects the suggestion and say that Gramps just needs to pass the time. Jung-ha argues that Hye-joon shouldn’t make these calls without first consulting Gramps, but Hye-joon stubbornly decides this is not an option for Gramps.
Jung-ha tries guilt Hye-joon by suggesting that he only outwardly cares about Gramps and actually neglects him. Hye-joon warns her not to cross the line in their friendship, and Jung-ha boldy says that lines are meant to be crossed. She thinks that he’s slowly being convinced, but he denies it. As he heads out, he asks when she’s done with work.
Tying up loose ends, Hye-joon visits Min-jae at her new Jjampong office (aka her apartment), which is a complete mess. He offers her favorite bread as an olive branch and also pays her back for the Milano fashion show travel expenses, but Min-jae gives it back to him.
Hye-joon insists on her taking the money, and Min-jae offers unsolicited advice: “You have no ambition.” She acknowledges that Hye-joon selected the right path for social mobility and success, and Hye-joon responds that success can be as simple as being happy today. Min-jae argues that a sad realization — that life doesn’t get better if you’re not born into wealth — hits once you’re over 30 years old, and she gives Hye-joon a reality check that he’s still stuck in his dream of achieving a fantasy.
She asks why his standards are set at Director Choi and says that this director may have been wrong about Hye-joon. She urges him to give it his all until the very end, and Hye-joon says that he’ll restart once he’s back from army. But Min-jae bluntly asks, “Who will remember you then? Even now, people don’t know who you are.” Oof.
As Hye-joon walks on the street, he sees Hae-hyo’s ad and comes to a realization. “I figured out what this inexplicable swelling feeling is. We both shine in our own way. I fooled myself that not comparing myself and competing against him was virtuous. Now, I feel relieved.”
He walks into the salon and asks Jung-ha for a buzz cut because he’s enlisting in 10 days and wants to get rid of his lingering regret. Jung-ha convinces him to wait until later, and Hye-joon compliments her improved persuasion skills. She acknowledges that she’s a quick learner.
Before he leaves, Hye-joon asks if Jung-ha is really Hae-hyo’s fan. Jung-ha claims that she is, and he responds that he really dislikes liars. As he heads toward the door, he counts down, 3…2…1… “You’re right, I’m your fan!” she exclaims. Hye-joon smiles as he walks out, and Jung-ha squirms in mortification.
As Yi-young looks through her jewelry collection for her diamond earrings, Hae-na comes to her looking for maple syrup. They argue in frustration about not finding what they need. While Ae-sook shares her secondhand goods with Kyung-mi, she receives a call from Yi-young asking about her earrings and the maple syrup. Ae-sook knows the exact location of the maple syrup and suggests a few locations for Yi-young to look for her earrings.
Annoyed by Yi-young, Kyung-mi tells Ae-sook to find work elsewhere, but Ae-sook says that she’s attached and grateful to her workplace, where she first learned this work. The only difficult thing is the comparison between their sons. When the husbands arrive from work, they gather for a drink and Jang-man asks about Hye-joon’s audition. The silence speaks for the news, and Kyung-mi scolds her husband for asking senselessly.
As they walk home, Ae-sook asks why Young-nam didn’t share Hye-joon’s audition results. Young-nam claims that he cares about Hye-joon and that he’s hard on him because he knows it’s tough out there.
Yi-young joins Hae-hyo for his pilates session, and he complains that her “management” will make him seem like a mama’s boy. Mom doesn’t want that for Hae-hyo and agrees to give him space for his image. For Hye-hyo’s salon visit, she offers to schedule a time with Jin Joo, but he says that he works with Jung-ha now. He plays it cool, and Mom doesn’t make much of it.
At home, Gramps asks Hye-joon which jacket he should wear and approves of his grandson’s choice. Hye-joon then asks Gramps if he would consider modeling, and Gramps does a little runway walk to show off that he could do it. They walk around the room doing their best model walk, and Hye-joon starts to warm up to the idea of Gramps modeling.
Min-jae receives a call from producer, who asks about Hye-joon’s schedule, and she looks hopeful. Meanwhile, Hye-joon visits a senior modeling academy to sign Gramps up for his introductory class. Then, he receives a message from Min-jae about something she needs to give him.
Min-jae meets Hye-joon at a café and hands him the script for Director Choi’s upcoming movie. He’s been asked to play a small role with five scenes, three of which include lines, but it’s a clear character. With that, she heads out, and Hye-joon asks if she’s going persuade him further. She responds, “Get lost.” Hye-joon ends up spending the whole afternoon in the café reading through the script.
Young-nam and Jang-nam scope out a new construction site and pick up some meat on the way home. Young-nam wants to feed Hye-joon some hearty meals before he heads off to army. When Hye-joon comes home, he silently sits down to help his mother with preparing vegetables. Ae-sook knows immediately that Hye-joon has something to say and tells him to let it out.
Hye-joon shares that he’s been cast in a small role in a movie but wants to do it. Ae-sook isn’t sure if this role is worth him delaying enlistment again and says that she wants him to stop getting hurt. She says that giving up takes courage. They’re interrupted by Young-nam coming home with a bag of meat, and Hye-joon heads for his room without acknowledging Dad.
Young-nam scolds Hye-joon for not acknowledging him and comments that Hye-joon will become a decent person once he gets through the army. That triggers Hye-joon to turn around and announce to Dad that he’s going to be in a movie. Dad erupts in anger and throws the bag of meat at Hye-joon. As the bag flies toward Hye-joon in slow motion, he narrates, “Dad throwing the meat is a makjang drama.”
Then, Young-nam tries to pounce at Hye-joon, but Ae-sook holds onto him. He yells hysterically as Hye-joon tells Dad to actually support him in what he wants to do. Tired of Young-nam’s tantrum, Ae-sook releases him, and Young-nam looks confused that no one is holding him back. He asks what she’s doing, and Ae-sook forcefully responds, “I’m letting you go!”
Second week in, this drama feels… okay. I really like some elements, like the banter, and then other parts, like the story progression, feel off. Other than Hye-joon, I feel like I only know most characters at a surface level. The challenge isn’t that there are too many characters and therefore limited airtime — I think some of the characterization moments are a bit repetitive. Yi-young is a bit of an elitist airhead, and I think every moment has further proven this trait. Young-nam is demanding and angry, and we just barely see a softer side to him before he erupts again and throws a bag of meat at Hye-joon. I get that these side characters may be simpler, but I also don’t have a great grasp of who Jung-ha is. We get glimpses of who our lead may be, but all I’ve gathered is that Jung-ha has had a tough life and works hard.
The exception to the repetitive characterization is Ae-sook, and I hope this trend continues with the other characters. I’ve enjoyed hearing Ae-sook’s snarky and honest inner thoughts, and I like that she respects herself by only engaging with nonsense when necessary. She saves herself the headache by not engaging with someone who inherently lacks empathy, and her silence feels intentional. I appreciate how level she is compared to those around her (Young-nam and Yi-young especially), and I probably like Ae-sook more because the main two people around her (Young-nam and Yi-young) feel unbalanced. She seems like the most reasonable character in this show, so I’ll be looking to her for guidance if we get lost in this story.
The banter, the petty family moments, and the Min-jae/Hye-joon dynamic are keeping me entertained, but the budding romance feels odd. I think Hye-joon and Jung-ha are cute together, but their swoony moments felt a bit forced. I’m not sure if it’s the fan dynamic that makes this relationship feel funky, or maybe they’re just in an awkward stage of getting to know each other pretty quickly? In a way, this feels like a Bogummie fanfic onscreen to hold us over for the 18 months that will feel like 18 years (to quote Gramps), and we can imagine that we’re Bogummie’s biggest fan (your choice of Jung-ha or Gramps) getting a chance to become his friend and confidant. I know we’re still early, but the way things are going, my choice would be Gramps. I hope my answer changes as this story unfolds.
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