This mind boggling series was one of a kind. It was a breath of fresh air from the usual scenery of regular k-drama series. It shed light on the phases, trials, and triumphs faced during the years as an ambitious twenty something year old in this millennia. Especially, for those that decide to branch out on their own and refuse to go with the flow of most youths or the status quo. It was beautifully delivered by an inspiring cast – Kudos to the writer-nim.
For those who look forward to the beautiful faces k-dramas bring into the mix. You would not be disappointed👀, there was plenty of cuteness to go around for your viewing pleasure.
CHARACTERS AND WHAT I LOVED: INTRODUCTION
Honestly, it feels like the theme for most k-drama series this year was “horizon broadening” in terms of their plots – they have been extremely brilliant and different so far. So, let’s get right into it.👈
One of the things that served as the major “it item” for me throughout the course of this series was the comfortable style of fashion implemented with style and finesse 👘. From the sneakers donned with suits – to the sweats, sleeves, joggers and hoodies. The stylists on the set of the series truly outdid themselves.
These pictures are just a few of the many amazing combinations that caught my attention in this series. Especially the very one to the left, on the first collage. The combination of casual and loose, from the sweats to the baggy pants. Creative!🥺
The casual stance, the knitted scarfs and the rolled up sleeves on the jean is just totally mouthwatering. Simple and straight to the point and let’s not forget – it’s comfortable too.
The heartthrob himself –Park Bo Gum who played Sa Hye-jun in the Series (ROY). His character was a very peculiar one; whose prior career was modelling in a bid to gather attention to propel him into his end goal within the very same light or sector – which was to be an actor. But it was rather a very tasking goal to achieve due to the varying “standards” that exists and are involved in the entertainment industry at large. He had to resort to other side jobs alongside his passion for the moment such as freelance jobs, waitressing in the evening, and being a bodyguard😅.
All of these were In order to provide for himself, his family and his grandfather who happens to be one of his close buddies.
Especially, due to the pressure placed on him by the industry he’s in, accompanied with parental pressure and peer pressure. Another pressing issue was the lack of support from his family members especially his father and brother, which is definitely a rampant and recurring realism with youth all around the globe.
To be candid, he was practically on his own and was more or less his own manager in all ramifications. The agency he was originally signed under took advantage of his good personality (which by the way should be a norm, you shouldn’t have to change who you are in order to be respected 💭) and basically ruined his budding career.
Like I reiterated earlier, this series definitely came fully made; packed with lessons in sight and out of sight. One interesting lesson is the fact that Hye-Jun’s circle consisted of people with like-minds, similar goals and career interests. His first best friend is a model and aspiring actor (Hye-hyo) but from a rich background which helped his career propel faster than that of Hye-jun during their modelling career days, due to the many strings pulled on his behalf by his momager. His other best friend is Jin-woo who happens to be the sarcastic one of the trio and is also a badass photographer. Seen the similarities yet?
Every day was a huge toll on his mental health, from the realization of the problems his meagre backgrounds seemed to cause in terms of his career, to the constant nagging and lack of support from his parents, to competing with his best friend for the same spot in a certain auditions. And discovering just how tricky the issues of great backgrounds and connections can be in light of smoothening or ruining a chosen path or career choice🤯.
Towards his breaking point mentally, he took a tough step towards quitting his present career choice and finally go and serve his country like he ought to – which he has been postponing because he held out hope about his career finally blooming and leaving its stagnant phase.
In a bid to move forward he left his agency and told his manager to pay him all the wages the agency owed him. Hae-hyo, having realized the gap in career between him and his best friend tried to smoothen things out by calling prospective locations and cajoling them into accepting Hye-jun into whatever he’s doing; be it a mere appearance or whatsoever.
In the midst of the chaos called his life, he stumbled across Jeong-ha (a talented make-up artist). A fellow wanderer, like-mind, and fangirl seeking to find happiness in her chosen career. In the midst of her own problems such as bullying (arising from assumptions, lack of empathy, jealousy, pride and inability to look above what the present situation insinuates) which led to misconceptions and arguments from her co-worker, led to a silver lining between Jeong-ha and Hye-jun.
The duo later blossomed from friends, to lovers and later to friends. One subtle lesson I learnt from these two was that “in relationships, happy endings are relative; not all happy endings will result in marriage or at the altar. Some relationships are better left as happy memories and reminders💭.”
I also learnt that “Difference in career choices in relationships can pose as a huge problem later on. Those two are a testament to that, and also to the fact that at any point in time anything can/could happen.”
Furthermore, I observed that sometimes hesitations in relationships doesn’t come from a place of distrust, it usually comes from a place of preservation of the next person’s feelings.
Hye-jun’s character delivered justice to holding out hope in every situation, even at the very last minute of which that supposed hope was about to fizzle out. A silver lining did show up and that started out as the turning point for his career. From deftly executing how fame and work can make and at the same time mar and blur relationships. Ranging from his family, to his circle to personal development, to handling toxic co-workers. It was an encomium of emotions throughout the sixteen episodes – delivering justice to the term “be careful what you wish for.”
His ability to exude kindness and all the good morals you can think of, from his journey from grass to grace was outstanding.
Hye-jun embodied the humanity in “celebrities” through his character we were shown the dirty and the beautiful. From how tabloids could be misleading and can ruin in the snap of a finger. To the sensitivity that accompanies fame, behind the white blinding smiles and picture combinations on “celebs” social feed.
The character Jeong-ha a make- up artist seeking to find happiness through her brushes and a fellow wanderer in her twenties. The character was delivered casually and effortlessly by the amazing Park So-Dam, as she settled and fit into the role snugly. Her ideas and beliefs were shapened up by the many scenarios of screaming matches between her parents while growing up🙃.
From the hustle and bustle of trying to make a name and ends meet her only solace was fangirling the one and only Hye-jun. whom she was used as a channel to block out her misery, and stress after each tasking day.
💭One thing I also learnt is that it’s easier to assume celebrities or even other average humans have it easy until we fall into their shoes and understand how life isn’t seemingly black or white.
“Everyone has got their own shares of problems. But that doesn’t mean they can’t give a smile or two once in a while. But what lies behind the smile is usually greater than we’d ever know.”
As fate would have it, one sunny day she got to meet her celeb crush in person of Hye-jun who just witnessed her being wrongly accused by her co-worker who misread the situation. And she walked away to have some private time and to deal with the problem at hand by engaging in a soliloquy with the picture of hye-jun (her celebrity crush) on her phone, meanwhile unbeknownst to her he was directly at her back to check how she was faring and asked if she was his fan since he clearly witnessed her talking his picture on her screen, caught in a state of embarrassment and disbelief she said no and said she was instead a fan of Hye-hyo.
He smiled and walked her back inside and that was the beginning of a beautiful love story for those two. I love the use of foreshadowing by the writer-nim and director – because trust me the timeline of this series is yet to be determined. Their relationship was the definition of when love happens it happens.
From their sassiness to their friendly jabs, it was so cute to watch. They are so alike in more ways than one; it was a curse and a blessing for them, but more of a blessing anyway. Hye-jun with the beautiful heart introduced her to Hye-ho right away and made her their personal mua (Make-up artiste).
She delivered the (mua) role flawlessly and with precision – let’s just say I know a little bit about make- up and she delivered. But then again, that’s the beauty of great acting and directing. I was just vibing along when she was explaining the essence of applying primers to the T-zone 🖌️and what not.
Hye-jun and Jeong-ha fell in love deeply and all of that. They were the epitome of John Legend’s “all of me” even when they were going through a rough patch. Theirs in the beginning was a fast slope, they did everything together. But couldn’t touch down on sensitive issues such as bullying in her place of work and the lack of support on Hye-jun’s family’s side among other deep issues.
Due to the timing and aura of when this issues arose, communication was strained but they tried to be with and for each other as Hye jun’s career took off. Then the problems ate in deeper and slowly of which she was skeptical about confronting or discussing some issues concerning his career (because she didn’t necessarily know the details or backstory😅) and that made her reluctant about talking about her problems – as it seemed that Hye-Jun definitely had a lot to deal with. Unfortunately😅 clashing and crazy schedules are a norm in the life of a celebrity and that served as a one of the things that broke the camel’s back in their relationship. The available time they had were rather used to enjoy each other’s presence.
In trying to respect each other’s space they missed different opportunities to communicate; especially with the tabloids ruthlessly dishing out conflicting information about Hye-jun almost every day and those burrowing issues ate in deep. Like I said the two are so alike in many ways than one from being dealt with life from various angles therefore becoming guarded in terms of sharing and communicating.
Their relationship highlighted the place of personal forgiveness and development before starting out a relationship. There were underlying personal issues bubbling beneath and on the surface.
Hye-jun was so giving a person that he was ready to drop his career to make his relationship work. Which isn’t meant to be, 💭along the way her insecurities snuck in and in return she dumped, uttered and lashed out verbally at Hye-jun as a defense mechanism which was equally unnerving, disturbing and immature.
Eventually she got dragged into scandals surrounding Hye-jun combined with her own issues, and it was evident he was trying hard to protect her. Their lack of communication nearly ruined Hye-jun’s career if not for the call from Hye-jun that came in at the last minute to fill her in on a new development. Their relationship highlighted the different phases to maturity as it were, you could be mature in other aspects in life and still be naïve and immature in the dealings of other aspects in a relationship.
For example, the two never got around to talking about deep emotional issues yet the day she was breaking up with him –she delivered the final blow by telling him “she’s done being his emotional outlet, and then i🙄 wondered how you could be somebody’s emotional outlet if there’s rarely communication about what truly matters.” I applaud Park bo gum’s character for his maturity, despite his evident pain whenever Jeong-ha lashes out. He rather maintains decorum and silence while trying to truly listen to her because he can be just as sassy and straightforward as his beau.
Apart, from their problems she helped his grandfather fulfill his lifelong dream by explaining to him that “in life, when looking for opportunities for people don’t assume the kind of opportunities they want for them, don’t box them either. Be open to ideas within, and around the box.”
In conclusion, their love language however out of tune it later became, was still worthy of emulation from exchange of inspiring books written by amazing personalities to just really thoughtful things that reminds each partner of themselves.
Moreover, I applaud her brilliance in handling the bullying situation going on at her work place in terms of the lethal and sweet method of delivery. From mild black mailing to being as sensible as possible in the manner of approach👍.
Of, all the characters’ I respect after arabeoujji (Hye-jun’s grandfather), Byeon Woo-seok comes next🙊. He executed the character Won Hae-hyo like he was specially created for this. Don’t get me started on his clothes, the ones he donned throughout this series they were awe-spirrreing❣️. Like what! I could have said they would fit me snugly, unfortunately he’s way taller than I am. I digress.
Anyways, Hye-hyo was one complicated character; at some point in the series I didn’t know what to think of his actions but he showed up and turned out to be amazing despite all his highlighted flaws. I mean, who doesn’t have flaws anyway. He perfectly explained the term “it is easier said than done.😬”
His character was a tight friend of Hye-jun who was a well-known model and an aspiring actor. Who had everything going well for him, while spending the rest of his time with his buddies.
The issue started with Jeong-ha whom Hye-jun introduced as his fan because of what she told him, which she later clarified to Hae-hyo as false. It started out as a challenge to Hae-hyo, the fact that Jeong-ha was able to keep her composure around him and not fawn over him like some hot shot like he is. He was shocked to say the least, then he admired the lack of attention and later fell in love with her.
He being a great friend 😒 tried to get rid of his feelings especially when he found out that Jeong-ha and Hye-jun were now an item. But then the tides were swirled to a dangerous altitude by fate and the writer-nim, of which Hae-hyo started having his own doses of issues and problems😓.
Ranging from his acting career remaining stagnant and the inability to snag major lead roles whereas Hye-jun seemed to be doing well and in the spotlight even. Unfortunately, feelings are no respecter of persons nor friendships, the heart wants what it wants – always!
The irony of the situation was that, his mom (who is like in a competition with like 4 other people for the award of the most annoying during the course of this series😩) took sabotaging to a whole new level, she made sure to buy all of those roles for her son without his knowledge and made sure to instruct the agencies involved to either push out hye-jun from such opportunity.
Which made me wonder if he was totally clueless as he seems. Turns out he was, but karma is no respecter of persons. So therefore, despite setting out from a rich background it goes to show talent, and personal development are important irrespective of available resources. He happened to be someone who was so unsuspecting, trusting, free and naïve.
He also, got his own share of parental drama from both sides due to his best friends success which he dutifully took his friends side (which practically made me swoon🙊🤗) and said he deserves it. Whereas, his own insecurities were bubbling on the surface.
He then decided to be selfish for once, I don’t necessarily blame his selfishness but during the course of being selfish people usually get hurt. He decided to play the hero card by trying to be there for Jeong-ha since he’s now less busy and his two other friends are busy, his other option is no other person than Jeong-ha, also he can’t say no to Jeong-ha’s requests most of the time; because he’s in love with her.
By, spending more time with her they became closer friends that went out and confided in each together. And comforting each other of which Jeong-ha started to miss Hye-jun’s calls during the course of their encounter, which had a spider web effect especially now that Hye-hyo tells her some unnecessary information about hye-jun’s schedule which was more or less causing more damage. I thought he was going to tell Jeong-ha outrightly that he liked her but he did no such thing. And I respect him for that. Because lack of action or sharing of emotions can really be painful.
One particular event, that served as his breaking point was when he lost the rookie award of the year nomination, whereas Hye-jun was making it big and even won actor of the year after just one year of being in the industry. He showed up for his friend but was also hurt and was feeling insecure. But their third friend during a few round of drinks set him straight during their discussion a few days later😤.
Jun- woo said you are feeling hurt because you were used to being in the lead and helping him out and not the other way around. I and Hye-hyo 😎couldn’t apparently help but appreciate Jun-woo’s blunt honesty.
At some point, he became so frustrated that it affected his ego and mental space to the extent that during a scene of a drama featuring him and Hye-jun where he was supposed to call on Hye-jun for help during the scene and he found it difficult to say those words that the director had to be yelling cut! Cut! Severally. Before he eventually voiced out his feeling to Hye-jun and left the location abruptly.
My respect for him, grew a ton each higher. When he discovered that their mutual third best friend was dating his sister. He cussed loudly saying “he was going to kill him when he saw him” –but guess what? When he saw him, he simply said he wasn’t pleased with how he found out and that, whatever choice they decide to make or take in their relationship he supports them. He told his sister and Jun-woo that respectively.
I felt for him, when he eventually found out his mom’s involvement in almost every aspect of his life. He was truly torn inside out; all thanks to Park Do-ha ( the second candidate on the award list for most annoying character) who nudged him in the right direction. He felt everything closing on him and discovered everything he had achieved so far hasn’t been purely of his own doings. He seriously lashed out at his mom and made her understand the importance of boundaries.
He eventually decided to take matters in his own hands by making one major decision available at that time for himself, by enrolling for the Marine Corps. He tried to subtly say his goodyes to everyone including Jeong-ha who couldn’t decipher the sensitivity of the moment but chose to leave due the location of their meeting which reminds her of happy memories with Hye-jun which she hasn’t fully dealt with💔.
FOURTH CHARACTER I LOVED
The energetic Shin Dong-mi who played the character Lee Min-Jae (Hye-jun’s ) manager. She was the vibe throughout this series😽. She embodied, playfulness, being jovial, craziness and fun. She was a major ingredient in the success of Hye-jun turning him into a superstar within a year.
She didn’t know much about managing, but she became the term when there’s a will there’s a way. She knew the potential Hye-jun embodied and she worked with him to bring out that potential with grace.
You would know she’s a total free spirit and part-time crazy person when the named their agency😂 Jjampyong entertainment (which means soggy noodles in Korean). One of the many lessons I learnt was that “creating change or working together with friends is way better than strangers.”
Their dynamic was one of a kind, she knew when to listen to him and vice versa including times for compromise. Sure, challenges arose, insecurities came in; greedy managers tried to play on her insecurities.
At the end of the day she rose above it and even shattered the limitations other “better managers” had in mind. She made mistakes, but she learnt from it.☺️
I would say that the happiest day of her career was this day when Hye-jun won the best actor award. Her ability to transcend and just do it like Nike says was really inspiring🥶. From using methods that might have originally seemed stupid to propel Hye-jun’s career was beautiful.
She equally knew how to get him on board with her ideas. They were a perfect match. I was rooting for her and Hye-jun’s brother in terms of a romantic relationship 😬but writer-nim didn’t implement such in her plot. But I’m telling you there’s chemistry there.🤝
THE FAMILY DYNAMICS
This family were a piece of work like any other family. It was the embodiment of realism at its peak, bants, sibling rivalry, favoritism and unending drama. But, you know what they say you can’t trade family for anything. Theirs was a father son, mother son and son-grandfather dynamic. I also discovered that we tend to be on opposing sides with people we love more💭, the unending arguments are usually born out of love.
Their family also showed us a glimpse of what most families would be like soon in terms of technology. They always announce various things on the family WhatsApp group such as if there’s family meeting, the time and any important information that needs to be sent.
The Hae-hyo’s family
This family was funny, from the very crazy dynamic between Hae hyo’s mum and Hae hyo’s dad. Those two are something else, nothing serious just dinner dates once in a while with the whole family. The mom is obsessed with her son’s success, and is also a part time crazy person😖.
One minute she’s sensible the next she’s completely out of it. Her character was an annoying one. But her fashion sense made up for it. They were usually simple but speaking volumes.
I remember the scene was she was beating her husband with pillows blaming him for hae-hyo’s kind heart because he sent him to a public secondary school.
He was a piece of work. None other than hye-jun’s ex- manager and per time greedy person. His character was perfectly executed by none other than Lee Chang-Hoon whose character was Tae-Soo. He was as greedy as they come, from sabotaging to trying to play the hero card. He perfected the role with a subtle swagger.
And craftily manipulating and misleading people into thinking towards his line of thought. He got his Karma towards the end, I have to say he and Park Do- ha who he is managing are a perfect fit. After all, you attract what you are or what you embody💭.
This was one fantastically done series infused with thoughtfulness, realism and gracefulness. 💥Its brilliance was absolutely out of this world, one episode done leaves you hunger for more. With little or no inkling as to what to expect next. It was diligently delivered and wrapped up highlighting the importance of redefining happiness and priorities accompanied with the woes of fame and trials of youth.
I 💫must say the name Record of Youth was indeed the perfect name for the series.
Introducing pivotal elements of sexuality, mental health, tabloid reportages, maintaining principles even amidst fame. The series simply signified every single role with a message. The beauty of the series was its vibrancy, while every character shone with gusto and flavor💦.
See you next time,