Park Bo Gum’s Record of Youth is overrated and overhyped: Here’s why the ending disappoints

Park So Dam, Byeon Woo Seok, Hyeri, Kang Han Na and a cameo by Park Seo Joon - why couldn't this multi-starrer still stand up to the expectations? We aim to find the answer.

Updated on Mar 21, 2021 10:39 PM IST  |  1.4M
Official poster of Park Bo Gum and Park So Dam's Record of Youth
Park Bo Gum’s Record of Youth is overrated and overhyped: Here’s why the ending disappoints
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I accidentally asked my friends to recommend me a good, light-hearted drama. As soon as I asked, they started gushing over - “Park Bo Gum’s Record of Youth! It’s amazing! Great acting and lovable characters. WATCH IT.” Well, after delaying it for some time, I did. I sat through all 16 episodes, hoping and expecting. Maybe I expected a bit too much because I was still hoping for something to happen and voila! The show ended. I had to check twice that it was really the last episode. Safe to say, I don't pay heed to my friends' recommendations anymore. 


Netflix describes it as "Two actors and a makeup artist fight to make their own way in a world that weighs the background they were born into more than their dreams." And if you've seen Itaewon Class or Start Up, it might make you think it's similar - gripping, motivating, uplifting - with an occasional love triangle pushed in. However, the show is just one of those adjectives - motivating. But the bland ending is all that remains in your mind when you finish the show. I'll explain why. 


There are meticulously crafted open endings and there are just, incomplete endings. ROY (Record of Youth) falls in the latter category. Sa Hye Jun (Park Bo Gum), Kim Jin Woo (Kwon Soo Hyun) and Won Hae Hyo (Beon Woo Seok) are best friends trying to make it big. Hye Jun and Hae Hyo are always pitted against each other as they both are already models. But as KDramas go, Hae Hyo hails from a rich family and has a mother (Kim Hi Young played by the beautiful Shin Ae Ra) that would go to any lengths to make her son be a big actor (including buying social media subscribers). Enter the independent, living fiercely, not giving into others, Ahn Jeong Ha (Park So Dam) an aspiring make-up artist who also is a die hard fan of Hye Jun. 


What ensues further is Hye Jun and Jeong Ah's instant click. Like they're meant to be. There are quite a few good moments between them which makes us want to know what happens next in their relationship. While both the characters deal with family problems, they become each other’s confidante. The lovebirds fly high after some time, so does Hye Jun's modelling career. During all this, we see Hae Hyo falling for Jeong Ha and the jealousy expressed through his expressions are *chef's kiss*. This is probably the only time the writing isn’t predictable. After developing a whole character arc of the main actors and taking sweet time to explore them, it felt a bit non-KDrama-ish to not have Hae Hyo backstab his friend. 


Jeong Ha realises that the complex relationship of dating a star will have her become dependent on him and in a way, overpower her dream. The same goes for Hye Jun. So they part ways. Hye Jun and Hae Hyo, like Jay and Veeru, go to the military together and when they’re back, anyone would expect sparks to fly between the lead couple. But the only thing that shows Jeong Ha is still interested in him is wearing the shoes he had gifted her once. And that’s where it ends. There’s no closure for the audience. There’s no feeling of it being over. There’s no proper goodbye or even a proper end to it. It just leaves you hanging. Some say it’s a love letter to the confused youth and the struggles, sure, it might be. But at the end of the day, this is a Drama meant to entertain the audience. Even if the lead didn’t get back together but the loop was closed with proper dialogue or events, it would’ve been fine. Watching them just smile, be friendly like we didn’t sit through 14 hours of their love and heartbreak, and just walk off on a bridge with the screen fading isn’t much of a love letter or an actual record of youth then, is it? Some may argue it’s because they’re not teenagers anymore. Sure, they’re not. But adults have more reason to make their points and have a logical conversation, don’t they? Especially when you meet someone after two years. 


For me, the show was good only till the first half - where there were actual problems the youth faces and their passion and envy and jealousy and determination. The end could have given Ahn Jeong Ah, Hye Jun and Hae Hyo a better treatment than just characters whose story just disappears into thin air. 


Also Read: Can you guess which Park Bo Gum drama it is by a simple screenshot? Take the fun quiz to find out


These were my thoughts watching ROY. What do you feel about the show’s ending? Share them in the comments below! 

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1 week ago
I've only just watched this and I think the reviewer missed a few of the subtexts here. Overall, the writing was a bit weak, and felt like it was stretched to fit the 16 episodes. I wonder if it had been over 10 episodes if it might have flowed better. Park Bo Gum is better than this material and it shows, you find yourself tapping your foot waiting for his scenes. As far as the content, I think there are a lot of parallels to his real life experience in the business, rumours, management issues, suicide of vulnerable actors/singers. It's meant more as a slice of life and a character study, than the romance it was billed to be - and that's not the cast or the makers' fault, that's marketing's fault. The ending, if you recall, is over 2 years after they split up. It's an open ended ending - was it just something that happened to them when they were younger? Or, now that they are older and more stable, is there a possibiity of a more adult relationship in their future? Finally, the subtext here is that it was the last work Park Bo-gum completed before his military service, and there are several sections that speak to how he would feel about this, and several sections where he essentially speaks to his fans and thanks them, including the epilogue of the last episode.