“Youth Of May” has been receiving attention and praise from viewers and since we’re pas the half-way mark, a review is in order.




Today, I am here to discuss “Youth Of May” and talk about what makes it stand out among the many kdramas currently on air.

Table of Contents:

  1. KBS has finally listened
  2. The plot-line
  3. Characters
  4. Performances
  5. “Youth Of May” ending- How heartbreaking will it be?

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

1KBS has finally listened

I must say, I am astonished to see the episodes count on “Youth Of May,” has it finally happened? Did KBS finally listen to our prayers?

But in all seriousness, I walked in with conflicting feelings because many KBS dramas have been a disappointment in recent years, it often than not, you’re surprised if the drama turns out good and not bad.

The sad thing is, KBS wasn’t always like that, I got to witness the downfall of the public broadcasting stations in terms of ratings battle.




OCN and JTBC are no strangers to scaling down the episodes count if it serves the plot. Most OCN dramas are actually 12 episodes long rather than the standard 16. tvN and JTBC often make shorter kdramas and most of these turn out well.

The issue is with the execution in most cases, even if you have a great idea, stretching it usually does it a disservice. So many great ideas start out well and eventually fizzle out. It is sad to see.

“Youth Of May” episodes count is 12, and when I saw that, I immediately gained hope that this was going to be different and thus far, I am pleased.

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The topic being discussed revolves around the happenings to people living in Gwangju prior to the uprising. I advice you to read on the topic to better understand the context but with such a topic, I think it would’ve definitely hurt the message had it been 16 episodes for obvious reasons.

12 episodes means “Youth Of May” moves at a faster than-average pace and I love it. It doesn’t ponder on itself and that is also important.

2The plot-line

“Youth Of May” tells the story of youth during the turbulent times in the 1980s. Set mostly in late March to the beginning of April prior to the happenings. Gwangju uprising happened from May 18 to May 27 in 1980. With this information in mind, there is a lurking sense of dread while I watch this drama because I know in two weeks time, these people lives will change forever and some of the characters will likely die. I don’t need to be told that but knowing what happened back then definitely makes me view the entire drama with a different lens.

I really like the idea and I like the execution. You can tell they put a lot of effort to make it as realistic as possible while remaining faithful and mindful of the seriousness and sensitivity of the issue at hand. With some kdramas are either getting canceled or facing severe backlash for history distortion allegations, “Youth Of May” walks that fine line, and so far, I can tell they’re doing well judging by k-netizens reactions.

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The reason I am enjoying it even more than I would’ve of for an average kdrama based in the 1980s is because of the backdrop, it’ll be very interesting to see how our leading characters lives change in the near future.

3Characters

“Youth Of May” casting director deserves a raise. I was a bit skeptical about casting Lee Do Hyun opposite Go Min Si again, but damn it, my worries were unfounded. Both actors played siblings before so pairing them as lovers kinda worried me but they’re so different here from “Sweet Home” that you can’t help but appreciate how committed and professional they are.

I like the way all the characters are written thus far, there is a sense of realism to the drama that is at times missing from kdramas. Even for the supporting characters, they still feel real.

These days we have like 4 kdramas with a backdrop set in a rich unattainable society and while its fun to see the mess there, at times, you also appreciate kdramas about average people too.

Some fans are upset with Soo Ryeong’s character and I understand why, she is a bit under-developed but she’ll get there I am sure of it. As a supporting character, I’d say she’s memorable in the sense that she has an entire existence outside of being a supportive force for our main lead. She will have a huge role later on, I am sure of it. The screenwriter is obviously setting that up. I don’t agree with her decisions but there is a level of understanding.

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Even with the supporting family characters, I’d say there is a depth. I am happy to see that.

4Performances

Lee Do Hyun is going to be a massive hallyu actor one day, you heard it here first. But I’ve been saying this for a while now. He deserved the rookie actor award at the Baeksang, he’s so committed and passionate you can’t help but gravitate towards him.

This is Go Min Si’s first leading role and for someone who has been stuck playing annoying roles, she shines here. She showed everyone that she’s leading material. She reminds me of a young Shin Hye Sun. With the right projects, I believe she’ll be big one day too. The look in her eyes, that alone should earn her awards, it is NOT EASY to be able to convey so many emotions about your characters through your eyes alone but she does it so well and make it look easy.

Lee Sang-Yi and Keum Sae-Rok are also amazing here. Everyone is doing so well here.

I want to highlight a supporting actor I know many of you hate for the roles he plays, but he deserves some spotlight. Oh Man Seok has been around for a while but recently got on my radar. He is AMAZING. So charismatic and scary.

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He’s playing a terrible character, he commands respect with his gaze and the way he carries himself. He’s truly underrated and deserves more attention. He just needs that right role in a big kdrama to get on everyone’s radar too. I thought he should be highlighted because he’s so important to this drama. Such an amazing actor. Next time, I hope he picks a role that puts him on the edge between good and bad so more people could see his range, he’ll surely do well as he always does.

5“Youth Of May” ending- How heartbreaking will it be?

I know this will be a controversial take, but honestly, I will be okay if “Youth Of May” ending is sad. Why? Because then, it’d be faithful to the material its covering.

Gwangju uprising casualties exceed 600. Judging by the way the drama has progressed this far, I’d honestly be more shocked if our leads got a happy ending instead.

I know many fans get easily attached to the characters and actors, many don’t like watching sad endings. I am not like that, I don’t mind a sad ending if it serves a purpose and in this case I feel like it is. Ever since episode 1 I could tell this isn’t going to end well.

I have a feeling at least half of the characters shown in this drama will either die or be seriously injured. I have my tissues ready, it won’t be easy to watch but I know they’ll do well.

So these are my thoughts on “Youth Of May”, so what about you guys? did you like the episodes? let me know what you thought in the comment section below.

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