Everyone’s Running Their Own Race
Episode 1 of Youth of May opens with a shocking discovery. Bones are found buried at a construction site. With the skeleton unidentified, the police send the bones off to the forensic department. A man watches the news and sobs, hanging his head at the train station.
We then cut back to 1980 as protests grip the streets. These kids want students freed from being wrongfully imprisoned. A car growls up behind them all, as a boy called Hee-Tae drives past and heads to the dealership, selling his car for cash.
Back at the dorm rooms though, the other students are not happy when they see Hee-Tae return. Given he avoided the protests out in the street, In-Jae confronts him. Hee-Tae laughs it off and tries hugging the boy but he’s having none of it. In fact, Hee-Tae receives a punch to the face for his troubles.
His ex girlfriend Yu-Jin is just as erratic, telling Hee-Tae they should get married after breaking up with him a week prior. She wants a successful husband but when he says no to her proposal, she whacks him across the face with her handbag.
Hee-Tae heads to the hospital next but when alarm bells ring, he watches in horror as doctors race into the Intensive Care Unit. Despite paying the medical bills, Hee-Tae is told by the doctors that Seok-Chool may not make it. He needs to say goodbye.
As she weakly calls out for home, Hee-Tae agrees. They should bring her back home. This sees the boy head up on a train to Gwanju, pleading with the doctors there to allow Seok-Chool a transfer. Unfortunately this falls on deaf ears.
Meanwhile, Myung-Hee works as a nurse and she’s incredibly hard working. The other nurses aren’t happy with her work ethic though, believing it makes them look bad. When Myung-Hee stands up for herself in front of a brash patient, she’s called into the Director’s office to explain her actions. The same office that Hee-Tae happens to be in.
Anyway, Myung-Hee is told to leave and Hee-Tae’s transfer falls through. Our nurse heads home, where she runs into her friend Soo-Ryeon. She’s quite the character and both of them are greeted by friend (and possible love interest!) Soo-Chan, who’s back from his business trip.
As he flirts lightly with Myung-Hee, she receives a letter from the university confirming she’s been accepted. However, she’s going to hold off going just yet so she can save up some money.
Hee-Tae moves back into the dorm rooms but finds himself rudely awoken in the middle of the night. It’s his Father, and he forces the kid to head back home. He’s pretty stern, and forces Hee-Tae to write up a written statement about his whereabouts and what happened the previous night.
Using a plant analogy, Ki-Nam basically tells Hee-Tae he’s useless. Dropping to his knees, Hee-Tae asks for money in exchange for doing whatever he asks. Well this “whatever” is going to be the start of an arranged marriage, bringing two households closer together.
Elsewhere, Soo-Ryeon gets arrested for breaking into her Father’s factory and printing flyers for her protests. In the morning she’s released but when her father finds out, he’s furious with her. In fact, he sets her up on a blind date.
Soo-Ryeon convinces Myung-Hee to go in her stead though, with the intent of sorting out money for a plane ticket so she can go to university. It’s a win/win situation for them both, with three dates seemingly enough time to sweeten the deal. Funnily enough, the man she’s due to date is Hee-Tae.
On the way though, Hee-Tae witnesses a young boy get hit by a car and it brings back memories of Seok-Chool. While he’s left shocked, Myung-Hee races past him and checks on the kid. Thankfully he’s okay, just passed out. She wraps up his arm and the boy eventually recovers. As they both head to the hospital, Myung-Hee arrives at her dinner date and introduces herself as Soo-Ryeon.
The Episode Review
Youth of May gets off to a great start this month, with some excellent production design and a warm group of characters to rally behind. It’s clear this is going to be a typical romantic drama with the two leads getting together but the set-up and the worldbuilding around that is actually really intriguing.
Not knowing anything about the 1980 protests in Korea, the actual sets, ideas and costume design all feel like they’ve been plucked right from the time period.
The crew have done an excellent job with this one and the cast really help this one to shine. Both Myung-Hee and Hee-Tae have a good story to introduce them and the way they intertwine together through fate by the end is another lovely addition.
The ending certainly looks like we’re gearing up for more comedy next time, especially if that preview is anything to go by. For now though, we’re left with a solid opening episode and lots of promise for the season ahead.