[K-DRAMA] Age of Youth 2 (2017)

warning: may contain spoilers

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Plot:

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Age of Youth Season 2 continues the story that they have left from the first season. If you haven’t watched the first season, I suggest watching the first one before watching this. When the first season was all about friendships and romance, season 2 offers wider range of topics like violence, breakups, idol life, etc. As Kang Yi Na moved out, a new housemate enters Belle Epoque. Jo Eun has manly features and is hard to get close with. Meanwhile, Eun Jae just broke up with her boyfriend and she couldn’t accept reality. It is her first break up after all. Ye Eun finished her counseling from her traumatic experience, but she is still scared to go out by herself. Jin Myung came back from China and is applying for a new job. She successfully got a job in an entertainment company. And Ji Won is still happy and single as ever, but she recently discovered something about her past. These girls who came from different backgrounds live together in Belle Epoque and they help solve each other’s problems.

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Opinions:

I was suddenly in the mood to watch Age of Youth 2 even though I’m not yet done with my 2016 watch list. I was so excited when Season 2 was announced earlier this year, but sad that the cast members would be slightly different. I knew that Hwa Young won’t be coming back as part of the main cast, but only as a cameo, but I was super sad to hear that Park Hye Soo won’t be portraying Eun Jae anymore. Also, Yoon Park will only be appearing as a cameo. These two were my favorite characters, so I was a bit sad, but I was still looking forward to the show. The first episode started very casually and random. It was fun to see the original five have this last get together. And the part wherein Kang Yi Na was driving, I’m sure all newbie drivers can relate to her! Although it was a kind of random and a waste of time episode, it was a nice exit for Yi Na than just to say goodbye boringly or just disappear. The rest of the episodes were an easy watch up until the 10th or 11th episode wherein more issues were revealed and solved. Nonetheless, I finished this in 3 days which is another new record for me.

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Season 1 gives a fair share of airtime to all housemates except for Ji Won, but this season is literally her season! I was happy when her story about her past was elaborated and I thought that she looked prettier since last time. Also, her best guy friend Sung Min (portrayed by Song Seung Won) came back much manlier with a tan and also a better hairstyle. I’m actually seeing him in a new light since I never really paid attention to him last season. The actor is not really ‘handsome’ level, but his character is too kind and just so likable. This time I’m seeing a man who actually cares for the girl through thick and thin. Imagine driving around for her and being there for her whenever she needs him. I would definitely want a friend like Sung Min. Please tell me if this guy exists in real life. lol Last season, I was asking the same question about Jong Yeol sunbae and chef Jae Hwan. Damn, this Age of Youth writer really does know how to create very appealing male characters. Also for Ji Won, she wasn’t prioritized last time and people didn’t took her seriously, but this time I’m seeing a different but better Ji Won. Her relationship with Sung Min are definitely goals! From the pair that I overlooked last season, they became my favorite pair this season! Definitely shippable and they showed great chemistry!

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While we saw a very happy and innocent relationship of Eun Jae and Jong Yeol sunbae last season, they suddenly broke up this season. The reason was kind of vague though. It was obvious that Eun Jae still liked sunbae, and she can’t move on from her first relationship. It then turned into kind of an obsession wherein she would stalk his Facebook, and stalk him real time, and try to change her looks and personality to get him back. At one point, it was draggy and kind of annoying to witness this change in Eun Jae. She wasn’t bubbly anymore, but she was so gloomy and moody. But I do understand that she was too hurt with her first break up, so it’s really hard to move on. I wished they didn’t drag it too long though and wished that they gave those air time to Ji Won’s story instead.

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Jin Myung’s story was finished last season and her relationship with her chef boyfriend is stable. She was given a dongsaeng relationship instead. She found a job at an entertainment company and she met this male idol and kind of saw her late brother in him. I thought that it was good that she now doesn’t only focus solely on work, but helps and interact with the people around her. I think this time it’s a better Joon Myung that we’re seeing. Idol life is also portrayed with how hard and difficult it is. If you’re a K-pop fan, I’d bet that you would be able to relate with this. Idols may look happy and cheerful  outside, but it’s actually a whole different story off cam. We can never know how they actually feel. This story gave us a better understanding with what’s going to happen to the failed idols. It’s sad that they may have given their time, effort and literally everything, but they still could not make it. Sometimes, it’s all about luck and timing too. I’m happy that Jin Myung is given a different storyline this season as she becomes more open minded. Although what I’m looking forward to the most was her chemistry with Jae Han, and I was sad that her scenes with him were just too few, but I think it’s better this way. I thought that their relationship doesn’t need to be elaborated, as long as they’re still going strong and the ship is sailing, why not?

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Jung Ye Eun on the other hand, is coping with her traumatic experience last season. She couldn’t go out alone and is often found scared when meeting strangers and people in general. When she thought that her abusive boyfriend is playing pranks on her, one of her closest friends was actually behind the pranks which made her more anxious and scared. It turned out that her friend was envious of her since she received a lot of support and love, while her friend had a lot of hardships yet no one cared. Honestly, I think Ye Sun is quite self-centered, but still her friend is in the wrong to be doing these things to her. At these times, we begin to realize which friends are worth keeping and which friends are not. Meanwhile, she also met this guy who’s very geeky, who has no friends, and who was bullied in school. Weirdly, she finds him comfortable to talk to, and she learns more about him. I think they both kind of share similar past experiences, so they can emphasize each other’s feelings. I think Lee Yoo Jin portrayed the role perfectly even though he wasn’t the original one meant for the role. SHINee’s Onew was supposed to be portraying this character, but because of his recent controversy, he backed out. To be honest, I couldn’t imagine Onew taking this role. I guess Yoo Jin was a great replacement, and I also think Ye Eun and Yoo Jin matched well too. It was good that they also became lovers by the end of the series.

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Well, with Kang Yi Na moving out, a new housemate comes in to replace her. Jo Eun moved in accidentally when she found a letter with the address of Belle Epoque in a random book at a bookstore, and her only intention was to find out who’s the letter for among the girls. She has unique features, but her story is quite touching too. Her father cheated on her mother, and has another family. The father actually asked her to persuade the mother to sign the divorce papers. It’s tough to have a broken family, but she finds comfort through her new found housemates. It’s a bit hard to adjust at first since her personality doesn’t like to show her real feelings. Her love line with the nephew of the house owner, Seo Jang Hoon (portrayed by Kim Min Seok), was kind of cute, but not really my favorite. Kim Min Seok is on the roll these days no? I still remember him as the short and cute guy in Shut Up! Flower Boy Band. Time flies.. he has a lot potential. Anyway going back to the two, at first, I was confused who’s the guy and who’s the girl, since both of them have short hair and the guy is shorter than the girl. But later, I found them to be extraordinarily cute when the guy is more outgoing and more direct towards her. They seemed to be randomly matched together last minute, but it created a unique spark between them.

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Characters:

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Han Ye Ri as Yoon Jin Myung — I think she’s blooming in this second season. She cut her hair shorter, but I think she’s more cheerful now. I love that she interacts more with her housemates and doesn’t only focus on work. She’s given a different role which is portraying a good “nuna” and her scenes were much lesser now. I wish there were more scenes with her and the chef though. Still, I love her portrayal and natural acting skills. I hope she continues acting in dramas so she can be more recognized.

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Han Seung Yeon as Jung Ye Eun — I missed the happy and cheerful Jung Ye Eun from last season, but it’s inevitable to be immediately happy after her recovery. I love Ye Eun’s maturity this time; she isn’t the cutesy character who’s addicted to pink anymore. She now doesn’t only think for herself, but also looks after other people. I think this is really Seung Yeon’s breakthrough role after KARA disbanded. She definitely has acting potential if given the right role.

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Park Eun Bin as Song Ji Won — I’ve never really took notice of her during the first season, but she totally shined in this one with her new hairstyle. And I didn’t know that she’s been taking female lead roles even before. I totally liked how she’s still the crazy and outgoing Miss Ssong that we know, but she can also have her down days. I think it’s a bit hard to pull off this character especially if one has a ladylike image, but Eun Bin  really acted as if the role is really hers. I’m really happy that she isn’t left on the back burner this time. Seriously, her relationship with her BFF Sungmin was something that I didn’t really care last season, but this season, they’re my favorite couple. I’m glad that she’s starting to get recognized more and more through her great portrayal in this season.  Go for it, Ssong!

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Ji Woo as Yoo Eun Jae — I was sad that Park Hye Soo couldn’t come back, but chose to film a movie instead. Eun Jae was my favorite character from last season, so I was expecting a lot from Ji Woo. I’ve seen her somewhere before and I think she’s pretty, but I don’t know if she fits the character well. At first, I thought that she wasn’t the right choice since she seemed to be copying the other actress’s facial expressions and mannerisms too much that it looked so unnatural. Her big eyes, smile, and orange cheeks look creepy sometimes, I just couldn’t bring myself to like her. I think it’s during the latter episodes that I kinda got used to it and began to accept that the old Eun Jae won’t be coming back anymore. Maybe because everyone of us felt that Hye Soo was the perfect Eun Jae so it’s hard to adjust, but if Ji Woo was Eun Jae for the first season, I think we’ll love her the same way. Overall, I think Ji Woo did her best. It’s just that Eun Jae’s character was written to be quite annoying and clingy in this season.

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Choi Ah Ra as Jo Eun — Ah Ra is originally a model and has no prior experiences in acting. As a newbie actress, I think she did so well. Her masculine features and extraordinary height seemed to make the group of girls unbalanced, but come to think of it, I think she gave a refreshing appeal and charm to the viewers. Her character wasn’t someone that I initially liked, but came to like her as she began to open up. I thought that she was cute despite being so tall. I think Kang Yi Na is irreplaceable though, since she’s the only one who dares to fight back. Jo Eun has overlapping personalities with the other girls except for her physical attributes. Still, I thought that Jo Eun is a fresh character and I find her story quite enjoyable.

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Ending:

I think the last few episodes kinda ruined it for me. I think it was an easy watch up until the 10th episode, but the last few episodes were just not what I was expecting it to be. Well, I guess the writers wanted to show how reality really works through this drama; that you can’t always have a good and happy ending. I’m glad that Eun Jae has finallyyy moved on from her first break up. (Yes, after 10 episodes or so..) She still likes sunbae, but I think she’s trying to accept reality now. I hope that the new guy will make a move on her. The campus couple fan in me though somehow wished that they got back together, but I don’t think the chemistry worked for them in this season. I don’t see that at all, and it seemed that the guy like Eun Jae because she’s pretty.. and that’s about it.  Ye Eun and her boyfriend have a steady relationship and she now just moved on from her trauma. There were some scenes that did cite her problems with her family and eating disorders though. I think if ever a there’s a new season, they would more explore about that. Jin Myung has a stable job and she actually helped Haimdall and their team to have their last stage before they disband. I’m also happy that her chef boyfriend is finally back after we all waited for 13 episodes; and even though his scenes were about 5 minutes in total only. I’m glad that the writer didn’t make them break up despite the long distance relationship. And finally, Ji Won’s mysterious past was revealed. When she and her friend were in 3rd grade, her friend was sexually assaulted by their art teacher, and she  was the only one who witnessed it, but she kept it a secret our of fear. From then on, her friend transferred school and she never heard about her anymore. Her friend had a terrible life which resulted to suicide. The art teacher is still famous and Ji Won want to fight justice and reveal the truth. It’s kind of open ended as we don’t know what will happen to the teacher, if justice will really prevail. Her relationship with Sung Min was also open ended. I think the writer didn’t want to go in depth with their love story this time and solely wanted to focus on bringing up Ji Won’s past. I’m mad and frustrated at the writer for this because I wanted them to be together at least for the final episode. Like there were so many times when they could actually confess their feelings for each other, especially Sung Min. But I guess, they’re saving it up for the next season? Season 3 is still up in the air, but with hints here and there, the open endings, and the hot response from viewers, I’m sure there’ll be. I also heard that there’s a vague epilogue wherein urns were shown and that one of the girls will die in 8 years, and it was revealed to be Ji Won. And in another epilogue, there’s a little girl who’s accompanied by her mysterious dad who showed her Belle Epoque, and told her that this place was where her mom used to live. Many speculated that the dad is Sung Min, and I’m sure about it too. Well, this is really weird. I really hope there’s season 3 because there’s still so many things to talk about in this drama!

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Final Thoughts:

Age of Youth 2 didn’t steer away from it’s predecessor’s themes, and attempts to come back even better. Although I liked the first season as a whole more, second season doesn’t disappoint. Normally when these seasons are created, they don’t live up to the expectations of the first one, so we kind of wished that they didn’t create a new season at all. However, AOY 2 is still good as ever that they even explored broader issues that are so relatable and realistic. At the end of the episodes, it made me think about what if I were in the character’s shoes? There’s really something to reflect and ponder about. I really have too many feels with this drama, thus the long review. I could even write  more! Also, I am no fan of the girls, but they were all so likable. The actors and actresses are not really popular, A-list stars, but this is what I love about the show; that they don’t need someone to boost the popularity of the show. I just simply love the way it is, and I hope they won’t change the style of the drama in the future. So yes to Season 3 and more seasons to come. I really recommend this to literally everyone and anyone. No more words needed.

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Rating: 9/10

See my review for Season 1 : [K-DRAMA] Age of Youth (2016)

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