Record of Youth: Episode 8
After years of hard work, things are looking up for our young actor as both his love life and his career blossom. With more people recognizing his talent, success no longer feels like a pipe dream. While our actor’s life flourishes, the same can’t be said for his partner who struggles with her relationships, both in the workplace and at home.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
While Hye-joon and Jung-ha enjoy their date, Hae-na asks her brother about Hye-joon’s ex-girlfriend. Hae-hyo tells her that Hye-joon’s current girlfriend is much better than Jia, and Yi-young walks into the room, joining the conversation. She criticizes Hye-joon for dating when he should be focusing on his career, so Hae-hyo informs her of Hye-joon’s drama casting.
Hae-na compares Hye-joon’s flourishing life to her brother’s, but Yi-young acts like she’s unbothered by the news since Hae-hyo just needs his big break. When he sighs at her comments, she tells him to stop pushing her away, and he concedes for now.
Enjoying each other’s company, Hye-joon and Jung-ha listen to music on a bench when she mentions being hungry. Since it’s late, she doesn’t want to eat, but Hye-joon convinces her otherwise. They buy doughnuts to support Hae-hyo’s commercial and cheerfully bicker about their drinks.
When they sit down to eat, Jung-ha notices his large hands, so he covers her face to prove her point. He then moves his hand away to reveal her face and asks if she missed him. Hye-joon cringes at his own cheesy remark, but Jung-ha likes his childishness.
He talks about dying his hair black for his upcoming role, and Jung-ha offers to do it for him. He says that he feels comfortable with her, much like her name, which makes him wonder if he needs to forgive everything to live up to his name. She makes him keep that promise, and he agrees.
Yi-young asks Ae-sook about Hye-joon’s upcoming drama, but his casting is news to her. Yi-young wonders if she knows about his new girlfriend, then, and Ae-sook’s downcast face answers her question. Yi-young calls her lucky because she doesn’t have to care for her children, but Ae-sook just walks away looking glum.
Soon after, Ae-sook congratulates Hye-joon in the family group chat, and Kyung-joon offers to treat his brother to a meal. Unsurprisingly, Young-nam expresses his doubts about the casting, and instead, he praises his eldest for being such a considerate brother.
Hye-joon reads the messages as he walks to Min-jae’s apartment, but before he even knocks, she opens the door. She wants his praise for predicting his arrival, and Hye-joon tells her that she’s doing well. She momentarily swoons at his words and complains about how others aren’t seeing his value. Heh.
Yi-young finds Ae-sook to ask about the cook, and Ae-sook tells her that Kyung-mi is interested. Though they smile at each other, in their heads, they deride the other for overstepping boundaries.
On her way to work, Jung-ha answers a call from her dad who’s on his way to the hospital. His wife got plastic surgery, and Jung-ha comments on how lucky she is to have a husband like him. He points out that Jung-ha is luckier because she’s his daughter and says that he misses her.
When Jung-ha walks into the salon, none of her coworkers greet her back, clearly siding with Jin Joo in this war. Though, Jung-ha does her best to ignore the hostile stares, Jin Joo follows her to the back to stir some trouble.
The senior designer asks when Jung-ha will quit, and Jung-ha wonders why she’s doing this. Jin Joo says that she just hates her, so Jung-ha calls her pitiful. Enraged, Jin Joo raises her arm to slap her, but Jung-ha grabs her wrist, no longer letting her get her way. Around the corner, someone records their interaction.
Meanwhile, Hye-joon picks up the scripts from Min-jae who emphasizes his key asset: his “melo eyes.” He disagrees and goes off to the library to prepare for his role. While he studies, Min-jae fulfills her duties as manager and drums up some publicity.
She calls a reporter who’s actually meeting with Tae-soo, and after he hangs up, he asks if Tae-soo knows Min-jae. Despite Tae-soo’s attempts to mock the company’s name, the reporter describes her as a good person, which seems to irk Tae-soo.
After resolving the scandal, Tae-soo and Do-ha meet with the director and writer of his new drama. To their delight, Do-ha agrees to star in their work and asks about his costars. The director mentions Hae-hyo as a possible candidate, and Do-ha says that he likes him.
At the bank, Kyung-joon helps a customer and takes his time filling out the forms despite the customer’s rush. She complains about Kyung-joon’s incompetence, so he explains how he’s actually helping out a coworker. Said coworker badmouths Kyung-joon later in the restroom, and Kyung-joon steps out of the stall, asking why these coincidences always happen here.
Once Kyung-joon returns to his desk, his manager calls him over and scolds him for being so inflexible. He defends his actions, but the manager tells him to follow orders. After work, Kyung-joon’s manager and coworkers spot Hye-joon in the lobby and gape when Kyung-joon talks to him.
The manager is shocked to hear that they’re brothers, and Kyung-joon rolls his eyes, clearly used to the differential treatment. Though the manager drops hints about eating together, Kyung-joon ignores her signals and takes Hye-joon away.
With some alcohol in his system, Kyung-joon argues that good looks are the greatest advantage and scolds Hye-joon for not prospering more. He then thanks his younger brother for buying him food after he was scammed, but Hye-joon tells him to shut it. He scowls at his drunk brother and helps him out of the restaurant.
When they come home, Young-nam blames Hye-joon for letting Kyung-joon drink too much, and Hye-joon gawks at his dad’s logic. Kyung-joon cries to Young-nam about the scam, but Ae-sook yells at him to stop whining. Unlike Young-nam, she thanks Hye-joon for bringing Kyung-joon home, and her recognition is enough to lift his mood.
Ae-sook tells Hye-joon that she was sad to hear about his casting from someone else and reminds him that she’s always there for him, especially when he’s struggling. While she recognizes how hurtful Young-nam can be, she asks him to be more understanding of his father. Hye-joon argues that it needs to be mutual, and Ae-sook agrees.
Clearing her throat, she asks if he has something else to say and silently mouths “girlfriend.” He tells her about Jung-ha and asks if she wants to meet her. Repeating Hye-joon’s words, Ae-sook tells him that she’s no longer upset.
Hye-joon drops by Jung-ha’s house to get his hair dyed, but before that, he hands her a book in return for the one she gave him. After she’s done dying his hair, Jung-ha smiles at her handiwork and ruffles his head. Hye-joon stops her, and they awkwardly stare at each other until she breaks eye contact.
The last step of the process is hand cream, and Jung-ha marvels at the fact that he puts lotion on the back of his hand first. They go back and forth about how to use hand cream, and she chooses to side with the majority even if the minority opinion looks cooler.
Cutting to a scene from the drama Gateway, Hye-joon’s character calls out to his senior and asks if she wants to go out with him. She asks if he wants to be hit, and Hye-joon’s character takes the rejection in stride. He smiles at the camera and gives his best “melo eyes” (Min-jae must be so proud!).
From home, Ae-sook and Gramps sigh with joy as the episode ends. Gramps cries at the thought of Hye-joon finally catching his break, but his mood dampens when Young-nam comes home and scolds them for watching the show. What a party-pooper.
Despite Young-nam’s disapproval, everyone else is smitten with Hye-joon’s performance. Even Yi-young looks perturbed by how well Hye-joon did, though she won’t admit it out loud. She checks up on Hae-hyo, but he’s ecstatic for his friend and calls Hye-joon to let him know that his scenes were stellar. Unlike Yi-young, he isn’t bothered since he’ll do well with his drama, too.
Hye-joon’s fame even reaches Do-ha as he listens to the girls at the bar gush about tonight’s performance. He kicks them out of the room, and Tae-soo calms the prickly actor by reminding him of his upcoming drama which is bound to do well.
Later in his car, Tae-soo watches Hye-joon’s clip and throws his phone down. He mocks the script for being dated, but at a sauna, Hye-joon’s confession enthralls all the ladies. Sitting in the crowd, Min-jae tells the others about Hye-joon, but runs away when she grabs too much of the spotlight.
After Hye-joon finishes his scene, Min-jae comes over to tell him that he made hearts flutter in tonight’s episode. He assumes that she’s exaggerating, but as they leave, a fan stops him for an autograph. Not long after, that single fan turns into a crowd filled with people of all ages asking for his autograph.
Despite his growing popularity, Hye-joon still drives around his dad’s van to pick up Jung-ha and take them to the salon. Granted, his new car is coming, and Min-jae is busy meeting with someone to grab Hye-joon a commercial. Things are definitely looking up for our budding actor!
Tae-soo meets with a company representative about renewing Do-ha’s modeling contract, but the man in charge wants a new face for their brand. On his way out, Tae-soo runs into Min-jae who’s here about the commercial, and she brags about asking the company for more money than Do-ha—even if it’s only a cent more. Heh.
Arriving at the salon, Jung-ha picks up a call from her mom who plans to stop by the office to visit her. Jung-ha tells her not to come since she has plans, and after hanging up, she admits to Hye-joon that her mom doesn’t know she quit her old job. He offers to cancel their plans tonight, but she wants to stick with their original schedule.
At Jung-ha’s insistence, Hye-joon walks into the salon after she goes in, and experiences his newfound popularity again when the director and staff greet him at the door. Meanwhile, Jung-ha works with a client who wants smoky makeup, but she convinces her to try something else. After she finishes, the client shouts at Jung-ha for doing a terrible job and screams for the person in charge.
Once the director pulls the angry client aside, Jung-ha sits down for a drink and silently cries. Hye-joon tries to comfort her, but Soo-bin holds him back. She thinks his presence will only make her sadder, and he looks back at Jung-ha forlornly.
Hae-na talks with Jia about her mock trial when Hae-hyo calls to invite her to their hangout tonight. Jia casually mentions how she used to be friends with the trio and wonders if they still meet. Hae-na tells her that Hye-joon is busy since he has a girlfriend, and Jia shows interest in this news.
Back at the salon, Jung-ha apologizes to the director, but she sides with Jung-ha, joking about blacklisting the client, instead. Changing topics, she tells Jung-ha to hold onto Hye-joon since she’s certain that he’ll become an important client in the near future.
At the director’s suggestion, Jung-ha goes out to grab a coffee, but at the shop, she spots the jerk client with Jin Joo. Marching up to the snake, Jung-ha dumps not one but two cups of water on Jin Joo. She announces her intentions to leave, though she has no plans of going quietly.
At the senior modeling academy, Gramps’ classmates walk down the runway with confidence, but when it’s his turn, Gramps stumbles with his walk. The instructor asks if he’s okay, and then lightens the mood by mentioning how Gramps isn’t as focused now that his grandson has succeeded. Gramps smiles at the compliment, and the instructor tells him to try harder since he could become famous, too.
Do-ha drops by Tae-soo’s office to ask about his makeup commercial as well as get some family troubles fixed. He then leaves since he only came by to see Tae-soo’s face, but the agent doesn’t return the sentiment as he mutters under his breath that he doesn’t care.
With his first drama finished, Hye-joon meets with Min-jae to discuss his next project. She tells him that he got the makeup commercial, so all that’s left is choosing his next drama. Unfortunately, their opinions clash, and though Min-jae tries to persuade him to do a romance, his heart is set on a dark sageuk.
Worried that Hye-joon is getting too big, Tae-soo meets with Reporter Kim (the one he met with earlier) and hands her some spa coupons. When she mentions Hye-joon as a rising star, Tae-soo frowns right on cue. Like a moth to a flame, she falls for his bait, and he tells her that he lost Hye-joon. Holding back his tears, he asks if she’s heard of Charlie Jung.
Jang-man bugs Young-nam to buy him a drink since Hye-joon is doing so well, but Young-nam is worried that Hye-joon’s fame will only be temporary like his modeling career. Jang-man believes this time will be different since everyone is talking about his drama, and Young-nam admits to watching it, too.
Ignoring her daughter’s wishes, Jung-ha’s mom goes to her old office to find her. However, Jung-ha is with Hye-joon and his friends to celebrate his successful drama. Hae-na gets up to answer a call from Jia who invites herself over. When Hae-hyo hears about the predicament, he goes out to meet her, first.
Relocating to a different restaurant, Jia acts like he’s the one blowing things out of proportions and wonders if he likes Hye-joon’s girlfriend. She smirks when he doesn’t deny it and gets up to join the others. Hae-hyo tells her to stop ruining the mood, but she calls him a hypocrite since he likes his best friend’s girl.
Back at the party, they decide to end for today since Hae-hyo left, but as Hye-joon gets up, Jia walks in with smile on her face. She tells him that she invited herself over, but Hye-joon doesn’t care about why she’s here and walks out.
Thankfully, Jung-ha didn’t have to witness any of that mess, though a bigger problem waits for her at home. As soon as Jung-ha arrives, her mom berates her for quitting her job and acting irresponsibly. She blames her for following her dad’s footsteps, and Jung-ha breaks into tears.
She points out the irony of the situation: her mom constantly belittled her dad but he’s the one who’s rich while Mom is still poor. Mom takes offense to her words and barges out the house, telling Jung-ha to live happily with her rich dad. All alone, Jung-ha crumples to the ground, sobbing. She texts Hye-joon, clearly looking for comfort, but he’s already asleep.
Hye-joon picks up his new car with Min-jae and gives her ride at the dealership. He then goes to Jung-ha’s place, and while she’s technically the second passenger, he tells her that she’s the first in his heart. Jung-ha chuckles at his cheesy line, and he reminds her that she was the one who wanted to hear them.
She marvels at his car, saying how she wants to drive one in the future, so he lets her drive them to their destination. They arrive at a Catholic site, and take some time to pray. He tells her that he prayed for her since she looked worried, and she’s surprised that he even noticed. Hye-joon pauses at her words and apologizes for not replying on time that night.
Before Jung-ha can respond, it starts to rain, and they smile at each other as they take shelter in his car. She comments on how she hated the rain in the past, but now, she doesn’t even remember why.
He asks if she still hates people who are unpredictable, but she realizes that she’s becoming one herself. He then asks if she wants a stable life, and she questions if that’s even possible. Finally, he asks what will happen to them, but she turns to him for an answer. He replies, “I love you,” so she responds in kind, “I love you.”
The scene shifts to them sitting on a bed together, and the screen darkens, returning back to their date. The couple dances in the rain, smiling as they get drenched, and the scene changes once more to Jung-ha reading Hye-joon’s book. At the end is his note:
“The grandpa told the kids to wait inside until the rain stopped. Do you remember the first time we met? We were in the rain from the very beginning. Adults have to go outside even if it’s raining. When I’m with you, even the rain is enjoyable.”
Hye-joon’s ex-girlfriend makes an appearance, and she’s as infuriating as she was back in episode four. She’s egotistical and insensitive, which makes me wonder what Hye-joon saw in her at all. She’s a manipulating fox who pretends to be innocent in order to paint others as the bad guy, and I felt bad for Hae-hyo when she called him out for liking Jung-ha. While I don’t support a loveline between Hae-hyo and Jung-ha, I don’t think he deserves to be lambasted for his feelings, especially by Jia who’s trying to stir some trouble for the couple. Hae-hyo hasn’t done anything to come between the two of them, and in this episode, he’s been nothing but a good friend to Hye-joon, showing genuine excitement for his friend’s success. It seems like Jia is making Hae-hyo out to be a terrible person for harboring feelings because she’s projecting herself onto him. Rather than Hae-hyo, Jia is the one trying to get between the couple by making her presence known. Fortunately, Hye-joon seems disgusted with her behavior, so I doubt Jia will cause too much trouble for our couple.
Alas, there seems to be bigger worries looming in the horizon for Hye-joon and Jung-ha besides a jealous ex. Tae-soo continues to be an annoying gnat, and contrary to his image, he’s actually shrewd and conniving. While he might not know how to raise a star, he clearly knows how to bring one down, and I’m worried Min-jae won’t have the necessary skills to counteract his attacks. She’s definitely a good manager for Hye-joon and an excellent supporter, but I don’t think she fully understands how cruel the entertainment business can be. Besides potential roadblocks in Hye-joon’s career, his popularity also poses a problem for the couple. Though he’s barely scratched the surface in his acting career, Hye-joon is already so busy, and it’s creating hiccups in his relationship. After fighting with her mom, Jung-ha expected Hye-joon to be there for her like she was for him, but he never answered. On one hand, it makes sense for Hye-joon to miss the text since it was late at night, but it’s the parallelism between his response and hers that reveals a bigger issue in their relationship.
Like Hye-joon with his dad, Jung-ha and her mom have a rocky relationship at best, which Hye-joon knew about (albeit, without much details). He knew that she was meeting her mom and could have guessed that it wouldn’t be a good encounter. However, he doesn’t think much of it presumably since he simply goes to sleep that night and misses the text. In contrast, when Hye-joon was at his low point, crying in the car after Young-nam slapped him, Jung-ha reached out to him first. It wasn’t because she knew he was crying at the moment but because she knew about his general circumstances—she was thinking of him. Likewise, Jung-ha probably wanted the same level of concern and thoughtfulness from Hye-joon, who’s been a caring boyfriend throughout their relationship, but in the end, he couldn’t do what she wanted. Though he apologizes for not replying, I think Jung-ha’s silence spoke volumes. She accepts his apology, but doesn’t explain how she feels because it’s not worth the effort. She knows he’s busy and will probably be even busier in the future, so she doesn’t believe he’ll change. It might not be the reason for a breakup, but it’s signaling to the audience that the two of them are slowly but surely misaligning.
Though there’s a lot of things that work for the show, I’m still having a hard time connecting with the characters. Ultimately, it boils down to preference, and the snappy banter and whimsical characters just feel too detached from reality for me to truly care. While I kept holding onto the hope that I might finally click with this show, I realized in this episode during Jung-ha’s crying scene that it probably won’t happen for me. There was nothing wrong with the acting per se, but I wasn’t moved by the emotions the drama was trying to convey. On a cerebral level, I understood why Jung-ha broke down. There was a lot of pent up resentment towards her mother for pushing her ideology onto her from a young age and effectively denying her the privilege of childhood innocence. Coupled with the fact that Jung-ha saw her mom as the cause for her family’s breakup and tearing her away from her dad, it makes sense for Jung-ha to finally snap at her mom who clearly overstepped her bounds. However, I don’t understand Jung-ha mom’s who still belittles her husband even though he’s the one who succeeded in the end. Especially since she values money as a marker of stability, it seems like her mom is holding onto her past prejudices to justify her actions towards her ex-husband and Jung-ha. However, despite all the complications residing in their relationship, I feel like these are still conjectures on my part because the drama fails to delve deeper into its characters. The same issues are repeated every episode, and characters are merely recycling their behavior rather than moving forward. In the end, I’m left analyzing scenes and trying to understand character motivation rather than experiencing the emotions alongside them.
Even in shows with fantastical premises, the audience connects because emotions are universal. While people don’t know what it’s like to be an immortal god, we do know what loneliness feels like and the pain of losing a loved one. The emotions that follow these unrealistic scenarios are the things that hook me to a character, yet that spark is missing from Record of Youth. In some ways, the show has a slice-of-life atmosphere, but at the same time, it feels fanciful. Like it’s dialogue, the drama is slick and pretty, but beneath the shiny exterior, it feels hollow for the most part. Even when Hye-joon and Jung-ha are together, there’s a lot to unpack in their conversations, but much of their witty back-and-forth sound like polished quips. Like I mentioned before, it becomes an issue of preference, and while I don’t hate the show, I don’t love it, either. Luckily, watching Park Bo-gum act in all these different genres is a treat, and I’m looking forward to his angsty sageuk role next.
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