Unnie Recommends: Record of Youth

How are you kdrama world?😊 It’s been a few months since my last post here and I have been itching to write a new entry ever since. There’s always that gap in between anticipated shows and dramas that I don’t find interesting enough to watch, I find myself having that timeframe of weeks (or months in this case) not indulging on anything new.

What better way to end the hiatus with a new kdrama recommendation? Adult career crises, shifting life perspectives, and possible sparks of romance, Record of Youth kdrama illustrates the rocky but memorable road trip one must take to achieve their destination of dreams🌈

Current Impression

You know I’m a sucker for slice of life kdramas and Record of Youth hits all the right spots for me. Park Bo Gum (Love in the Moonlight, Boyfriend) takes centerstage as he tackles the role of Sa Hye Jun, a successful model turned struggling actor who is trying to find success in a different field of the entertainment industry. Hye Jun is a noble guy who strives to get roles thru his own hard work, kind-hearted, and independent. He is at odds with his father and older brother who find his choice in a career impractical and just want him to get a real job. He instead shares a special bond with his grandfather who shares his good looks and outlook in life, but couldn’t provide for his family back in the day too.

A self-declared fangirl of Hye Jun, Park So Dam (Parasite) stars as An Jeong Ha, an aspiring make-up artist also pursuing her dreams after quitting her office job. She meets Hye Jun at a fashion show and they become unlikely friends afterwards. For someone who just met her idol, you’d think she’d be more awkward around him, but her unexpectedly cool and confident charisma towards him is refreshing. Her backstory has yet to be revealed in detail but we know that she lives alone without her family in a house she made a long-term loan for.

Rounding up the main cast is Hye Jun’s best friend, Won Hae Hyo, a co-model but more successful actor whose own family supports him to the moon and back with his career. Hye Jun comes from an average family while Hae Hyo is richer and although it’s just been 2 episodes, their friendship has that delicate balance because Hye Jun doesn’t like comparing himself to Hae Hyo while the latter tries to help out the former with work gigs thru his connections. Like all other kdramas that preceded this, I’m sure a love triangle will brew between our trio of leads but I hope it only lasts for awhile. I like that the first 2 episodes emphasized Hye Jun and Jeong Ha’s personal struggles so it’s not all about the romance for this show!

Park Bo Gum is such an exceptional actor as his facial expressions convey his words with so much depth. You can feel his heavy frustrations for his dad but at the same time be compassionate towards his grandpa; he also tries hard to be a good person despite lots of temptations for him to stoop to a lower level. I’m excited to see his destined ascension in becoming a must-cast actor and how this will affect his relationships with his family and his friendship with Hae Hyo.

Our lives at a certain point in time, whether in our 20’s, 30’s or 40’s, will always have that sweet and bitter blend of experiences. With the help of technology and social media, imprinting our memories with pictures, videos, or notes is a great way to look back and reminisce on these formative years of learning and growing. Have you made your own Record of Youth yet?📝

Unnie Recommends: Dinner Mate’s 3-course must-watch meal

Have you ever felt that it’s sometimes easier to talk to strangers about our problems? When you think about it though, aren’t all connections start from meeting a new person, a stranger, then you become friends or something more in the process? Dinner Mate kdrama relishes on this premise and serves a delicious treat of 2 random people who connect with each other through eating and sharing their personal stories with each other.

I know I’m really late in recommending this but it took awhile for me to start this korean drama. It’s already halfway in its run as of this week and I just bingewatched all the episodes in 2 days, haha. Without further ado, how about we join our titular characters for a meal as well?🍽

Appetizer – Side salad of coincidences and a creamed romcom soup

Accidentally meeting in Jeju Island, an online content producer named Woo Do Hee (Played by Seo Ji Hye) and a famous psychiatrist Kim Hae Kyung (Played by Song Seung Heon), end up having a meal together. Do Hee had just dumped her boyfriend who was cheating on her while Hae Kyung was there to meet with a patient.

Like any classic romcom formula, our unlikely duo end up meeting each other in random circumstances back in Seoul. Oblivious of each other’s personal identities, Do Hee and Hae Kyung decide to become meal buddies only by meeting up and having a meal together once in awhile. They can talk about their interests or problems if they wanted to share it with each other, but both are not privy to the other’s basic information such as their name, occupation, etc.

Main Course – Filet mignon served with heartwarming garlic mashed potato and roasted plot twists veggies

Eating a meal is integral to Do Hee and Hae Kyung as the former enjoys her own way of eating food while the latter views having a meal with someone else as a gesture that he/she is important to you. As they try to navigate their relationship being careful to not cross any boundaries (which of course they will), things get more complicated as their first loves want to get back together with them respectively.

I love both Do Hee and Hae Kyung’s characters, especially Do Hee, who is relatable in many ways. I like that she can be sloppy and frazzled at times but is confident on what she wants such as her eating habits and passion for work. I appreciate that Hae Kyung is considerate but not overbearing in his gentleman ways. Both their characters are cool and strong-willed; they balance each other’s quirks well that it’s so satisfying watching them get closer to each other❤️

Dessert – Slice-of-life Chocolate cake with mixed bittersweet fruits

Along with the romantic sparks that shine between Do Hee and Hae Kyung, bits and pieces of life lessons further enhance the show’s charm. How they will grow from being meal buddies to something more was such a slow burn, the pacing was not too fast as they organically got to know each other only by eating together. Dinner Mate serves up a tale of healing and fills our palates with hope that things will work out for us in the most unexpected of ways✨

Bonus Freebie – For all CLOY (Crash Landing on You kdrama) fans🥰

We’re treated to an imaginary epilogue for Seo Ji Hye’s character in Crash Landing on You, Seo Dan, as Do Hee tries a past regression hypnotism video at work. She dreams of being in a field and takes on a North Korean accent as she waits for a man in uniform, who happens to be Hae Kyung, walking towards her. This was such a nice nugget for fans of the show (Like me) who grew to love the feisty Seo Dan as her would-be lover passed away, but she was content in not having a partner in the end. Now can someone do a spin-off kdrama for Seo Dan and Hae Kyung’s military officer character next time?!😍

Unnie Recap: A Transcendental Love from The King: Eternal Monarch (Ending Explained)

Before I start, can we just give a round of applause to writer Kim Eun Sook?👏🏻 How she comes up with these fantasy stories is just brilliant and I know I’m not the only one who is grateful for getting to watch her creations come to life on screen. The King: Eternal Monarch kdrama ruled with a gorgeous cinematography, had a royal line-up of characters, and bestowed a new tale of love and conflict that although at times felt inconsistent, this show merits a well-deserved praise.

At least for me, this kdrama didn’t top Goblin: The Lonely and Great God (I think this will still be her best show) but The King: Eternal Monarch still delivered a spellbinding and grandeur storyline that made me eager to watch. Kim Go Eun as Lieutenant Jeong Tae Eul, along with her other dopplegangers/parallel world identities, portrayed a more mature role that showed her growth from her last stint in Goblin. I can’t imagine any other actor portraying the regal yet lighthearted King Lee Gon but Lee Min Ho — his manner of speaking, his gaze on Tae Eul, and the subtle intensity his facial expressions give off when he is infuriated is just perfection! I did say in my recommendation post that their chemistry was kind of off for the first few episodes, but I’ve come to appreciate their romance.

I wasn’t planning on writing an ending explained post for this korean drama but the message that I got was such a relevant one, especially in these challenging times with the pandemic still hanging around, I just wanted to share my thoughts. If you have a different interpretation, please do let me know but I hope that my realization can uplift your spirits in some way as well✨

Rewriting the Past

Discovering that he could go back to the past, Lee Gon decided that he needed to kill Lee Lim on the night of the treason before he could travel to the Republic of Korea. Yeong accompanied him on his mission and they encountered a mishap where the flute (Manpasikjeok) was not halved so Lee Lim was able to acquire it as a whole. Yeong was able to save the King as a child but sustained some serious injuries. At the same time, Tae Eul was holding the Lee Lim in their time hostage, ready to kill him in the in between realm if Lee Gon failed to do so in the past.

Since Lee Lim of the past held the flute in its entirety, the half and half version that Lee Gon and Tae Eul possessed disappeared. The Lee Lim version with Tae Eul (I know, confusing right? Haha!) was ready to attack her but when she tried to pull the trigger on her gun again, the bullet successfully pierced his chest! Chasing after Lee Lim in the bamboo forest, Lee Gon was also able to successfully kill his uncle. Tae Eul’s memories disappearing once past Lee Lim died didn’t happen because I think she was inside the in between realm when his death happened. This spared her a memory reset that ought to have happened since technically the events that will lead Lee Gon to the other world won’t happen anymore.

Welcoming a New Present Future

If it wasn’t clear in the explanation above, it’s the time travel/parallel world aspect that gave me a bit of a headache in this kdrama, haha! This often leads to plot holes in my thinking but, let’s just enjoy the show and not think about it too much. With the other world never being accessed by Lee Lim, some things still fell into place in both worlds respectively while other fates unexpectedly coincided with each other. Let’s break down the final episode’s (Episode 16) fates per world:

Republic of Korea

Lee Gon’s version in this world, Lee Ji Hun, is alive and has taken on the path of a decorated soldier. Although she lost a friend in Sin Jae (Since he never crossed over to ROK), the real one is doing well as a successful CEO of a large company. Eun Sup works for the NIS and is in a relationship with Na Ri. Possessing the whole Manpasikjeok allowed Lee Gon to still travel across worlds so he was able to finally reunite with Tae Eul after countless tries of meeting other versions of her in alternate realities.

Kingdom of Corea

Our loyal and handsome bodyguard, Yeong, is still alive (Whew!) and he also has his memories intact of the other world. He also has the same younger twin siblings, Eun Bi and Kka Bi, now. Sin Jae or Kang Hyeon Min still became a cop and is also drawn to Tae Eul’s counterpart, Luna, who is also a cop. She grew up in a better environment as she crossed paths with Koo Seo Ryeong and her mom as a kid. I assumed they kind of adopted her into their family as Luna visits Seo Ryeong in jail (Mischievous until the end) and calls Luna’s new name as Koo Seo Gyeong. Secretary Mo rightfully became KOC’s Prime Minister.

A Universally Transcending Journey

This isn’t a solid, drama-free, ending for me as Kim Eun Sook has that capacity (As we learned from Goblin and Mr. Sunshine) to give a bittersweet feel to a main character’s love life. At first, I didn’t like The King: Eternal Monarch’s finale because it ended with Tae Eul and Lee Gon just meeting on weekends where they travelled and explored different timelines and worlds. They would then go back to their normal lives respectively on weekdays… this pattern continued as they grew old together. There was no mention of marriage, kids, or how they would tackle the dilemma of still being physically apart most of the time as they lived in 2 different worlds.

As I pondered for a few minutes though, I thought to myself: “So what if that’s the case?” Lee Gon is a King who has a responsibility to lead a nation while Tae Eul is a devoted cop and loving daughter — and they happily embraced this reality. No one pressured the other to give up his/her life and move to the other world as they respected each other’s individual aspirations. They were content in being able to spend time with each other when Lee Gon travels to the Republic of Korea.

I’m so used to the idea of a conventional happy ending that when I’m reminded that not everyone’s love story is the same, that a different path is sometimes what a particular couple wants and needs, it comforts me because not all decisions I make are what society expects me to make too. If they are happy with their set-up, why worry as an outsider? It’s not an easy path and I’m sure there were times when their trust and patience were challenged, but as long as they remained in the same page with their feelings, I am confident that Tae Eul and Lee Gon lived a fruitful life together👫🏻

Destiny is always viewed as a force that’s meant to happen to us no matter what actions we take. With The King: Eternal Monarch kdrama, I’d like to think that our efforts and desires can influence destiny to suit our choices. Yes, some things will probably occur no matter how much we try to avoid them, but with every action and decision we consciously make, the future will be what we make of it. Trust that the choices you make won’t lead you astray… fate will make sure of that✨