Starring Park Bo-gum as Sa Hye-jun and Park So-dam as Ahn Jeong-ha, the recently concluded Korean drama Record of Youth is probably a series that many followed religiously on Netflix. And if you’re feeling the effects of completing the series and crave for more related content, keep scrolling as we unpack various hidden hints that revealed the character’s inner thoughts.
Text: Yen Leng/NUYOU. Translations and additional reporting by Ho Guo Xiong.
On his route home, Sa Hye-jun would pass by a store with a sign that reads “Be happy every day”. But as viewers would know, Hye-jun wasn’t very successful on the career front. And once he got home, he had to deal with his unsupportive family. Faced with such a predicament, how could one expect Hye-jun to be happy? As such, we took this sign to be an oxymoron to highlight how despondent and lonely Hye-jun appeared. At the same time, the sign could also be a form of encouragement for Hye-jun so that he would remain positive and happy even though his life wasn’t going as planned.
Hye-jun was in a good mood until he realised that he was the last one to find out that his best friend, who had went for the same audition as him, had been chosen over him. Could you imagine the devastation he must have felt? Apart from jealousy, envy, helplessness and injustice, what made Hye-jun feel worse was that his dreams had once again been extinguished.
At this moment, the rainbow-coloured wall beside him read “I have a dream”. Together with the exclamation mark, the statement must seem like it is dripping with irony. We believe that this could be an echo of Hye-jun’s persistence and determination: regardless of how many setbacks he encounters, he still wouldn’t give up.
There is a poster on the wall of the employee rest area in the restaurant where Hye-jun worked part-time. One of them read “Success only needs 1 per cent talent and 99 per cent money and background.” And in the scene where the poster was shown, the store manager was planning to groom Hye-jun to become a manager at the restaurant, hinting that he should give up his dreams of making it in showbiz.
At this point, Hye-jun had already encountered multiple instances where having money and connections opened many doors for others. That, coupled with the poster and what the shop manager had said, possibly almost pushed Hye-jun to accept this reality. However, Hye-jun rejected the generosity of his manager, and through this, he was also telling himself that he hadn’t given up and would continue to pursue his dreams.
In Min-jae (Hye-jun’s manager)’s house, you might spot a motivational poster on the wall. Although it’s in English, it’s easy to miss it if you didn’t look closely.
The phrase comes from a famous American minister Norman Vincent Peale and it tells us to have a bigger dream than what we actually want. This is so that even if you failed to attain success, you wouldn’t be too far off from the dream you actually wanted. This expressed the aspirations of Hye-jun and Min-jae, and drove them to continue striving.
In episode 6, Hye-jun confessed his love for Ahn Jeong-ha but has yet gotten a reply. In one scene, Jeong-ha pulled Hye-jun to seek shelter as she was worried that he would get sick from walking in the rain. In the end, the two ran through the rain while clutching Hye-jun’s coat to shelter them from the rain. The confession thus got brushed aside.
However, at the convenience store where they sought shelter, you might spot the words “I like you” written on the signage. We reckon that this hinted at Jeong-ha’s feelings for Hye-jun. Despite her own difficulties and worries, she can’t deceive others much less deceive herself when it comes to feelings.
Record of Youth is streaming on Netflix.
This article was first published on Nuyou. Translation by Ho Guo Xiong.