Record of Youth: Episode 11
The sudden death of a close colleague sends our rising actor into a whirlwind of rumors and public speculations. While those closest to him try to protect him, the entertainment industry ruthlessly exploits his fame for their benefit. Despite the attacks, our rising actor remains confident in the goodness of people who have afforded him new career opportunities.
On his way up to the Jjamppong office, Hye-joon receives a call from the police station requesting his cooperation with the investigation on Designer Jung’s death. He’s shocked at the news and heads straight to the police station. Hae-hyo calls him about the news, and Hye-joon shares that he plans on going to the funeral later that day.
Ae-sook accompanies Kyung-mi on her shopping trip to the mall, where Kyung-mi announces to the retail workers that Ae-sook is Hye-joon’s mother and boasts that they’re practically family. Kyung-mi urges Ae-sook to be freer with her spending, now that Hye-joon makes more money, but Ae-sook refuses to depend on Hye-joon’s earnings.
Kyung-mi suggests that Hye-joon probably already has plans to financially support the family, and Ae-sook recalls Hye-joon asking her about their debt. Ae-sook doesn’t want Hye-joon to inherit their debt, but Kyung-mi assures her that it’s okay for her to lean on Hye-joon, though she notes that it may not be fine for Young-nam.
Young-nam is in good spirits as he discusses his next construction project with Jang-nam, and his colleagues congratulate him for Hye-joon’s success. They ask him to buy dinner, and Young-nam silently expresses hesitance behind his smile. Jang-nam asks if Hye-joon hasn’t given him any allowance money, and Young-nam offers to buy dinner to avoid answering the question.
Conversely, Yi-young is in a bad mood, scanning through Hae-hyo’s social media comments accusing him of pretending to be close with Hye-joon. As Hae-hyo prepares to leave for the funeral, Yi-young asks about Hye-joon and seems surprised to learn that he’s attending the funeral, despite the rumors about him and Designer Jung.
Hae-hyo defends Hye-joon’s choice, and Yi-young criticizes his instinctive support for his friend. Yi-young complains that she can’t sleep because of Hae-hyo’s faltering career and failure to win the newcomer award. He offers another piece of news that will surely worsen her insomnia: Hae-hyo has decided to join Hye-joon in his next drama.
Yi-young refuses to accept Hae-hyo’s decision and claims that she was behind every move of his career. For his last drama, Catch, we see that Yi-young met with Tae-soo to deliver the promised apology, but after looking into him, she knew that he was seeking something else. Tae-soo admitted that he was hoping to use her network and investment connections, so she agreed to his terms.
Hae-hyo shares that Do-ha recommended him to the casting director and that Tae-soo had nothing to do with his casting. Yi-young is enraged by Tae-soo’s exploitation but reminds Hae-hyo of the main takeaway here: She was responsible for every step in his career. She starts to list out all of her contributions and stops short of mentioning his social media when Hae-na interrupts.
Hae-na tries to excuse herself from the tense argument to go “study,” but she’s forced to interact when Mom tells her to go on a blind date. Hae-na refuses, but Mom tells her that Hae-hyo causes enough trouble for her. When Hae-na blames Hae-hyo for this inconvenience, he says that Hae-na would have gone on a blind date anyway because she doesn’t have a boyfriend — at least not one he knows of.
As Hye-joon starts his interrogation at the police station, he receives a call from Min-jae. He was in such a rush that he forgot to tell her about the investigation, and Min-jae sternly warns him about all the malicious comments targeted at him and Designer Jung. He had planned to go to the funeral with Hae-hyo afterwards, but he learned that the funeral is delayed until after the investigation.
Anxious Min-jae picks up Hye-joon from the police station and seems nervous about anyone recognizing Hye-joon. Reporter Kim witnesses this brief interaction from afar and looks intrigued. Uh-oh.
Min-jae angrily (yet perfectly) backs into their office parking garage and yells at Hye-joon for underestimating his visibility. She informs him that Hollywood agents contacted her and a world-renowned director wants to meet with him. Hye-joon asks if this is more important than a person’s death and if he should always be calculating, even in raw moments.
Min-jae argues that he should always be calculating because there are so many people hoping for his ruin. She doesn’t want to provide any bit of evidence that will feed haters. Hye-joon argues that he also has supporters and says that he believes in kindness. He considers his miraculous rise to fame evidence to his confidence in kindness.
Hye-joon expresses gratitude for Min-jae’s concern, but he also asks her to understand his desire to properly pay his respects to Designer Jung. Min-jae tearfully accepts his argument, and Hye-joon hands his soft-hearted manager tissues. As she wipes her tears, Min-jae shudders at the thought of a reporter possibly witnessing Hye-joon at the police station.
Speaking of the nightmarish thought, Reporter Kim meets with Tae-soo and shares that she saw Hye-joon at the police station for Designer Jung’s investigation. She asks him if Hye-joon and Designer Jung dated, and Tae-soo asks how he should respond. Reporter Kim asks for a dramatic answer and teases that she wants to become a drama script writer one day. Ugh.
With the funeral plans cancelled, Hae-hyo heads out to meet Jung-ha at a student center where she lectures. Jung-ha does this job on top of running her own salon, and she shares an important announcement with Hae-hyo: She plans on discontinuing her exclusive contracts with Hae-hyo and Hye-joon. While she’s grateful for their generous business, she wants to expand into women’s make-up and venture outside her current clients.
Hae-hyo appreciates that he’s the first to hear this news, and Jung-ha thanks him for letting her go. Jung-ha acknowledges that she benefitted from their generosity, and she realized that she was becoming too dependent. She doesn’t like that over time, you can become so dependent that you can’t live without the other person. Conversely, Hae-hyo finds the result of dependency appealing.
In the make-up class, Jung-ha shares that she wanted to do make-up because of the warmth of her mother’s hands as she put lotion on young Jung-ha’s face. She presents a before and after photo of a client with scars on her face, and she explains, “Make-up artists can simultaneously beautify someone’s appearance and heal someone’s spirit.”
At the bank, Kyung-joon’s manager retrieves him to meet with the vice president, who addresses him as Hye-joon’s older brother. The bank is trying to persuade Hye-joon to be their model, and the branch chief expresses wishes for a dinner meeting with Hye-joon. Once they leave the meeting, the manager asks Kyung-joon about setting up a dinner meeting. Kyung-joon didn’t confirm nor deny a dinner, so he’s stuck with the assumption that he’ll invite Hye-.
Min-jae prepares a lawsuit against the defaming haters, and Hye-joon wonders how he accumulated so many haters after Gateway. Chi-young says that a rival company likely bought the robo-haters, and Min-jae compliments his knowledge. Hye-joon offers to drive himself to his next meeting, so Chi-young takes off for the day, leaving Min-jae and Hye-joon to talk finances.
Considering his income and his living situation, Min-jae suggests that Hye-joon move out of his family’s home, but Hye-joon seems hesitant. He receives a message from Kyung-joon calling for a family meeting to discuss stress caused by Hye-joon’s fame, and Dad agrees in the family chat. Hye-joon notes the obvious pairing of complaints and responds.
Young-nam receives a response from Hye-joon confirming their family meeting and wonders if Hye-joon is cross with them. Jang-nam teases him for his sheepishness around Hye-joon, and Young-nam brushes it off as he moves a piece of wood on the construction site. The weight of the plank aggravates his shoulder, and he’s forced to go to the hospital.
Jang-nam accompanies his friend to the hospital, and Young-nam winces as the doctor checks his mobility. Though Young-nam’s shoulder hasn’t deteriorated to the point of surgery, the doctor warns Young-nam to reduce his activity if he wants to continue working.
Hae-hyo finds Jung-ha after her lecture, and she’s surprised that he waited for her. As they head out, she receives a message from Hye-joon that he can’t meet today because of a family meeting. She tells Hae-hyo that it feels like it’s been 5,000 years since she’s last seen Hye-joon, and she’s still elated about his success, even though she can’t see him often.
Jung-ha says that an “out of sight, out of mind” relationship is better off ending, but she claims that her relationship with Hye-joon is solid. Hae-hyo looks slightly disappointed and looks even more disappointed when Jung-ha says that she’s going home to brainstorm methods to expand her clientele. Hae-hyo offers to introduce her to one of his celebrity friends to help her break into the women’s make-up market. Jung-ha seems intrigued but notes that she’ll be indebted to him again.
Hae-na and Jin-woo enjoy their tandem bicycle date, and Hae-na admits that she lied to Mom about “studying.” She also shares the potential blind date and asks Jin-woo what she should do. Jin-woo wants to tell her not to go, but he realizes that he needs to take responsibility for those words. He jokes that responsibility could mean marriage, but Hae-na seriously shares that she’s been wondering about how married life would be with him. Jin-woo looks speechless.
On his way home, Hye-joon decides to briefly meet up with Jung-ha and excitedly makes a detour. Meanwhile, Min-jae yells at the haters (read: her screen) who belittle Jjamppong, and her sour mood continues when she picks up a call from Reporter Kim.
Reporter Kim asks about the dating scandal between Designer Jung and Hye-joon, and she accusingly asks how Hye-joon rose to fame without any sponsorship. Min-jae denies the rumors and claims that she’s known Hye-joon since his modeling days. Reporter Kim cryptically responds that others have known Hye-joon for just as long. After hanging up, Min-jae belatedly realizes that Tae-soo may behind the growing rumors and agonizes over the possibility.
Tae-soo accompanies drunk Do-ha in an empty lounge and pities Do-ha as he mopes over his loss to Hye-joon. Hearing Do-ha’s despondent complaints, Tae-soo thinks to himself that Do-ha’s decline may be steeper than he expected. Do-ha accuses him of feeling regret about losing Hye-joon, and Tae-soo notes to himself that Do-ha catches on really quickly.
Hae-hyo drops off Jung-ha in front of her apartment, and she forgets her books in his car. When Jung-ha arrives at home, she finds Hye-joon sleeping on her couch and quietly sits by him. She prepares a cotton pad to cleanse his make-up, but Hye-joon surprises her when he grabs her hand before she reaches his face. She didn’t want him to sleep with his make-up on because his skin is just as precious as him. They’re adorable.
Hye-joon follows Jung-ha into the kitchen and embraces her from behind. Their cute reunion is interrupted by a call from Hae-hyo, who asks to see Jung-ha to give her the books she left in his car. She tells him to give them to her next time, and Hae-hyo deflatedly agrees.
Jung-ha asks Hye-joon about his family meeting, and Hye-joon shares the topic: stress caused from his stardom. Jung-ha completely relates to the sentiment, but she can’t remember her list of grievances because she’s too happy around him. She says that she should write things down when she’s disappointed, and Hye-joon looks remorseful.
Though Jung-ha confirms to herself that she’s been very disappointed by Hye-joon, she assures Hye-joon of the opposite. Jung-ha breaks the news that she wants out of her make-up contract with him, and Hye-joon asks if it’s because of her disappointment. Denying the disappointment, she shares that she wants to do more women’s make-up and that she already told Hae-hyo.
Hye-joon notes that Hae-hyo comes first with work, and Jung-ha seems pleased with the envy. He follows up by saying that he supports her decisions and reminds her that she did the same for him. Hye-joon apologizes for the limited time he spends with her, and Jung-ha responds that she’s just as busy as him as the owner of her studio.
Hye-joon reminds her that the studio wasn’t built on her own, and we see that he helped her from the very beginning in between his filming schedule. From planning out the space to deciding on a name, Hye-joon was involved in the studio development whenever he could. On opening day, Jung-ha shared that Hae-hyo also helped a lot, and Hye-joon noted that he should buy him dinner in gratitude.
Heading home to his family meeting, Hye-joon tells Jung-ha to stay at home because he’ll want to walk her back home if she walks him to his car. He promises to text her before going to bed.
Also headed home, Young-nam walks with Jang-nam and tells him to keep his injury a secret. Jang-nam argues that Young-nam should take a break, especially considering his injury, and rely on Hye-joon for their family expenses. Young-nam refuses to follow in his father’s footsteps and remains adamant that he will not become financially dependent on his son.
Gramps considers a new strategy to leave an impression as a proud father with his savings from work, and he quickly hides his bank book when Kyung-joon enters his room. Kyung-joon asks Gramps to persuade Hye-joon to move to a nicer neighborhood, like where Hae-hyo lives. Gramps worries that it’s too expensive, but Kyung-joon insists that he’s done the math.
In the family meeting, Hye-joon first asks Kyung-joon to share his complaints, and Kyung-joon readily shares that he’s stressed at work outings because everyone expects him to pay for meals when he doesn’t benefit financially from Hye-joon’s success. Young-nam claims that he doesn’t have any complaints, but Kyung-joon shares on his behalf that his colleagues ask about moving and receiving allowance from Hye-joon.
Ae-sook says that she hears the same comments but isn’t bothered, to which Kyung-joon says that she’s an exception because she’s always been noble. Ha, so true. Kyung-joon tells Mom stop working at Hae-hyo’s house. Bothered by his directive, Mom points out that she never instructs Kyung-joon on his job and says that she’ll do what she wants.
Hye-joon gets back to the purpose of their family meeting, and Kyung-joon pivots and says that his branch chief wants to set up a dinner with Hye-joon. Gramps accuses Kyung-joon of changing the topic from persuading Hye-joon to move, and that earns Kyung-joon some pathetic glances from the family. Mom says that Hye-joon’s financial decisions aren’t tied to the family, and Dad agrees.
Before they break from the meeting, Hye-joon offers to pay off their family’s debt. Everyone looks surprised, and Kyung-joon says that it’s not the children’s responsibility to pay off their parents’ debt. Mom agrees and supports Hye-joon moving out on his own to Gangnam. She apologizes to Hye-joon for not providing his own room growing up, but Hye-joon says that he can make his own room in the basement.
When Hye-joon states his plan to pay off the debt, buy the house, and make his own room, Kyung-joon starts to criticize the financial decision. Gramps interrupts and reminds him that he shouldn’t be advising, given that he’s been scammed. That shuts up Kyung-joon, and he defers to Hye-joon’s plan.
Later that night, Ae-sook and Young-nam discuss their complicated feelings about Hye-joon’s offer. Ae-sook finds Kyung-joon despicable for his comments about absolving himself from their parents’ debt, and Young-nam comes to Kyung-joon’s defense. He earns a light beating for that, but he winces in pain when Ae-sook pushes his shoulder.
Young-nam insists that his shoulder is fine, but Ae-sook worries about his health. She wonders if he’s well enough to help build Hye-joon’s room, and Young-nam retorts that he should die if he couldn’t even do that. That earns him another beating. After Young-nam turns off the lights, we see him silently crying as he falls asleep.
Hye-joon updates Jung-ha on the results of his family meeting, and she congratulates him for getting his own room. He’s happy about the room, but he looks more pensive about the other decisions from the meeting.
The next day, Hye-joon meets with the famous Hollywood director, who favorably offers to work with Hye-joon on his next project from the story development phase. Meanwhile, Reporter Kim breaks the news about an anonymous model’s secret love affair the late Designer Jung. Yi-young watches the news from home and smiles at obvious implication of Hye-joon.
Ae-sook arrives with tulips in hand, and Yi-young asks if she’s trying to lift her moods. In her mind, Ae-sook responds that the tulips are indeed sympathy flowers, but she tells Yi-young that she had no big reason for the flowers. Yi-young knows that Ae-sook is trying to cheer her up and thinks to herself that the tables have turned quite quickly.
Yi-young shares the news of Hye-joon’s scandal, and as usual, Ae-sook trusts Hye-joon to take care of his business. In response, Yi-young says that she would intervene if a similar scandal targeted Hae-hyo, and Ae-sook asks her what the scandal is. Yi-young shares the scandal that Hye-joon loves men, and Ae-sook responds that gender doesn’t matter when it comes to love. Yesss, Ae-sook!
Surprised by Ae-sook’s response, Yi-young compliments her openness and says that not everyone feels the same way. Ae-sook adds that Hye-joon has a girlfriend and gets angry about the misleading news. Kyung-joon also hears the news at work from his manager, and he fervently denies that Hye-joon is gay. He shares that Hye-joon has always had a girlfriend, unlike him.
On the way to their next meeting, Hye-joon and Min-jae notice the multiple missed calls on their phones. Min-jae answers a call from a reporter, and Hye-joon answers a call from Jin-woo. They both receive the same news, and Hye-joon watches a viral Youtube video suspecting a romantic relationship between him and Designer Jung.
At home, Kyung-joon watches the same video with Ae-sook and Young-nam. They’re provoked by the comments and advise Gramps not to read up too closely on the scandal. Dad asks Kyung-joon for his recommendations, and Kyung-joon says that Hye-joon should move to a larger agency, which would have had a stronger defense to these rumors.
When Hye-joon arrives, the family worriedly asks about the scandal. He realizes that they’ve all watched the viral video, and he assures them that his company is working on a response. He retreats to his room, and Kyung-joon consults Dad about his bandwagoning suspicions about Hye-joon. Dad threatens to hit him for being swayed by the rumors.
Hae-hyo sees the news, and Hae-na drops by his room out of curiosity. He assures her that Hye-joon will be fine because the rumors are false. Yi-young also enters his room and complains about Hae-hyo joining Hye-joon’s drama. Hae-na thinks this would be a good opportunity for her brother to ride on Hye-joon’s fame, but Yi-young doesn’t like the association.
Hae-na avoids the confrontation by going to the bathroom, and while she’s away, she gets a call from Jin-woo. Yi-young is suspicious and tells Hae-hyo to answer the phone. She puts the phone on speaker, and Jin-woo asks about Hae-na’s curiosity of their married life. Yi-young’s eyes widen in shock, and Hae-na also runs to her phone when she hears Jin-woo’s voice.
Hae-hyo hangs up the phone, and Yi-young takes a few breaths. She tells Hae-na that they’ll talk tomorrow, and she repeats her mantra that she doesn’t use violence on her children. She walks out, and Hae-na timidly looks to her brother. Hae-hyo yells that Jin-woo is dead to him.
Min-jae fields calls from reporters all night and just barely convinces a reporter to speak with her in person before publishing an article. She receives a call from Tae-soo, who sympathizes with her situation and offers his sunbae manager advice. They set up a time to meet.
Treading carefully, Min-jae asks Tae-soo if he’s the one who misled Reporter Kim, and he denies knowing Reporter Kim at all. He says that Hye-joon has become too big of a star for her to handle and suggests that she let him represent Hye-joon.
Min-jae tries to walk out on Tae-soo, but he shares his knowledge about Hye-joon dating his make-up artist. He advises her to use this dating scandal to deal with the false rumors and to not bother suing Youtubers. He correctly points out that Youtubers will benefit from the publicity of a lawsuit, and he reminds her that celebrities are public goods. Min-jae looks slightly shaken by this persuasion but doesn’t entertain his “advice” any further.
While working on Hye-joon’s basement room, Jang-man asks Young-nam about Hye-joon’s scandal and wonders if making his current relationship public will help the rumors subside. Young-nam refuses to let another person’s child suffer the same public attention as his son.
Min-jae gets her make-up done by Jung-ha, who asks how Hye-joon is doing. She hasn’t reached out to Hye-joon because she wasn’t sure how to support him. Min-jae wonders if the news of Hye-joon’s relationship will squash the rumors, and Jung-ha responds that she’ll do anything to help him.
Hye-joon refuses to let Jung-ha take the heat and suffer the consequences of his publicity. Min-jae knows the potential harm on Jung-ha’s life and agrees not to disclose the relationship. They’ve agreed to meet with Hae-hyo, who arrives at the office.
Reporter Kim meets with Jia, who introduces herself as Hye-joon’s ex-girlfriend, and she already knows who she is after hearing from Hae-hyo. Meanwhile, Jung-ha records a live video for her channel and tells her followers that she’s going to reveal information on her boyfriend.
At the Jjamppong office, Hye-joon receives a call from Jia. She updates him on her meeting with the reporter, and Hae-hyo tells Hye-joon that Jia contacted him. The two friends stare at each other with an ambiguous tension.
I think this show has finally found its rhythm, though it’s a shame that we’re past mid-way through the drama. It’s possible that I’m just adjusting my expectations to the show’s standard at this point, but I found this episode better paced than previous episodes, and the transitions felt strong and smooth. Though all the characters feel predictable, I wasn’t bothered by the expected decisions and responses. I actually found it kind of reassuring that all these characters were going to reliably be themselves no matter what situation they’re put in. Hye-joon will always be humble and generous; Jung-ha will always be cautious and independent; Tae-soo will always be a jerk; and Young-nam will always be stubborn.
The predictability or reliability (whichever floats your boat) of these characters is why the show feels stagnant at times. The characters aren’t experiencing drastic growth or development, and I think it took some time for me to understand that character growth isn’t central to this story, even though I kind of want it to be. But on top of the lack of character development, somehow, the show manages to make the entertainment industry seem relatively mundane. Slice of life youth romance is great, but it’s boring when the compelling and potentially moving parts have been toned down, which also makes the minor side character moments feel more cartoonish. Hye-joon is a rising star who’s super grounded, and I think his commendable humility in navigating newfound stardom is not acknowledged enough. Compare that underwhelming portrayal of Hye-joon with Yi-young’s overbearing antics, and you’ve got an imbalance.
Min-jae is the one character who is reliably delightful. I love how she celebrates and respects Hye-joon unlike anyone in his life. As manager and artist, the mutual trust they have for each other is vital, and I believe in Min-jae’s ability to support Hye-joon in the right way. She already knows that the right way isn’t anything that comes out of Tae-soo’s mouth, so I trust that when they go low, she’ll go high. I found the simplistic framing of LGBTQ+ identities and relationships very stigmatizing, and like @lovepark, I hope that the show proves me wrong and swerves away from the shameful direction they’re taking with this scandal. These are high aspirations for Min-jae and Hye-joon to combat the Goliath of this scandal — the stigma, the press, the leeches — but there’s something about Hye-joon that gives me hope.
Both Hye-joon and Jung-ha were big on sacrifice in this episode — sacrificing independence for family and sacrificing privacy for the truth. Neither of their sacrifices surprised me (again, back to the reliability), and it only added to my growing concern about their relationship. They’re adorable together, but their relationship is not steady as Jung-ha makes it seem. Jung-ha seems so secure when describing her relationship to Hae-hyo, but with Hye-joon in front of her, there’s clearly some hesitance. They’re doing everything they can in the best interests of the other person, but they’re not actively nurturing the relationship. The fantasy is ending in slow motion, and despite their best efforts to focus on the positive, I think they both sense the dawning reality.
- Premiere Watch: Record of Youth
- A peek at Park Bo-gum’s family and support system in new stills for tvN’s Record of Youth
- Fandom to romance for Park Bo-gum, Park So-dam in Record of Youth
- Park Bo-gum faces reality in new teaser for Record of Youth
- Park Bo-gum, Park So-dam in first Youth Records teaser
- Park Bo-gum, Park So-dam courted for new tvN drama Youth Records