“Record Of Youth” is one of the hottest tvN dramas of 2020. Considered one of the most anticipated ahead of its run, the drama is led by Park Bo Gum and Park So Dam. Many people had high expectations from the drama; some fans had their expectations met while others had their expectations crushed.
I contemplated writing about “Record Of Youth” because I’ll automatically be labeled a hater of Park Bo Gum, I know what I have to say might not be such a popular opinion but I do have the insight to back it up.
“Record Of Youth” is one of those dramas you either fall for or not, reactions to this drama might be mixed and that’s due to the cast but objectively speaking, people will split on this one depending on their taste.
Personally speaking, I like fast-paced dramas, I don’t mind healing dramas or slower dramas as long as they carry meaning and there is enough plot happening to keep me watching. I am not going to waste 6 hours of my day to finally get to the point unless I am convinced it’s worth it.
“Record Of Youth” is one of those dramas I’d give 3~5/10. I can’t say I hate it and I can’t say I love it either. So here is why this is my conclusion after watching “Record Of Youth.”
Note: this is a subjective review. I will share my personal opinion while keeping in mind how others might perceive it. This is a spoiler review
Screenwriter Ha Myung Hee’s issue
I am not going to poke at “Record Of Youth” for the sake of its actors, I will try to explain to you what exactly led to such mixed reactions even from some of the most devoted Park Bo Gum fans.
If you recall my review of “Record Of Youth” early episodes, you might remember what I said about Screenwriter Ha Myung Hee. I talked about how her scripts tend to become boring and draggy early on because of the way she writes her characters.
She seems like such a chill person I’d want to vibe with. That’s the feeling I get from her scripts but I wouldn’t easily recommend any of her dramas.
I’ve watched a lot of her projects across the years so what I am saying I take seriously. She tends to write likeable characters that become stale fast; you kinda lose interest in them and in what happens around them because of how mildly they react to their surroundings.
Added to that, Screenwriter Ha Myung Hee likes to take it slow and that can be very frustrating especially as the ending of her dramas approach. She writes realistic plots but they’re unlikely to ever be exaggerated, they’re usually very mild and easy to digest. Dramas are meant to dramatize certain aspects of life to make it more entertaining to the viewers, however, this particular screenwriter doesn’t do this, her dramas feel like you’re watching someone’s life unfold with all the good, the bad, and the boring parts of it.
She takes real life inspiration from her surroundings and I can easily tell, instead of opting for dramatic happenings, she usually settles for the most timid outcome you could think of and it results in her ideas deflating fast right before your eyes.
“Record Of Youth” had many interesting moments. The snappy dialogue between the characters appears to have been carefully thought of, I appreciate her efforts in that department, but aside from that, there isn’t honestly anything remotely special about “Record Of Youth.”
“Record Of Youth” interesting moments were far and in-between, dispersed throughout 16 unnecessarily long episodes for no solid reason. Aside from a couple of memorable moments, “Record Of Youth” is rather mostly unmemorable.
With her style of writing which has improved a bit over the years, I don’t understand why she insists on writing 16 episodes. Such types of ideas are better consolidated into 10 episodes; the drama would’ve worked out a lot better had it been done that way.
I know it might not be entirely her decision because 16 episodes is the industry standard, but tvN and JTBC have experimented a lot and increased the frequency in which they air shorter kdramas. I don’t understand why wasn’t that done with “Record Of Youth.” I think it could’ve benefited the drama a lot, plot wise.
Military enlistment and the approach Screenwriter Ha Myung Hee took
The one thing I found especially interesting was the talk about military service in this drama. I’ve been watching kdramas for close to a decade but I’ve never seen a short kdrama (16 episodes or less) that approached the topic like that.
“Record Of Youth” provided me with more insight into how Korean men feel about military service.
If you guys don’t know, Korean men must serve for almost two years and they must do it before they become 28 years old. There were many kdramas that talked about this but I’ve never seen a kdrama that has a plot that tackles the topic so extensively exploring how it affects Korean men in all aspects.
I found it very interesting the way the screenwriter approached it, its not that I didn’t know it affects Korean men and sometimes hindered their career advancement but I’ve never gave it a thought, this put things into perspective and brought to light just how much the military service is integrated in every Korean family’s life and how they shape their lives around it.
Park Bo Gum’s choice and stellar performance
I think I am beginning to understand what type of projects Park Bo Gum gravitates towards. I’ve noticed it with “Encounter” and getting to understand it more with “Record Of Youth.”
I really like Park Bo Gum, his on-screen persona and his acting skills. I don’t think he’s fit to play every character there is but I know he has potential. I think he’s opting for projects that speak to his heart rather than those that are over-the-top or extravagant.
Park Bo Gum truly saved this drama, I can never give him enough credit, if it wasn’t for him, this drama would’ve never been successful. He is the highlight of the drama and the one who puts out the best performance hands down.
This is his best performance in a drama to date in my opinion. I sensed sincerity in his performance like nothing I’ve ever felt from him. I truly felt he became that character and sympathized with is struggles above all else.
The role of Sa Hye Jun was well played by Park Bo Gum, but the character is nothing special.
If I compare Sa Hye Jun to any of the lead characters in some of the biggest kdramas of 2020, he wouldn’t stand a chance. The character is just too normal for his own good.
I feel like Sa Hye Jun was written to be acted by Park Bo Gum and I know he adds his own charm to the character, but due to the lackluster plot, the end result doesn’t do him justice.
Park So Dam’s wasted potential
Park So Dam picks better movies than she picks dramas; I think we can all agree on that already. I don’t know why she picked this drama as her first project post “Parasite.”
I am not saying she should’ve gone for another dramatic role but it would’ve benefited her to challenge herself again. I feel like Park So Dam is trying to appeal to the general public but is losing her colors in that process.
Park So Dam talent was completely wasted in “Record Of Youth.” While Park Bo Gum’s character had a bit of flavor to him and Bo Gum tried his best to own the character, her character was as stale as they come and it felt that she couldn’t wrap her head around how to own this character, and that was another issue.
I am starting to sense that Park So Dam’s performance depends a lot on who the director and writer is, it feels like she’s the type of actress that would do either good or bad depending on who gives her directions and in this case, the ones who did, didn’t do her justice. Park So Dam still has a long way to go before she becomes an actress who can truly own whatever character she plays despite how much the writer might attempt to box her.
If An Jeong Ha had been played by any other capable actress, I don’t think I would’ve been able to tell the difference and that is; if you guys don’t know, an issue.
I know Park So Dam is only doing her job and following instructions but as a fan since 2015, I wanted to see her own the character not get buried in it. I know many fans who love Park So Dam will agree with me when I say this drama was a total waste of her talent. She needed something better, bigger, something that leaves an impression. This wasn’t it.
Also, her chemistry with Park Bo Gum wasn’t the best in my opinion. Fans opinions on this one is contrasting and that’s in part due to previous on-screen couples Park Bo Gum was paired with. Fans will always compare with this in mind.
They both try their best but even when I watched behind-the-scene, I could tell they felt awkward around each other.
Should I watch “Record Of Youth”?
“Record Of Youth” was a cute romance drama about an actor who makes his way to the top. If you like slow-paced romance dramas, this one is for you.
“Record Of Youth” is a light watch, its something you’d watch to unwind and relax, its not emotionally demanding or over-the-top, its very realistic which can be an issue because it feel as if the plot isn’t moving at times as you’re stuck in limbo. If you have so much shit going on in your life, this is perfect to just relax and unwind.
If you love love the actors involved in this project, then this is for you. Unless, you can be critical, regardless of your love.
If you’re impatient and struggle with slower-paced content, this might not be the one for you.
I don’t know how good it’ll be when binge-watched because I watched it as it was being broadcasted, I still felt it was boring for the most part, but I’d imagine the binging process would either be lots of fun or annoyingly long. It depends on your taste.
So these are my thoughts on “Record Of Youth,” I am interested in what you guys thought of it if you’ve seen it, lets discuss in the comment section below!