Record of Youth: Episode 13
While distance makes the heart fonder, our secret couple finds that their short time together is making the distance feel even further. On the receiving end of an unknown crush and experiencing an uncertain relationship, our make-up artist is in a tough spot between two actor friends, who have grown more distant with their diverging career paths. For our top star, newfound fame has granted him the opportunity to achieve more than he’s ever dreamed of, but he begins to realize the emptiness and sacrifices that accompany his stability.
After picking Jung-ha from her countryside schedule, Hae-hyo nervously enters her house for the first time. Jung-ha serves tea, and Hae-hyo thanks her for calling him when she was having a difficult time. She realizes the implications of her actions and apologizes for crossing the line.
Hae-hyo reads between the lines and clarifies that he’s nice to her as Hye-joon’s girlfriend, not because he likes her. Jung-ha is visibly relieved by his response and admits that she was uncertain about his intentions.
Jung-ha steps aside to pick up a call from Hye-joon, who’s calling back after landing in Singapore. He wants to talk longer, but Jung-ha tells him to rest up for his fan meeting the next day. They both miss each other, and Hye-joon reluctantly hangs up, looking especially lonely.
Jung-ha explains to Hae-hyo that she called Hye-joon first and then called him, but she immediately regretted requesting Hae-hyo’s help. She apologizes again for overburdening him, and Hae-hyo lies that he would have rejected her request if he was busy. Hae-hyo offers himself to be manipulated for their love, and Jung-ha wonders if her relationship depends on such manipulation.
The behind-the-scenes cuts for Hye-joon’s new drama with model-turned-actress friend Jin Seo-woo (cameo by Lee Sung-kyung) show the two close friends looking especially friendly with each other, and this leads to a scandal about their relationship. While Min-jae works on issuing a denial statement before Hye-joon arrives from Singapore, Reporter Kim gets scolded for losing valuable exclusive news. Not only did she lose the dating scandal, she missed the Designer Jung news on his contested assets.
Reporter Kim insists that she has exclusive content on Hye-joon dating his make-up artist, but her manager isn’t convinced by the photos. He advises her to find a different angle on the truth that will make their news more interesting.
Upon arrival from Singapore, Hye-joon sees the news of his company denying the dating rumors with Seo-woo (points for Min-jae!) and asks Chi-young to make a pit stop before his filming schedule. Hye-joon makes a surprise visit to Jung-ha’s shop and apologizes. She notes that he’s been apologizing frequently as of late and curiously asks for the reason this time.
Hye-joon prefaces the dating scandal news by assuring that he’s just friends with Seo-woo, and Jung-ha is hearing this news for the first time. She stopped reading entertainment news because it’s not good for her mental health, and she considers the scandal a sign of the drama’s popularity.
Before Hye-joon leaves, Jung-ha assures him, “I trust you. I only trust what I’ve seen of you and what you tell me, so don’t worry about the news.” Relieved and grateful, Hye-joon extends his mom’s invitation to eat dinner together. Jung-ha asks why Mom wants to buy her dinner, and Hye-joon responds that it’s because he loves Jung-ha.
As Young-nam heads out to confront Jang-man about not giving him any work, Gramps asks if Young-nam wants to join him for his advertisement shoot tomorrow. He offers to give Young-nam half of his earnings, but Young-nam refuses the offer. He goes downstairs to find Ae-sook happily cleaning Hye-joon room, and she asks if he’s struggling to find work. Young-nam assures her that he’s on his way to work.
Ae-sook adds that they should commit themselves to sustaining themselves without relying on Hye-joon, and Young-nam wholeheartedly agrees. She’s worried that they’ll start to take Hye-joon’s support for granted, especially since everyone around them assumes that they’ll become financially dependent on Hye-joon. Though Young-nam agrees with the commitment in spirit, he internally curses Jang-nam for making this reality difficult.
Over a family meal, Jin-woo tells his parents about his hope to set up his own studio. He admits that he feels behind compared to his friends, and Mom teases him that he’s the runt of the trio. He reminds Mom that she’s the mother of the runt, and their fun family conversation is cut off by Young-nam’s visit.
Young-nam accuses Jang-man of leaving him out of projects, and Jang-man argues that he’ll thank him later. He urges Young-nam to rely on Hye-joon, but Young-nam knows he’s undeserving because he did nothing to support Hye-joon’s career and can’t take credit for his good genes. Jang-man finds it nice to share concerns with his neighbor, but Young-nam doesn’t enjoy the endless fake news about his son.
Hae-hyo finds Yi-young watching a re-run of Hye-joon’s sageuk drama, and she continues to regret Hae-hyo’s slipping career, comparing him to Hye-joon’s stardom. Hae-hyo assures Mom that he’s received several lead role offers, but Mom isn’t invested in his offers anymore. She turns on the TV to an ad that features Hae-hyo and shares that this is her favorite clip of Hae-hyo because he looks impressive.
Hae-hyo shares that he’s on his way out to meet Do-ha, and Mom shudders at the association with Tae-soo. Though she doesn’t owe him anything, Yi-young knows that Tae-soo isn’t one to let her go until he doesn’t need her.
As Tae-soo heads out, Do-ha asks him again about Hae-hyo’s social media followers. Though Tae-soo can suspect fake followers with the type of comments and response rates, he doesn’t have clear evidence and leaves it to Do-ha to dig into the petty issue. Tae-soo meets with Reporter Kim, who shares her stress about Hye-joon’s dating scandal and Designer Jung’s asset conflict. Turns out, Designer Jung’s partner is an actor, and Tae-soo advises her to find out who the actor is.
At the police station, Reporter Kim pressures the main investigator to share who Designer Jung’s partner is and suspects that it’s Hye-joon. The investigator denies this and shares that Hye-joon only came in as a formality, since he was one of the recent contacts on Designer Jung’s phone. Reporter Kim suspects that Designer Jung’s last call was to Hye-joon, and the investigator aggressively denies this.
Tae-soo visits Min-jae’s office and takes credit for blocking Reporter Kim’s exclusive news on Hye-joon dating Jung-ha. He adds that she had photos and misleadingly implies that there were photos of the couple kissing. Min-jae asks what he wants, and Tae-soo says that he simply wants to be on good terms with Hye-joon.
When Min-jae shares that Hye-joon’s contract is up, Tae-soo wonders if Hye-joon will choose to re-sign with her. Min-jae is certain that Hye-joon won’t sign with Tae-soo, and he decides to take a different approach: Kyung-joon.
Tae-soo meets with Kyung-joon at the bank and tries to start the conversation by relaying compliments from Hye-joon. Kyung-joon knows his brother and tells Tae-soo that he doesn’t need the flattery, which Tae-soo finds favorable. Tae-soo performs his song and dance about his relationship with Hye-joon and claims that he’s in a position to better support Hye-joon than Min-jae can. At the mention of stability and finances, Kyung-joon looks intrigued.
At the pilates studio, Do-ha confronts Hae-hyo about his social media followers. He admits that he initially liked Hae-hyo because he came from a rich background, but now, he’s bothered by Hae-hyo funding his fame. Hae-hyo isn’t aware of his suspicious social media follower count, so Do-ha assumes that it was his mom’s doing. Disapproving of each other, they mutually decide to call off their friendship.
After filming, Hye-joon drops by the Jjamppong office, where Min-jae updates him on their lawsuit against hate commenters. She also presents him with his new contract and admits that she’s nervous about him re-signing. Hye-joon jokes that jjajang is better than jjamppong, and Min-jae strongly disagrees.
Meanwhile, Hae-hyo struggles to accept the reality of his mother’s intervention in his career. On his way home, Jung-ha calls him to thank him for the introduction to his celebrity friend. She notices that he’s in low spirits and tries to cheer him up. He remains dispirited, and Jung-ha tells him to call if he needs anything. Hae-hyo responds that he won’t call, and he retreats to his room, defeated.
Hae-na finds her mom browsing her closet for an outfit to visit her sister, and she reports that she’s heading out to a date. Despite approving of Hae-na’s dating experience, Yi-young is still bothered by Hae-na’s boasting. Hae-na knows this and continues to goad on her mother.
Hye-joon finally arrives at home and collapses on his bed. He tells Mom that he loves that he has his own room, and she apologizes for not providing one for him earlier. Hye-joon asks why Mom is always apologetic and sits her down to tell her about two women who changed his life. Mom assumes that it’s her and Jung-ha, but Hye-joon names Min-jae and Jung-ha.
Mom deflates that she doesn’t deserve one of the two spots since Hye-joon raised himself, but Hye-joon assures her that Mom doesn’t need to earn a spot. She’s been with him all along. Mom looks relieved and admits that she feels inferior to Yi-young, seeing how much she supports Hae-hyo.
Hye-joon shares that he feels guilty for not seeing Jung-ha often, and Mom sweetly offers to meet her in his place. She reminds him of their dinner together and asks him to set a date. Jung-ha waters the plant that Hye-joon gifted for her shop opening and says goodbye to Hye-joon as she leaves the store. Aw, that’s kind of sad.
Kyung-joon rolls up his sleeves for his nighttime job of responding to Hye-joon’s haters, and he heads downstairs to tell Hye-joon about his meeting with Tae-soo. He shares that Tae-soo regrets his past experience with Hye-joon and wants to work with him again. He adds that Tae-soo offered gift certificates, and Hye-joon erupts in anger at Kyung-joon about not learning his lesson from getting scammed. Offended by Hye-joon’s reaction, Kyung-joon storms out.
Yi-young happily enters Hae-hyo’s room with compliments from her sister’s friends about Hae-hyo stealing the spotlight in his new drama. She can tell Hae-hyo is in a sour mood, and he asks if she manipulated his social media follower count. Yi-young admits to this act and decides to share the responsibility for her lie.
Hae-hyo doesn’t understand the rationale for him carrying the responsibility of a lie he didn’t commit, and Mom argues that he benefitted from the lie. Mom explains that social media followers greatly benefit new actors like him, but Hae-hyo sees the cost far outweighing these benefits — the cost of his self-esteem.
Mortified by this reality, Hae-hyo yells at Yi-young for not respecting his resolve to build his own career. He cries in embarrassment and can’t imagine living with this deep shame. Yi-young looks shaken by Hae-hyo’s response and even looks sympathetic.
Yi-young retreats to her room and tries to smother her husband in anger. She blames him for refusing to send Hae-hyo to a private elementary school and ruining his life. Enraged, she hits him repeatedly with her pillow, and Tae-kyung looks disoriented by the sudden beating.
Hae-hyo calls Jung-ha for consolation, and they meet near her house. He asks her not to ask him anything, and she agrees to quietly be with him. Hye-joon messages Jung-ha, but she left her phone at home. After thirty minutes of silence, Jung-ha asks if they can leave because she’s bored. Hae-hyo agrees to go, and he’s bothered that Jung-ha feels relieved to leave.
Jung-ha remains lighthearted in her responses to Hae-hyo, and her banter eventually brings Hae-hyo back to a better state. She asks if he feels consoled and compliments herself for her improved skills. Hae-hyo looks genuinely comforted by Jung-ha’s presence, and they leave for the night.
While Hye-joon works out at the gym the next morning, he receives a call from Gramps. He misses not seeing Hye-joon as often and shares that he’s going to an advertisement shoot later that day. Hye-joon worries about managing the work alone and offers to ask Min-jae to support him, but Gramps has someone else in mind.
We see that Jang-man requested Gramps’ help to stop Young-nam from working. He refused to work with Young-nam to protect him for ruining his shoulder and demanded that Gramps do something about it. Worried for his son, Gramps decides to protect his son the best way he knows how: by asking Young-nam to drive him to his advertisement shoot.
Though Young-nam aggressively refuses to accompany Gramps, he eventually drives him to the shoot and looks around the set with wonder. On set, the staff express relief that he has support with his schedule and begin to explain the concept of the shoot. Gramps tells Young-nam to listen closely, and Young-nam argues that it’s not his job. Their petty bickering amuses the staff, and we know that Young-nam will do as asked but always with a fit.
Before starting his busy schedule, Hye-joon drops by Tae-soo’s office to confront him about meeting his brother. He brings up the gift certificates, and Tae-soo says that Kyung-joon refused to accept the certificates because he’s been scammed before. Tae-soo was disappointed by his misread of Kyung-joon, and we see the flicker of regret on Hye-joon’s face as he realizes his misjudgment of his brother.
Tae-soo tries to market his skills with cleaning up messes and any scammers, but Hye-joon doesn’t entertain a single one of his antics. As he heads out, Tae-soo continues to cling and claims that the connection with your first manager is hard to shake. Hye-joon sarcastically agrees and shows a slight smile before walking out.
Hye-joon immediately calls Kyung-joon and apologizes for blowing up on him yesterday. He didn’t realize that Kyung-joon rejected the gift certificates, and Kyung-joon tells him to reflect more on his improper assumptions. He hangs up, and Hye-joon sighs in regret.
At work, Kyung-joon submits a report to his manager and notices an incoming call. His manager eagerly tells him to pick up the phone, in case it’s his brother. It’s from an unknown number, but Kyung-joon picks it up anyway, citing his curiosity. The unknown number is a cybersecurity investigator, who informs Kyung-joon that he’s being sued for contempt and defamation by username “TOP****,” his mortal online enemy.
On the elevator up to meet with lawyers, Min-jae excitedly brags about her investment to sue all the defamers, but Hye-joon is lost in thought. When they arrive at the law office, they’re met by lawyer Jia. Min-jae looks unsettled by her appearance, and Jia explains that she was recently added to the team as a new associate at the law firm.
Jia shares the update on their case and asks for their preferred approach to the commenters who have apologized. Min-jae asks for the trending approach, and Jia shares the apology statements as she explains that most people choose no leniency or settlements to properly punish the defamers. Min-jae looks through the pile and asks if TOP**** sent in an apology. Jia confirms and shares that the notorious defamer is a 40-something-year-old ajusshi.
Hae-na makes porridge for her sick mom but asks Ae-sook to deliver it because she knows that Mom will get angry at the sight of her. Ae-sook obliges and tells Yi-young that Hae-na looked up the recipe to make this porridge herself. Yi-young pouts that she doesn’t like porridge and feels indignant toward her children.
Yi-young doesn’t want to make food for herself, so Ae-sook cooks up a warm meal for her. The fresh meal cheers up Yi-young, who says that Ae-sook never cooked for her ever since she decided to only clean for the house. Ae-sook silently notes Yi-young’s disappointment despite cooking not being her job. Craving company, Yi-young tries to convince Ae-sook to sit with her while she eats, but Ae-sook says she needs to hurry on home.
Min-jae asks Kyung-joon to drop by her office to meet with the lawyer, and he arrives in a flustered state about his lawsuit. He seems to recognize Jia, and she presumes that he recognizes her from past photos of Hye-joon’s ex. Min-jae and Jia advise him to write an apology statement to TOP****, but he refuses to acknowledge that his comments were malicious.
Jia reads his comment to prove that they were indeed defamatory, but he still demands an alternative option. Kyung-joon expresses disappointment that Min-jae didn’t offer any alternatives, and he asks that she doesn’t tell Hye-joon about this issue.
On the drama set, Hye-joon cautiously approaches Hae-hyo and shares that he went to the gym in the morning to try to run into him. Hae-hyo asks if he ran into Do-ha and calls Do-ha a bastard. Hye-joon is surprised at his friend’s uncharacteristic cursing asks if something is going on, but Hae-hyo doesn’t want to share.
Hye-joon finally receives a response from Jung-ha and tells Hae-hyo about the late response. Hae-hyo doesn’t share that he was with Jung-ha last night and says that she probably missed his message. He adds that Jung-ha is meeting with actress Lee Hae-ji for her make-up artist interview, and Hye-joon wonders how he knows this. Hae-hyo explains that he introduced Jung-ha, and that seems to extinguish Hye-joon’s slight suspicion.
Jung-ha nervously meets with Lee Hae-ji (cameo by Hyeri) and shares that she’s done a lot of research on her. As Jung-ha pulls out her notebook, Hae-ji tells her that she’s accepted. She trusts Hae-hyo’s endorsement, but Jung-ha insists that she wants to be judged by her skills, not connections.
Hae-ji has done her own research and shows Jung-ha a clip from her channel. In the clip, Jung-ha shares that she always carries emergency allergy medicine in case any product ingredients cause an adverse reaction. Hae-ji was impressed by Jung-ha’s knowledge and affirms that she chose Jung-ha for her skills.
Excited about her new client, Jung-ha calls Hae-hyo to thank him for the introduction. He’s next to Hye-joon when he picks up the call, and he tells Jung-ha that Hye-joon is glaring at him. Jung-ha asks Hae-hyo to relay the message that she’ll call Hye-joon, and Hye-joon looks slightly envious of the interaction.
On the way to this next shoot, Hye-joon stares at his phone waiting for a call from Jung-ha. He ends up calling her first, and she quickly answers and tells him that she’ll call him later because she’s on the bus. He pouts and messages her asking where she’s going, and she curtly responds that she’s headed home.
Before Ae-sook leaves work, Yi-young asks why she continues to work despite not needing the money anymore. Ae-sook explains that money is the sole reason for working, and Yi-young asks if Hye-joon supports her decision. Ae-sook says that they agreed when Hye-joon was in middle school that they each lead their own lives, and she respects their agreement.
Ae-sook says that the work isn’t bad and that each person has their own preferences — what may intolerable for Yi-young may be fine for her. She notices Yi-young’s silence and asks if she doesn’t want her to work anymore. Yi-young denies this and says that she tried imagining how she would act in this situation. Ae-sook confirms that she’ll continue working and heads off for the day.
After coming home from the advertisement shoot, Gramps pays Young-nam for his help. He assures Young-nam that some ad agencies provide payment in cash, though we know that he prepared this money separately before the shoot. Upon counting the money, Young-nam returns the envelope to Gramps and says that it’s too much, but Gramps says that he wanted to earn money to give to Young-nam.
Gramps reflects that he didn’t provide for Young-nam in his youth and admits that his biggest regret is not sending Young-nam to college. He acknowledges Young-nam’s sacrifices and struggles for the family and says that he’s grateful that Young-nam met Ae-sook. Seeing Young-nam’s family, Gramps finds solace that fortune follows kindness.
Young-nam struggles to hold back tears as Gramps says that giving his earnings to his son is his biggest wish. Gramps pleads that Young-nam work with him instead of insisting on laborious work with Jang-man. He offers to give Young-nam all of his earnings, and Young-nam tearfully asks why he’s suddenly changed from his carefree lifestyle. Gramps responds that he doesn’t want to live the same life and chooses to grow wiser.
When Jung-ha gets home, she’s happy to find Hye-joon waiting on her couch, but her initial happiness is clouded by her memory of Min-jae’s frantic concerns about another dating scandal. Tired Hye-joon outstretches his arms and asks her to come to him, and Jung-ha hugs him tight. He says that he gave up dinner to see her, and she scolds him for not taking care of himself.
Jung-ha tells him not to come to her house because the paparazzi may catch him. He says that they can just date publicly, and Jung-ha starts to list off the other dating scandals featuring him. Hye-joon claims that she’s different and likes the prospect of dating without restrictions, but Jung-ha worries what may happen if they break up.
Hye-joon’s expression darkens, and he asks if they’re breaking up. Jung-ha tries to brush it off by saying that they don’t know what will happen, but Hye-joon doesn’t let this slide. He asks why Jung-ha calls Hae-hyo instead of Hye-joon to share good news, and Jung-ha says that she figured he was busy.
Hye-joon argues that despite being busy, he never ignored her calls and always found a way to visit her. Jung-ha acknowledges that Hye-joon makes time in his killer schedule, so she always does her best when she’s with him. Because she knows he’s doing his best, she tries to make him feel comfortable and happy during their short time together.
Realizing his absence, Hye-joon apologizes and hangs his head in regret. Jung-ha asks, “Are you happy? You’ve earned everything you wanted, and you’re a greater person than you thought you’d be.” She says that Hye-joon is working endlessly for his family and not living for himself, like someone from her father’s generation. On cue, Hye-joon receives a call from Chi-young to head to his next schedule.
Hye-joon zones out while preparing for his advertisement shoot, and Chi-young encourages him to stay strong through his last schedule. He answers a call from Tae-soo, and it’s about urgent news going public tomorrow.
Flashing forward to the next day, we see the headlines about Hye-joon being the last person who Designer Jung called before his death. Tae-soo says that it’s time that Hye-joon ask for his help.
Aaaand we’re back to the Designer Jung scandal, which has disappointed me on too many occasions for me to hope for a thoughtful resolution. Considering the many other disappointments, I’m fairly certain I won’t be happy with the show’s approach and really wish the show would let this scandal go. If the writers are not going to compassionately approach Designer’s death and identity, I would rather that they just ignore it and let this character go in peace.
Speaking of disappointments, Hye-joon’s relationship with Jung-ha is cooling down, and I think all they have left is regret. This was an obvious development, so the only thing that came to mind when Jung-ha confronted Hye-joon was… well, here we are. While I appreciated Jung-ha’s straightforward diagnosis of the issue and her honest approach to their relationship challenges, I still find her character puzzling. She’s faintly aloof when approaching any relationship, and her wit manages to cover up the intentional distance she leaves as a protective buffer. We’ve learned that her jaded approach to life comes from her mother, and her distrust of anyone other than herself comes from observing her parents’ rocky relationship, but is that as far as we’re going with her character? I wish I could write more about her character, but sadly, I think I can describe her in a few sentences. Jung-ha feels tragically underdeveloped, and I wish she was built with more dimension as a person, like she always claims to be when Hae-hyo and Hye-joon treat her like property.
In the same vein, Hae-hyo is way too simplistic for my character palate. I appreciate that he’s noble — not making moves on Jung-ha and just harboring a crush for a year — but other than that, he doesn’t have much going for him. In theory, I understand his devastation upon realizing that his mother heavily manipulated his career, but I don’t actually sympathize with him. We saw this coming from miles away, starting with episode one, so my sympathy has had time to cool down to a lukewarm pity. I’m sorry, but you’ll get over it.
Hye-joon stands out among the three because his character has been deliberately shaped and layered by his family. I thought Jung-ha’s last observation was particularly poignant for his character: Hye-joon is working endlessly for his family, as if he belonged to her father’s generation. While Hye-joon didn’t intentionally follow in his father’s footsteps, he resembles his father’s work ethic more than he realizes. Drawing the subtle parallels between Hye-joon and Young-nam hints at a reconciliation between the two: As Young-nam comes to terms with his new reality of working, Hye-joon is accepted as the new breadwinner for the family. But Hye-joon so absorbed in the urgency and desperation to work, that he’s somehow lost his purpose and happiness along the way. What is he doing all of this for? Though I’m invested in how this lost puppy finds his way, I can’t deny that these episodes have been increasingly predictable and mundane. Nearing the end, I approach the show ready for disappointment, but every episode feels like Bogummie outstretching his arms asking for a hug, and because I can’t resist, I’m still here and will be until the very end.
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