[K-DRAMA] Age of Youth (2016)

warning: may contain spoilers

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Age of Youth depicts the lives of 5 girls who reside in Belle Epoque..

Plot:

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Age of Youth depicts the lives of 5 girls who reside in Belle Epoque. Yoo Eun Jae is a new border who just came to Seoul from the province. She’s an introvert and finds it a little difficult to get along with her housemates. She plans to be more sociable in school as she enters her college life. Jung Ye Eun is very girly and obsessed with pink. She takes up Nutrition as her major in college and she has a boyfriend. She is very clingy and likes him very much, but the boyfriend doesn’t seem sincere enough. Song Ji Won is very loud and sociable, yet she couldn’t find a boyfriend. Boys get intimidated by her outgoing and wild personality. On the other hand, Kang Yi Na has a very active lifestyle. She isn’t a student, but she’s often seen wearing branded items. It turns out that she sleeps with different men and they are her sponsors. Jin Myung is the oldest and has a lot of part time jobs in order to financially help his sick brother. She attends college during the day, works as a server at an Italian restaurant during nighttime, then works at the convenience store during midnight. These five girls with different backgrounds and personalities live together. One day, Ji Won said that there’s a ghost in the shoe cabinet while she was drunk. Everyone took it seriously and it seemed like something happened to them in the past. What are their deep dark secrets?

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Opinions:

I randomly watched this drama during a boring day. Since I heard quite good reviews about it, I tried watching it and I unknowingly finished it in just 3 days. It’s good that it’s only 12 episodes so it’s not draggy and time passed quickly. It’s really a drama that depicts youth at its finest. Sometimes I felt sad, sometimes I felt happy, I totally understood how the characters felt. Sometimes I just naturally smiled because of the fluttering scenes. I love how the story was realistic and the characters were so relatable. It’s not just one character that sticks to me, but there are a few of them who I can relate with. Each of the girls has their own story to tell. I also liked big casts which generates small stories in between rather than just one main person or couple. I often get bored with that. It’s fun when they each have their own hardships and challenges, but they all come together to help each other. Even though they often fight, they still cared for each other. I wish that I have the same set of friends like them.

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I think that I can relate with Eun Jae the most since she’s reserved and an introvert. I’ll probably have a hard time to adjust with the new environment and especially dealing with new people. I can also relate with how she endures. I kinda have that personality wherein I won’t complain and just endure it even though I’m already boiling inside. I think she’s better than me too and she changed for the better. In all honesty, she’s lucky that she met a nice and good sunbae who really helped her become confident with herself. She also met nice housemates and helped boost her energy and treats her like their own little sister.

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I totally understand how Ye Eun feels with her boyfriend. She’s very much in love with the guy and even though he doesn’t make enough effort, or he makes mistakes, she just shrugs it off. Sometimes when you really like a person, you won’t notice his flaws, but just see the good in him. I’m glad though that Ye Eun finally wakes up and see the reality. Song Ji Won, on the other hand craves for a boyfriend. I thought that she would at least be 27 or 28 to be going around blind dates, but she’s only 22 years old, yet she hasn’t experienced love yet. I guess it’s really her personality that should be fixed and she should improve herself. Kang Yi Na has her men to sponsor her lavish lifestyle. I think she has reasons for doing so. The vague accident in the past was probably the reason and thus she wanted to hide her real self. And Jin Myung being the oldest is very responsible. She also has an introvert personality and she works day and night even though she’s very sick and tired of it. There are really people like her who works hard just to make ends meet. I’m glad that there’s someone who supports her during her toughest time.

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I loved the mini interview session at the last few minutes of the episodes. It gave us a better understanding as to how the characters feel without the dialogues and all. I hate the creepy part though wherein they kept on mentioning that there’s a ghost in the shoe cabinet. I wonder that if they didn’t incorporate it in the drama, I guess the drama would turn bland and flat. Even though I kind of disliked that part, it was a crucial part to mention and talk about their pasts. It may represent their older selves, their dark secrets, and worries. Now when I’m writing this, I think it was a good twist in the story.

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Whoever casted these lovely girls and their partners and all the extras really deserve a special treat. The girls were all chosen very well and there’s not a character that I dislike. The pairings were also nice. The love lines just keep the drama rolling. I can’t help but flutter when the scenes of Hye Soo and Jong Yeol (campus couple), and Yoon sunbae and the chef were shown. I mean, these two couples were literally my favourites, and I can’t  choose which couple is better. If you want something fluffy, sweet and just cute, it’s no doubt the campus couple. But when it’s something sad, so near yet so far kind of thing, it’s the sunbae and the chef. I was definitely looking forward to their scenes.  The chef, Jae Hwan, and Jong Yeol are not really the handsome types like Joong Ki level, but they appeared to be charismatic while portraying their characters. I felt that they truly loved the girls. I can’t help but also fall in love with these two, especially the chef. He’s so kind-hearted and at first I thought he was the owner of the restaurant. lol It turned out that he’s only an employee too and despite her rejecting him every time, he still didn’t give up. Sigh, if only these kind of men exist in real world. Their love stories just makes me want to feel loved too. Sometimes, I feel that there’s no need for catchy or cheesy lines.. especially extra cheese to enjoy a drama. In this drama, I felt very relaxed and the atmosphere was just right, yet it was enjoyable too.

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Characters:

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Han Ye Ri as Yoon Jin Myung — She’s been in the industry for so long, yet it’s my first time seeing her. It turns out that she’s more active as an actress in movies. I loved her portrayal as the oldest among the girls. She’s mature, independent, and totally upright. Judging from behind the scenes, I felt that her personality is so different from her real self, yet she delivered the character well. She isn’t the prettiest of the bunch, but she has that classic Korean look that’s so unique these days. I also liked her love story with Yoon Park. I can’t help but ship them together in this drama!

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Han Seung Yeon as Jung Ye Eun — She was a member of KARA, and she’s been trying out acting years ago. I remembered that she appeared in Jang Ok Jung, and I found her annoying there. In here, it seemed that she’s annoying at first, but then I realise that she’s just the typical girl out there who’s fond of pink. I didn’t like her nasal voice too. It’s too high and can get annoying a bit, but I guess I got used to it. Acting wise, she got better with this drama. I think it’s about finding the right character that fits Seung Yeon, and Ye Eun was perfect for her. I think she’s also natural in portraying the character.

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Park Eun Bin as Song Ji Won — It’s also my first time seeing her, and I think Park Eun Bin is a right fit for Song Ji Won. She’s the mood maker of the group and you can often see her happy. Most of the girls also seek advice from her. It’s a pity that there wasn’t much of a story made for her. I felt that her character could be utilised better than just that. I hope during the next season, there’s more of her screen time. Acting wise, I also think she wasn’t awkward in her scenes and she did fine.

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Ryu Hwa Young as Kang Yi Na — Ryu Hwa Young was the talk of the town last month when the truth about her and T-ara was revealed. It turned out that she was the real bad apple. If that’s the case, then her personality is a little bit similar to this role? Amidst her recent scandal with T-ara, I loved her portrayal as Kang Yi Na. She’s just oozing with confidence and she’s a good dresser. She’s also a strong unni that one would be afraid to deal with. Yi Na is a character who you would either love or hate. It’s hard to imagine that she won’t be be casted anymore in season 2. It wouldn’t be the same without her. I’ll miss her portrayal for sure.

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Park Hye Soo as Yoo Eun Jae — She’s a total cutie! It’s so rare for me to adore a girl, and I think that she’s so loveable. Hye Soo seems to be similar or close to the personality of Eun Jae. I think she is the perfect choice; even though she’s awkward and all, she’s so damn cute. I also can’t believe that she’s actually a singer and was a contestant in a k-pop competition. I also remembered that she also appeared in Yong Pal as Joo Won’s younger sister. No wonder she seemed familiar! Whoever casted her in these dramas deserves a hug. I mean, who could’ve thought that she also has decent acting skills? As a rookie, she’s definitely better than those idols who get casted in dramas. Can I also mention her great chemistry with Shin Hyun Soo? I think they were adorable together! Park Hye Soo is now one of the rookie actresses that I’m looking forward to see. I rarely put actresses in my watch list, but I just find her acting soothing and relaxing to see. I also heard that she’s casted as a female lead in a new drama this year. I can’t wait to see it.

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Ending:

I didn’t quite liked the open ending. I’m the type of person who needs to find out the ending, or else I’ll keep thinking about it. I don’t care if it’s a happy or sad ending, I just want all questions answered and all ties knotted. There were loosely tied knots which suggests a second season. And yes, it has just been announced last month that a season two is coming with the same cast except for Hwa Young. I really wonder who’s the previous ballet border that they failed to emphasize on. I think there’s more to the story since they kept on avoiding Eun Jae when she was asking. Ji Won also has that mystery in her. What is exactly the sound that she’s hearing and who’s the girl that she called in the interview? I hope that season two will feature more of her story. Jin Myung had a nice ending and I think her story was well wrapped up. Although her mother pulled the plug of her brother’s life support and was arrested by the police, she can now live freely.  She quitted her job in the restaurant and opted for a little break by traveling. I’m so excited with her love story with the chef. I hope they have more happy scenes in the next season. I also thought that Yi Na’s story ended well. She forgoes her old self and decides to live an upright life. She works at a fashion store and is interested in taking fashion. There could be a love interest with the old man, but I wish that she can think about her good ‘just’ friend too. Eun Jae’s past was finally brought up. She was guilty that she was the one who killed her father by switching her parents’ drink bottles, but it turned out that the father was the bad apple. Her father was trying to kill the family members and get money from insurance. I wish it was also explained better, but at least we can see Eun Jae happier now. Ye Eun’s boyfriend was arrested when he kidnapped Ye Eun for a few days. The guy really has mental problems and Ye Eun has to go counselling. She decides to end her counselling when she thinks she’s fine now. But as soon as she leaves counselling, she gets anxiety and panic attacks again. I guess it would really be hard to recover the trauma. I felt that 12 episodes was lacking and there were still lots of happenings by the 11th episode. I really wondered how they would wrap it all with one episode left. This is one of the few dramas wherein I wanted to make it a bit longer.. for 16 episodes at least? Since there are a lot of characters, there’s more story to tell and I felt that many stories were undeveloped. Well, I’m really glad that a new season is coming. I hope the story continues from this season.

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Final Thoughts:

Age of Youth is really a breath of fresh air. It really spells out youth because it tackles the problems that the youth are facing. It’s so realistic and relatable too since I’m about the same age with the girls. If you’re much older, one can reminisce his/her youth days. If you’re younger, one can anticipate the future days to come. I guess it’s a drama generally for everyone since we all have our own ‘youths’. It’s also a drama that shows girl power which is unique and it’s coming from a male dominant society. I also loved that the story wasn’t too cheesy or dramatic, and the actors were all well-chosen. I highly recommend this drama to anyone who’s tired of overused k-drama cliches and just want to break away from the usual trend.

Rating: 9/10

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