Record of Youth: Episode 15
Our sturdy actor is barely keeping it all together to plaster on a smile every day, and he starts to realize the cracks when his partner calls it quits. Though our couple always put each other first, that’s not enough to mend the broken promises and lack of time together. Seeking her way to happiness, our make-up artist finally opens her heart, ready and vulnerable for heartbreak.
Hye-joon arrives at Jung-ha’s closed studio and calls her, but Jung-ha doesn’t answer because she’s with Reporter Kim. Before Reporter Kim starts the interview, Jung-ha compliments her make-up and boldly invites her to her make-up studio.
Reporter Kim seems flattered but remains focused, asking Jung-ha when she started dating Hye-joon. After confirming that this is an official interview, Jung-ha takes out her phone to record the conversation, which seems to baffle the reporter. On record, Jung-ha convincingly responds that Hye-joon is simply a client and that they’re more friendly because of their same age.
While working on an official company denial of Hye-joon’s relationship, Min-jae is interrupted by a call from Kyung-joon. He complains about the scandal and asks her to do a better job. Kyung-joon barely saves himself from Min-jae’s rage when adds that he wrote the apology statement, but she’s still irritated at Kyung-joon’s prying.
When Min-jae goes back to writing the statement, she’s interrupted by another phone call — this time from Tae-soo. He nags her about the slow denial statement and claims that he’s concerned about Hye-joon because he intends on wooing him to his company. He warns Min-jae that Reporter Kim is preparing a harsher follow-up and pressures her to quickly release her statement.
Reporter Kim presents Jung-ha’s confession video as presumptive evidence that Jung-ha was going to announce her relationship just before Jia intervened. Jung-ha denies this and claims that she was simply thanking her followers. Reporter Kim tries to persuade Jung-ha that Hye-joon has changed after rising to top star status, but Jung-ha continues to defend him.
Trying to provoke a response, Reporter Kim shares her observation that Jia still likes Hye-joon, given her willingness to publicly defend Hye-joon a testament to her commitment. Reporter Kim states that Jia and Hye-joon are of the same status, that their relationship would receive positive attention.
Swallowing the bitterness, Jung-ha compliments Reporter Kim’s interviewing skills and admits that she’s tempted to speak negatively about Hye-joon. She tells Reporter Kim to make an appointment before meeting her next time and doesn’t offer a crumb of useful information.
Left hanging by Jung-ha, Hye-joon decides to meet up with Hae-hyo at the gym. In the locker room, he runs into Do-ha, who looks smug about Hye-joon’s dating news. He comments that Hye-joon is just like him, seeing his company’s quick denial of the dating scandal. The company statement is news to Hye-joon, but Do-ha assumes that it’s an act.
Hye-joon drops by Hae-hyo’s pilates lesson and says that he needs to meet with Min-jae about the company statement. Min-jae went forward with the statement without Hye-joon’s agreement and Jung-ha’s consultation.
Min-jae meets with the manager of Hye-joon’s first advertisement sponsor and tries to assure the manager that the news will calm down. On her way out, she runs into Tae-soo, who’s there to offer Do-ha as a back-up if Hye-joon loses the deal. Min-jae is bemused by Tae-soo’s insistence on winning over Hye-joon, and Tae-soo shares his intention to save Hye-joon once he hits rock bottom.
Tae-soo asks if Hye-joon re-signed with her, and Min-jae silence provides the response. He claims that trust, respect, and love are nothing without money, but Min-jae is confident in her relationship with Hye-joon. Tae-soo doubts this and predicts that Min-jae’s quick action on the denial of the dating rumors will cause a rift between them.
As predicted, Hye-joon is not pleased with Min-jae’s statement and argues that she should have consulted Jung-ha. Min-jae says that she was doing her job in trying to protect Hye-joon, and he responds that his priorities are to protect Jung-ha.
On the bus ride home, Jung-ha scrolls through hate comments on her social media in response to the news. She heads home early because her mom is visiting, and she answers a call from Hae-hyo. He worries that she wasn’t answering Hye-joon’s calls and jokes that she shouldn’t have answered his calls so that he could drop by her place in concern. Jung-ha calls him a good friend.
Jung-ha recalls a conversation with Hye-joon earlier in their relationship. He asked why one would apologize to someone if they love someone. Jung-ha presumes that it’s because they want to do better but can’t, and Hye-joon simply says that the person should just do better. He vows that he’ll never apologize.
Reflecting on the conversation, Jung-ha narrates that Hye-joon didn’t keep that promise. She adds, “At the time, our understanding of love was too simple. Love includes many other emotions.” Hye-joon continues to call Jung-ha in concern, but she doesn’t answer.
Ae-sook and Young-nam watch Hye-joon’s interview about his new drama, and Young-nam acknowledges that Hye-joon has become a star. They worry about Hye-joon’s scandals and wonder a bigger company could better defend him.
Gramps prepares to go to his modeling class, and Ae-sook urges Young-nam to give Gramps a ride. In a quick flashback, we see Kyung-mi spilling the beans to Ae-sook about Young-nam’s aggravated shoulder, and Ae-sook understands her husband’s hesitance to share his weakness. Back in the present, Young-nam worries about returning to work, but Ae-sook insists that she can earn enough for them.
Young-nam reluctantly follows Gramps to the modeling class, where the instructor offers an exclusive contract with their partner agency. She says that the agency would offer management services so that Young-nam won’t need to follow him around anymore. Gramps prefers to have Young-nam around and rejects the contract.
The instructor tries to convince Young-nam that the contract would allow him to return to his day job, but Young-nam is following his father’s decision for once. Gramps seems surprised at Young-nam’s sudden dutiful behavior, and Young-nam says that he’s trying it out. On the way home, Gramps cautiously asks to turn on music, and Young-nam brusquely turns on the radio for him.
Hye-joon arrives home with two pairs of matching sneakers, and he calls Jung-ha again. She finally answers, and their conversation is noticeably awkward after the day’s events. They’re interrupted by the doorbell ringing at Jung-ha’s place, signaling her mom’s arrival. They hang up, and Jung-ha finds Mom at the door with her suitcase, ready to spend a few days there.
Kyung-joon grumbles about helping Ae-sook set the table on his day off, and he yells for Hye-joon to come eat dinner. But Hye-joon is occupied in his room, customizing the sneakers. He carefully paints the sneakers by hand, trying to make up for apologetic sentiments toward Jung-ha.
Jung-ha’s mom notices that the doenjang in the soup isn’t store-bought, and when Jung-ha mentions that Dad sent it, Mom gets bitter about Jung-ha favoring Dad. Then, Mom asks about Hye-joon and assumes that he’s the reason that Jung-ha quit her stable job. She compliments Jung-ha’s smart strategy, but Jung-ha doesn’t entertain Mom’s assumptions.
Just as she did with Reporter Kim, Jung-ha denies the rumors and reject’s Mom’s request to get Hye-joon’s autograph for her stepbrother. She claims that she doesn’t want to feed into Mom’s fantasy.
In the Sa household, Ae-sook notes how nice it is to share a family meal, and Kyung-joon comments that these family meals are only nice occasionally. Gramps disapproves of Kyung-joon’s negativity, but Dad interprets Kyung-joon’s comment as concern for Mom having to prepare food. Kyung-joon is delighted that Dad is back on his team.
Mom tells Hye-joon to invite Jung-ha for dinner that weekend, and Kyung-joon wonders if eating a meal together at this time would be a good choice. Mom doesn’t know what Kyung-joon is alluding to, and Hye-joon warns him not to share. Kyung-joon stays silent, and Gramps wonders why Kyung-joon is so obedient. Hye-joon says that Kyung-joon must have matured.
Dad notes Gramps is also maturing, but Gramps claims that he’s been the same person all along, just unnoticed. Mom thanks Gramps for hiring Dad, and Hye-joon wonders if Dad can be a good manager. He says that manager needs to read the other person’s emotions and know what they need. Dad claims that he’s good at this, and the whole family expresses disbelief.
As Hye-joon heads to his room, Dad follows him out to ask for details on action against the malicious commenters. Hye-joon says that the lawsuit takes time, and Dad seems concerned about the vague answer. He asks if Hye-joon resents him for tough treatment while pursing his career, and Hye-joon claims that he understands that Dad crushed his spirits in his interest.
Hye-joon asks if he’s free to go to his room, and Dad lets him go. Dad notes to himself that Hye-joon hasn’t forgotten his harsh treatment. He acknowledges that he shouldn’t expect Hye-joon to let this go, since he can barely forget his actions.
When Hae-hyo arrives at home, Yi-young tries to engage in small talk and expresses disappointment at his curt answers. Hae-hyo says he thought everything Mom did was out of love, but he realized that Mom is more concerned about her life. She responds that their success is interconnected, but Hae-hyo argues that they have separate lives and backgrounds.
Yi-young claims that she loves him as much as she loves herself and wants him to shine. She says that she was determined to make him shine since he was in her womb, but Hae-hyo isn’t swayed by her weary statements anymore.
When Yi-young enters her room, Tae-kyung flinches in alarm, convinced that she’ll smack him again. She retreats to her bed and sighs that she doesn’t know where to start to fix the problems. Tae-kyung asks what’s going on with their children, and Yi-young glares at him. She says that all the problems started when they enrolled Hae-hyo in public school. Tae-kyung wonders if this public school argument also applies to Hae-na.
It sure does, as we see Hae-na on a dinner date with Jin-woo. They’re out at a restaurant that Hae-na frequented with her mother, but Hae-na is reluctant to eat here because of the price. Jin-woo notes to himself that Hae-na never used to care about costs.
Hae-na admits that she’s awakened to her reality, and Jin-woo adds that she’ll need to live with this reality if she continues to date him. Hae-na says that she doesn’t want to talk about sad things, and Jin-woo checks her that his reality is sadness to her.
Before going to bed, Hye-joon messages Jung-ha about the dinner invitation that weekend. Jung-ha thanks him and lets him know that his mother is around for the next few days. On the sneakers, we see the painting of Jung-ha and Hye-joon frolicking in the rain along with a handwritten card sharing Hye-joon’s favorite quote: “What you need to feel happiness right now is simple and modest.”
We see the bag with the shoebox hanging on Jung-ha’s door, and Jung-ha receives a call from Hye-joon in the morning about something he left for her. Before she finds the gift, Mom has already opened the box and the card, confirming that her daughter is dating Hye-joon. Mom excitedly affirms that Jung-ha is unlike her and won’t leave this relationship empty-handed.
Disgusted by her mom’s response, Jung-ha calls her shallow. Mom isn’t fazed by the insult and asks Jung-ha to lend her money. She decides to be shameless and keep their turbulent relationship true to character.
Min-jae meets Kyung-joon at his workplace to collect his apology statement, and Kyung-joon files another complaint about an article by Reporter Kim blaming Hye-joon for lower ratings on his drama. Min-jae doesn’t entertain his requests and heads off to Hye-joon’s set to support him, considering all the negative press.
Hye-joon films his scene on set, and in the bathroom, Min-jae overhears the staff gossiping about their bad luck with Hye-joon. When she comes out of the stall, she claims responsibility as the manager, and the staff sheepishly leave the bathroom without apologizing.
Reporter Kim irately flips through the written accusation of defamation, and she asks her team leader for help from their legal team. The team leader discourages her from requesting legal aid and warns her that she may get dismissed for escalating this issue. Trying to save her career, Reporter Kim visits the police station to try to get information on Hye-joon’s last message with Designer Jung.
Chi-young mentions the article blaming the lower ratings on Hye-joon, but he’s not bothered. Min-jae suggests that they disclose the text messages with Designer Jung, but Hye-joon insists that he can withstand more of the pressure. Then, Hye-joon says that he wants to take a break after this project, and Min-jae and Chi-young look concerned at Hye-joon’s deflated decision.
In the car, Hye-joon smiles at Jung-ha’s thank you message for the gift. Chi-young compliments Hye-joon for his tenacity, but Hye-joon humanizes himself by sharing that he cries every night. He says that he’s able to smile during the day because he cries at night, and Chi-young respects his resilience.
Jung-ha waters her plant gifted by Hye-joon, and she reminisces on their past. She recalls Hye-joon explaining the meaning of the plant: happiness. She looks through old photos and records of happier times.
Jung-ha comes home to her sleeping mother on the couch with the TV still on, a beer on the table. She looks at her mother sympathetically and recalls the warmth of her mother when she rubbed lotion on her face — the moment she credits to realizing her dream of being a make-up artist. Jung-ha narrates that this warmth was enough reason to forgive her mother.
That night, Jung-ha calls Min-jae and asks when she can meet with Hye-joon, bringing us to the last scene of the previous episode. Hye-joon shares that he’s taking a break and admits that he was anxious about securing his success. Jung-ha reminds him that he worked hard to get here.
She adds that Hye-joon is rational, does his best not to trouble anyone, and is passionate about his craft. Hye-joon appreciates the recognition and thanks her. Jung-ha notes his gratitude instead of apology today, and she barely holds in her emotions as she says, “I love you.” Hye-joon brightens up at the confession, but then, she follows up, “Let’s break up.”
Hye-joon asks why, and Jung-ha reminds him of his promise to never say sorry to her while loving her. She says that Hye-joon apologized to her countless times while they dated. Hye-joon looks down realizing his shortcomings and responds the only way he can, “Sorry.”
Finally opening up, Jung-ha shares that whenever he apologized, she would always first think about how hard it must be for him because the Sa Hye-joon she knows always keeps his word. She says, “I don’t want to carry your entire emotions with me anymore. I want to go back to my life before loving you.”
Hye-joon remains silent and looks hurt. Jung-ha asks him to apologize to his mother for her about missing the dinner, and she gets up to leave. Hye-joon offers to take her home and walks her to the elevator. Once Jung-ha gets on, she stops Hye-joon from joining her, and the elevator doors close on their relationship with finality.
Min-jae watches a video exploiting Hye-joon’s scandal with Designer Jung yet again and looks torn about what to do. She pulls up the screenshot of Hye-joon’s text conversation with Designer Jung, which reveals that Designer Jung was rejected twice by Hye-joon. In the message, Designer Jung also thanked Hye-joon for respecting him and expressed his desire to apologize. Min-jae decides to share this screenshot in an email.
At home, Hye-joon looks for Mom, but she’s at work. Gramps notices that Hye-joon looks tired and asks about Jung-ha coming over for dinner. Hye-joon forces a smile and responds that Jung-ha is busy over the weekend. Hye-joon retreats to his room and lies on his bed in defeat.
Reporter Kim reads the news on Hye-joon’s last message with Designer Jung, and her team leader asks if Reporter Kim has any other exclusive content. When Reporter Kim brings up the lawsuit, the team leader avoids her and doesn’t press her for more.
Reporter Kim meets with Jia, who advises her to settle on the lawsuit, but she hasn’t decided on what to do. Jia wonders why Reporter Kim is so hostile towards Hye-joon, and Reporter Kim claims that she doesn’t like cunning people. She says that Hye-joon abandoned Tae-soo when his company went under, and Jia scoffs.
Jia clarifies that Tae-soo was the one who manipulated Hye-joon — not paying Hye-joon and promising to pay hin when things improved. Reporter Kim can’t believe this, and Jia warns her about a more serious offense if she continues to attack Hye-joon with her groundless articles. Jia knows that Reporter Kim’s company will let her take the fall and offers the settlement once more before she leaves.
With this new information, Reporter Kim meets with Tae-soo for a day drink and confronts him about his lie. Upon more research, she found that Tae-soo was notorious for financially exploiting new models. Tae-soo argues the technicalities — he only said Hye-joon was taken from him, never that Hye-joon betrayed him — and blames Reporter Kim for hearing what she wanted to hear.
Reporter Kim yells that the worst kind of people are perpetrators who pretend to be the victim. She references the movie Veteran and quotes the one-liner that she may not have money, but she has dignity. She vows to destroy Tae-soo’s company and Do-ha, and she storms out.
At the gym, Do-ha runs into Hae-hyo and tries to taunt him about his drama’s low ratings. Hae-hyo defends Hye-joon and says that the story fizzled out, and Do-ha doesn’t like that Hae-hyo is still so loyal to his friend. Do-ha reminds Hae-hyo that they’ve seen each other’s rock bottom and invites him out to play at the lounge he frequents. Hae-hyo follows him there, but as soon as the hostesses enter the room, he leaves.
At work, Ae-sook finds Hae-na eating ice cream out of the pint, and Hae-na says that she’s lonely. Ae-sook suggests that she date, and that prompts Hae-na to eat her ice cream aggressively. She wants to get revenge on her mom by getting fat, and Ae-sook notes that Hae-na must love her mother as much as herself.
Hae-na looks puzzled, so Ae-sook explains that ruining your own body to get revenge on your mother implies how much Hae-na cares about her mother. Ae-sook thought that pouring everything for your children had no reward, but she presumes she was wrong. Hae-na admits that she’s much more interconnected with her mother than she realized, and Ae-sook advises her to continue talking with her mother because parents are bound to give in to their children.
Following the advice, Hae-na approaches Yi-young and timidly admits defeat. Yi-young doesn’t accept Hae-na’s surrender, and Hae-na asks if there’s any way to win her over. Yi-young remains inconvincible, and Hae-na walks away dispirited. Meanwhile, Hae-hyo looks up the Marine Corps website, considering enlistment.
Min-jae visits Hye-joon and quietly enters his room with some news. Hye-joon wakes up and wonders about his schedule. Min-jae confirms that he has nothing on his schedule that day but admits that she may have messed up.
On the entertainment news, Reporter Kim shares the disclosed message between Designer Jung and Hye-joon, and she compliments Hye-joon for tolerating the negative attention before this reveal. Hye-joon turns off the TV, and Min-jae says that she didn’t consult him because she knew he would be against the disclosure.
Kyung-joon walks into the room with his laptop and complains to Min-jae about the criticism that Hye-joon revealed a private message for his benefit. They bicker about how to resolve this issue, and Hye-joon interrupts by saying that he hesitated on sharing the message because he didn’t want to experience the same harmful news cycle. He just wanted to wait for everything to settle down.
Min-jae says that this was the best choice she can make for Hye-joon. Understanding Hye-joon’s disappointment, Min-jae adds that they still haven’t re-signed their contract, and she’s ready to accept whatever decision he makes.
Tae-soo experiences the wrath of his new enemy, as an article by Reporter Kim questioning Do-ha’s military enlistment hits the news. Do-ha barges into Tae-soo’s office and asks why Reporter Kim would attack him when she’s close with Tae-soo. As usual, Tae-soo urges Do-ha to be a careless vessel and assures Do-ha that he’ll take care of it.
Jia makes an appointment at Jung-ha’s make-up studio for her trial, and she tries to assure Jung-ha that she and Hye-joon are just friends. Jung-ha finds it hard to believe that exes can be friends, and Jia offers to not meet Hye-joon if Jung-ha doesn’t want her to. Jung-ha responds that it doesn’t matter anymore because she’s also now an ex-girlfriend.
Hye-joon meets Min-jae at the law office, and their conversation is strikingly more business-like. Barely making eye contact, Min-jae updates him on his schedule, and Hye-joon responds that they should discuss their contract next week. Jia enters the office after her trial and updates them on Reporter Kim’s request to settle. She advises Hye-joon to go the settlement route, since Reporter Kim was misled to harbor bad intentions.
Hye-joon thanks Jia and gets up to leave, but Jia asks for a private conversation. Reflecting on their relationship, Jia marvels that they’re already 28. They met when they were 20, and Jia says that her time with Hye-joon will be remembered as the most beautiful time of her youth. Hye-joon thanks her, and she says, “I’m finally letting you leave my heart. Goodbye.”
Jia shares that she met Jung-ha and comments that Jung-ha seems like a good friend. She expresses her interest in being friends with Jung-ha regardless of her relationship with Hye-joon. The mention of Jung-ha seems to make Hye-joon sad again.
As he drives home, Hye-joon recalls Jung-ha’s reminder that he broke his promise to never apologize to her. He remembers all the times he apologized to Jung-ha, and he pulls over, overwhelmed with regret. He lets himself cry as he recalls Jung-ha saying that she always thought about Hye-joon’s hardship with apologizing.
Jung-ha closes her studio for the night, and she sees Hye-joon. He approaches her, and she asks what he’s doing here. Hye-joon looks determined as he says, “I can’t break up with you.”
We made it to the last week, y’all. How many of us are still around? I applaud you all for making it here, an unknown year, somewhere between 2018 and 2020 (probably 2019?) but also a time that could easily blend in with the drama era from a decade or two earlier if it weren’t for the smartphones reminding us of the times. While I adore the actors here, I’m sad to say that this story and characters were ultimately a disappointment. The writing felt clunky — a bit unbalanced, outdated, and difficult to follow at times — and never managed to draw me in. The pacing felt very slow, and now we’ve reached a point that I wish we had reached much earlier.
There were some great cameos, cheeky meta content, and stellar moments, but unfortunately, my enjoyment of those moments was quickly followed by the feeling that I was gypped of the potential of this drama. I think Park So-dam was the biggest waste of talent here. Jung-ha breaking up with Hye-joon was an inevitable and obvious climax to this story, but I found Park So-dam’s acting so subtly good. Why couldn’t we get more of this Jung-ha earlier? Unfortunately, this was a story focused on our hero, and everyone else’s story took a back seat. Hye-joon’s story had to carry this drama, and while it mostly did, I think the lack of development of Jung-ha and Hae-hyo’s characters is leaving the story feeling a bit too hollow. At the very least, I think Park So-dam gained the visibility and valuable connections from this show, even if the character didn’t do her justice.
Though the lack of balanced character development was a bummer, the warmth of the Sa family moments kept me invested, so I’ll end this with some highs. Gramps establishing his modeling career and healing his broken relationship with Young-nam was heartwarming, and I largely credit Gramps for making Young-nam a more tolerable character. I really warmed up to Kyung-joon near the end with his clumsy affection for his brother by clapping back at haters and nagging Min-jae. He was a despicable joy. Ae-sook always carried a wisdom and affection that was too good for anyone, and I love that she was always there as Hye-joon’s rock. Last but not least, Min-jae. Though she’s not technically a part of the Sa family, she’s definitely a part of Hye-joon’s chosen family. Find yourself a friend, supporter, life coach like Min-jae — she’ll have your back and believe in you with her whole heart, even it means risking her career. As we head into the last episode, I’m channeling my inner Min-jae to be a loyal friend and supporter, to have the show’s back and believe in it, even when all hope seems to be lost.
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