Episode 9 of Racket Boys begins with Se-Yoon and the boys all practicing hard. They’re put through an array of different drills, used to test reflexes, muscle power and drive. This is the Nation Junior’s Camp and the kids are drilled hard, ready for meeting the Japanese competitors the following day.
Of course, tensions aren’t just in play because of badminton. Pangs of jealousy crop up from Hae-Kang too, who’s not happy with Park Chan and Se-Yoon cozying up together.
The camp begins and the kids prepare for what’s to come. As it turns out, Hyeon-Jong is the one who has to step up as their coach.
Out in the woods the kids get turned around, forcing them all to partner up – with Se-Yoon teamed up with Hae-Kang. He’s very standoffish with her though, especially after her closeness with Chan. He takes her down to the stream and the pair talk. After heroically saving her shoe, Hae-Kang talks to Se-Yoon about Chan. Only, they’re interrupted by Han-Sol at the last minute.
Meanwhile, Village Chief Mr Hong gathers the townsfolk together to try and revitalize their village. After several misfires, the city couple chirp up with solid suggestions. They want to cultivate regional food and use technology to help them with promotion. Ms Shin arrives to oversee everything, which certainly makes Mr Hong nervous.
Back at the training camp, Hae-Kang continues to practice after messing up, doing everything he can to impress Coach Faeng. After sneaking out and going to a karaoke bar, te boys learn they’re going to be disqualified if they don’t win in the morning. In the midst of this, Na-Ra lies to Se-Yoon and tries to sabotage her, giving her the wrong time to show up at training.
The training itself goes well, and the kids prove themselves in front of the Japanese. The Koreans win. When asked about it later on though, the kids also confirm that they’re not doing this because they “dislike” the Japanese; they actually get on well. Se-Yoon and the other just wanted to do well at badminton.
Afterwards, the girls get dressed up and head out to meet the boys. Hae-Kang does his best to keep his cool, but it’s obvious that he really likes Se-Yoon. They head to the shore together where Hae-Kang nervously manages to convince a guy to take their picture. He knows that Hae-Kang likes Se-Yoon and encourages him to tell her.
That evening, Park Chan waits outside for Se-Yoon and the pair start talking. Hae-Kang trundles off but he can’t help but spy them from afar, continuing to peek a glance at them. For those of you who have watched Reply 1988, there’s some serious Duk-San/Jung-Hwan vibes going on here!
That evening, all the kids end up playing a gam of Liar together. Only, the coaches finish their meeting and begin doing their rounds. To try and hide everyone in their room, Se-Yoon pretends to be hiding booze (not very well mind you) and claims it’s just them “making good memories”. Well, Coach Fang eventually catches all the kids in the act and makes them run laps.
The only ones that aren’t caught out are Hae-Kang and Se-Yoon. They stay in the closet for the time being and wait for the coast to be clear. Hae-Kang enquires about Park Chan, who didn’t ask Se-Yoon out but will do when he wins the competition. Well, Hae-Kang tells her that won’t happen because he’s going to win. As she asks whether he can keep that promise, the episode comes to a close.
The Episode Review
Ah this slice of life drama is definitely getting better as the episodes tick by. The halfway point of this one marks a change in tone and feel, with a lot more comedy bleeding through and a more driven focus on the budding romance between Hae-Kang and Se-Yoon.
Now there’s an added incentive to the badminton game between Chan and Hae-Kang too, with both essentially fighting over the girl. There’s some serious Reply 1988 vibes going on with this romance too and the show itself has a large enough ensemble to really lean into these ideas.
Racket Boys has not been without its controversies but this episode is easily one of the best so far, with some solid characterization and genuinely funny moments. Roll on the next episode!
|Expect A Full Season Write-Up When This Season Concludes!|