'Record of Youth' Episode 12: As Lee Sung-kyung's cameo shakes things up, cracks form between Hye-jun, Jeong-ah
In episode 11 of 'Record of Youth', Min-jae had met Lee Tae-su to check if he was the one who was really behind the scandal and how far and wide it spread so quickly. She does confirm her suspicions, and at the same time, Tae-su tells something thought-provoking. He comments on the whole culture of influencers and YouTube stars on the rise who use stars as if they were hot keywords and objects with no feelings while they plan their content. All of it comes down to the money that they would earn for the number of views that they get by giving their videos as provocative and scandalous titles as possible. So much so, it is useless for an agency to try and sue all the haters online.
They do not repair the actor's reputation and instead put the individual in a constant spotlight turning everything that they do into newsworthy stories. That is how interest among the public grows and the star's stature also grows with as many haters as he has supporters. That is how the toxic culture of fan following works and the majority of the entertainment industry understands this firsthand after entering the field. This is exactly what happens to Hye-jun in episode 12. As much as people around Hye-jun tries to take it all in stride, the fact that his privacy is disturbed and the things that he had never revealed to his parents now get revealed to them is something that he is not able to deal with too well.
In fact, he tells his friend Jin-u that he feels embarrassed to face the people that he loves because of the kind of hateful comments that are posted online about him and who he is. It is also extremely hard for him to confide in his girlfriend An Jeong-ah or to even seek her support because he doesn't want to show anything negative about himself to her. That's also how he ends up hurting Jeong-ah because he lets her worry all by herself and she even goes to the extent of confessing about her relationship with him to all her followers so that he is cleared of any suspicions that have led people to believe that he is gay and was sponsored by a designer all his life.
The question that beckoned throughout the episode was how they would portray the reactions of people around Hye-jun to this scandal. It is only his mother who says the right thing as she says, there is no gender when it comes to love. Only after this does she explain that her son is not gay because he has a girlfriend. Even when Charlie Jung had first approached him with other intentions, Hye-jun had refused respectfully and had also told the designer to remember that he had always respected him, even until the end when Charlie Jung had made nasty comments about Sa Hye-jun. That indicates that this was never about Charlie Jung's sexual orientation but just about Hye-jun's belief that having a "gold spoon" or "dirt spoon" shouldn't direct his life.
While Hye-jun might be right in his place, by not being able to understand Jeong-ah's feelings of being left alone to wonder about the worst things that happen to him, he has distanced himself from her. His busy schedule allows him very little time to discuss and hash out how Jeong-ah feels about his ex-girlfriend's interview. He also more often than not, leaves Jeong-ah alone because of his schedule and it is one such time that she wavers in her resolve for the first time. For the first time, she realizes that faith is more brittle than love, and on a tough rainy day after work she calls Hae-hyo to drop her home. She welcomes him inside and the episode comes to end, leaving us to wonder if she will cross the line. Or will Hae-hyo use this opportunity to get closer to Jeong-ah?
It is not only the way Hye-jun has been away in this relationship for the most part that strikes Jeong-ah hard. This episode also sees a cameo by actor Lee Sung-kyung as Hye-jun's co-star in his next show which is a melodrama and the way she considers him her boyfriend, just for the duration of the shoot of the show to get into the character leaves Jeong-ah uncomfortable. Having her next to him while he discusses this with his co-star also makes Hye-jun uncomfortable. The cracks are beginning to form in a relationship that Jeong-ah had assumed was steady. How will things pan out now?
'Record of Youth' originally airs on tvN on Mondays and Tuesdays in South Korea and can be streamed on Netflix in the US.