Youth of May: Episodes 9-10 Open Thread
Well… We knew it was coming. Our characters are thrown into a literal war zone, where there is no reason or mercy. And though our protagonists try time and time again to leave the city, they just keep getting sucked back into the chaos. It’s about as horrific as you can imagine, which begs the question: Is a happy ending even possible?
EPISODES 9-10 WEECAP
Needless to say, these two episodes are hard to watch. I mean, TV is TV, but when you know that it’s based on real events, that the characters represent real suffering, it hits different. We get to witness the Gwangju Uprising through many different perspectives, and it’s both eye-opening and disturbing.
At the start, we have the army being told that North Korea has infiltrated Gwangju, and they’re ordered to round up any suspicious-looking college students. It’s pretty telling that when Kyung-soo asks how to differentiate rebels from innocent students, Kwang-kyu sadly tells him to just follow orders.
The soldiers come barreling into town, brutally beating any and all students in broad daylight. Beating anyone — child, teenager, or adult — that gets in their way. But Kyung-soo can’t bring himself to take part in it. Meanwhile, our main characters don’t know what’s going on yet, but Hee-tae’s instincts are telling him to leave with Myung-hee as soon as possible.
Before they can leave, the couple split up to tie up some loose ends. And all too quickly, things go wrong. Hee-tae runs into Soo-ryun and learns that Hye-gun has gone missing, and we see that Hye-gun is at Ki-nam’s headquarters, being tortured for information he doesn’t have. Hee-tae gets back to Myung-hee just as her bus is raided by soldiers. Seeing a soldier aiming to strike her, he covers her and takes a nasty hit to the head.
Thankfully, they’re able to escape and find refuge at the hospital. Myung-hee insists on Hee-tae getting his injury examined, which gets them stuck at the hospital for the night. Time really isn’t on their side, as the very next morning, the place is overwhelmed with severely injured patients. Myung-hee is adamant on staying to help, and there’s no use arguing with her, so Hee-tae dons a whitecoat and joins in as well.
Out in the streets, Soo-ryun goes around saving as many people as she can, even getting some help from the police officer who arrested her before (and who developed a crush on her). To her horror, the soldiers punish the officer by leaving him terribly beaten in an alley. What’s heartbreaking is that she and the officer barely have time to exchange words; she can only cry as he slumps over, dead.
It’s crazy to me that so many people were inexplicably punished for, essentially, doing the right thing. For one, Soo-chan is beaten and arrested for trying to stop soldiers from bothering a high school girl. Then, Jin-ah and her classmates are attacked after standing up for their teacher. Jin-ah and her friend make it to the hospital, to Hee-tae and Myung-hee, seemingly fine.
However, Hee-tae gets worried after hearing that Jin-ah was struck by a baton. At one point, he’s looking around for her and finds her in an empty hallway — unconscious, with no pulse. Hee-tae feels himself falling into a panic attack, remembering what happened with Seok-chul, but he snaps himself out of it and successfully brings Jin-ah back with chest compressions. Phew.
Later, Hee-tae and Myung-hee have a sweet, quiet moment to themselves, with Hee-tae admitting that he’s glad she made them stay. They agree on leaving Gwangju when the worst is over…
…But what they’ve experienced so far was merely a lightning strike. A warning sign. And the real storm is about to hit. Hee-tae narrates that in the face of the storm, “All we could do was hold each other’s hands so we wouldn’t lose each other.”
The next day, Jung-tae and Myung-soo, who are unaware of what’s happening outside their camp, decide to sneak out to buy comics. The poor boys are thoroughly traumatized when soldiers come into the comic store and start hurting random people. They run out into the streets, where a mass protest is happening. There, protestors of all ages — not just college students — stand before a line of armed soldiers, Kyung-soo included.
The soldiers end the peaceful protest by showering the crowds with bullets. Shots ring out like fireworks, and some fall to the ground while others run for their lives. Those at the hospital hear these shots, and they’re soon receiving more patients than ever. Jin-ah’s dad arrives and, having passed by the protest, tells Myung-hee that he saw her brother at the scene. This scares Myung-hee to death, and she immediately heads out with Hee-tae and a rescue team.
The soldiers are now shooting at ambulances and anyone who tries to retrieve the wounded. But that doesn’t stop Myung-hee. Following a young boy’s cries, she crosses the path of bullets. Hee-tae follows, stopping the soldier going after her, only to freeze when he realizes the soldier is Kyung-soo. The lost friends are shocked to finally be reunited, on completely different sides.
Hee-tae helps Myung-hee and the wounded boy into the ambulance, facing Kyung-soo one last time to say that Seok-chul is alive and in town. Kyung-soo gets scolded by his superior for letting Myung-hee go, and he’s reminded of something Hee-tae once told him: “There’s no such thing as a good person. It’s all about making the best choice for each moment.” That in mind, he firmly tells his superior that he wouldn’t hurt a nurse.
Once Hee-tae and Myung-hee return to the hospital, they learn that Myung-soo called from his camp — he and Jung-tae made it back safely. They’re relieved, but Hee-tae doesn’t want Myung-hee risking her life like that again. He asks that she leave the dangerous tasks to him, and gahhh, this is foreshadowing, isn’t it?
All this time, Ki-nam has had a feeling Hee-tae was back in town. He gets Soo-chan released from the soldiers’ custody, mostly just to confirm Soo-ryun’s location. When Soo-chan starts to ask that he release the others imprisoned, Ki-nam grabs him in a chokehold and seethes that he won’t be helping him again.
Just when Hee-tae and Myung-hee are finally ready to leave Gwangju together, Myung-hee’s father arrives, wanting to take her back home. Hee-tae gives them some time alone, leaving with a doctor to gather supplies. But on the dark road, we see an armored Truck of Doom speeding towards them.
I’ve been worried over how our characters would get hurt during the Uprising, and somehow, Hee-tae falling into the clutches of his father feels like the worst scenario. We already know that Ki-nam doesn’t give a shit about Hee-tae, and that Ki-nam is done giving people warnings. With only two episodes left, I’m scared. I’m scared for Hee-tae, for Myung-hee, and for all the innocent lives that will be lost.