Record of Youth offers nothing but Park Bo-gum

And his military hiatus.

For the record, I love Park Bo-gum. I have been familiar with his alluring charm and shriek-triggering eye-smiles since 2016. I have never seen such a celebrity with a very inviting aura. He is that unassuming campus heartthrob who always makes his grandma proud.

I only got to see his complete screen work when he was paired with Hallyu queen Song Hye Kyo for the 2018 series Encounter. It was only this year when I watched him in Reply 1988 (gosh my lifetime fave!) as Choi Taek and Love In The Moonlight as Lee Yeong.

Reply 1988

IMO, Bogummy’s best acting project is Lee Yeong. His memorable (still debatable as the best) screen work is Reply 1988. Of the four major Bo-gum series I’ve watched, Sa Hye-Jun, Bo-gum’s character in his recent pre-military Netflix series Record of Youth, is my least favorite.

Love In the Moonlight

Record of Youth primarily aims to keep PBG on our radar while he takes a 2-year military break. Spoiler Alert: the last 20 minutes of ROY even revolves around him finally deciding to enlist after parking the invitation for 16 episodes. It mirrors an actor’s reality where one has to break his career momentum to serve the country.

Truth be told, there’s nothing grand about ROY; only Bo-gum and Park So-dam (chant with me: Jessica. Illinois. Only Child. Chicago.). The trailer has a mediocre appeal and I already have a soft impression of it. And my hunch was right.

Did I like it? No.

These are my whys:

The plot is predictable: Artist. Fan. Dating. Dreams. Fame. Break-up. You know the cycle. And Sa Hye-jun’s floating military enlistment has somehow foreshadowed the ending in an unsatisfying taste. The only factors that thrilled me about this series were the cameo roles of Park Seo Joon, Lee Sung Kyung, and Hyeri. Oh, I almost forgot! Let me also count those scenes when PBG showed multiple roles as actor Sa Hye-jun. The best one was when he played a villain where we get to witness the other side of PBG.

Most scenes are skippable: The family arc is meh. Even the squad. Eep. There’s nothing so endearing and interesting about PBG’s family, to begin with. Some layers are unnecessary fillers. But the underwhelming story spins of ROY shouldn’t discredit the acting performance of PBG. The biggest scenes are his anticipated big break and the silent late-night cries of every successful artist. But didn’t you see these coming?

Byeon Woo-Seok is cute though. Him being the second lead in this series works to his advantage. I love how his character stayed consistent in the story. But his role doesn’t add tension to the romance part at all.

Byeon Woo-seok

The timid character of the leading lady: What’s weird was Park So Dam’s character positioning in this series. She was put on display as PBG’s leading lady who’s just reactive on PBG’s conflict. Her resting b**** face worked in her Grammy-award winning film Parasite. But So-dam seldom shines in every scene in ROY. Perhaps the scenarios were not propelling enough to spark her chemistry with Park Bo-gum. There’s nothing special about the growth of their relationship; even her back story wasn’t important. I was neither convinced of her struggle as a dreamer nor was I moved with her break-up reasons.

Nothing too glorious about the series finale: The finale was rushed and it’s understandable for some obvious reason – Park Bo-gum’s nearing enlistment. The wrap up was just so dry. I had faith until Episode 16. But there’s no peak moment that defined the resolution of ROY’s major conflicts. Maybe a redeeming factor for Sa Hye-jun after these false accusations and rumors? What about his record of youth? How does the title play in the plot? While the series lodged on Park So-dam’s predictable purpose and emotional tension as an actor’s fan turned secret girlfriend and PBG’s dating scandals, there was no satisfying resolution and clear character trajectory.

There’s no story of vindication. I wonder why the scandals of Hye-jun remain unresolved. We have been circling around those conflicts only to transition to a military enlistment decision. Oh, that’s it? Perhaps, another perspective on how managements handle scandals? Let it cool down? Let it pass? I wonder why Do-has gets unnecessary airtime versus the scenes that should’ve been extended, added, resolved, or explained. The curtains closed with the reunion of Jeong-ha and Hye-jun on the set of his new movie. Wow. I didn’t see that coming. Anyway.

Record of Youth is just another remember-me material for Park Bo-gum. This series places at the bottom of his artist catalog. For the record, I love Park Bo-gum. Just not this series.

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