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Record of Youth: Self-Discovery, Classism, and the Rollercoaster that is Adulthood

"Living an honest life doesn't mean I'll be happy in life. Nasty people who don't care about others always win in this life."

Record of Youth (청춘기록) is a new Korean drama about 3 young adults working within the entertainment industry that are all trying to make it big. It stars Park Bo-gum as Sa Hye-jun, Park So-dam as Ahn Jeong-ha, and Byeon Woo-seok as Won Hae-Hyo.

I really do love K-dramas about adulthood and the struggles that come along with it. I've only seen the first two episodes so far (since that's all that's currently out on Netflix), but I can already get a good sense of the sort of the themes that will take place in this show like building relationships, self-discovery, societal pressures about what it means to be successful, being independent vs. solely family oriented, etc. For example, Ahn Jeong-ha took out a 30 year loan just to buy a house for herself (because she experienced homelessness before and wanted the sense of stability that being a property owner brings).

I absolutely adore how much of a hustler she is, however, I find it so funny how she's a professional fangirl. Even when she met her bias face-to-face and did his makeup, she wasn't a slobbering, giggling, blubbering mess. She went STRAIGHT to work and did what she had to do to secure her bag. We love to see it. I really appreciate how she was able to separate her fan adoration for Hye-jun and just kept that to herself.

I don't want to see the encouragement of obsessive or embarrassing fan culture promoted in media (ex. stalker fans), at all. Like, ever. We already have too many people who can't be impartial and separate their affection for people that they love when they're in a professional setting and I HATE to see it. But, I won't even lie. I did SCREAM when she said, "I'm so happy I can be your fan" in private and when she thought it was safe to do so and then Hye-jun came out of the dark like the Gotham Knight like, "Are you my fan?" LMFAOOOOOOOO WHAT???

The way I would've ran for the door. Despite that encounter, she clicked so well with Hye-jun and his friends. I really admire how sociable and down to earth Ahn Jung-ha is and I'm excited to see more of her character and its development.

Next, the relationship that Sa Hye-jun has with the grandfather is so wholesome. I understand the frustration that his family feels about them being poor as hell and having a son like Hye-jun who doesn't bring in money or offer stability to support his family, but it's also upsetting that kids are expected to carry the burden for the rest of their family. Are children walking piggy banks? Do they need to sacrifice their dreams and aspirations just to please their families and not risk living a life that makes their family feel ashamed? Are children not worthy of having personal autonomy? It's one thing to be concerned for your family members and not want them to make silly mistakes that may negatively impact the rest of their lives that they'll just end up regretting. People don't want their family to feel like they're alone in their struggles and that the trials they face could easily be avoided, HOWEVER, you also need to accept your loved ones as they are and support them.

Support goes such a long way. When people feel encouraged to achieve their goals, they develop confidence. When they feel confident, they end up doing a better job and are able to face their struggles head on rather than run from them. I'm glad Hye-jun has such supportive friends, but more than anything, I admire his grit and his unmatched dedication to his goals despite all of the disappointments he's experienced along the way.

Lastly, let's discuss Hae-Hyo. You can tell he doesn't like that his mom basically does everything for him (whether he knows what EXACTLY she's doing or not). At the same time, from what I've seen, he doesn't do much to cut off that dependence. She's spoon feeding him and despite how hard he works, he's willing to accept that extra boost from his mom yet act like he got where he is today without her help at the same time. Like, why are you deceiving yourself? Why lie? He should've clocked game when his mom found out he got his film role before HE did, but he's too busy feeling sorry for Hye-jun instead of focusing on how he can develop a stronger brand reputation for himself without his mom hard carrying him.

Lastly, I like that we also get a sneak peek into the lives of the other characters, as well. For example, Hye-jun's father and the extreme anger he has towards being born "on the wrong foot," feeling financially disadvantaged, and his cynicism towards the capitalist society he's always known. Or, Hye-jun's grandfather who also had dreams of excelling within the entertainment industry only to end up getting scammed out of Hye-jun's father's savings (which resulted in Hye-jun's father having to work so excessively to pay for his father's debt). Or, Hye-jun's mother who is a working mother and is always in caretaking mode: whether it's mediating the conflicts at home or pleasing her snippy and bourgeoisie boss (aka Hae-Hyo's mom).

With all that being said, I really enjoyed the first two episodes of this drama and I'm looking forward to seeing more of this series. I was skeptical at first, but I'm so glad I gave it a chance because now I have something else to look forward to during this lockdown. 😊

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